Peter J. Marcucci

Special Correspondent

Photos courtesy Vermont Quarries Corporation and Mark Woolcott Photography

“Book matched” is the theme for this eye-popping stairway made of Montclair Danby. Tough and durable, Vermont Danby marble is suitable for a myriad of applications from residential to commercialAs a fabricator, it’s a given that any countertop made with any natural stone is the superior choice.  

Country or contemporary, commercial or residential, Vermont Danby is an excellent choice. Modern sealers make Danby almost stain proof, but as with all natural stone surfaces, acidic, organic spills should be cleaned up immediatelyThe durability-to-beauty ratio of natural stone is unsurpassed and exceeds by far, any man-made product to date, allowing us, as fabricators, to push our design and fabrication skills to the limit because, after all – the colors and movement in each and every slab are unique. 

Unlike many other trades, ours allows us to create beauty, using beauty, fulfilling the dreams of our clients, and the need within ourselves as creators. Often we see these dreams in the eyes of those clients whose imaginations are sparked by that dazzling ogee edged Azul Macauba island in our showroom, and we feel the satisfaction when we pack up our tools, ask for payment—and for one last time, look at the finished product we’ve just installed. This may not be why we began our careers in this industry, but it is what keeps most of us in it every day, year after year.

For centuries the use of marble had been the “de facto standard” within the home, and it wasn’t until the early 1980s that the use of harder stones quickly became vogue and trendy. Granites such as Absolute Black, Autumn Brown, and Pink Porrino were fast replacing their marble counterparts (no pun intended). 

White Marble kitchenNatural stone countertop trends were definitely on a trajectory of opulent, low maintenance beauty – and destined to reverse the current 80% marble-to-granite sales ratio within the next few years. By the late 1980s, with the exception of the occasional use of Serpentines, granites had virtually replaced the use of marble in the kitchen, leaving softer stones by the wayside. 

White Marble kitchenThrough these transition years, we had always warned our customers of the perils of marble countertops in the kitchen, going as far as inserting statements like “not responsible for stains, scratches and etching” into many contracts, but by the early 1990s, clauses like these just weren’t necessary any more. The market had completely transitioned to the hardness and durability of the (then) available, popular varieties of granites on the market.

White Marble kitchenNow, fast-forward into the new millennium where a visit to any granite wholesaler in the country will reveal a sea of sumptuous varieties, with new colors emerging every week. We are no longer held back by the constraints of basic, homogeneous granites. Designers–in-house or not– have unlimited colors for the taking, and we as fabricators have all the best for the making. 

White Marble kitchenSo why in the last few years has the residential market gone back to marble for kitchen countertops? Increasingly, every day I see or hear about homeowners and designers using honed or polished marble, specifically marble quarried from Danby, Vermont, in their building projects. What is driving this trend? Is it designer-led or are customers demanding it – and can these marbles give long-term service to the users? 

White Marble kitchen“It’s a combination of designers wanting to use a predominantly white marble, and homeowners catching on that Vermont Danby marble makes beautiful and resilient countertops,” explained Todd Robertson of Vermont Quarries Corporation in Mendon, Vermont. “This country was born on granite, but granite is a baby when it’s compared to marble, which has been used in European kitchens for hundreds of years. Designers as of late are now seeing Danby marble in a whole new light because our white is one of those materials that goes well with everything and is a tough and viable product. 

“It’s great because you can change your cabinets, your wallpaper and your floor, and our whites work well with any color you choose–which is a significant selling advantage in our current economy. Over 90 percent of the slabs we sell are 3cm and used in kitchens; the popularity is growing and we don’t see any end in sight.” 

White Marble kitchenTodd went on to explain that the success of their portfolio of Danby marbles is also due to the fact that the absorption rate is .07, which is lower than for most granites. It will still scratch and still etch, he admitted, but honestly, it’s minor and doesn’t take much effort to maintain. “Some people really like that worn look, and if they don’t, a honed finish is easy to maintain or refinish.” 

As far as staining, Todd says it’s really not an issue either. Sealers and impregnators are so good these days that with regular application, Danby marble is almost stain proof. “Our products have been time-tested, and more and more designers and fabricators are becoming confident with them,” adding that last year alone it was estimated that between three and four thousand kitchens in North America were installed using primarily Montclair Danby, Imperial Danby, or Mountain White Danby. “Our products are here to stay!” Todd says, with confidence. 

I then sourced the impeccable wisdom of Brent and June Wilson, the owners of Proctor Marble Company in Proctor, Vermont. Brent, a longtime fabricator and sculptor, has completed scores of jobs using Danby marble, and is currently fabricating a curved staircase out of Imperial Danby. 

I asked Brent to add credence to the increasing use of Vermont Danby marble. “I just put in a sixty square-foot Danby Montclair marble kitchen yesterday down in Massachusetts,” he explained. “Montclair has a greenish-gray in it and is just one of eight colors quarried. It is truly beautiful to behold when polished, but my wife, June, and I usually suggest a honed finish to our clients due to the fact that certain favorite work areas do show wear after time. The polish will fade to a hone in those areas, so the most common sense thing to do is begin with a hone finish everywhere. It’s the way to go and it’s the way we like to sell it, and frankly—we’ve never had any complaints!” 

White Marble kitchenBrent went on to explain that after many years, a honed surface takes on a beauty of its own derived from oils, acids and friction. This is known as “patina.” You then have a much sought-after country kitchen look—very popular in Europe. “You talk about conservation in antiques—those conservators who deal with prized antiques have all their recipes and techniques to preserve that patina look. 

“Sure you could refinish it, but you’ve taken off all the earned age and life, and you’ve ruined the piece. Danby Marbles’ durability and strength is above all the other white marbles and is a good fit for kitchen countertops if you choose to go that way. When clients come in our shop and they see a Danby white, they just gravitate to it. Our customers love it!” 

In closing, Danby marble, be it cubic or other, has been a much sought after product for over 100 years. Before the proliferation of fabrication shops and distributors throughout the country, residential designers had to search out fabricators within Vermont to gain access to these premium marbles. Now, all one has to do is visit their distributor for these 2-4cm resinated slabs. 

How long will this trend last? Hard to say. Suffice it to say that the use of marble in the kitchen has come full circle, and by the looks of Vermont Quarries Corporation’s aggressive marketing strategy, the use of Danby marble is here to stay for a long time. Think not? Think back. How many of us scoffed when quartz countertop materials were introduced to the market place. Now look at them just a few years later. 

My thoughts on Danby marble: learn it, sell it, build it and service it. If you don’t, the shop down the road probably will. Blocks or slabs—honed, brushed or polished—Danby marble appears to be the benchmark by which other marbles will be judged by, now and into the foreseeable future. 

Oh, and just to help seal-the-deal, a myriad of products to prep and maintain marble applications like the above are offered by WerkMaster, a cutting-edge company dedicated to the preservation and maintenance of natural stone. According to Brian Wilson, President of Werkmaster, Ultra Seal, and Ultra Guard, are specifically engineered to protect against the damaging effects of acid, as well as other water- and oil-based substances on marble. 

Brian also stated that each of these products have their own protective advantages and benefits. To learn more about these and other WerkMaster state-of-the-art products, contact a representative at Braxton-Bragg.  

Peter J. Marcucci has over 25 years of fabrication experience in the stone industry. Send any comments to