Choosing between marble and limestone


Limestone vs. Marble: Discover the differences, advantages and disadvantages between the two natural stones

Limestone and marble are undoubtedly two of the most well-known and favorite materials in construction and decor.

Both natural and highly durable stones, they are widely used because of their functionality, beauty and aesthetic value. Despite the fact that they share some similar properties, they exhibit important differences that are necessary to be aware of before making the final choice.

What is marble, what is limestone and how are they formed?

Many times, the partners who procure marbles from us pass on questions that they are often asked regarding these two well-known natural stones. For example, how can you tell the difference between limestone and marble, which is better, which is more durable or which is more expensive, etc. In a previous article we gave an answer to the question, marble or granite. But, which is the main difference between limestone and marble? How their creation and visual difference affects their price difference? All answers to questions related to comparisons of natural materials (such as marble, limestone, granite) can be easily given if we go back to the beginning and comprehend the formation process and the basic characteristics of each material.

White marble blocks with veins in outdoor warehouse
Outdoor white marble warehouse in the main Stone Group International factory in Greece

What is marble and how is it formed?

Marble is a metamorphic rock formed when limestone is subjected to conditions of intense pressure and extreme heat. The calcite contained in the limestone during the metamorphic process recrystallizes, changing the structure and form of the natural stone. Marble stone is an excellent example of how natural processes shape a material and give it different properties and characteristics. Among all natural stones, marble is unquestionably the most elegant and luxurious, with a diversity that makes it suitable for floors, bathroom vanities, fireplaces or kitchen countertops.

Porous wall surface with small parts of natural rock of limestone formed mainly from calcium carbonate in brown beige shades
Wall cladding with mosaic limestone stone in beige and brown earthy tones

What is limestone and how is it formed?

Limestone sedimentary rocks are composed largely of calcium carbonate, formed millions of years ago by the accumulation of shells, sand, and skeletons of marine animals, on the seabed. Deposits of this sedimentary limestone rock are usually found in canyons and cliffs where a significant volume of water has receded.

What are the differences between marble and limestone?

Both limestone and marble are types of stone made from calcium carbonate residues, widely used in construction and found in a multitude of colors. Marble blocks are often used for works of art, sculptures, interiors and exteriors of homes and commercial or public spaces, whereas limestone, as a raw material, is used for various secondary products. Both materials are sensitive to acidic cleaning agents which should be avoided.

However, their differences far outweigh their similarities. As we mentioned earlier, limestone is a sedimentary stone and exhibits much higher porosity than marble which is clearly a harder metamorphic stone. The fossils that run through the limestone slabs are visible to the naked eye and the colors of the rock are mostly shades of brown, tan and gray. On the other hand, marble, which has been formed under conditions of higher pressure and temperature, presents a much wider range of colors and the fossils are no longer visible.

Marble is usually light in color with minimal impurities. If elements of clay or iron oxides are present, it can take on a bluish, pink, yellow, gray or black hue. For example, the Thassos variety is considered the whitest in the world, while Bahaiblue is a more exotic marble. Overall, marble stone, as a material, is found in more forms and in many colors.

Image of white marble and limestone pieces to compare which is better
Image showing marble and limestone surfaces to tell the visual difference between limestone and marble.

Having trouble choosing between marble, granite or quartz for your countertops? Here you can discover the differences, advantages and disadvantages between quartz engineered stone and the two natural stones of marble and granite.

Limestone vs. Marble. What are the pros and cons of marble & limestone?

Limestone has been used as a building material for centuries and is known for its beauty and malleability in cutting, carving and shaping.

Advantages & disadvantages of limestone

The advantages of limestone include:

  • Neutral colors (from beige to brown and gray shades)
  • High aesthetics with the appearance of impressive natural stone
  • Easy maintenance at relatively low cost
Limestone surface in white, beige and grey shades
Limestone piece formed by calcite with white, beige and grey shades to show the disadvantages and advantages of the natural stone

On the negative side:

  • Due to its sensitivity to acidic substances, it is imperative to carefully seal it with appropriate protectors so that it does not corrode and show scratches and stains on the surface.
  • Limestone is softer than other natural stones, which makes it prone to peeling in high-traffic applications (paths, floors and stairs). To avoid damage, professional protection is essential.

Advantages of marble

Marble is widely used in various constructions inside and outside the home because of its exceptional characteristics that make it unique. It is therefore not surprising that many owners prefer it so as to add value to their property.

As a porous material it should be maintained and cared for with appropriate materials. Frequent cleaning and sealing, over time, will allow your marble to maintain its flawless appearance and remain unchanged.

Its advantages include:

  • A huge variety in shades, much more than limestone
  • Rare and unique beauty as a natural material
  • High resistance to heat, stains and scratches
  • Large and immediate availability
  • A huge variety of surface finishes (like polished, honed, bush hammered, antique etc).

Transfer of white marble slab in an outdoors marble warehouse in the main facilities of Stone Group International
White Greek marble with veins in an exterior warehouse to understand the advantages and disadvantages of marble stone

What are the uses of marble and limestone

Both natural stones have been used since ancient times in construction and for decor. The famous Parthenon marbles and the pyramid at Giza are just two of the most famous ancient architectural structures that were built with limestone and marble respectively.

Parthenon image as an example of architectural use of pentelikon marble in the ancient temple of Athena
Outdoor use of white Greek pentelikon marble in ancient architecture with unique beauty and resistance

The use of limestone in architecture presents interesting features. Today, limestone is widely used in commercial and residential applications; in the home it can be found decorating a fireplace, on exterior facades, flooring, walkways, walls and more. However, it is important to remember that to avoid discoloration and deterioration, limestone should not be used in kitchens and bathrooms.

Marble is considered a highly prestigious material in interior design and architecture. We find it as a raw material in statuettes, columns, floors, fountains, stairs, kitchen countertops and accessories, bathroom furniture, walls and fireplaces and in other expensive decorative solutions because of its noble and clean appearance. Its rare and special beauty and the impressive games it plays with light add luxury to any space it is used in.

Have you undertaken projects with marble stone? Read about the uses of marble in interior design, here.

Luxurious bathroom with white marble with veins installed in the walls and floors
White marble Pirgon, suitable for wall cladding and bathroom and shower floor

Which is more durable, marble or limestone?

Both stones are durable and suitable for many applications. Despite this, marble, due to the conditions of high temperature and pressure during its formation, is a harder material and is considered more durable than limestone, which is softer and more porous. On the ascending Mohs scale of mineral hardness, limestone scores 3 while marble reaches 4.

To choose the material that best suits you, you should evaluate the use for which it is intended. Careful shielding and care are necessary for both. It is a fact, however, that marble, by nature, is less prone to staining than limestone, something you should consider if you are planning to install a countertop in your kitchen area.

Why is marble considered a right stone material for a kitchen countertop? Learn all the pros & cons of using marble on a kitchen counter.

If you find it difficult to choose marble for kitchen countertops or area, this article 👉 The 6 Best Greek Marbles, will be useful to you for this specific purpose.

For a greater variety of white, gray, green and colored marble, visit 👉 our shop.

Modern kitchen with white Greek marble with veins in kitchen countertops and in wall cladding
Pirgon marble slabs, white marble with veins on kitchen floor and kitchen wall

Which is more expensive, marble or limestone?

One of the main factors that determine the choice between the two materials is, of course, the difference in their price. Although limestone is generally considered to be more economical, the final cost depends, to a large extent, on the variety, color and finish we choose. Thus, we find in these two natural stones a wide price range that can satisfy the needs of every project.

Ultimately, the marble option may prove to be more economical, especially if we consider the quality characteristics and investment value it adds to the property.

Living room with fireplace and bookcase with book-matching of white marble volakas classic on the wall
Luxurious living room with bookmatch slabs of white marble volakas classic, a perfect choice in fireplace wall cladding

How to choose between limestone and marble

Despite the differences between limestone and marble, both are excellent materials that will upgrade your space.

Focus on the look you want to achieve and the overall picture

that you dream of for the project you are preparing.

If you are aiming to create an artistic statement in your space, don’t hesitate to choose marble which will add unparalleled quality and character and create memories that will endure over time.

Slabs of marble piled up in the indoor covered warehouse of the main factory of Stone Group International
Slabs of white marble in a covered indoor warehouse of Stone Group International

Stone Group International, one of the largest marble stone quarrying, processing and trading companies in Europe, provides qualified staff to guide you with personalized advice on the project you have undertaken. Whether you are a builder, project manager, architect, decorator or interior and exterior designer, we are always at your disposal to help you achieve the result you dream of, together.

Get to know our vision, facilities and products at

If you’re looking to learn more about marble products and natural stones, Stonegroup is here to help. As one of the most well-known marble suppliers in Europe, our team can answer any questions you may have about the production process and how to best take advantage of these materials. And if you’re still unsure about whether to contact us, we invite you to explore our blog and read additional articles to gain more insight into our expertise.

Contact our experts.

Related Posts
Discover our latest blogs and find useful and interesting information, like marble trends, tips, applications, and inspiring ideas.