Marble is an alluring natural stone—tempting to many people because of its luxurious looks and timeless appeal. It has a sturdy reputation for being a sophisticated stone that brings an air of class to any home, but it has another type of reputation as well: being a high-maintenance stone that’s difficult to care for.
Although marble countertops do take a bit more care and upkeep than other natural stones, their beauty is worth it. And the truth of the matter is, while the maintenance duties might seem overwhelming at first, once you get into the routine of taking care of your marble countertops, you’ll realize that it’s not so bad after all.
If your marble countertop is placed in your kitchen or bathroom—two highly frequented areas of a household—there’s no doubt that its surface will retain some wear and tear. That’s inevitable, no matter how well the counter is maintained. But wear and tear doesn’t have to equal degradation—it just shows that people live there and use the counters. It’s part of the beauty of natural stone—the marks show the life that occurs around it. Many of our customers consider this aspect of natural stone a positive asset.
In order to keep your everyday use from turning detrimental, here’s the rundown on marble maintenance.
Start with Sealant
Since marble is a porous stone, it requires sealant in order to maintain the quality of its surface. When the countertop is first installed, it doesn’t include sealant—applying it is something that you can choose to do yourself or have our installers at MGW take care of it.
No matter what finish you choose for your marble countertop—polished (for high gloss) or honed (for soft matte)—it will require sealant. The latest trend for marble countertops is to use a honed finish, which doesn’t show as many scratches as a polished surface does. But it does leave the counter susceptible to more staining—and we’ll get to stain removal a bit later.
In order to apply sealant (for the first time or any time after), first make sure the countertop is clean and dry. Then, all you need to do is wipe the sealant onto the surface with a soft cloth.
You’ll know when it’s time to reseal because you won’t see water droplets forming in beads on the surface of your countertop anymore.
To keep your sealant strong, we recommend wiping down your countertop on a daily basis with a soft cloth or sponge. Along with a soft material, mild soap and water is a good option as well. Abrasive cleaners that include bleach or other harsh chemicals can strip the sealant and leave your marble vulnerable.
Before spilled food has a chance to cause staining or discoloration, clean it up right away. Even with sealant in place, this can happen if spilled food is left on the countertop for a number of hours, or overnight. Coasters are also a good idea, along with cutting boards for chopping.
Marble countertops are also susceptible to etching—dull marks caused by acidic substances like lemon juice, vinegar, tomato sauce, and more. Etching cannot be removed by the soft cloth and mild soap method—it takes a little bit more figurative elbow grease than that.
Staining and Etching Removal
If you’re cleaning up stains and marks with soap, and water doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to step things up a notch. Don’t worry, though—it’s nothing you can’t handle.
In order to remove stubborn etching and stains, you need to bring in tougher chemicals like Soft Scrub or Ajax (with bleach), which you’ll scrub on with an abrasive sponge. Previously, we discussed not using harsh chemicals on your marble countertops to preserve the sealant, but in this case, the sealant must be sacrificed in order to rid your countertop of stains.
After you treat the affected area, it will be brighter than the rest of your countertop, which means that you have to treat the rest of your countertop with the same method. Afterwards, rinse it and let it dry completely—even waiting a couple of days before resealing.
It’s not often that stains occur that you can’t take care of yourself—that’s the good news. The even better news is that, if there is a stain that pops up that just won’t quit, there are people who can handle it and get your countertop back to looking brand new. Those people are stone refinishers.
Stone refinishers will use special grinders to grind out stains. But here’s the thing: you could even try using fine sandpaper on your marble countertop on your own. You don’t have to worry about hurting the stone—the sandpaper will easily smooth out nicks and chips. It’s also capable of smoothing out stains. Just remember to reseal when you’re done sanding!
Embrace the Flaws
As you can see, marble maintenance isn’t hugely intimidating, and the light work it entails should not dissuade you from purchasing your dream stone. Furthermore, the wear and tear is part of your marble countertop’s history and personality—if you can’t eliminate it, embrace it!