Having been used throughout history as a famously high end and luxurious building material, adorning everything from the Taj Mahal, to the ancient Egyptian pyramids and ubiquitous carved columns in Greece. To this day marble is prized for its high-class appearance, structural rigidity and unparalleled timelessness.
However, all that beauty requires some rather specific maintenance and care to keep it looking so good. Marble isn’t quite as resilient as granite or quartz, but can still hold up to normal usage without too much issue as long as the proper precautions are made.
4 Common Marble Care Pitfalls and Mistakes:
1) Allowing Spills to Sit
Like all natural stone, marble is a naturally porous material and can allow water and other liquids to seep beneath the surface. This can lead to difficult-to-remove stains and build up of bacteria if you’re not careful. That’s why we recommend to always wipe up spills immediately, as even water can leave temporary dark spots in the stone if allowed to sit on an unsealed surface.
It’s also important for this reason to use a cutting board on marble countertops, and be sure to soak up any juices from your meal prep that made their way onto the surface of the stone. Cooking grease can leave a stain if left standing and food/drinks that are acidic can lead to chemical etching on the surface (more on that in item #2). Common acidic ingredients include vinegar, citrus juice, tomato sauce, coffee and wine.
For bathroom countertops, best practice is to place vanity trays under soap containers and other toiletries in order to stave off build-up of soap scum and other potentially harmful chemicals.
2) Using Acidic Cleaning Products
Vinegar and other acidic cleaning solutions should never be used on marble or other natural stone, as they will dull the professional finish and eat away at the surface of the stone and lead to etching. Etching can often look like watermarks or a surface stain, but in reality, these are chemical burns that have damaged the surface. If severe enough, this can require the help of a professional stone restoration specialist to fix, which is an expensive proposition!
Sealing your stone is your first line of defense here, but acidic chemicals will strip away and damage your protective sealer as well, opening you up to stains and etching in the future. This is why it’s so important to use cleaning products that are specially formulated for use on marble and other natural stone. Granite Gold Daily Cleaner® is an effective stone cleaning solution that is pH balanced and completely food-safe.
If you do find yourself with a stain however, you do have a few ways of remedying the situation:
For oil or grease stains:
In order to lift oil that has seeped beneath the surface, you can create a mix of baking soda and acetone to the consistency of pancake batter to cover the affected area. Give this mixture 24 hours to work, before wiping away and rinsing with water. Some stains may require two or three attempts to fully remove. Be sure to reseal once this is completed.
For organic stains:
For stains like wine, coffee, fruit juice or tea, mix one-part laundry bleach with one-part water and spray it onto the surface (the mixed solution won’t harm stone). Scrub with a safe-on-stone scrub sponge, such as Granite Gold Scrub Sponge® or a blue Scotch-Brite pad (other pads are too harsh on stone), or nylon brush (like the Grout Brush we include with Granite Gold Grout Cleaner®). Let it sit for 15 minutes and rinse with water.
Alternatively, place a clean paper towel over the stain and pour a solution of 3-4% hydrogen peroxide onto the towel to the point of saturation. Allow this to sit for 24 hours before wiping away and rinsing the area with water. Repeat as needed.
Do not mix bleach or hydrogen peroxide together or any household chemicals together.
After either of the above steps, it’s important to always re-seal your stone to protect against future stains.
3) Not Using Doormats or Not Mopping Regularly
Dirt, mud and sand is abrasive on stone flooring, and can scratch the surface over time. It’s a good idea to keep doormats inside as well as outside to try catching this debris and prevent these scuffs from happening. It’s also good to be mindful of what you’re tracking in and wiping your feet as best as you can within reason before walking on your marble flooring.
A dry, clean dust mop works great to remove any dirt that has been tracked in and won’t scratch the floors in the process. Run the dry mop in a single direction, not back and forth in order to best collect all the debris. A vacuum is not recommended, as they can contribute to these scratches overtime.
4) Not Sealing Your Stone
All the beauty and prestige of marble comes with the unfortunate reality that it is a more porous material than other natural stone, such as granite. With that being the case, it’s even more important to maintain the protective seal that was applied when the stone was installed. This is imperative in order to maintain the luster and clean look of that marble you invested so much in.
How to tell when it’s time to seal:
As a general rule, it’s recommended to re-seal your stone every 6-12 months depending on use, but the only way to know for sure is with the water test:
The water test:
Pour water (about 3 inches in diameter) on the surface in several locations and let it sit for 30 minutes. If you see a dark mark or ring, the water is penetrating the stone and it’s time to reseal. Make sure to clean the surface thoroughly before sealing.
How to seal your marble:
Sealing should be done in sections of roughly 3-foot sections at a time. Spray Granite Gold Sealer® (also available in disposable wipe form) evenly over the section and immediately buff the solution into the marble with a clean microfiber cloth. Be careful to not allow the sealer to dry on the surface, as this can lead to hazing.
Once the sealer is applied, buff the area with another clean microfiber until the surface is dry to the touch between applications (20 minutes should be plenty). For best results, it’s not a bad idea to repeat the process 2-3 times.
Have any more specific questions or concerns on how to care for your marble or other natural stone? Feel free to reach out to our team of Stone Care Experts with more than 50 years of experience at 1-800-475-STONE. Also, be sure to check out our full line stone care products to keep that marble looking as nice as the day it was installed!