Looking at architecture through history, the term ‘timeless’ seems to take on a whole new meaning when it comes to marble. Dating back thousands of years to ancient Greek and Roman structures, you can still visit standing marble structures and flooring that have stood the test of time like nothing else on earth. That really puts the term into a different perspective doesn’t it?
Well this isn’t a coincidence. On top of being a beautiful building material that has become closely associated with elegance and luxury, it’s a practical material too. While marble isn’t the toughest stone on earth, it has more than proven itself as a long-lasting material. That doesn’t mean, however, that it is maintenance free.
In order to keep marble looking its best and to resist surface damage and staining, it does need to be sealed. Let’s get into why that is and what you can do about it below:
Why Marble Needs to be Sealed:
Marble, like all natural stone, is a relatively porous material. That means that liquids and other substances can seep beneath the surface and leave a stain just below the gleaming smooth surface. This is especially apparent in lighter colored marbles, which also tend to be the most porous.
The other pitfall is that marble is susceptible to surface etching from acidic chemicals, such as vinegar, coffee, wine, fruit juice and tomato sauce. The reason for this is that marble features a high amount of calcium carbonate, which easily dissolves in low pH chemicals.
The resulting effect can appear at first to just be a stain, but is actually physical damage to the surface of the stone. For spills or rings from cups, this can look like just a hard water residue, or it can appear as a general hazing on the surface. Either way, this is permanent damage and may require help from a stone restoration specialist in order to fix.
How to Know When to Seal Your Marble:
As a general rule of thumb, most experts recommend sealing every 6-12 months, but that is highly dependent on how much use the stone sees in any given area. That’s why it’s a good idea to test your stone’s seal periodically just to be sure. Your home routine and lifestyle will be the biggest determining factor for how often your marble will need to be sealed. A home with a big family that loves to cook will need to re-seal more often than a smaller family will.
You can test your marble’s seal with the water test:
The water test can be done by pouring water in spots about 3 inches in diameter on various spots of the countertop, and then let it sit for 30 minutes. If you see a dark spot or ring forming in any of these locations, the water is penetrating the stone and it’s time to reseal.
How to Reseal Your Natural-Stone:
Make sure surface is clean and dry:
In order to provide the most effective conditions for the sealer to take hold, make sure to thoroughly clean the surface with a stone-safe solution. For the best results, use a pH balanced cleaner that doesn’t leave behind any residue. Dish soap for instance can leave behind a residue that will interfere with the sealer’s ability to do its job. We recommend Granite Gold Daily Cleaner®, as it is formulated specifically for natural-stone for this purpose.
Sealing marble effectively:
Apply Granite Gold Sealer® in 3 square-foot sections at a time, spraying your stone sealer evenly over each section without soaking it. Immediately work the solution into the stone with a lint-free cloth (we recommend a fresh microfiber cloth). It’s important to not allow the sealer to dry on the surface at this stage, as this can lead to difficult-to-remove hazing in those areas.
Next, buff the area with another microfiber cloth, and wait 15-20 minutes or until the surface is dry to the touch between applications. For best results in areas that see heavy use, it’s not a bad idea to repeat the process 2-3 times.
Tips for Maintaining your Marble’s Seal:
In order to preserve the integrity of your seal, it’s a good idea to play it safe and quickly wipe up spills as they happen. At minimum, this saves you a headache in trying to get up a stain, and in the worst-case scenario this can save you a costly visit from a stone restoration professional.
On top of avoiding acidic chemicals and common household cleaners, it’s also a good idea to stay away from abrasive cleaning implements such as steel wool and scouring pads. Marble is tough, but that mirror-like surface is susceptible to scratches and using gritty or abrasive cleaning methods can scratch and dull the surface.
It’s also not a bad idea to keep liquid containers off the counter where possible. Things like glasses, bottles of cooking oil and soap dispensers can leave rings of buildup beneath them. These chemicals and soap scum can be difficult to scrub away or can possibly stain or etch the surface depending on their ingredients. Even something as innocuous as cooking oil can leave a difficult to remove stain. Better safe than sorry!
Have more questions or concerns on how to care for your natural stone? Consider reaching out to our team of stone care experts with more than 50 years of stone-care experience at 1-800-475-STONE. Be sure to check out our full line stone care products to make sure you’re doing that beautiful stone justice.