Marble is one of the most beautiful surfaces available for countertops, floors and other home uses. A type of limestone, marble’s stately lines and veins are the result of natural processes. But because this elegant substance is somewhat soft and porous, it requires special maintenance to preserve its classic beauty. Here’s how to care for your marble.
Scratches, stains and etching
Finished marble gleams because it has been machine finished. You can choose either a shiny polished appearance or a satin look, called honed. Because marble is a soft stone, it’s vulnerable to scratches, stains and etching.
To avoid scratches, place pads beneath objects sitting on marble surfaces. Use coasters, hot pads and trivets on counters and place felt pads under furniture legs. Never cut food with a knife directly on a marble surface, and be careful laying sharp utensils on counters. Grit on shoe bottoms can scratch, so a “no shoes inside” policy is a good idea if you have marble floors. Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed and buffed will also prevent floor scratching.
Etching, which appears as a dull area on marble’s otherwise gleaming surface, occurs when a liquid dulls the sheen of the marble surface. Marble etches when spills are not wiped up quickly. Acidic substances are especially damaging. Even though vinegar and lemon juice make terrific natural household cleaners, never use them on marble or any stone countertop or floor.
Spills can also stain marble if not wiped away. Coffee, any fruit juices, milk and wine are especially damaging. Even water droplets left on marble can dull the surface. Spices such as cumin and turmeric can also stain marble.
Preventative care for marble
Clean marble frequently to prevent built-up grime. Wash with a gentle circular motion using warm, soapy water on a soft cloth or sponge. Don’t scrub. Rinse with clean water, then dry with a towel. You can also use a marble cleaner, which you can find in the household cleaning aisle at your grocer or home improvement store. After cleaning and drying, use a chamois to polish marble to a handsome shine.
You can provide long-term protection for your marble by applying a sealer to the freshly cleaned surface once per month. Sealer is available at home improvement stores.
Etching and staining may still occur, however. You can try to remove etching by sprinkling on marble polishing powder and buffing with a soft pad. Be very cautious with this process; if you don’t feel confident doing it, contact a countertop and flooring retailer for a referral to a professional.
To remove a stain on marble, mix baking soda and water into a paste, spread it on the stain and leave it for a full day. Wipe clean with a soft, damp cloth. You may have to repeat this process for tough stains. You can also wipe stains on light-colored marble with hydrogen peroxide. Cover the area with plastic wrap to keep it from evaporating. Leave 24 hours, then wipe clean with a soft, wet cloth.