Marble Care and Maintenance: How to Polish Natural Marble
Marble is a valuable stone made from natural limestone that has been transformed into a durable building material through the use of heat, pressure, and time. It is commonly used for flooring, countertops, staircases, tables, bars, and fireplace mantels. However, due to its porous nature, it stains easily, making regular care a necessity.
Step 1: Determine whether you have natural or cultured marble
Temperature method: Natural marble is normally cooler to the touch than the surrounding air, while cultured marble stays at around the same temperature as the surrounding air.
Acid method: Put a few drops of vinegar on a hidden surface of the marble. Natural marble will create bubbles or fizz while cultured marble will not have this effect. Immediately wipe up the vinegar with a damp cloth to avoid damage.
Scratch method: On the same spot where you put the vinegar, lightly scratch the surface with a nail. Using a magnifying glass, check to see whether there are any visible scratches. Natural marble scratches easily while cultured marble does not.
*If after trying these methods you are unable to determine whether you have cultured or natural marble, proceed as though it is natural so as not to cause any permanent damage.
Method 1: Polishing Natural Marble
Remove any existing stains: Using a damp sponge or cloth, lukewarm water, and a mild dish soap, gently rub the stained area until it is cleaned. Rinse thoroughly. To avoid stains in the future, wipe up spills immediately to prevent them getting trapped in the porous marble surface.
Use poultice to draw out stubborn stains: Combine hydrogen peroxide, a few drops of ammonia, and some shredded paper towels in a bowl, stirring until it has the consistency of a smooth, thick paste.
– Make enough to cover the entire stain.
– Apply the poultice to the stain in a thickness of about 1/4″ to 1/2″.
– Completely cover the poultice with plastic wrap. Tape down the edges and poke a few small holes to vent it. – Allow the poultice to completely dry. This can take up to 48 hours.
– Remove the plastic, lightly pour water over the dry poultice, and wipe it away with a soft cloth. Thoroughly dry the area.
If the stain persists, repeat the above steps. Some stains require two or three applications.
After stain removal is complete, make sure the surface is dry and clean. Marble is soft and scratches easily, and you don’t want to damage it while polishing.
– Gently remove all dirt, dust and grit using a clean, dry cloth or dust mop.
– Use a soft cloth and warm water to wash away grime. Use a mild dish soap if needed. Rinse well with a clean, damp cloth, and dry the surface well.
Polish your marble surface using a mixture of baking soda and water.
– Combine 3 tbs. (45 g) of baking soda to 1 qt (0.9 L) of water and mix well.
– Using a clean cloth, apply the mixture to your surface in a thin layer. Allow to dry for about 5 hours.
– Use a clean cloth and warm water to rinse the marble surface.
Dry and buff the marble with another clean cloth. Using a soft microfiber or chamois cloth, gently wipe down the marble in wide, circular motions. Move in progressively smaller circles as the surface dries.
Add a sealant (optional). A sealant won’t prevent all stains, but will provide some protection to your marble surface. You can purchase marble sealant in a spray bottle at a hardware or home goods store.
– Follow the package instructions carefully. The steps below are for general guidance only.
– Tape off any areas around the marble surface that are not to be sealed using masking tape or plumber’s tape.
– Spray the marble liberally with the sealant. Make sure the entire surface is completely wet.
– After 15-30 minutes, use a soft, dry towel to wipe the surface completely dry.
– Apply one more coat of sealer, let it sit for 15-30 minutes and wipe dry.
– Allow the marble to cure for 6-8 hours. Do not use the surface during this time.
*Reapply sealant every 1-2 years, depending on how heavily your marble surface is used.