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How to Avoid (and Fix) Marble Scratches, Stains and Etches 

We talk to a marble expert to find out how best to deal with marble marks.

A photo I snapped of one sad restaurant marble tabletop. Thankfully our expert tells us there's a way to avoid this gross, blackhead-like situation. (Photo by Julia Dilworth).
A photo I snapped of one restaurant’s sad marble tabletop. Thankfully our expert tells us there’s a way to avoid this gross, blackhead-like situation. (Photo by Julia Dilworth.)

This all started with a visit to a local restaurant whose patio was outfitted with marble tabletops. Glamorous choice I thought, and then I took a look closer, and each white and grey veined marble surface was bespeckled with unsightly black dots (almost like it needed one of those Biore pore strips). Not so glamorous!

Marble has been one of the hottest materials in 2015, its ubiquity reaching far beyond countertops to furniture, accessories—and even to print (I just spotted a faux marble surfboard last week), so expert information on how to take care of this bewitching stone seems more pertinent than ever. We enlisted the help of Calgary’s marble expert Ruben Cabrales to fill us in.

How to Avoid and Fix 3 Main Marble Misfortunes:

First off, AB Granito’s director, technician and expert at large Ruben Cabrales tells us you’ve got to understand that marble is a soft stone. It’s porous and sensitive, and many people don’t know how to take care of it properly.

That's not oil, those are water stains that marked up marble left unsealed. (Photo by AB Granito.)
That’s not oil:  those are water stains that marked up marble left unsealed. (Photo by AB Granito.)

1. Stains

Natural products like food, oil, wine, these substances can get inside the marble and can change its colour, but not the sheen (like an etch mark will). Red wine will produce a red stain and oil or water will darken the colour of the marble.

This is what it looks like when your marble has been properly sealed. There's no way for dirty and debris to get into the pores! (Photo by AB Granito.)
This is what it looks like when your marble has been properly sealed. There’s no way for dirt and debris to get into the pores! (Photo by AB Granito.)

How to Avoid: You can prevent stains with a good marble sealer, something that Cabrales says isn’t always easy to find on the market. You won’t typically see it sold at generic hardware stores, but he says you can find the good stuff, a.k.a. “penetrating sealer” at specialty stores for marble and granite. Sealers will buy you time so that you can spill something and not panic, as it gets deep into the marble, creating a barrier to anything else getting into its pores. (Although he doesn’t recommend leaving spilled wine overnight, *see stains above).

How to Fix: Amazingly, Cabrales says you can get rid of most stains yourself. In fact, one popular home remedy is to put baking soda and a bit of water on the stained area and eventually the baking soda will absorb it. There are also other products on the market that can do this in a few applications.

marble8_etchmarks
Etch marks mean the marble surface has been corroded (causing a mark lighter than the marble). (Photo by AB Granito.)

2. Etch Marks

Cabrales says in contrast to a stain, an etch mark won’t darken the stone—it actually lightens the stone. It’s also going to feel a bit raw to the touch because it takes away the marble’s sheen. Any acidic substance will etch, or eat away at the surface immediately. Cabrales says you could cut a lime and place it upside down and you’d get an etch mark in the exact shape of the lime in seconds.

How to Avoid: Nothing on the market can prevent etching, so cutting boards, rubber and cork coasters—these are all highly recommended to keep things from scratching or etching the surface. Also be sure to clean countertops with non-acidic, PH-balanced (neutral) solutions.

How to Fix: The only way to fix etch marks is to get the marble polished and refinished by a professional (something our expert says can cost $200 for a single mark and up to $2,400 for a full countertop).

marble9_scratches
A soft stone like marble is prone to scratches. (Photo by AB Granito.)

3. Scratches

These happen when something is harder than the marble. Just sliding a metal pot across the marble counter can create a scratch, explains Cabrales.

How to Avoid: Use caution (as well as placemats, cutting boards etc.) with metal pots, pans and knives—any material harder than marble will scratch its surface.

How to Fix: A professional has to polish and refinish.

To learn more about marble care check out the AB Granito Restorations website: abgranite.ca

 

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