How to: A Guide to Cleaning & Preserving Marble Tiles on Any Surface

Marble is definitely the most exquisite building material that creates a rich impression on patrons of high-end businesses or visitors to a luxury home.

While it does require regular maintenance to keep it looking pristine and timeless, that's not a reason to forego this stone.

Homeowners may be wary, at first, about using marble in their kitchens and baths because they don't know how to clean marble tiles and think it's difficult or time-consuming, which isn't true. I tell them they needn't be afraid of not knowing how to clean marble showers or floors.

Once they learn how to clean marble floors easily, they will realize that it isn't much different than cleaning a wood floor. Plus, there are a number of newer products that are sprays, that help with sealing the surface to make it less likely to stain or be etched, without a ton of elbow grease or extra work.

It's actually easier than waxing your wood floors. Follow these easy steps to keep your marble surfaces looking beautiful for as long as your own them.

1. Mop Up Spills Quickly

When marble is used on a countertop, the trick is to keep a soft kitchen or bath towel nearby to mop up spills of water or other fluids from sitting on the surface too long. This is really necessary when you're using an acidic ingredient in your cooking, like lemons or vinegar. The lemon juice or vinegar can etch the surface of the stone, which slightly etches the stone.

Whether the etching is noticeable or not depends on a variety of factors:

Whether the sunlight hits it just right, the color and finish of your marble, the veining in the area, and if it happens to be in an area that is more noticeable. However, once you know how to clean marble tiles, you won't be limiting your choices based on whether or not a stain shows against your marble. You can even consider using it on the breakfast bar area of your kitchen without trepidation.

Just be aware that, honed marble doesn't show etchings as much as other finishes, but it stains more easily. Polished marble doesn't stain as easily, but can be prone to etching. So, wipe your surfaces dry after every use.

2. Use Soap and Water Only

One easy mistake to avoid in the bathroom is using special bathroom cleansers on the marble. They can also have staining and etching effects. Thus, the simpler you are in your cleaning routine, the less likely you'll damage the surface.

Use a biodegradable dish soap that is phosphate-free and mild in strength with water or a dry cloth of soft sponge only when wiping up spills or cleaning the bathroom on a regular basis. Reserve special cleaners and sealers for when you're trying to preserve the marble or repair stains that have happened.

Resist the temptation to use grout and tile cleaners as these can cause etching, whether you're cleaning the marble backsplash of your kitchen or the marble tiled area of your bathroom. For marble floors, use a dust mop, much the same way you would do for a wood floor, to keep it free of liquids.

3. Seal It Up Tight

To prevent etching and stains from happening in the first place, it's a good idea to seal your marble surfaces regularly. Some people do this twice a year, and others prefer to do it twice a month. For surfaces that get a lot of wear and tear, seal them up more often than other spaces that aren't exposed to acidic fluids or staining elements, like smoke.

You can test whether you need to seal your marble countertop  by lightly sprinkling water on them. If the water droplets spread out, instead of beading, then it's time to seal your marble again. Sealing helps to keep the pores in the marble full of stain-resistant material.

There are a number of products on the market that can be either lathered on with a paint brush and allowed to deeply penetrate the stone, before the residue is removed. Or, simpler applications of spray-on products that are sprayed and wiped down and take a total of two minutes to apply which are easier to use regularly. Once you are done, it's a good idea to let the sealer "cure" for an hour before using it. Wait another 24 hours before you clean it once again.

4. Know What To Do About Stains

No matter how careful you think you are, there is likely to be sometime when you miss a spot. This can lead to staining. Don't fret, however, as all is not lost. It depends on the type of stain, but many stains from oil and grease, to fruit, coffee, and tea stains can be cleaned with ammonia or hydrogen peroxide. Water spots can be buffed out with #0000 steel wool.

Check out this article  for other types of difficult to remove stains.

5. Fix Etching: Yes, It's Possible!

You can use a special marble polishing powder to buff out etching yourself, which is no different than using a powder cleanser around the home. Should that fail, you can get it honed professionally. However, if your marble is not honed, this will leave a space with a different finish, so you may end up having to polish and hone the entire surface to remove etching.

Here is a good example of what etching looks like and the process of removing etching by honing the stone. The good news is that this process makes your marble more resistant to future etching.

It's Not As Hard As You Might Think

I hope that this article has reduced some of the fears you might have about properly maintaining marble in your home or business. As you can see, it really is no different than maintaining other quality materials in the home and it has the added advantage of being more durable and long-lasting.

The key to keeping marble looking good is simplicity. No harsh chemicals or cleansers. Clean up liquids quickly with soap and water and a dry cloth or sponge. Get your marble surfaces sealed at least twice a year, if not more often. Fix mistakes with the proper marble cleaning products, specially made for marble. Call in a professional when you want to hone the stone.

If you follow these steps, you won't have to choose a dark stone, like Grigio Pearl, just because you think any stain will need to be hidden by design, not fixed.

You can pick light colors in the kitchen or bathroom, like Ming Green

or Afyon White without fear.

Where would you install marble in your home or business and what color would you choose, now knowing this information? If you like the article, please comment and share with your friends and followers on social media.

About the Author

Nelson Londono founded Artsaics in 1998 after learning the ins and outs of designing custom artistic tiles and stone mosaics. The New York-based surfacing company specializes in producing stunning artistic tiles & stone designs with fine natural stone from around the world. Nelson and his team’s passion lies in working with their hands, heads and hearts to make each and every space a unique reflection of self expression. You can learn more about Artsaics here.

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