Seal and Maintain Your Marble Countertops

2013-11 Carrara Italy- photo by Alfred Weidinger
Cararra. photo by Alfred Weidinger

Carrara Marble is still quarried in Carrara, on Italy’s northwestern Mediterranean coast. With its powdery white background and contrasting grey strata, it’s an instantly recognisable material that can add classic elegance to any project.

The Naysayers

Historically, marble was often used for countertops in both homes and commercial kitchens. It’s a good work surface, it’s affordable and it looks fantastic. However, if you ask about using marble for a countertop today, you’ll hear a chorus of “Don’t do it. It’s a soft, porous stone. It’s too easy to stain. It will scratch and chip.”

Don’t be discouraged. If marble is what you want for your countertops, then we’re not going to tell you it’s a bad idea. There are just a few things to be aware of: sealing, maintenance and reasonable expectations.

Manage Expectations

2013-11 Parthenon
The Parthenon. A 2500 year old building made of stone some say isn’t durable enough for a countertop. By Tim Bekaert

Let’s start with reasonable expectations. Marble is a natural material, and it’s true that for stone, it’s soft and porous. After decades of use, you can expect your marble to age. The edges will soften and the surface will blur a little and acquire a patina. If you want to renew your marble surface, you can always resurface it. However, many people think that aged marble looks beautiful in its imperfection. If you choose granite for your countertops, then the way it looks may not change in your lifetime. If you choose marble, it will age. But, think about it. There are marble statues and marble temples that are thousands of years old and still look beautiful.

Seal Your Marble Surfaces

Your marble countertops can be protected from stains with a good quality sealant. There’s an interesting article about marble countertops called Sealing Marble: the Acid Test by Greg over at petchhouse.blogspot.com.au. He’s renovating a Victorian home and wanted to find out the truth about how easily marble stains. His first discovery? It doesn’t stain unless you spill something on it and then fail to wipe it off for at least an hour. His second discovery? A high quality sealer such as Stonetech Professional will very effectively prevent staining even when brightly coloured, acidic liquids are allowed to sit on the marble. Of course, the sealant needs to be reapplied every few years, but that’s not too onerous.

Maintain Your Marble

To maintain your marble countertop, keep it clean by regularly wiping it with a damp cloth, just as you would any countertop. However, avoid leaving standing water on the marble. If it’s wet, then give it a quick wipe down with a dry towel. Every so often, use a marble cleaner on your countertop, then buff it with a chamois or soft cloth to restore the shine. Reseal every few years, as recommended by the manufacturer of the sealant. That’s it. Marble requires a little extra care to keep it at its best, but it isn’t difficult to maintain.

Marble is a good material for bar countertops, and it can also be used in floor tiles and terrazzo.