December 4


FAQ: Everything You Need to Know About Marble Countertops

By Brian McMonagle

December 4, 2019

What are marble countertops?

Everyone is familiar with countertops, and the many functions and forms they come in. One of which is marble countertops, which have been famed for being the most durable and popular.

Marble is a metamorphic rock which is produced when limestone is exposed to high temperatures and pressures. This is due to calcite forming, leading to limestone recrystallising. Thus, it forms a denser rock that consists of roughly equigranular calcite crystals.

Countertops made with this material are highly favoured for their sleek, sophisticated style. Marble countertops are a great way to amp up the classic look of any kitchen space! A marble worktop will definitely elevate the overall aesthetic of any room, kitchen or home.

beautiful marble worktop

Does marble have to be sealed?

As marble is porous, there is always a chance that air or any form of liquid can seep in. This is because marble has tiny holes or pores in the makeup of its stone which allows for the smallest material to get through. 

So, generally speaking, marble should be sealed. There is especially a need for this if you plan to use marble in your kitchen or dining areas, where spillage is common.

If you have decided to buy marble countertops, we at McMonagle Marble & Granite would recommend you get it sealed, and your supplier may even recommend this for you.

It depends on the exact marble stone and sealing process as to how often you would need your countertop sealed. Once you have your marble countertop, a good supplier will give you ample information on the correct sealing methods for the type of marble you have.

Thankfully, you don’t need to get a professional to get your marble countertops sealed. This is a project that you can do yourself at home. While the process may vary from person to person, the process pretty much revolves around spritzing the sealing agent on, and simply using a piece of cloth to gently rub it into the material.

What’s the best way to clean a marble countertop?

All you need are two things: warm water and a gentle, non-abrasive dish soap. With just these two things, you can keep your marble countertop in tip-top shape!

Just make sure that you opt for a pH neutral soap. This is because acidic cleaners tend to be bad for marble. 

Spray on a generous layer of soapy water onto the marble countertop, and light scrub. Do away with rough kinds of scrubs! Just go for a towel.

Once you’ve wiped off the cleaning soap solution, wait for it to dry a little more. After which, you can use a microfiber cloth or soft chamois for an added layer of shine and polish. Make sure that your countertop is all-the-way dry before you call it a day! This is because, as we discussed, marble is porous, thus, standing liquid can penetrate the tiny holes and result in etching.

If you feel like a scrub and soap is not enough for you, you can even head to a hardware store to find cleaners specifically made for marble. There are abundant cleaning products and polishes specially made for marble; Just make sure you know what specific kind of stone you have to get the best results.

ancient marble hallway

What is etching?

Contrary to popular belief, etching is not simply just discolouration. Etching is actual physical damage to the marble. In terms of marble countertops, etching is a corrosive chemical reaction that is the result of acids interacting with the stone. This is when the calcium carbonate of marble reacts and is, basically, “eaten” away.

These first manifest as dull spots on marble surfaces. They usually take the form of small stains or even as water rings. If left unchecked, it can go deeper and become harder to fix.

Unsealed marble areas are prone to etching if any acidic liquid, like lemon juice, makes its way into the stone and stays there for a long enough time as for a chemical reaction to occur. 

This is the reason why a lot of etching on marble countertops manifest as a ring or any round shape. It is because of an acidic splash, or moisture accumulating at the bottom of a glass.

While etching is more common and prominent on surfaces that are polished, it can show up on all kinds of marble. 

dessert on marble

If you see etching, all hope is not lost! You don’t need to think of a major renovation the moment you see etching on your marble countertops. Etched marble is still salvageable by professionals! They can refresh the look of your marble countertop by refining or polishing the affected area.

However, if it’s very minor etching that occurs before it gets worse, you can look for DIY products that can help fix the problem! You don’t need to hire extra hands to bring your marble countertop back to its former glory.

Just make sure you seek expert advice as to which cleaner can reduce the visibility of etching on the damaged area. 

Another thing you should take note of is that marble sealer will not completely save you from etching. For this, we recommend that you stay alert to any messes or spills on your marble countertop.

Clean up as soon as something gets spilled, however, you can always simply use coasters to avoid etching. 

What causes marble to turn yellow over time?

Lighter types of marble can turn brown or yellow if the stone is directly exposed to water for long periods of time, or if the marble comes in contact with harsh chemicals. Harsher chemicals are usually found in potent cleaners such as bleach, and acids found in other cleaners or other types of food or soaps.

Once iron in the stone oxidizes, yellowing starts to occur. One other reason is if the seal on the marble has become thinner or weaker, water and other harmful liquids can make their way into the porous material of marble countertops.

Discolouration can also be caused by leaving your marble countertop to neglect. If you do not clean them properly, some substances can leave behind a build-up. Make sure that your cleaners, polishes, or waxes are wiped off properly or else the build-up will lead to yellowing and discolouration.

working on marble worktop

How are polished marble and honed marble different?

For the part of polished marble, these usually feature a shiny, high-gloss look. It is noticeably smoother than its counterpart, and it shiny coating provides protection for the marble countertop.

On the other hand, honed marble is notable for its flatter finish that is less reflective compared to polished marble. Most home-owners opt for the honed marble, since its less prone to etching or scratches. When a honed marble countertop is scratched or nicked, it will be less noticeable compared to if it were on a polished marble finish. 

However, for honed marble, it will be more likely to have lasting stains since the stone’ pores are much closer to the surface.

Can marble countertops withstand hot pots and pans?

The short answer is yes, since marble boasts of a high heat tolerance. In spite of this, you should never put directly in the line of fire by applying extremely high heat.

For example, if you took a hot pot or pan off the stove and placed directly on a marble countertop, then you may crack the marble.

Before you set hot pieces of kitchen equipment on the marble countertop, let it rest and cool for a few minutes first. After it has cooled down you can set it on marble, perhaps even placing a piece of cloth or a rag underneath for an added layer of protection.

Extreme heat can cause a distinct change in colour, or can even cause a minor burn mark on marble countertops. If you are someone who deals with extreme heat in the kitchen (like a baker), perhaps granite would be more suitable.

marble kitchen countertop

Will marble chip easily?

Marble is softer than other natural stones like granite, quartz, and other tougher counterparts. With the great beauty of marble countertops, comes some sacrifices. Marble countertops are prone to nicks and chips if you were to bang a pot or pan hard enough. 

This means that you have to be a little bit more careful when dealing with marble. To maintain a marble worktop's pristine and sleek appearance, you should probably be a little more wary of what you put on its surface.

Luckily enough, if the chip is minor enough, it can be easily be fixed with DIY home remedies available in most hardware stores. Just be sure you take preventive measures so that you won’t need to resort to repairs.

Have a question or query with regards marble countertops or marble staircases? Get in touch today.

Brian McMonagle

About the author

Brian took over McMonagle Marble & Granite from his father Cathal in 2009. A family run business McMonagles was originally a fireplace distributer. Brian’s innovative steps has now expanded the company to over 20 employees, International markets and into the leading marble and granite fabricator of the North West of Ireland.

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