You love the look of marble. Who doesn’t? It’s luxurious.
Nothing quite achieves the visual “depth and complexity” of marble.
Should I use marble on my countertops?
No, marble is not a good choice for kitchen countertops. Walk into most fabrication shops and you will hear the same answer. Marble is not a good selection for kitchen counters.
Common Misconceptions About Marble
It is easy to etch marble (take the shine off). There seems to be some confusion between etching and staining. Quite often, a homeowner will think their marble has been “stained” when in fact, it has been etched.
To find out why marble etches, we need to look at how marble is formed.
All marble started as something else.
Yes! It is.
As the name implies, a metamorphic rock started as something else (often times limestone) but intense heat and pressure morphed it into something new.
But it’s not the morphing process that creates the problem. It’s the chemical composition.
Marble contains the mineral calcite or calcium carbonate.
Basically, anything acidic will react with the calcite and “eat” the shine off. Imagine trying to avoid acid in a cooking area.
Think about something as simple as making a pitcher of lemonade. (Or it may be easier to visualize a large glass of gin and tonic.)
In either case – you need to squeeze citrus.
Now picture a tiny drop of juice falling in slow motion toward the counter with the words “Noooooo” resounding through the air.
You try and catch the droplets – but before your hand can get under the liquid – SPLAT. They have splashed onto the polished marble countertops. And where ever those drops land they leave an imprint, taking the shine right off the surface.
Eventually, your shiny marble top will be marked by hundreds of cooking mishaps. For a rare few, those become “badges of honor” the beauty of living. For most it would make life unlivable.
It is a common misconception that sealing will protect marble from etching. But it does not.
Sealers are designed to prevent liquids from soaking deep into the natural stone. Kept at the surface, they can easily be wiped up.
Even so, it is best to wipe up spills as soon as possible. Refer to our Marble Cleaning Guide.
INSERT LINK TO Guide
While a good sealer will inhibit stains, it will not prevent acidic substances from reacting with the chemical makeup of marble.
This is because most sealers sit just beneath the surface of the natural stone, exposing a thin surface layer to interact with liquids.
A protective coating (a thin layer of polyester) can be applied to protect marble from etching. This material was developed for the hospitality industry and it’s application can be quite costly.
that is gas permeable but liquid impermeable. Our hard coat technology resists scratching and provides a long product life
Granite will not etch. Granite contains no calcite. Nothing in granite’s chemical composition reacts with acid.
However, some granite could stain. Surprisingly, the texture of granite can be porous.
Run your hand lightly over a piece of granite. Chances are it will feel cool and smooth to the touch.
But then you come across a slight rough patch. It may appear as a tiny bump or hairline cracks in the surface. This is a fissure.
It is quite normal for granite to have numerous fissures.
Often times homeowners will ask if something can be done to “fix” the texture. Not really. Similar to the errant paw print in Mexican Clay Tiles, these hairline cracks are just part of the character of this particular natural stone.
Granite Should be Sealed
These fissures can allow substances to penetrate the surface and cause a stain.
Therefore it is advisable to seal granite with a proper sealer designed for this unique surface, which is dense and at the same time porous.
Because granite does not etch, most contractors will strongly recommend their clients choose granite or quartz vs marble for kitchen counters.
However, historically, this has not been the case with flooring. Marble has been the material of choice.
Perhaps this is because granite is seen as overkill. More likely, it is because of the huge selection of choices available in Marble tile products for flooring in colors that homeowners find appealing.
By contrast, there are fewer choices when it comes to granite tiles.
Whatever the reason, marble floor tiles are beautiful and have been highly sought after.
What Other Natural Stones Are Used For Flooring?
Marble is not the only natural stone popular for flooring. Other stones include:
Polished: Many stones can be polished. However, not all stones will achieve the same degree of “shine.” Softer stones will not obtain as high a shine as harder stones.
Once a floor has been installed, it is possible to change the texture. Has your floor lost it’s luster. Not to worry, the polish can be restored. Buying a house with a polished floor, but you really want a matte finish? The shine can be taken off. Or perhaps a semi polish (a balance between polished and dull) is desired. This too can be achieved.
Honed: A honed surface is smooth (the saw marks from cutting are ground out) but not polished. A floor can be honed once it has been installed.
Saw–cut: The blade marks obtained, as the chunk of stone is cut into smaller pieces, remain on the surface of the stone tile.
Acid–washed: Washing is often used on limestone and marble. It leaves small etching marks and pits, which produce a less-finished, rustic look.
Tumbled: The stone is distressed. Edges are rounded. Typically, the stone is unfilled.
Flamed: This texture creates a rougher surface that is more slip-resistant. Typically this finish is used for exterior decks or interior walls.
Brushed: Typically, material is left unfilled during this process. Marbles become more open and veins, which would be closed if the material were polished, may be felt. The texture creates a soft patina.
Is Marble Porous? You May Ask
Yes, marble is porous. However, polishing the natural stone does make marble stone tiles more impervious to liquid penetration.
Because of this, years ago many installers didn’t even recommend sealing marble.
But today’s general consensus is that the best practice is to seal the marble floor.
Do All Natural Stones Need To Be Sealed?
All natural stone should be sealed.
Some stones are more porous than others, but all natural stones, marble, limestone, granite, slate, etc. could stain if left unsealed.
There are many types of sealers on the market
1) Oil Based.
2) Water Based.
3) Solvent Based.
The sealer should be tested on the stone before it is applied. Pick a small area that is easily hidden. Normally, sealers will not change the color of the stone, but that is not always the case.
Sometimes, homeowners want to change the color of the stone – deepen it. This is called color enhancing and there are sealers specifically designed to enhance the color of a natural stone.
Are All Sealers Compatible?
All sealers are not compatible with one another.
If you have a floor that has been sealed in the past, the fresh coat of sealer must be compatible with what was already used. Otherwise it will create a mess.
It’s best to use the same sealer that was used originally, but not everyone has this information. Houses are sold and information gets lost.
Any new coat of sealer should be applied in a small test area to see if it is compatible.
When you’re figuring out what to seal your stone with there are two considerations. The first is do you want a natural or enhanced finish?
The second is where will your stone tile be: indoors or outdoors?
There is no right or wrong answer to this. Whether you want a natural or enhanced look for your stone is purely a personal preference.
You can find Natural and Enhanced sealers at The Stone Quarry of Jupiter.
Marble was adopted as the official state rock of Alabama by legislative Act No. 755 on September 12, 1969