Honed Marble Countertop Cleaning

by Kim
(Atlanta)

QUESTION:

The countertops in my kitchen are honed marble. So, first, does this mean I do or don't seal them? Second- do I use an abrasive pad on spots, the whole thing? I do have some spots- how do I get them to be less noticeable? Thanks!


ANSWER:

Marble is actually pretty dense and not very absorbent... but YES, you should seal honed marble... especially in the kitchen.

FYI, polished marble is actually less absorbent than honed. This is true of any polished stone.... polishing reduces the rate at which a particular stone will absorb a substance and stain.

Still, most stones should be sealed whether honed or polished. Some granites should not be sealed and soapstone doesn't need sealing either...

But honed marble in the kitchen--seal it.

I'd suggest using one of these recommended impregnating sealers, which we've found provide the best performance and durability of any currently on the market.

For general cleaning, Do NOT use abrasive pads on marble. Marble is dense, but soft and abrasive pads will scratch or mar the surface.

Use only products safe for cleaning marble with a sponge or soft cloth.

For certain types of "spots" an abrasive pad or even sand paper can be helpful to remove the spots, but you may want to hire a marble maintenance professional instead of doing it yourself.

You have spots. What kind?

Stain: a spot darker than the marble color indicating an absorbed substance.

OR

Etching: a spot lighter than the marble color, possibly duller than the surrounding finish and possibly with a slight depression in the surface indicating chemical damage as a result of contact with an acidic substance like juice, coffee, alcohol, fruit, salad dressing, etc.

If you have a stain, you'll need to follow the step-by-step instructions in the Removing Stains Manual. Regular cleaning methods won't get a stain out of stone.

Etch marks are a different story. Most likely you'll need professional resurfacing as noted, but light etch marks can sometimes be removed on honed marble by sanding.

Etch marks are typically not as visible on honed marble as polished marble. If they are easily noticeable, it makes me think they are deep.

Deep etching takes experience and skill to remove and restore the countertop surface so it all looks new again.

You can use abrasive pads to wear away the etched marble, but the remaining surface could look different than the rest of the honed surface. Blending it back in is the hard part.

So, the best recommendation is to get a pro to take a look, but if you want to give it a go, you'll find complete instructions in the Removing Etch Marks Manual.

Marble is typically not recommended in the kitchen because you WILL get etch marks and sealing has NOTHING to do with etching. Sealing helps to retard staining only.

The only way to prevent etching is to prevent contact with acids... nearly impossible in a kitchen, but using coasters, trivets and large cutting boards for all food prep will help.

Hops this helps!

Comments for Honed Marble Countertop Cleaning

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marble bench tops the pros and cons
by: Anonymous

i am having honed marble bench tops installed in a couple of days and I have to say that i am excited and nervous about the whole process, but because marble being a natural stone does it matter that is marks or scratches isn't the beauty of the marble that it grows with you and is from the earth, i have been told that rubbing olive oil into the marble, I am talking marble not granite then the marks or scratches will fade but i am not daunted by that because this is not a man made stone but all natural so i will love my scratches and remember them when i use my kitchen to cook in and use as a kitchen should be used i think the term is lived in
cheers to all

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stains honed marble
by: Betty

how do I get rid of water stains on my honed marble. They are sealed, but I have water rings?

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Vinegar and water
by: Alexandra Dillon

A friend recently vacationed in Italy where she attended a cooking class. The cooking school had beautiful honed marble counters and the only thing that they ever cleaned them with was vinegar and water. Apparently they were beautiful. I have always read to avoid vinegar.
I soon will be installing white calcatta oro kitchen counters. Could I wipe my counters with a solution of vinegar and water too???

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Vinegar and water
by: Ryan

Alexandra,

The key is that the marble is "honed" and not polished.

Vinegar will etch (corrode) marble which is very noticeable with polished marble because it creates a dull spot, but on honed marble you don't notice it as much or at all. And since they are cleaning the entire countertop any etching that occurs will occur evenly and not be noticeable.

In Europe marble countertops are common in the kitchen because they hone them and just let them age naturally without obsessing over every little blemish.

In the US people like to polish the marble to bring out the depth of color, but they also expect the marble to look pristine, like new for 20 years. That is impossible if you put marble (especially polished marble) in the kitchen.

Acidic foods like vinegar will etch the polish and create a bunch of dull spots that look like stains on polished marble.

So, if you have a European sensibility regarding this issue then go ahead and install honed marble in the kitchen... it's an excellent surface.

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Honed Marble Water Rings
by: Ryan

Betty,

Is the spot kind of dull and lighter in color? If so, you have an etch mark from contact with acidic food or drinks.

Buy some 0000 grade steel wool pads and lightly sand the area. This should improve and/or remove it.

However, you could have a straight stain where something has absorbed into your marble. If the above doesn't get it all out then try using a poultice as described on this page:

http://www.countertopspecialty.com/hair-dye-stain-on-marble-vanity-top.html

Sealing does not make your marble stain-proof. It just slows down the absorption rate. So, if the liquid sat there overnight say, then you can still get a stain.

And sealing has nothing to do with etching. Use coasters, cutting boards, etc. to eliminate contact with acidic substances.

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Windex used on my honed Cararra countertop
by: Cati

A houseguest used Windex and then Goo Gone Gel on my lovely new honed Cararra Marble countertops : (
The spray splash has left dull spray marks, and then he tried to elminate then with the oily goo gone... it didn't work.

Help! What can I do?

Kind regards,
Cati

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Windex Damage on Honed Marble
by: Ryan

Cati,

You'll find complete instructions on how to remove etch marks (the spots the windex and goo gone created) in the Removing Etch Marks Manual.

The techniques in the manual should do the trick for you, but if the etching is severe, then you may have to hire a pro to re-hone the area so it "blends" with the rest of the surface.

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Marble the choice of Old Europe
by: Queenbee

I am always surprised at the way the American market views marble floors and counter tops. What is this obsession with wanting things to look always new? BEFORE granite was used on counters or floors, marble was the stone of choice. If you travel to France, Italy, Spain or Portugal--all those counters you admire or those tops on tables in chateaus are all MARBLE--and it is marble that has endured CENTURIES of pastry and wines and beers and often has mellowed from a pristine white to a much coveted cream or yellow and a "saddling' in the middle where the dough was rolled out again and again. The scratches are part of the patina. If people really do not want wear on their countertops or floors and want them to look like new--the best options are never using the room or item with the marble/granite/natural stone OR take a picture and tell everyone this is what you would have had in your kitchen if only it would stay looking brand new.

I buy antiques and COVET the mellowed surface of much used marble--cream, please and the scratches are the narrative not something to be edited out.

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honed countertops always streaky
by: kathy

I just did my countertops in honed marble as well and although I LOVE the way they look, i have a hard time cleaning them? Everything I use (whether it's just warm water or a marble cleaner) leaves the counter tops very streaky. Any suggestions??

==== ADMIN COMMENT:

Water will streak simply because it takes a lot of wiping with dry towels to remove all water. Any water left to dry will show a residue.

In fact, if any product or liquid is left in sufficient quantity on the surface it will leave streaks after drying.

Like any product marble cleaners are not all created equal. Many will leave streaks even after extensive wiping and drying.

However, a few marble cleaning products are engineered to dry very quickly when in use, so you have to do minimal wiping to clean and dry the countertop, thus eliminating streaks.

The best product we've found for general stone cleaning is this Granite Countertop & Marble Cleaning spray.

It dries streak-free, makes the countertop super-shiny, mild pleasant odor and very inexpensive for professional quality product.

A honed surface is still smooth and really isn't any different to clean than a polished countertop.



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Thassos Marble Tile Stains
by: Anonymous

I have thassos tile. There are rust and coffee stains. I am thinking about using lemon and or rubbing alcohol to remove the stains. Any input?

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Yes, neither alcohol or lemon juice will do a thing to remove coffee or rust stains, but the lemon juice will etch the marble entailing a second repair.

Stains in marble cannot be removed by standard cleaning methods... like scrubbing with a surface cleaner.

A special method is employed to draw out stains. Rust stains are uniquely difficult and require a more specific formula / method than for coffee or oil or other common marble stains.

You'll need to use the appropriate natural stone stain removal product on the linked page.

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Honed Carrara Marble Spots
by: Anonymous

I have honed carrera marble and have water spots all over the place!

Simple drops of water leave a dullness as does using a dry paper towel (you can see the webbed imprint of the paper when you lift it up).

I did what the marble place told me to do and sealed it but later found out the fabricator sealed it before I did but no one told me.

They tried sanding the entire slab and told me to use an acetone on it but it's still the same and every subsequent drop of water leaves an imprint. Help!

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

I'll assume you know for certain it is water that is causing the spots. Most often in such cases, people think that water is causing these dull spots (called "etching") when, in fact, it is some other substance.

So, if it truly is water, then the most likely reason is because your water is acidic.

Acidic foods, drinks, personal products, and harsh cleaners can cause etching on marble. Pure water will never cause etching.

However, some city water supplies can be acidic or if you have a water filtering or purification system it may not be set properly making your water too "soft" by stripping out all the minerals that balance the pH of the water. The result can be a lower pH and acidic water.

The paper towel issue, I cannot explain, I'm not sure of the reason for placing a dry paper towel on the surface.

If using it to wipe up liquids and it gets wet, then leaves an impression... it is probably just the way the paper towel pattern affects how the liquid contacts the surface.

And if it is the water you are wiping up and it is acidic, then you could get etching in the shape of the paper towel pattern. That's my best guess on that one.

Note that stone sealers prevent staining (liquids absorbing into the surface). Sealers do not prevent etching, which is physical corrosive damage to the marble surface.

So, I'd have your water supply tested or check you purification system if you have one.

On honed marble, you can try sanding the etch drops with 0000-grade steel wool. If that is not sufficient, then go with a more coarse 400 or even 200 grit metal sandpaper and finish with the steel wool.

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Reply to sealer question
by: Anonymous

I just read the reply to my post about the water marks (not stains or etching) on my honed marble.

We have a whole house water filtration system and I can certainly check for pH, but the same thing happens when my ionized, hi pH water gets on the counter (Our drinking water).

The reason I put down the paper towel is to use it as a 'base' to prevent stains, if working with food, or other items.

The paper towels have a webbed pattern to them, so, if they used acid to bleach them white, I could see it, but this happens even when the towel stays dry.

It's as if the second coat of sealer is the problem.

In our bathroom the counters are the same honed marble. They were NOT sealed twice and I do not have the problem there - I am able to rub them dry enough there are not spots.

I've read about the vinegar - and since the fabricator suggested using acetone after, I'm wondering if perhaps their last sanding just didn't remove enough of the sealer and I just need to get back to the original stone and start over.

I have soapstone in other parts of the kitchen and use mineral oil on them, so took to using mineral oil to smooth out the marble.

It looks really good, but of course that doesn't last long. I have no idea if it's bad to use it or not.

I would be delighted to have an old world look, but the rings and spots make this counter impossible!

I've had marble before and it didn't act like this - I really do think it's the sealer. Thoughts?

=== Countertop Specialty comment:

Yes, it is possible that sealer residue on the surface could be the problem. Not a very common issue with a honed surface (vs. a polished surface that is much less absorbent and sealer residue can occur easily) but possible.

However, if the surface was re-honed (sanded) after it was sealed twice, then there should not be any sealer residue on the surface.

Likewise, if you cleaned the surface with acetone.

You state these drops are not "etching" but they are dull spots. Typically, dull spots on marble are etching.

However, since this is water the other possibility is hard water.

When the water dries the minerals in the water are left behind and this can create a dull chalky spot that can look very similar to an etch mark.... like spots on drinking glasses after washing.

Really, these are the only two possibilities... etching or hard water deposit spots.

The fact that you have the exact same marble in another location without any issues certainly adds to the mystery.

If the same water is contacting that other marble countertop and you don't have any issues, then it would support the theory that the sealer or some other film is creating the problem.

Still, I would investigate your water filtration system, just to know for sure it is or isn't involved.

Note that marble etching can occur at both ends of the pH spectrum (high pH like bleach can etch as well as low pH acidic substances).

So your ionized water creating spots doesn't necessarily rule out filtration as a cause. I doubt the ionized water has sufficiently high pH, but worth checking.

Honestly, when you've heard a million and one different scenarios of marble spots like I have it usually isn't too hard to diagnose the cause. This one has me scratching my head a bit.

I'd consider a complete refinishing of the surface. But, I'd contact an experienced and reputable marble restoration professional to inspect it first and get an "in person" opinion. Your current fabricators seem to be in over their heads.

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Water spots continued
by: Anonymous

In over their heads - ah ha. I think that is exactly the issue. Will proceed with that in mind. Thank you for your time.

I did order the cleaner you suggested.

One final question - your thoughts on using vinegar, as is suggested old world cooks use in their kitchens?

Is it safe for honed marble?

=== Countertop Specialty comment:

Vinegar will etch marble, so not it is not "safe" if you want to maintain the finish on your marble countertop.

So, in general, vinegar should never be used as a cleaner in order to avoid etching the finish.

However, it can depend on what you want to achieve. It may be that you do want to change the finish and purposely etching it is one way to do that.

Using vinegar over the entire surface is a rudimentary DIY method to remove the polished layer and create the honed-type finish.

Sometimes people have shiny polished marble and want to have a more rustic look. Washing with vinegar will do it.

You may not get an even or super-smooth finish like you would with professional honing, but it will work to do this.

Or if you have etch marks scattered over the surface, washing with vinegar make those spots disappear by etching the entire surface to blend in the spots.

And that was the habit of the "old-world" cooks to wash with vinegar to both clean and maintain their marble countertops.

Note, though, that traditionally marble countertops were not fussed over.

Marble will last a long time, so it was a good utilitarian choice for countertops. But no one worried over stains or etching. They just used the countertop and let it age and naturally whatever patina developed.

Today, people want marble as a showpiece and desire to keep their marble countertoptops in near perfect condition.

Nothting wrong with that, but this perspective presents a problem when you want to install marble for a kitchen countertop.

You will constantly wrestle with maintaining the finish. It is impossible to prevent etching in the kitchen.

In bathrooms, marble countertops are usually not a problem.

So, it depends on what you want to achieve, but washing with vinegar will even out the look of your honed marble by blending in the etch spots.

It may also make the surface a bit more rough and rustic-looking.

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