How To Clean & Shine A Large Marble Floor

QUESTION:

I work for a hospital. The traffic area where this floor is is by the public elevators. Off the shelf product are not allowed to be purchased by us and brought into the institution.

The cost of marble is high and I or anyone else would not like to buy this institution another floor if ruined by some chemical harmful to this soft stone. Please be honest and to the point about what you know.

What technique might best be applied to give a marble floor a shine? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Forgive me if I ramble too much, but without seeing the floor or having more details, it's difficult to give you a straight answer... especially since it appears you may not have or be able to purchase the very products you need to do the job without damaging the stone.

What needs to be done will depend on:


  • is there ground in dirt/grime in the area

  • is there a wax or coating on the marble

  • is the entire floor dull or just a particular area

  • what products you DO have to work with

  • maybe the marble is honed and never was or supposed to be "shiny"


First you need to determine that the marble is indeed polished (shiny)... look in the corners.

If no reflection, then you have honed marble which is better (easier maintenance) for high traffic areas, but you won't get it to "shine" just by cleaning.

Here's some possibilities:

1. If the floor has a wax or coating then, it could appear dull and dirty with traffic patterns because that's what happens to a waxed marble floor if not meticulously maintained.

In this case, I recommend you strip the wax/coating off and go from there.

2. If the floor does not have a wax or coating (or after you strip it off) you find the marble floor is dull and dirty with traffic patterns then my best recommendation would be to hire a marble restoration professional... this is not a "normal" cleaning job.

Why?

The polish on marble is created by grinding with diamond abrasives and not with chemicals. Chemicals can enhance a shine, but you can't "restore" the polish or make marble shiny if the original polished layer has been worn away from foot traffic (or it is honed)... which is normal.

Over years of use marble floors will require re-polishing with diamond abrasives by a marble professional.


Re-finishing may also be necessary if you have dirt ground into the pores of the marble and not just on the surface.

3. If the marble just looks a little dirty and hazy, but does not have defined traffic patterns then you may clean it up and improve the shine.

Before you do anything I'd recommend you learn more about marble and marble maintenance by getting our complete Cleaning Marble Secrets Guide which provides complete step-by-step instructions on how to clean, stripping wax, removing stains, etches, scratches... everything you will need to know to keep the marble looking good over time.

Then I'd recommend you use a good, marble-safe cleaning product like this Tile Floor Cleaner.

If you can't use this product, then the best I can recommend is to use acetone and non-abrasive pads on a buffer to clean the floor.

Acetone is neutral and will not harm marble and it will definitely clean the floor. But, I doubt you can do this in a hospital given the noxious fumes.

So, you could use hot water and a mild hand soap for one or two cleanings IF you rinse it very well. This will get up much of the dirt without damaging the marble so you can better see what kind of shape the polish is in.

BUT... soap in not a good product for regular cleaning (even if you rinse very well) because it just builds up on the floor like a wax and makes it dull and dirty looking.

There are other common substances that will "clean" the floor, but they are risky for marble.... you will etch and damage the floor, which of course you don't want to do and I don't want you blaming me, so I will not recommend or state any of these chemicals.

I did my best to answer your question as directly as possible given the limited information I had to work with. I hope this helps and gives you a better idea of what you are dealing with.

I can tell you that improper cleaning is probably the most common mistake people make to damage marble.

Proper and thorough knowledge will save the day... so again, the best advice I can give you at this point is to get our marble maintenance manual for a complete understanding of how to do it right.

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