Marble Countertop Dull and Dirty

by Georgia Raga
(Artesia, NM)

We had marble countertops installed in our bathroom and kitchen along with a backsplash.

From day one, it all looks dull and dirty.

Could this be because the sealant was improperly applied?

How can I get it clean and protected? Please advise. Thank you.

Georgia, without seeing the marble countertops it is difficult for me to say exactly what the problem might be, but newly installed countertops should not look "dull and dirty."

It could be a sealer issue... either a very bad batch of sealer or an improperly applied sealer leaving a residue. Marble is actually a dense stone and often does not need sealing especially when polished.

Frankly, there are too many installers that don't really know the correct procedure for applying a sealer. Many apply it and leave telling the homeowner to just let it dry... wrong. It needs to be completely removed from the surface after absorbing.

From your question I gather that you noticed the problem right away and both marble countertops were uniformly dull and dirty... correct?

OK, but let's go back to the beginning and look at some other possibilities....

-Did you pick out the marble yourself?

-Was it dirty and dull in the warehouse?

If not, are you certain the exact same marble slabs you picked out were cut and installed in your house?

-Did you put anything on the countertops? Wipe them off.... clean them?

-Did you have your house cleaned or did the installer/contractor have your house cleaned?

If so, they may have cleaned the marble with an acidic cleaner that etched the polish dulling
the shine.

For solutions and a complete explanation of etching , marble polishing and etch mark here.

-Are you sure that your marble countertops are not "honed" (a flat matte finish) rather than "polished" (shiny)?

If none of the above are issues and you are certain the marble was shiny and clean when you picked it out and that you or someone you hired didn't use a damaging chemical on them, then I'd say you have to go back to your installer and ask to have the marble re-polished and/or diagnose and correct the issue.

A couple of other rare possibilities... some marbles do not take a polish that well... in other words, some types of marble slabs do not get as shiny as others and that is just the nature of that particular marble (not too likely based on your description).

Also, sometimes a quarry will apply a fiberglass backing along with a resin coating to certain marble slabs that are more fragile than most. The resin is usually applied prior to polishing though and generally not an issue at installation, but you never know... the resin could be causing the undesirable appearance.

As for the marble countertops looking "dirty" ... I really can't say (possibly resin or sealing residue). If the problem is apparent in a photo, then take a picture, use the question form to upload the photo and possibly I can better pinpoint the culprit.

But definitely present the issue to your installer and have them come out to take a closer look.

Let me know what happens by using the comment link at the bottom of this page.

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I can relate to this, I need help too!!
by: Lynette

We had marble countertops installed and sealer was placed on it without it being cleaned yeah it looks dirty and dull, and when i use a blade and slide it across the surface, it easily takes off some of the sealer but overall still looks dull and dirty. is there anything i can do to restore my countertops? I am clueless myself as to what kind of marble i have... polished? honed? or whatever?? still new at this.... thanks!

Sealer on Dirty Marble
by: Ryan


Polished marble is shiny with a reflection. Honed is a matte finish... no reflection.

Polished marble is not very absorbent and if not carefully applied the sealer could dry on top leaving a dull haze and would probably come off with a razor.

Same thing could happen with honed marble, but honed marble will usually take a sealer better.

I'd buy some methylene chloride (solvent - often a "paint stripper") to remove the sealant and start over. This is not a fun job. MC has potent fumes and you'll need to protect your cabinets, walls, etc.

Since you don't know anything about marble maintenance I'd highly recommend you get the Cleaning Marble Secrets Guide.

The guide will tell you exactly how to strip the current sealer and how to seal properly, test if sealer is even necessary and everything else you'll need to know to keep your marble looking good.

Marble maintenance is not difficult, but you can easily damage it if you don't know what you are doing. Of course, the guide also has DIY solutions to any problem/issue you may encounter.

Good Luck

Problem solved

There is a new product on the market called Clearstone, made by a company in Melbourne called Innovative Composites.

This product is applied to marble and any other porous stone tops by an approved applicator.
It can then be either gloss or honed finished.

Clearstone carries a 10 year warranty against staining and etching and can also be repaired or re-polished at any time.

It has been used on bar tops in Sydney and Melbourne for over 12 years and is now being used in New Zealand, Vancouver, and soon in the USA!

==== ADMIN COMMENT: Yes, progress is being made to improve topical coatings, but it is useful to always remember that once you put a coating on your stone you no longer have a stone surface. You have a surface made out of whatever the coating is... acrylic, epoxy, etc. and it is that surface that must now be maintained.

Often the "coating" is more problematic to maintain than the stone itself. Not saying this is a fact in this case, but keep it in mind.

Always better to just choose the best countertop material for the particular location of the installation (considering use & abuse) rather than trying to apply a bunch of chemicals to try and make the stone work... like marble in the kitchen.

A granite countertop is a much better choice for the kitchen and always will be no matter how advanced the chemicals become, since there are many granites that don't need any sealer or any other type of chemical treatment.

by: Anonymous

Yes you are right Admin however nothing beats the look of Marble, so if you can get a coating that has very little upkeep as Clearstone has than this is a bonus, if you have a look at a web site , and look at photos and what they have done to the black marble kitchen tops it is right up there in the wow factor.

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