Marble Tile and Countertops: Care and Cleaning Tips

Published: 21st January 2009
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Marble tile is made by cutting large marble rock pieces according to the required sizes. Marble is a metamorphic rock made from metamorphosis of limestone which contains mainly calcium carbonate. Marble tile is not as hard as other hard stone tiles like granite and thus needs more care in handling and cleaning than other hard stone tiles. Still marble is preferred by many due to its exquisite natural beauty, easy maintenance and longevity.
With proper care marble will wear well and last for hundreds of years. However, it is a porous substance and sensitive to acid containing substances like wine, coffee and juices. It can stain and etch more easily as compared to other stones. After you have spent a lot on your marble flooring it is reasonable that you should want to take good care of it to maintain its beauty. Here are some care and cleaning tips for marble tiles and countertops used in the home.

To reduce the sensitivity of marble due to its porosity its surface can be sealed. This is best done professionally. Sealing is done especially for marble countertops. It is done with a paste or sealer to prevent stains and grime being absorbed through its porous surface. Applying a light coat of wax also prevents water or liquid penetration. However white marble can turn yellow on being waxed. Polished marble tiles are easily scratched by grit brought in by shoes. To prevent this you must use large mats at each entrance. The mats should be vacuumed or shaken out regularly. The floor should be mopped or vacuumed regularly to keep it free from dust and grit.

To prevent the marble tile from getting stained use plastic mats below wood and metal furniture's. The wood will leach tannins and stain the tiles and metals will rust and stain marble tile floor. Avoid using rubber pads under the rugs as rubber which contains sulfur can also stain. The moment anything spills on the marble tiles it should be removed. Acids contained in food and beverage items will dissolve the calcium carbonate and leave ugly spots.

Marble is more sensitive than granite to acidic substances like coffee, tomato sauce, wine, fruit juices, sodas, toiletries and strong cleaning products and cups and container containing these substances can leave stain rings and spots in marble tiles and countertops. Hence you should use plastic coasters under all cans, bottles and glasses.

Similarly containers of toothpastes, hair sprays, nail products, colognes, perfumes, lotions, creams and other cosmetics and toiletries can stain marble. Use fancy plastic or ceramic trays to place their containers over marble tiles and countertops. Avoid dragging furniture over polished marble as they will get scratched easily. Furniture should be lifted and moved. Place furniture's over rugs or carpet. If they are not used then use furniture protectors or plastic pads under the feet of tables, chairs, sofas and china cabinets. Such pads are available in a variety of sizes in hardware stores. Another alternative is to stick felt pads under the furniture legs with glue so that the floor is not scratched even if the furniture's are dragged over it.

Don't use brooms to sweep the marble flooring, rather use dust mops to sweep the dust. Spraying the dust mop with antistatic spray will enable it to attract and hold more dust. Use a dry and clean dust mop. When using a vacuum cleaner make sure that there are no broken or worn parts that might scratch the surface. All tools that you use must be either plastic or soft fiber, nothing hard that can scratch the surface. If anything gets spilled on the floor then immediately wipe it off with warm water and dry it out immediately with a dry soft cloth. This is important when anything containing acids or salts like ice melting salts are spilled on the marble tile flooring..

Regular maintenance of marble floors consist of weekly cleaning with a damp mop and then drying it with a soft cloth or chamois. Drying immediately after cleaning will prevent formation of water stains and bring back the natural shine of the marble tiles. Using a soft cloth for drying will prevent scratches. If damp mopping is not sufficient then wash with a mild detergent solution rinse thoroughly and dry. Once a month use a pH neutral nonabrasive cleaner to remove any stains. Vinegar is acidic, so never use it to clean marble flooring as it will damage the finish. The same goes for ammonia, lemon and orange. Avoid using common and generic cleaners available in stores to clean marble as they usually contain alkalis, acids and other strong chemicals. The same goes for the common bathroom tile, tub and grout cleaners.

The only commercial cleaning products you can use are the specially formulated stone cleaners cum sealers with warm water. They are usually available with the marble retailers. The actual cleaning method consists of preparing a solution of one or two ounces of the stone/marble cleaner in a bucket of clean warm water. Apply this cleaning solution with a mop. Remove the cleaner by squeezing the mop and then rinsing it in warm clean water. After most of the solution is squeezed out rinse the floor with warm clean water from another bucket and then dry it with a dry soft cloth or mop. Do not use hard nylon scrubbing pads. For heavily soiled spots you can apply a stronger solution of the cleaner with a sponge let it penetrate the marble and then rinse with clean water and dry.

For removing stains from marble tiles and tops, depending on whether the stain is oil or water based, poultices are available in stores. The usual way to use poultice is to moisten it slightly with a suitable liquid and then spread it evenly on the stained spot. Cover the poultice with a plastic sheet to keep it moist and put a tape over it to keep it in place. Let it remain for the specified period of time and then wipe out the poultice.

Clean the spot with stone cleaner solution and rinse and dry. Even after two applications of the poultice if the stain remains appreciably then it has penetrated deep into the marble and you have to get the marble tile resurfaced professionally. All these care and cleaning tips will help to maintain the beauty of your marble tile and countertops for a long time.

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