Marble, limestone, & travertine are all maintained in the same way.
Marble is an igneous stone that occurs naturally through the metamorphosis of limestone. It contains many different compounds, but consists mainly of calcium carbonate which gives marble its generally light and creamy hue. Color variations in white marble are caused by impurities from other substances. In the stone trade, marble is defined by any crystalline calcific rock capable of being used as a building material and taking on a shine.
In terms of the care and maintenance of marble, the conditions that arise in a kitchen will undoubtedly leave marble stone damaged with stains, spots, etching (eaten/corroded/dull), and scratches. It will not stay pristine and will take on a natural patina fairly quickly. A honed or matte finish on marble is more resilient to etching and scratches. Honed marble is somewhat more user-friendly, and absorbs protective penetrating sealers more effectively with its porous openings. Polished marble is also slightly more resistant to staining.
Marble must be re-sealed more often than granite.
Sealant will prevent most stains, but it won’t prevent etching. Penetrating sealant ensures that spills remain on the top of the stone, radically reducing the rate of absorption into the countertop, giving you a small frame of time within which you can clean the spills without staining. The best warning that the marble must be re-sealed immediately is when water or other liquid fails to bead up on the surface, or if the stone darkens when water is splashed on the surface.
Acid from substances such as red wine, marinara, sauces, dressings, vinegar, acidic fruits, and personal care products, can tarnish the look of the marble if left to sitting on the countertop. They will either seep into the pores, or react with the calcium in the stone. However, if the marble has been properly sealed, it will not stain instantly. If spills are wiped up as soon as they happen, and rinsed with warm water, most stains can be avoided.
Some things to consider when maintaining your marble:
- Never allow wet dishes, glasses, or water to stand on a marble countertop for any length of time.
- Clean countertops with non-acidic, pH-balanced (neutral) solutions, so as not to etch the surface.
- Use coasters with rubber or cork bottoms under all drinks.
- Use placemats under items that may scratch the marble surface.
- Use cutting boards for all chopping activities.
Marble is softer than granite, and while marble stains more easily than granite, it is a pristine working surface. It requires more vigilance than granite, but when properly cared for, marble will last a lifetime.
The good news is that if your marble surface has stains, etching, scratches, or cracks, and you’re not happy with it, it can be fixed and brought back to the original pristine finish it had when it was first installed.