Recognizing and Cleaning Marble

In my last post I showed you my new little thrifted marble topped plant stand:

Vintage Marble Plant Stand

The wood legs and base are in decent shape, but the wood top in between the marble and legs has significant water damage. Cleaning Marble

The marble top was badly scratched, had several deep water mark and was generally yellowed. Since I don’t know yet what I will be doing to the wood base, I thought I would at least tackle getting the marble clean.

Although it’s usually pretty easy to decide if something is made of stone, sometimes the type of stone isn’t apparent. I could already tell the stone was marble on my plant stand. However, if you are unsure if your stone is marble or granite the easiest test is to try to scratch it in an inconspicuous area. If it scratches easily it’s marble. Granite is much harder, you can also inspect the pattern for the characteristic speckles (salt and pepper look) of granite. Marble is going to have more swirls and veins. Granite left and marble right:

Marble is a metamorphic rock, it contains calcium carbonate which means that it reacts to acids. This is why marble countertops are sensitive to lemon juice, vinegar etc and why knowing a stone is marble should change how you clean it.

I tried to get a picture of the scratches and water marks on my stone in the sunlight, you can kinda see the water marks:

Cleaning Marble

The first thing I tried was a paste of baking soda and water. It did clean up the surface and had a slight whitening effect but didn’t budge the tougher stains. I think for newer stains or well cared for marble this would be a good option.

For my scratched, stained and yellowed marble more drastic action was needed. I took 220 sandpaper in little circles all over, I was amazed at how easy it was to get all the scratches and marks out. It probably took less than an half hour. The hardest part was changing sandpaper often enough as the dust is very fine and coggles the paper quickly.

Cleaning Marble

I tried to do a before and after of the micro scratches, which you can sort of see

Cleaning MarbleCleaning Marble

Here is another comparison, you can really see how much whiter it is after a little sanding. Before:

Cleaning Marble

After:

Cleaning Marble

I want to get some stone sealer to protect my newly revealed surface, but for now I think it’s a huge improvement.

Cleaning Marble

If you want to sand your own marble, go slowly with very fine paper. I would go back through with 400 grit before sealing the stone. If your marble is very large like a countertop remember that you will have to go over the whole thing. The sanded area will not blend easily with the rest of the stone, especially if it was sealed or polished to a shiny surface.

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