Why Not Marble

There is no doubt that marble and limestone are softer and more porous than granite or quartzite. Which means marble or limestone will scratch or stain easier than granites. There are a few exceptions to this rule that we can discuss in future, when needed. Regardless of the fact that marble is softer than granite, marble is still a stone and is quite durable.

Some chemical cleaning products and acids found in foods and drinks (lemons, oranges, coffee, etc.) can etch limestone and marble surfaces. Etching is the erosion of the polished surface. The best way to minimize this problem is to hone (pre-etch) the surface and use a good penetrating sealer for stain protection. Using proper sealers will help protect the honed surface from staining and can enhance the natural color and veining in the material, leaving a beautiful surface patina. (Please note – sealers will not diminish or eliminate etching. Only topical solutions can accomplish that - and is an entirely separate conversation). Over time your stone will continue to "age", showing wear and developing its character. I like to compare the look to a 100+ year old French farmhouse or Italian villa counter top. In my opinion, nothing else compares.

In all fairness, limestone and/or marble counter tops are not for everyone. If you want your counter tops to look brand new, perfect, pristine - marble or limestone is not for you; stick to granite or most quartzites – they are some of the most durable surfaces you will find for your counter tops. However, if you find yourself intrigued by marble or limestone or if you find yourself repeatedly pulled towards marble, here are some suggestions for you:

(1)Go with your gut. Stone is expensive and chances are you'll be living with it for a good long time. Find something that knocks your socks off!

(2)When you find that perfect stone or even several "possibilities" - get samples, take them to your fabricator, have them hone and seal the pieces, then take them home and do your worst. Put the samples to the test with coffee, ketchup, wine, lemon, vinegar, oils and see how they react. Spill things on them and wipe them right up. Spill things and don't clean it up for an hour... five hours... over night, whatever you envision your worst-case scenario for your kitchen and lifestyle. After a few tests you'll know whether your stone choices fit into your comfort zone or not.

Should you decide to go with a marble or limestone here are a few more things you should know:

  • You have chosen one of the oldest and most beautiful building materials known to man. Also, one of the most durable and timeless.
  • Over time, your material will age. It will get some scratches and etch marks, some stains, maybe even the occasional chip or two. Like your new car, the first ding will be devastating. Unlike your car, the more "use" your stone sees, the better it will look.
  • The "art" of stone has progressed beautifully over the centuries. Just about any unfortunate occurrence/s that may befall your stone can be repaired by a stone restoration professional. Chips can be repaired and most stains can be removed. Surfaces can be completely refinished and resealed to look new.
    Use your marble or limestone counter top to the fullest and with confidence. It can take it. It thrives on it. Don't pamper it. Spill wine on it! Roll out your dough on it! Stuff your turkeys on it! Caress, stroke and delight in the cool smooth shape of it! La Dolce Vita!!!!

StoneRescue Marble Care

Some simple care and maintenance will help preserve your marble’s beauty for generations to come. Below are sealing and cleaning recommendations by the Marble Institute of America:

Sealing Natural Stone

The type of stone, its finish, its location, and how it is maintained all need to be considered when determining how to protect the stone.

The Marble Institute of America’s position on sealers is as follows:

The Marble Institute of America (MIA) recognizes the benefits that sealers can provide in certain applications. MIA recommends that care be exercised in the application of any chemical to a stone’s surface. Although normally innocent in and of themselves, some sealers have reportedly reacted with some cleaning/maintenance chemicals and/or with components within the stone surface, causing some reactions.

If you decide to seal your stone yourself please make sure you understand the different sealers available on the market:

Topical Sealers

Topical Sealers are coatings (film formers) designed to protect the surface of the stone against water, oil, and other contaminants. They are formulated from natural wax, acrylic, and other plastic compounds. When a topical sealer is applied, the maintenance program often shifts from a program focused on stone care to a program focused on the maintenance of the sealer.


Impregnators are water or solvent-based solutions that penetrate below the surface and become repellents. They are generally hydrophobic (water-repelling) but are also oleophobic (oil-repelling). Impregnators keep contaminants out, but do not stop the interior moisture from escaping. These products are considered “breathable,” meaning they have vapor transmission.

Before sealing, always read the manufacturer’s warranty and instructions.

Cleaning Do’s and Don’ts


  • Do wipe down and keep your marble clean.
  • Do clean surfaces with mild detergent or stone soap.
  • Do thoroughly rinse and dry your marble surfaces with clean, clear water after washing.
  • Do blot up spills immediately.
  • Do protect countertop surfaces with coasters, trivets, or placemats


  • Don’t use cleaners that are “Lemony Fresh” or contain “Vinegar” or any other acidic cleaners on your marble.
  • Don’t use acidic cleaners such as Bathroom, Grout, Tub & Tile, or Oven cleaners.
  • Don’t use abrasive cleaners or pads on your marble.
  • Don’t mix bleach and ammonia; this combination creates a toxic and lethal gas.
  • Don’t ever mix chemicals together unless directions specifically instruct you to do so.
  • Don’t use vacuum cleaners on marble floors. The metal or plastic attachments or the wheels may scratch the stone’s surface.

Daily Cleaning Recommendations

Countertop Surfaces:

Clean your marble countertops as needed with a soft sponge and towel and a gentle cleaner. Many companies make pH balanced cleaners (pH7) specifically for marble and stone or a mild, phosphate-free, biodegradable dishwashing detergent (such as Dawn) can be used with water for regular cleaning. Rinse well.

Floor Surfaces:

Dust mop interior floors frequently using a clean, non- treated dry dust mop. Sand, dirt, and grit do the most damage to natural stone surfaces due to their abrasiveness. Mats or area rugs inside and outside an entrance will help to minimize the sand, dirt, and grit that will scratch the stone floor. Be sure that the underside of the mat or rug is a non-slip surface. Wet mop floor as needed using the same cleaners as above for countertops. Change mop water often. Dry floor thoroughly after cleaning.

Exterior Marble Maintenance:

The large expanses of marble generally found on exterior applications may make it impractical to perform normal maintenance on a frequent basis. However, these installations should be given periodic overall cleaning as necessary to remove accumulated pollutants. Easily accessible stone surfaces such as steps, walkways, fountains, etc., should be kept free of debris and soiling by periodically sweeping and washing with water.

Regular maintenance should include thorough cleaning and sealing as well as inspection of all surfaces for structural defects, movement, deterioration, or staining .

Sealing Best Practices

Recommended Best Practices for Sealing Natural Stone Countertops

Material needed:

Lambswool Stain Applicator (A paint brush or roller can be substituted for lambswool) Paint roller pan Microfiber towels

Pour sealer into paint roller pan and soak the lambswool applicator. Using the sealer soaked lambswool applicator, apply the sealer to the surface in long horizontal motions going the length of the counter surface. The most commonly used applicator is about 5” wide so 5 or 6 passes will be needed for the average depth countertop.

Let the sealer “dwell” on the surface for 15-20 minutes. If it begins to soak in before the allotted dwell time, apply more sealer. On some porous materials you may have to reapply the sealer 2 or three times within the 15-20 minutes. That’s okay.DO NOT ALLOW THE SEALER TO DRY COMPLETELY ON THE SURFACE.

After the 15-20 minute dwell time, wipe the surface dry with micro fiber towels. Now, go check your emails, text a friend or otherwise relax for 30-60 minutes.

After no more than 60 minutes, repeat the above procedure. Some stone may be more porous than others. If sealing a porous stone, an additional round of sealing may be recommended. Check with your supplier or fabricator for their recommendation or give us a call at StoneRescue (1-833-786-6379) for assistance or guidance.

After the final removal of sealer, buff your surface using a dry, clean microfiber towel. It is recommended to allow your sealer 72 hours to fully cure before using the surfaces. This is a great time to check out those new restaurants or revisit old favorites.

Enjoy your properly sealed countertops. If a good quality sealer was used following the above recommended procedures and employing reasonable housekeeping habits, your counter surfaces should give you years of trouble-free use.

One final note – Penetrating sealers will not protect marble or similar materials from etching. For topical solutions to marble etching, please contact StoneRescue for further information.

Stain Removal

Identifying the type of stain on the stone surface is key to removing it. Playing detective may be necessary if you don’t know what caused it. Some hints may be where the stain is located. Is it near a plant or a food service area? Is it in a bathroom where cosmetics or hair dyes are used? What color is it? Does it have a shape or pattern? Surface stains can often be removed by cleaning with an appropriate cleaning product or household chemical. Deep-seated or stubborn stains may require using a poultice or calling in a professional.

The following information describes the types of stains you may have to deal with and some ideas on materials or processes that may help.

Spills and Stains

Blotting spills with paper towels or other absorbent cloth is the best course of action at the time of the spill. Don't wipe the area, it will spread the spill or rub it in to the stone. Flush the area with plain water and mild soap (plain Dawn dishwashing detergent works well) and rinse several times. Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth. Repeat as necessary. If the stain remains, refer to the section below on stain removal.

What is Spalling?

Spalling (described by some as flaking) in natural stone is generally an indicator of sub-florescence. This is a condition where minerals and salts are carried into the stone by moisture and accumulate beneath the stone’s surface (mostly due to poor drainage). As the moisture evaporates, the mineral salts left behind create stress within the pores of the stone causing the surface to weaken and eventually break apart or “spall”
Salts can come from many sources. They may be inherent in the stone itself, can come from rain water runoff, and even leach up from soil or the setting bed beneath. Typically, the problem begins when water is not allowed to drain properly and minerals build up under and within the stone surface.
Once the specifics are determined, a proper plan can be formulated and steps taken to mitigate the situation. This usually involves allowing (and sometimes helping) the stone to dry completely, extracting salts and ensuring proper drainage in future. One major mistake often seen – even by professionals – is to apply a sealer to the stone before the cause of the sub-florescence is resolved. Applying a sealer prematurely may block the escape of moisture and compound the problem.

If spalling progresses too far, the stone will wind up needing to be replaced. If caught early, a stone restoration professional can help determine the reason, and more importantly, suggest a viable solution based on your specific situation.
Correcting sub-florescence is not an easy DIY project and handled incorrectly can cause more damage. Also, please note that efflorescence—a white haze or powdery residue on the surface of the stone —can be a precursor to sub- florescence, and an early warning sign. If you think your stone is showing signs of either condition, don’t hesitate to contact your StoneRescue. Acting before the damage becomes severe can help you avoid having to replace rather than restore your stone.

Types of Stains and First Step Cleaning Actions


(grease, tar, cooking oil, cosmetics)

An oil-based stain will darken the stone and usually should be chemically dissolved so the source of the stain can be flushed or rinsed away. Clean gently with a soft, liquid cleanser, household detergent or acetone. Some websites recommend cleaning with ammonia, bleach or other strong chemicals. Be very careful when choosing chemicals for stain removal as some can damage your stone further if not applied properly while some chemicals mixed together can create toxic fumes.



(coffee, tea, fruit, tobacco, paper, food, urine, leaves, bark, bird droppings)

May cause a pinkish-brown stain and may disappear after the source of the stain has been removed. Outdoors, with the sources removed, normal sun and rain action will generally bleach out the stains. Indoors, clean with hydrogen peroxide (hair bleaching strength). A few drops of ammonia can be added but do not allow mixture to sit on stone as etching can occur.


Etch marks are caused by acids left on the surface of the stone. Some materials will etch the finish but not leave a stain. Others will both etch and stain. The stain must be removed completely using cleaners and/or a poultice before the etched area can be refinished. Once the stain has been removed the etched area can be refinished to match the existing stone surface. This may sometimes require polishing or honing a larger surface area to get the finish to blend well.


Efflorescence is a white powder that may appear on the surface of the stone. It is caused by water carrying mineral salts from below the surface of the stone rising through the stone and evaporating. When the water evaporates, it leaves the powdery substance. If the installation is new, dust mop or vacuum the powder. You may have to do this several times as the stone dries out. Do not use water to remove the powder; it will only temporarily disappear. If the problem persists, contact your installer to help identify and remove the cause of the moisture.

(iron, rust, copper, bronze)

Iron or rust stains are orange to brown in color and follow the shape of the staining object such as nails, bolts, screws, cans, flower pots, metal furniture. Copper and bronze stains appear as green or muddy-brown and result from the action of moisture on nearby or embedded bronze, copper or brass items. Metal stains must be removed with a poultice. Deep-seated, rusty stains are extremely difficult to remove and the stone may be permanently stained.

(magic marker, pen, ink)

Clean with 12% or greater hydrogen peroxide or acetone or de-natured alcohol or isopropyl alcohol.

(algae, mildew, lichens, moss, fungi)

A 12% or greater solution of hydrogen peroxide works well to remove biological stains. Be sure to wear gloves when working with hydrogen peroxide or any chemicals. We do not recommend cleaning marble with ammonia or bleach unless very experienced with both the chemicals and marble. You can damage your stone with these products.


Slight surface scratches may be buffed with dry 0000 steel wool. Deeper scratches and nicks in the surface of the stone should be repaired and re-polished by a professional.



Making and Using a Poultice

A poultice is a liquid cleaner or chemical mixed with a white absorbent material to form a paste about the consistency of peanut butter. The poultice is spread over the stained area to a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch with a wood or plastic spatula, covered with plastic and left to work for 24 to 48 hours. The liquid cleaner or chemical will draw out the stain into the absorbent material. Poultice procedures may have to be repeated to thoroughly remove a stain, but some stains may never be completely removed.

Poultice Materials

Poultice materials include kaolin, fuller's earth, whiting, diatomaceous earth, powdered chalk, white molding plaster or talc. Approximately one pound of prepared poultice material will cover one square foot. Do not use whiting or iron-type clays such as fuller's earth with acid chemicals. The reaction will cancel the effect of the poultice. A poultice can also be prepared using white cotton balls, whitepaper towels or gauze pads.

Cleaning Agents or Chemicals


Poultice with baking soda and water or one of the powdered poultice materials with water or hydrogen peroxide or acetone or de-natured alcohol.


Poultice with one of the powdered poultice materials and 12% hydrogen peroxide solution (hair bleaching strength) or use acetone or de-natured alcohol instead of the hydrogen peroxide.


Poultice with diatomaceous earth and a commercially available rust remover. Rust stains are particularly difficult to remove. You may need to call a professional.


Poultice with one of the powdered poultice materials and ammonia. Use ammonia with care. It can damage your marble if not used properly. These stains are difficult to remove. You may need to call a professional.

Applying the Poultice

Prepare the poultice. If using powder, mix the cleaning agent or chemical to a thick paste the consistency of peanut butter. If using paper, soak in the chemical and let drain. Don't let the liquid drip.


Quartz based sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand sized quartz which are compressed and fused with silica based cementitious elements. At this stage, sandstone can be quarried and processed into slab form for countertops, walls, floors, etc. This material will be scratch resistant (about a 7 on the Mohs scale) but due to the looser mineral structure of the bonding agents, this material will be porous and more susceptible to water and oil absorption and staining. Several sandstone materials that are often mislabeled as quartzite are Wild Sea, White Sea and Lavender Grey.

Regular sealing with a quality sealer, properly applied, can reduce absorption and staining on these materials.

Intermediate Quartzite

The transformation of sandstone from a sedimentary to metamorphic stone entails many millennia of heat, pressure and chemical activity. This Intermediate Quartzite loses much of the granular composition of the sandstone and takes on more of an interwoven or compressed characteristic.

Some common names of Intermediate Quartzite are Mont Blanc, White Macaubas and Infinity White.

In this stage the material should perform well with a quality sealer, properly applied.

Crystalline Quartzite

The final transformation of what began as sandstone renders a material with increased density, little to no visible “grains” and a tightly interlocking structure that will have a very low absorption rate.

Some popular quartzites are known as Taj Mahal and Sea Pearl as well as others. While sealing is not as critical to these type materials, we still recommend protecting the surface with a good quality, properly applied sealer.

This is just a quick generalization to answer the main question we hear of “why is my quartzite absorbing water or staining?”. There are many more facets to this interesting subject just as there are hundreds of readily available colors, classifications and uses for Beautiful natural stone.

-Please feel free to reach out to StoneRescue for any questions or assistance… before you need the “rescue” part of StoneRescue.

Sandstone vs. Quartzite

There is a wide range of feedback and opinions on quartzite within the stone industry. Simply put, not all material labeled as “quartzite” are true quartzites.

The reasons for the misnaming are varied. Some are intentional, most are not. There’s a tendency in the industry to over-generalization in classifying products and many industry professionals are simply misinformed or under-educated. Most materials are classified overseas at the point of quarrying or the local plant that processes the blocks into slabs. Often times, the classification can be made based on the popularity of certain color or movements within the stone and not necessarily by the actual components within the stone.

Typically, the three similar stones that are sometimes classified alike are Sandstone, Intermediate Quartzite and Crystalline Quartzite. The differences are most apparent in how each stone reacts to water penetration and staining.