Today’s trend of using a softer looking honed finish has opened up the use of many previously unacceptable stone surfaces with their diverse colors and veining patterns.
With these new possibilities, there comes new maintenance requirements.
Granite and its cousin Quartzite are still worry free, requiring only an initial sealing with an impregnating sealer to prevent absorption stains. They can then be maintained with soap & water. Extreme cleaning can be done with scrub pads, fine steel wool or even a razor blade without harming the stone.
Marble with its calcitic cousins Travertine, Onyx and Limestone, should only be used in a kitchen with a “Honed” finish. Sealing will prevent most absorption stains but does not protect the surface. Acids in food and drink, if not removed promptly, can chemically etch the calcite and leave marks in the surface. With the honed finish, minor etches can be rubbed out with an abrasive cleaner such as COMET. Deeper scratches may first need some light sanding. Periodic re-sealing is recommended. This simply is a wipe on wipe off procedure.
Marble is simply limestone that has undergone pressure in the earth and crystallized to a harder state. Un-crystallized limestone will be easier to scratch and should not be used in an area that a pristine appearance is desired.
Serpentine “Marbles”, Sandstones, Slates and Soapstone do not contain calcium and are not subject to the same etching problems. The serpentine and sandstone should be sealed. Slate and Soapstone can be sealed or oiled with Mineral Oil.
Marble counter tops have been used extensively in banks, hotels and in European homes for centuries and have developed a fine “Patina” finish without the need of modern cleaners and sealers. Care should be taken when selecting your stone as to what amount of care or wear that you will be comfortable with.