Marble is one of the most elegant, timeless, and versatile natural stones used in making countertops.
It’s also valuable, long-lasting, and heat-resistant. But what about it getting stained?
Marble Countertops Staining
Yes, marble countertops stain. This happens mainly because of the material’s porosity, which makes it prone to all sorts of stains. Also, your choice of cleaning product, finish, and sealant can increase the chances of your marble countertop staining.
In this guide, we’ll discuss each of these factors, how they affect the staining of marble countertops, and how you can deal with them.
Why Do Marble Countertops Stain?
There’s no doubt that marble countertops are pretty and durable.
However, this doesn’t dismiss the material’s reputation of being sensitive to staining.
Luckily, by knowing what causes such stains, you can establish a simple cleaning routine that’ll prevent them from staining as well as get rid of them.
The following are the reasons why marble countertops stain.
1. Marble Is Porous
Marble is a porous material, just like many types of natural stones.
In fact, marble is more porous compared to quartz or granite.
But what does being porous mean?
When a material is porous, this means it possesses very tiny holes on its surface.
While these holes are minute, there are a whole lot of them!
As a result, they have no problem retaining liquids sitting on top of the countertop.
Once the liquids are inside the marble, they can’t easily get out, which creates a stain.
For example, let’s say you accidentally spilled some tomato sauce on your marble countertop.
What happens is that the particles of the liquid will enter the tiny holes and reside inside the marble.
Being so small, you won’t be able to remove the liquid’s particles from the holes with conventional cleaning methods, so you end up with a stained marble countertop.
That said, not all types of marble have the same level of porosity. Different marbles have varying absorption rates.
Expressed as a percentage of its weight, absorption is the degree of water penetration into a material.
The lower the absorption rate of a type of marble, the less likely it’s to develop a stain.
Danby White, Statuary, Thassos, and Bianco Carrera are among the types of marble with a low absorption rate.
2. Marble Is Prone to Various Types of Stains
Being prone to many kinds of stains is another factor that puts marble at a high risk of sustaining one.
In other words, since many things can cause marble stains, the probability of staining this natural stone automatically shoots up.
Here are some of the most common stains you can encounter with marble countertops.
A) Organic Stains
Usually yellow, orange, or brown (light to dark), this type of stain is extremely common.
It results from organic compounds with a pigmentation agent such as tannins (in coffee and tea) and beta-carotene (in carrots, apricots, cantaloupe, squash, and some kinds of peppers).
Organic stains are best removed with a poultice containing hydrogen peroxide (6 percent).
Hydrogen peroxide has bleaching properties, so be careful if you’re cleaning a darker-colored marble countertop to avoid creating light patches.
B) Ink Stains
The color of an ink stain depends on the color of the spilled ink.
Markers, highlighters, or pens can cause this type of stain. It can also result from wine.
Ink stains may be alcohol or water-based.
To remove them, try using a poultice containing hydrogen peroxide (6 percent).
C) Oil-Based Stains
Typically yellow or light brown, this type of stain results from a wide range of substances such as butter, cooking oil, lotions, creams, milk, and so on.
Oil-based stains are best removed with a poultice containing mineral spirits.
D) Rust Stains
Generally brown or coppery, this type of stain results from metallic items (such as cans, nails, and screws) left sitting on your marble countertop for a sufficient period.
Rust stains are one of the most stubborn stains to clean from marble.
The best way to get rid of them is by using a poultice or a rust remover (make sure it’s non-acidic).
Still, you may have no luck with these methods. In this case, you’ll need to call a professional to resolve the issue.
E) Paint Stains
The color of a paint stain depends on the color of the spilled paint.
Larger paint stains are more challenging to remove than smaller ones.
If you’re dealing with a minor paint stain, applying some lacquer thinner to it should be enough to get rid of it.
On the other hand, a more sizable paint stain will probably require a professional to clean it properly.
F) Water Stains
Usually white or cream-colored, this type of stain results from water sitting on marble for too long or build-ups of hard water.
Water stains are particularly common around sinks.
When it comes to hard water or potable water, hydrogen and oxygen aren’t the only ingredients involved.
Such water also contains a high content of calcium and magnesium carbonates, which can easily develop a stain on marble countertops.
Water stains are more noticeable on darker-colored marble.
They’re removable, but the ease of cleaning depends on how long the stain was left.
Water stains are best treated using a standard marble cleaner or Grade 0000 steel wire wool with soapy water.
G) Mold or Mildew Stains
Typically brown or black, this type of stain is common in bathrooms or high-traffic kitchens.
Mold or mildew stains are best addressed by using a specialized mold/mildew stain cleaner.
Alternatively, you can make your own stain remover at home using a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, and water.
3. You’re Using the Wrong Cleaner
Most of the common household cleaners that you may consider using to clean your marble countertop contain organic, synthetic, or harsh chemicals that can stain natural stone if it comes in direct contact with its surface.
For example, cleaning products feature ingredients such as solvents and pigments that’ll break down the top seal on the marble surface, seep into its pores, and cause stains or discoloration.
4. Marble Lacks a Proper Finish
Staining or dulling of your marble countertop surface is most likely caused by acidic liquids such as lemon juice, tomato sauce, alcohol, soda, or coffee.
Unless wiped up within a minute or so, the acids in these substances will react with the calcium carbonate in the marble leading to stains.
They can even eat away at the marble resulting in permanent marks.
To minimize these problems, you should add a polished finish to your marble countertop.
Not only will this make it look more shiny and refined, but it’ll also boost the stone’s resistance to staining.
5. Marble Isn’t Resealed
Manufacturers recognize the issues caused by the porosity of marble, and so most of them implement something called sealing.
This process involves coating the surface of the marble countertop with synthetic resin.
The resin prevents liquids from making their way into the stone’s pores, rendering it water-resistant or water-proof.
The thing is, sealing doesn’t last forever.
It wears off over time, so you must reseal your marble countertop to ensure it stays stain-free.
Generally speaking, you should reseal marble every year.