Would it be a criminal offense against marble...

ideagirl2April 24, 2014

...to... I hardly dare say this here... but bear with me...

To tile over marble that is on the wall?

We moved to a new house recently, 100+ years old, and the enormous kitchen has big slabs of inch-thick marble on all of the walls. Behind the stove it goes up to the hood. It looks neat, HOWEVER, these slabs are 100+ years old, gently worn, and four of them meet directly behind the stove, with large, also gently worn seams right at eye level (and no grout, so basically the slabs create four big crevasses for food and grime to get stuck in).

And even without the seams, it's marble. Not my favorite surface to spatter with spaghetti sauce and other marvels of my cooking prowess. I am kind of messy when it comes to cooking. To shield the marble, Previous Owner just stood a piece of plexiglass there, creating a look that is perhaps not... quite... as classy as I might prefer!

So my first thought was, can we take the marble slabs off this part of the wall (replacing them with tile) and turn them into countertops in some non-messy area? I am still very open to this idea if it's possible... the slabs are visibly bolted to the wall, so maybe there isn't any adhesive behind them, but I kinda doubt that there's no adhesive at all--there are only like 4 bolts per slab--and my DH is concerned that if we try to pull them off they'll break. So I guess the options are:

- Tile over them in the area behind the stove, or
- Clean them half to death, grout the seams and then seal them so they don't get etched/dirty, and hope I like how they look, or
- See if we can somehow get them off the wall and turn them into countertops, in the butler's pantry or breakfast area perhaps.


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Have a pro come out and resurface them and then seal them. I can't imaging buying a house with a feature like that and throwing it away, but I have to admit a lot of folks here do just that, so you'll probably get lots of "yeah, ditch 'em, tile 'em, whatever" responses, too.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 2:38PM
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Could you post pictures? A visual would help.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:06PM
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What about mounting a stainless steel sheet backsplash on top of the marble? Seems like it'd be a lot less invasive than trying to remove the marble, and prettier than the plexi solution...

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:07PM
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Or punched tin? Only in your messiest areas. it does seem a shame to take the marble down, but if it doesn't work it doesn't work. I too, would love to see pics.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:33PM
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My phone camera lens is broken, so no photos for now. I'm intrigued by the idea of having a pro come resurface them. Who would know how to do that? A countertop place?

As for a stainless backsplash, we're leaning towards stainless for the counters (at least near the stove) and I don't want to go overboard on that. Punched tin might work... I have no idea how it's attached but maybe it's easier to remove (if anyone wants to restore the marble in the future) than backerboard and regular tile.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 4:09PM
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Ask at your local stoneyard, or look in your local yellow pages for a marble restoration company. It's quite common even to have marble rehoned in place. When I was a kid we had terrazzo floors, and a marble/stone guy came out once a year to deep polish them and rub out the effects of a year of children and pets. They always looked great afterwards.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 4:28PM
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srosen on this site reminds us marble can be rehoned. Granted vertical slabs will make for an interesting day of it. I'm with the camp to keep them if you can fix them up, regrout and seal.

Spaghetti and sauce is Italian anyway. What's a little on the marble backsplash in the big picture?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 5:38PM
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They sound really cool. Borrow a digital camera to take photos, we want to see : )

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 6:16PM
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When it comes to old houses, it's always better to make changes that are completely reversible. Adhere an 1/8" or 1/4" panel to the marble and cover the panel with whatever you like. If you or a future homeowner get tired of it, the old marble is only a scraper and an afternoon away.

This will not only save you a ton of time and money, but it protects the historic marble from it's worst enemy, fashion trends.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 6:17PM
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I really like writersblock's idea of resurfacing. Trebuchet also has a great idea of a removable panel.

You could even take that idea a step further by having a glass backsplash installed over the marble. You could fix up the marble first if needed. Low-iron glass will not look blue. You'd have the look of marble with the practicality of glass. That's what I would do! Google local glass backsplash fabricators to get a quote.

It's always so cool when people preserve the details of old homes that make them special. Believe me, living in a 2001 condo, I envy you!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 8:26PM
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I would imagine that the kitchen has been well used in the last 100+ years and it's survived so far so clean them up and keep them!!

I would also love to see them.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 9:33PM
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Please, please, please pics! Of the whole kitchen, actually. It sounds awesome.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:06PM
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Would love to see some pics-you say overall the stone doesn't look too bad. Its pretty normal for the marble to look a bit dingy after 100 years.
It probably never had been maintained much either.
Heres the thing-That marble is very likely high quality as most older marbles seem to be. A bone fide stone refinisher can refinish it to probably better than when it was originally installed. He or she can refinish it to your spec.
Polished , matte or somewhere in between. They will be able to tell you how porous and what is the best application of sealer your stone. Before you make any decisions have a refinisher take a look. There wont be any obligation and most refinishers are passionate about old marbles and working with them. Search google for stone refinishers or marble polishing in your area.
Most do free estimates unless your location is remote.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 8:44AM
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I love this Stockholm kitchen where they paired a marble backsplash with steel counters. So pretty! So tasteful! So practical!

edited to add: sorry, I'm not sure if you're planning any kitchen renovations...just in case.

Here is a link that might be useful: 5 Ideas to Steal from a Gorgeous Stockholm Kitchen

This post was edited by feisty68 on Fri, Apr 25, 14 at 11:33

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:31AM
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Wow, Feisty, that marble wall looks gorgeous. Ok... we will call some refinishers and get estimates. Thank you all!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 2:58PM
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So glad to hear it (that you are considering seeking a refinisher)! I have marble (tile) behind the range and its not been the huge issue that I feared, after 10 months. Just seal it and be dutiful about addressing the worst spatters before they sit.

This post was edited by gooster on Sun, Apr 27, 14 at 16:45

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 3:32PM
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I would clean and seal the marble. If you can't live with that, I would have the marble professionally removed so it can be reused. Some folks hunt and hunt for such pieces.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 12:16AM
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We'd still love pix!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 12:34AM
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