So how much does marble actually stain? See link.

bayareafrancyOctober 11, 2007

Hi all,

Because I am TKO, even though I'm getting soapstone counters, I was reading about marble last night.

Those of you with old houses might be familiar with the Petch House Blog. Anyhoo, the owner of that house set out to do some fierce testing on marble, and he concludes that marble staining is actually a myth. While his untreated marble ended up grayish after all his tests, he said that was just from the absorption of water, and that after it dried out, it looked the same as his treated sample.

Lots of good phtos included in his blog. I think he went with an untreated island.

What do you think? Myth?


Here is a link that might be useful: Fun with marble (and wine, tomatoes, limes, etc.)

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Marble types vary in density, porosity, mineral content, and various other properties of stone. So, they will vary as to staining. If you read what many of us have posted regarding our marble, we often say that our marble does not stain, but it does etch. I really cannot tell if the one in the blog link etched or not, as the stone usually has to be viewed from an angle in order to perceive the etch. Also, staining may be more likely if you leave the offender on for a long time on an unsealed stone. My marble is a Greek white and it has never stained, but it certainly etches!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 6:22PM
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Is your marble unsealed?

The "Petch dude" wasn't concerned with etching, he was mainly only concerned about stains. I couldn't tell if his sample etched from the photos, but after leaving limes on it for hours, I would think it would have etched.

Someone posted a few days ago wondering if she could leave her marble unsealed but not have too much staining (again, she didn't care about etching). Maybe this will give her hope!

Anyhoo...interesting stuff!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 6:33PM
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Not a myth. My marble hasn't stained, but I know my fabricator got into the stone business after seeing stone in a number of applications in Europe -- including stained marble in a French kitchen. He did say the stains were not that significant, but they were there. I think the scare stories about marble have more to do with businesses trying to protect themselves from demands for refunds, etc. when folks decide they can't live with the impoerfections they thought would be no big deal.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 6:40PM
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My marble was unsealed for fourteen months. I read so much about the need to seal marble on Gardenweb, which I became aware of one year after finishing the house, that I sealed it then. Sealing is supposed to allow you a bit more delay in cleaning up spills, but I'm not sure that anything has stayed on my counter long enough to see a difference. Oh, wait, someone left a gooey drop of coffee mixed with cream and sugar overnight and nothing happened. I'm not someone who loves perfection--in fact, I prefer things to look a bit spontaneous, so a few stains, etches, etc. wouldn't bother me that much, anyway. One large stain that interfered with the aesthetic of the stone would bug me though.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 6:57PM
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LOL, that was a great read. Entertaining as well as accurate. His constant encounters with the statement "Marble is a soft stone and stains easily" reminds me of the movie A Christmas Story when everyone keeps telling Ralphie "You'll shoot your eye out".

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 7:21PM
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The kids once spilled soy sauce on a piece of gray marble I used to use to roll out dough. I was out of town, so I'm guessing the goopy sauce was on the stone for close to a week. It ate a hole about 3" x 5" with raggedy edges in the stone, but it didn't stain it.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 2:14AM
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I have had several antique pieces of marble in my day (I've bought and sold more antiques than any normal person should heh heh) and some of them did have stains on them. They were all victorian, so they'd long since lost any shine they had to their surface (if they ever did have one) but all in all, while they did have some staining (the most common was a round circle...potted plants most likely) they were still lovely pieces of marble. Even that could be cleaned off or significantly lightened with an acid paste.

My worry about marble was grease. I am thinking of using it around a stove and don't want huge grease spots on it. I suppose I'll just have to test a few samples and see how much marble loves olive oil :)

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 3:07AM
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"Marble" is a bit of a generic term.

I wouldn't make an investment of this size based on anyone's web page!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 2:38PM
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Is Carrera Marble generic? If so, I wonder if some carrera marbles are less likely to stain? I think that is what the Petch guy has.

If anyone has Bungalow Kitchens, there are many photos of an old house in SoCal that has these amazing marble counters. They look like Carrera-turned-gray, which I always assumed they were. But maybe they started out gray? I use them as my model for how gorgeous patina can be.


    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 3:25PM
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Carrara marble is mined near the town of Carrara in northern Italy, not far from Florence. It's probably the most "famous" marble because Michelangelo used to go there and quarry his own pieces (he was picky). I couldn't tell you whether the name is used in the industry specifically for this marble, or if it's used a little more generically. In Italy it's understood to mean the real thing. In this country it's almost always pronounced "Carrera" -- not sure if this is an attempt to sound like the real thing without actually being the real thing, or simply a mispronunciation.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 4:06PM
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So did I spell it wrong? I actually looked it up first, b/c I wanted to get it right. When I googled, I got all sorts of links to marble companies with "Carrera" in their name, and the Kohler website also spells it Carrera. Which is correct if one is in the US?


    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 4:18PM
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It should be "Carrara," but it's often misspelled, so it's good to look under both. Many white Italian marbles come from Carrara; Bill had a post on this once. Some with different names sometimes even come from the same quarry, or at least region. Statuario, Venatino, Calacatta, Bianco Carrara. There is much obscurantist nomenclature among stone vendors, so if origin is important to you, it behooves you to find a scrupulously honest and knowledgeable source. One thing about staining--some white marbles contain iron which can oxidize under the influence of water or unseen moisture. This results in rust within the stone that shows up as a yellowish or orange stain that is actually part of the stone itself and not amenable to removal by poultices, etc.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 4:58PM
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It's weird that companies like Kohler are calling it "Carrera!" As I said, I don't know if that's intentional or if someone in the company made a mistake. But the area, and the marble from there, is definitely "Carrara."

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 5:11PM
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My sealed carrara master bath vanity stained very quickly: the culprit was "shea butter" variety of softsoap. It doesn't bother me much, as it is just more grey splotches, but I can see that it might be an issue for some.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 7:58PM
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Just in case any one is wondering, my white marble kitchen island is holding up well. I guess it has been about 2 years now, and I don't baby it in the least. It is the main surface for all food prep and where I serve drinks when I have a party. I am not a clean freak in any way.

To date, there is not one stain or blemish on it. It has lost its original shine, but this was not a high polish to begin with. I think it would have been called honed. I did seal it again a few weeks ago, but really, it could have gone longer. It is a fairly simple process that takes about 30 minutes. Actually, only about 10 minutes of work, because most of the time the sealer just sits there and you don't need to do anything.

I use the Stone Tech Professional that I wrote about in my blog entry. They say every 3 to 5 years. I've since installed more white marble in the mudroom and bathroom, and I have the original marble from 1895 in the upstairs bathroom. I even have a marble threshold going from the kitchen to the mudroom.

Don't be afraid to use marble. It is a beautiful stone, and if sealed properly can take decades of use and abuse.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Petch House

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 4:28PM
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Hey, it's the Petch Dude! (Do you mind if I call you Petch Dude?)

Hi Greg! I've been enjoying your blog for a while. What a lovely, lovely home you have!!

I thought you were not going to seal the marble. Why did you decide to seal it?


    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 7:00PM
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Oh no, the plan all along was to seal it. That is what started the whole fiasco of everyone telling me how easily marble stains. Everything stains - yes, even granite. And yes, most people seal granite, and slate, and just about any other stone.

I did not seal the marble in the bathroom or mudroom, though. I don't think that really needs it, as it won't be used in the same way the kitchen marble will. As my little test proved, even unsealed marble can withstand more than a lot of people think it can.

And, thank you for the nice compliments on my home and blog. Its been a heck of a ride!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 7:45PM
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Just as annoying as the pronouncements about marble are the pronouncements about how granite always stains.

In my experience "granite" includes a lot more different materials than "marble" and it's possible, even easy, to select a granite that does not need to be sealed and will not stain or etch.

My experience is in agreement with people who actually have marble - I've got it, a lot of it, in a bathroom and it looks great and I don't pamper it.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 11:26PM
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Greg, thanks for the blog, and the experiments :) Very amusing and informative :) I especially liked the "it's rock!" Whenever I need to assemble something like a chair I do it in my marble tiled entry hall. I paint in there too. People are aghast, but as you say.

What I learned from your experiments is that marble *is* too soft for my kitchen counters no matter how pretty it is. My marble lavatory tops don't get the kind of use my kitchen counters do. It would bug the heck out of me if I got those little nicks after my brother banged on it with a butter knife. But the marble floor is really hard comparded to the "hard" wood in the rest of the house. :D

Thanks again for the info.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 7:30AM
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While the marble did seem to fail the chip test, you should know that I had to smack that very, very hard with the cutting edge of the knife, and with that the marks were minor. Casual hitting of the marble with a knife would not leave marks.

Honestly, a child with a knife would have a hard time using the force I did to be able to leave marks. And if anyone is concerned about a child with a knife damaging their counter tops, I think the issue of a child with a knife should be your main concern.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 12:59PM
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Thanks, but my brother is 50! LOL!! He just expends nervous energy by banging stuff. I don't know if he'd do it hard enough to leave marks but I don't want to worry about it.

Actually, I've had stone before, a low grade marble, and had pretty much decided on tile (truly hard) for the counters, but am keeping an open mind. What your tests also showed me is that I'd be happy with a white marble baking station. I wouldn't care much about nicks or etching, there but wouldn't want stains :) So thanks again!

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 2:34PM
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Bumping up ...
Looks like a lot of good info and don't want it to drop off before I have a chance to read it all.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 6:52AM
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My 6 month old Venetian gray tile countertops are stained. I decided on a carrara-type after reading this thread, so o just thought I should update it with my experience. My kitchen is in heavy use, admittedly, as I have 3 small kids and I cook a lot. Over the past 6 months about 10 orange stains have appeared. I still have not figured out where they came from. There is also a small etched spot where I absent mindedly set down a can of tomatoes and it had a drip, as well as a grayish grease spot from a dab of butter. These are negligable. The orange is quite noticeable and I am yet to discover what has caused any of them. I try to baby the counter top and protect it from fruits, veggies, juices, and oils. I keep a big glass cutting board out to use for these items. I try to wipe it up if I see anything spill or drip on the marble. Certainly anything i missed would be wiped up later the same day. I have never found a piece of food or a spill that caused an orange stain, they seem to appear out of nowhere and then they get darker. I have used a spray on sealer which is apparently worthless.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 3:14PM
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Hollybop, have you ever figured out what's causing the orange stain? Were you able to get it out?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2014 at 4:50PM
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I'm sorry to revive this, but the orange spot is worth talking about.
Here is what kitchendetective said about it, a little higher up in the thread:

" One thing about staining--some white marbles contain iron which can oxidize under the influence of water or unseen moisture. This results in rust within the stone that shows up as a yellowish or orange stain that is actually part of the stone itself and not amenable to removal by poultices, etc."

    Bookmark   October 23, 2014 at 10:38PM
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hollybop, do all your orange spots look the same? It almost looks as though something you are using in your kitchen is depositing iron on your counter.

This might be the maddest of mad scientist ideas: One thing that might be worth trying on a VERY INCONSPICUOUS spot would be seeing if those rust neutralizer sprays work. I use them on rusty bicycles when I don't want to polish off all the rust. It chemically neutralizes the rust and turns it black. If it works, it wouldn't get rid of the iron, but a grey/black spot might be easier on the eyes than orange. BUT it is after all, a chemical for patio furniture and bicycles and such, so test CAREFULLY if you try it!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2014 at 8:55AM
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If you think it is rust coming through the stone, I would try a gentle buffing with some bar Keeper's Friend. I don't know if it will etch, but the idea would be to lightly buff and not leave it on a long time, but use any etching or buffing to blend in with the existing honing. I have used BKF to take rust marks our of white clothing and it didn't leave a black or grey mark.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2014 at 9:47AM
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Hollybops asked her questions 2-1/2 years ago. I don't think she's around to see the answer!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2014 at 12:21PM
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