A fascinating material that has been used for everything from artistic sculptures to architectural works. Natural marble has a rich history in art and in construction. Working with this material and caring for it though, may be even less known than the uses of the material itself. In this article we will discuss some basic information about natural marble. As we do, we will consider why people choose marble. We will also mention a bit about working with marble. Finally, we will examine caring for this intriguing material.
Why People Choose Marble
People favor one material over another for a plethora of reasons. In the case of natural marble, people are drawn to the elegance this natural stone exudes. In fact, natural marble has been used for the construction of some of the most prominent structures throughout history. For example, the United States Supreme Court building contains marble. But what are the characteristics of this stone?
Properties of Marble
Natural marble is characterized by is crystalline look. Peering at this stone close up one notices small shiny particles that glisten in the light. This is a mineral called calcium carbonate in crystal form. These crystals contribute to the sparkling nature of natural marble.
In addition to the shiny appearance of marble, the calcium carbonate (calcite) means that the material is relatively soft. Natural marble registers 3 to 4 on the
Mohs scale of mineral hardness. This is one of the reasons it is often used as a sculpting material. Yet, in addition to the gleeming nature and the ability of the stone to be shaped, calcite offers another characteristic.
Calcareous natural stone (that is, stone that is composed of calcium carbonate) has a trait that some consider to be a drawback and others view as a quality that makes marble truly unique. Depending on the environment and what natural marble is exposed to, it will develop an aged look that some refer to as a "patina". This look is caused by a variety of factors, some of which we will mention a little later. But for now just know that one of the big contributors to marble's uniqueness is that it is a calcareous stone.
Working With Marble
Earlier in the article we said that natural marble is a "soft" natural stone. Yet, even though it is not an extremely hard material, that is not to say that it does not require specific equipment to work with marble. Let's look a couple of these now.
One thing to consider before beginning to work with marble is that it is capable of slowing you down if the wrong blades are used. Being a soft stone, marble debris will build up and slow the cutting process if the blade is not designed to cut soft stones. Although other blades may cut marble, a
diamond blade designed to cut calcareous stone will perform the best.
In additon to the proper blade for cutting marble, polishing pads are also a key tool for working with slabs. Many polishing pads are available. Some of the options from which to choose include the following:
- 3 Step
- 5 Step
- 7 Step
- Wet Polishing Pads
- Dry Polishing Pads
The main point here is that working with marble slabs requires specific tools and supplies.
Caring for Natural Marble
Another facet of basic marble knowledge is that, depending on your preference, marble can require some very specific care and maintenance practices. Earlier we mentioned that some owners of marble prefer to allow a patina to form on the material. This patina develops as the surface is used. However, some desire to keep the surface looking new and prevent this worn, or aged look to develop. Keeping marble looking as new as possible involves a maintenance routine. Let's consider one that some choose to use.
3 Part Marble Maintenance Routine
One effective maintenance routine that works for marble and other calcareous stone is involves three specific parts. Each part is designed to care for a specific aspect of maintenance. The three parts are as follows:
- Periodic sealer application - because nearly all natural stone is porous, marble needs to be sealed. Selaing marble helps with keeping water based and oil based liquids from changing the color of the marble and making it look aged. How often to apply sealer and how much to use depends on how "thirsty" the marble is. Performing a water test on the stone will reveal whether it is time to apply another sealer treatment.
- Daily cleaning with pH neutral cleaner - sealing a marble surface does no good if the proper daily cleaner is not used. Why? Because using the wrong cleaner will destroy the sealer a make it susceptible to stain causing liquids again. For this reason, use a daily cleaner designed for use on marble.
- Stain removal when necessary - if the marble surface does acquire a stain, be sure to us the appropriate stian remover to treat the stone. Additionally, calcareous stones like marble can etch. An etch is different from a stain but sometimes people confuse the two. Be sure you prpoerly identify any discolorations and treat then accordingly.
In conclusion, natural marble has a very strong appeal for many. This desirability stems from the composition of the stone. Additionally, working with marble requires specific tools just like most other stone materials do. Finally, caring for marble will involve various degrees of treatments depending on which look is preferred. Knowing these basic facets of marble information goes a long way toward successfully dealing with this unique natural stone.