Natural stone is, without a doubt, one of the most tasteful elements you can have. Nothing is more luxurious than marble countertops or flooring. Yet, the brilliance of the stone can be easily dulled over time if placed in high traffic areas. Without regular stone polishing, the marble and stone floors will start to look less and less impressive.
But what is stone polishing? How does it work? We’re going to get to the bottom of those questions and more.
What is Stone Polishing?
Simply put, marble polishing is a combined process of honing the stone then polishing it to create a smoother, more even surface to once again reflect light. Once rough spots have been honed, the marble or stone countertop or flooring will have a matte finish. Although this kind of finish is scratch and smudge resistant, it won’t be as glossy or opulent as before. You also won’t get that crisp reflection. Of course, without sealant, even a honed marble or stone surface will soak of moisture like a sponge, so you can’t leave it as is.
After honing, there’s a polishing, which brings back the shiny, mirror-like quality. A fine grit powder is often used to gently polish the surface of the stone.
But now that you know what stone polishing is about, let’s talk about what marble and stone polishing is NOT. There is a lot of confusion about marble polishing, since the term “polish” generally implies that there is a “finish” being applied to the granite, limestone, marble, travertine, or any other natural stone.
That is not the case. Natural stone can be finished a number of ways. The “polished” finish is one of many and refers to high-gloss, where the deepest colors of the stone are visible. However, that doesn’t mean that all-natural stone floors and countertops are supposed to be glossy and shiny.
Furthermore, the polish is not applied with chemicals. The shine isn’t something like wax on a car. No, it’s part of the marble or stone. So when you are getting stone polished, nothing is being added. In fact, we are taking away the damages and restoring the shiny finish. To do that requires a high amount of friction applied to the stone, which is why professional stone polishing is such an important step in maintaining your floors.
Why is Marble and Stone Polishing Necessary?
Marble and similar stones are metamorphic. That means that it is formed under extreme conditions beneath the surface of the Earth. It is also non-foliated, so you don’t see layers. Being that marble is technically a form of limestone, it is made up of calcium carbonate—a stone that is vulnerable to acids or low pH liquids. Because of that vulnerability, marble and similar stone require polishing.
Other reasons marble polishing is necessary:
- The stone may wear unevenly due to high amounts of traffic and use
- The surface may be worn and no longer has the clean, brilliant look that you want
- There are stains, scratches, and etching on the surface
- The wrong cleaning solution was used and now the marble or stone is dulled
Can I Polish Marble Floors Myself?
Though marble is durable, it does need regular maintenance. Taking care of your marble or stone flooring and countertops is crucial if you want to keep them shining and smooth. The easiest way to protect your marble countertops and floors is to clean up any spills immediately. That will prevent any damage to the protective seal placed on the marble during installation (and reapplied every few years).
Be careful with things like makeup, salad dressings, tomatoes, fruit juices, soda, alcohol, vinegar, butter, tea, and coffee when you have stone or marble in your house. Letting these sit on the countertop could negatively impact the seal. Wipe and dry as soon as you can.
If you notice that there are some dull spots on the countertops or floor, then you can potentially do it yourself.
DIY Stone Polishing
Avoid using chemical cleaners and follow the steps below instead for DIY marble polishing:
- Use a mid dish detergent and a soft sponge or bristled brush to scrub at any stains or micro-abrasions in the marble or stone. Wipe again with a mild soap before rinsing the surface.
- Make a homemade polish mixture by taking 3 tablespoons of baking soda and a quart of water then apply the solution to the scratched or dulled areas on the countertop or floor. Let the solution dry for a couple of hours before buffing the surface with a clean cloth. That should help restore the shine.
DIY stone polishing is not going to be as effective as a professional marble or stone cleaning surface. However, it will help you keep your kitchen counters, vanities, and stone floors shining for a longer period of time. It is recommended that you schedule an annual marble polishing service.
What Does a Marble Polishing Service Include?
To truly restore the quality of marble and other stones like limestone, terrazzo, or travertine, you need a polishing machine. Professional stone polishing companies will have these tools, as well as high-grade diamond-encrusted rotary pads. Diamond honing and polishing is one of the best ways to restore the shine to natural stone.
Any polishing service will have at least three steps: grinding, honing, and polishing. Here is how it breaks down:
- The first step is to remove visible wax, stains, and grime on the stone surface with a mixture of detergent, soap, or turpentine.
- Next, the professionals will take an electric sander fix with a specialized rotary pad. They will first use a coarse grit to grind any imperfections. Afterward, a less coarse grit is added for the second round of sanding.
- The third step involves marble plaster. This is applied to the marble or stone to give it a gloss.
- Lastly, the pro grabs a microfiber polishing pad and puts some polishing pad down on the marble or stone. Then, they buff the floor or other stone surface to give it that long-lasting shine you love.
In short, marble and stone polishing is all about restoring the natural gleam to your scratched, etched, or stained marble countertops or flooring. Depending on how much the stone elements are used, you may need to do more than regular maintenance. Sometimes, that requires hiring a professional who can bring in special abrasive tools and experience to do the job.