Marble: A Classic Beauty's Installation and Maintenance

Karissa A

Carlota Hotel   View this Block

Exquisite and an elegant material per se, the veined and fine-textured compressive marble ranges in application from residential to commercial, from interior to exterior, and from slabs to veneer tiles. Marble blocks or panels are usually cut, handled, packaged, shipped and installed carefully without breakage and chipped edges. Three main kinds of finishes give the marble its aesthetic look and functional setting. Polished finish yields a reflective gloss and is commonly used for interior applications; honed finish produces a semi-reflective to little gloss and is generally used in locations where heavy traffic is a common occurrence; and lastly, a flamed finish is rough-textured surface used on exterior applications.

Also, a simple acid sensitivity test should be conducted to determine if the natural stone is siliceous or calcareous. To do this, apply acid drops such as muriatic acid or household vinegar on a stone surface. If the acid drops blandly produce little or no reaction at all, it is considered siliceous. If the marble belongs to the calcareous stones composed mainly of calcium carbonate, the normal reaction includes bubbles, fizzing vigorously on the stone surface. Since marble is a basic material, it is sensitive to acidic cleaning products and requires distinct cleaning and maintenance procedures from the siliceous stones.

Installation

Formed by nature, variation in veneer cuts of marble is naturally shown through vein cut (perpendicular cut) or fleuri cut (parallel cut). The Marble Soundness Classification groups the marble into four hierarchical categories and considers the amount of repair, waxing, sticking, filling and fabrication prior or during the installation. Also, since marble is fire-resistant but not heat-resistant due to rapid thermal conductivity, the use of paper honeycomb, cement-bonded wood excelsior or autoclaved cellular concrete for its insulation significantly increase the fire rating. Additionally, reinforcement techniques such as fiberglass mesh and liner blocks are applied to the underside of large-dimension slabs.

Color Selection

Virtually unlimited color selections of marble vary from light to dark colors. Peculiar consideration for the green, red and black natural marble tiles should be given as they contain minerals that warp and swell with water or moisture content. Moisture sensitive and hydrophobic, such colored marble tiles are bonded with an epoxy bonding mortar to prevent staining as opposed to the usual dry-set or thinset mortars containing water retention. For light-colored or translucent marbles, a white adhesive can be applied in a back-butter manner using a notched trowel to bond with the substrate.

Sealers

Since marble tile is naturally soft and porous, liquids will etch and absorb within the material so protection methods such as cleaning, sealing and staining are vital for its maintenance. There are cases where the marble should be treated or untreated. Topical sealers are surface-level protective coatings from water and oil contaminants which convert the program from stone care to sealer maintenance (applied every 6 to 12 months). Impregnators are molecular-level hydrophobic and oliophobic penetrating sealers that keep contaminants out, but are not preventing the interior moisture from getting outside, thereby providing a breathable vapor transmission.

Moisture Damage & Stain Removal

Moisture usually operates from the dissolving of salts from ground, to substrate, to the marble and to the surface itself, and often, unsealed joints can produce efflorescence - a mineral salt residue left when there is an exchange of water evaporation. Identifying stains such as oil-based, organic, inorganic, biological and paint are essential to discern the type of cleaning methods and products to use such as neutral cleaners, detergents and poultice.

What other basic know-how can you provide for the care and installation of marble? Are there any new innovation and technological advancement (stain-proof, heat-resistant, scratch-resistant) with this timeless material that you can share? Leave your comments below!

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