Living: Caring for and living with marble
A kitchen counter or bathroom vanity is a big purchase for any homeowner. Here’s what you need to know before the plan is set in stone.
Deciding that marble, with its classic good looks, is right for your home is the easy part. Figuring out the size, color, shape and finish you need may entail a little more thought. Visit a home center and speak with a specialist, who will walk you through the selection process. For instance, if you’re looking to use the natural material on a floor or in a tight space (like a backsplash), tiles may be the ideal option. Slabs, for their part, look best on large, level surfaces like shower walls and counters.
Before you commit to buying the stone, “make sure you’re the type who can live with patina,” says Martha Stewart Living decorating director Kevin Sharkey. The material’s porous nature makes it prone to etching and staining. Honed (matte) marble hides these little imperfections better than polished.
Shades of gray
There’s a marble to suit every style and function. We’ve narrowed down the options to these nine beautiful varieties, all classics.
1. Thassos: This nearly all-white marble works best in a low-traffic area, like a bathroom wall, as it’s susceptible to staining.
2. Carrara: After years of mining, the popular white-gray stone, named after the Italian town that produces it, is now a bit more gray than white.
3. Calacatta Gold: This primarily white stone is similar to Carrara but features both gray and gold veining.
4. Statuary: Mined from the same area in Italy as Carrara, this bright-white marble boasts bold charcoal veins.
5. Zephyr: The linear veining of this gray marble makes it a good choice for anyone who prefers a modern look.
6. Bardiglio Dark: A gray-blue stone like this one can be a striking accent against a lighter stone, like Thassos.
7. Athens Gray: If you are looking for a warmer-colored marble,consider this smoky taupe-gray. It has soft mocha-brown veining throughout.
8. Portoro Gold: Make a statement with this black marble, which bears graphic veining in gold and silver.
9. Nero Marquina: The black Italian marble with thin white veins is both classic and modern.
Care and maintenance
Experts share tips on how to ensure marble will look its best for many years:
Seal: Sealing repels staining agents but doesn’t make marble stain-proof. “Talk to your fabricator to determine which sealant is right for you,” says DeeDee Gundberg, senior manager at Ann Sacks Tile. When water no longer beads, it’s time to reseal.
Protect: Vinegar, citrus and tomato will etch marble; don’t let them sit on the stone. “Treat marble as you would a fine wood finish,” says Charlotte Barnard, creative director at Nemo Tile Company. “Use coasters and cutting boards. Wipe up spills immediately.”
Clean: Avoid using acidic or abrasive cleaners. “Vacuum or sweep up loose dirt, and use a damp mop or sponge regularly,” says Barbara Sallick, co-founder and senior vice president of Waterworks. “I like Miracle Sealants tile and stone cleaner.”
To remove stubborn stains, use a poultice paste. Spread it onto the stain, then cover with plastic wrap sealed with painters’ tape. Once it’s dry (12 to 24 hours), scrape the paste off and wipe with a damp cloth. For deep-set stains, you may need to reapply the paste.
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