Happy Friday! I’ve got an informative marble post to share- filled with a few words of caution, advice for “fixing” etched marble, and my experience having the polished nero marble countertops in our guest bathroom honed. As a self-proclaimed natural stone enthusiast with quite a bit of design education on this topic, I’m sad to say- our guest bathroom countertops had a bit of an accident a few weeks ago. Since I’ve been dealing with some health issues, Emmett surprised me with a house cleaning. He hired our go-to cleaners for a whole-house deep clean. Long story short, they used a cleaning product on our guest bathroom countertops that was not marble-friendly. After they left, I went upstairs to admire our clean house and immediately noticed the countertops had been badly etched from a harsh or abrasive cleaner. Mistakes happen, marble etches, and getting upset never helps. I called our stone fabricator to ask what I should do to repair or fix them, and ultimately I landed on having them honed. I’m sharing all the details in this post- click through for some crazy before & after images.
First of all… the house cleaners were very apologetic and offered to pay for the damage- we’ll definitely use them again in the future. They felt really bad, but as I previously stated- these things can happen, and that’s part of having natural stone. It’s subject to etching and is easier to damage than fabricated products (like quartz). I just wanted to share our experience and how I changed the look of our countertops to cover said cleaning mishap. I still love the countertops and wouldn’t change my decision to install nero marble. Should I ever want the countertops to look glossy again, I can easily change them… nothing a little sanding and polishing can’t fix! This is what they looked like post cleaning & etching:
This just reassures that you have to have a certain mindset or semi-chill attitude if you’re going to embrace & install natural stone. Natural stone patinas over time, is guaranteed to change, and becomes imperfect over the years…. although some instances are worse than others, when it comes to accidental etching. In this instance, the etching was pretty severe and something I didn’t want to embrace because it looked like a cleaning mistake… rather than natural aging or a ring here or there. All three of the bathroom countertops were badly etched, as cleaner was used on all of them (left sink, right sink, and the center portion).
It was a pretty ugly situation, but I knew it could be fixed! The streaks, hazy scrub marks, and etching could all be buffed out. It just meant parting with my beloved high-shine, glossy counters. In hindsight- I knew they were a risky move to begin with, but we made it three years post renovation before a mishap (even though it was a big one, ha). I’ll call that a win. Part of me was kind of interested to switch things up with a more matte look.
We probably could have handled honing the countertops on our own, but given the cleaners were willing to cover the cost- I was glad to save time and hire a professional. José, the fabricator I worked with is the best of the best! Before he arrived, Emmett partially removed our faucets and I emptied everything out of the bathroom, knowing things would get dusty.
José taped everything off and used a combination of both power sanders and hand sanding to knock down the polished marble and buff out the etching. He also used some honing powder. See the difference above? The below image shows the other two sections after sanding. Looking good as new!
Once he was finished, he asked if I wanted to leave the stone natural and just use simple sealer to finish the honed marble- or use an enhancer. You can probably guess (based on my soapstone posts), I love an enhanced stone. I opted for enhancer to darken the marble and really bring out the rich black nero tone. This is his preferred enhancer & sealer…
Below, you can see the difference between the natural look (middle section) and the enhanced look (right side). I took all the process images with my phone, which didn’t do an amazing job with the lighting (there is zero natural light in this room), but hopefully you get the idea!
Here is a quick photo of the finished result, post sealing and enhancing- before I moved everything back into the space… what a difference! Emmett actually prefers the honed look, as opposed to polished.
This is what they look like today- check out the below image. One week post honing and they’re doing great! We had our house & dog sitter using this space while we visited our family over the holiday weekend, and everything is still in tip top shape while seeing a lot of use.
I did want to share some tips with you for maintaining and protecting your natural stone…
- Use an appropriate cleaner. I use this one– which is natural and derived from plants… safe for all natural stone, including marble.
- If you’re having your house cleaned- always specify what cleaner is appropriate to use (and double check to confirm).
- Seal your marble as scheduled (per the instructions on the sealer). Make a reminder in your calendar!
- Avoid ingredients that etch natural stone (oils, acids, cleaners, eroding products, vinegar, etc).
- Wipe up excess water or spills- don’t allow it to sit for long periods of time. Clean up spills right away.
- Use trays, trivets, coasters, and small dishes to elevate soaps & supplies… they’ll catch spills and protect your stone.
- Use sticky felt pads on the bottom of abrasive decor to prevent scratching.
- Embrace the beauty of natural stone… including patina and natural imperfections that come with age. Remember, natural stone depicts a home that is lived in and well-loved!
If you missed our guest bathroom renovation, you can find the majority of those posts here! We tackled this space at the beginning of 2019… it was the first room we renovated in our house. It’s still a space I really love. I wouldn’t change a thing! My only regret is that I wish we could have renovated our primary bath instead, so I could use it on a daily basis (ha!). Although I am happy that our guests get to enjoy this bath. It’s a really gorgeous room in person, despite the lack of natural light! It’s looking good as new thanks to José’s help with the countertops. Phew! Meltdown avoided. Here’s to a great weekend ahead. I’m still playing catch up after being out of town. I can’t wait to comb through the comment section and catch up with everyone! Thanks for being patient with me this week.