Pros and Cons of Marble Countertops

Marble countertops have long been considered a timeless choice for kitchen surfaces, admired for their natural beauty and elegance. However, like any material, marble comes with its own set of pros and cons that should be carefully considered before making a decision.

Pros of Marble Countertops:

  1. Appearance: One of the primary reasons homeowners choose marble is its exquisite appearance. The natural veining and unique patterns create a luxurious and sophisticated look that adds character to any kitchen.
  2. Cool Temperature: Marble has a natural ability to stay cool, making it an ideal surface for tasks such as baking. This coolness can be especially beneficial in warmer climates or during the summer months.
  3. Increase in Property Value: Marble countertops can enhance the resale value of a home. The association of marble with luxury and quality can make a kitchen more appealing to potential buyers.
  4. Savings: Almost anything that can happen to a marble countertop can be fixed. Scratches, etches, chips, stains, and cracks can all usually be minimized or fixed completely, ultimately saving the homeowner money in replacement costs. It costs much less to fix rather than replace.

Cons of Marble Countertops:

  1. Porosity: Marble is a porous material, making it susceptible to staining. Proper sealing may be required to inhibit spills from being able to penetrate into the pores of the stone and leave a stain. Marble countertops require regular sealing to maintain their appearance and protect against stains. Failure to keep your marble tops sealed can result in more significant issues over time.
  2. Acid Sensitivity: Marble is calcite-based and can become etched from acidic substances such as lemon juice, vinegar, or tomato sauce. Special treatments can be applied to protect from etching. Ask us about these options.
  3. Scratches and Chips: While marble is durable, it is softer than some other countertop materials like granite. This makes it more prone to scratches and chipping, particularly in high-usage areas.
  4. Cost: Marble is generally more expensive than other countertop materials. The high cost can be a significant factor for homeowners on a budget, making alternative options more appealing.

Marble countertops offer a stunning and timeless aesthetic but come with trade-offs. Homeowners who prioritize beauty and are willing to invest time and effort in maintenance may find marble to be an excellent choice. However, those seeking a more durable and low-maintenance option may opt for alternatives like granite. Ultimately, the decision depends on individual preferences, lifestyle, and budget considerations.

By Sharon Koehler. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PRO Partners.

Grout Discoloration in Showers: Causes & Fixes

Grout discoloration, a common issue in showers, mars the pristine look of your bathroom over time. Factors like moisture, soap residue, hard water, and wear contribute to this problem.


Moisture: Leads to mold, mildew, and weakened grout.

Soap and Shampoo Residue: Accumulates on grout lines.

Hard Water: Mineral deposits cloud grout.

Age and Wear: Regular usage wears down grout.


Routine Cleaning:

  • Use warm water and mild pH neutral cleaner.
  • Scrub gently and rinse thoroughly.

Grout Sealing:

  • Have your grout sealed every 1-2 years.

Deep Cleaning:

  • Use specialized cleaner or baking soda mixture cautiously.

Professional Cleaning:

  • Have your stone and tile pro do a deep cleaning when called for.

Grout Replacement:

  • DIY or hire professionals for extensive damage.


  • Wipe tiles and grout after each use.
  • Use a squeegee to prevent pooling water.
  • Maintain good bathroom ventilation.
  • Promptly replace old or damaged grout and caulk.


Understanding causes and applying appropriate solutions can restore your shower’s grout. Regular maintenance and preventive measures ensure a clean and beautiful shower space.

By Fred Hueston. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PRO Partners.

Why Is My Marble Turning Dark?

Is your light marble mysteriously turning dark? Read this article to learn why and what you can do to help protect it from certain damage that causes darkening.

Marble turning dark can be caused by multiple factors, and understanding these reasons is especially important for effective maintenance and preservation. Marble is a metamorphic rock composed primarily of calcite or dolomite crystals, and its natural beauty can be affected by both external and internal factors.

  • One common reason for marble darkening is surface staining. Spills of acidic substances, such as coffee, wine, or citrus juices, can etch the surface of marble, leading to discoloration.
  • Another cause is exposure to metal objects or water having high mineral content may cause rust or mineral deposits, darkening the marble’s appearance.
  • Another significant factor is the absorption of environmental contaminants. Marble is porous, meaning it can absorb liquids and gases. Air pollution, especially in urban environments, can deposit pollutants onto the surface of the marble, causing it to darken over time. This is particularly evident in outdoor installations where the marble is exposed to the elements.
  • Natural aging and weathering contribute to marble darkening. Sunlight exposure can lead to the breakdown of the stone’s minerals and alter its color. Over time, the surface may develop a patina, which in its own rite can be very beautiful.
  • Inappropriate cleaning methods can worsen the issue. Harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners can damage the marble’s surface, making it more susceptible to staining and darkening. It is essential to use pH-neutral cleaners designated safe for stone surfaces to preserve the marble’s beautiful look.

Preventing marble darkening involves a combination of proactive measures. Sealing the marble surface helps reduce its porosity, making it less prone to staining. Regular cleaning with a gentle, stone-friendly cleaner removes surface contaminants. Avoiding contact with acidic substances and promptly addressing spills can also prevent discoloration.

The darkening of marble can be attributed to many factors, including staining, environmental pollutants, natural aging, and inappropriate cleaning methods. Understanding these reasons allows for the implementation of proper maintenance practices to preserve the beauty of marble surfaces over time.

By Sharon Koehler. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PRO Partners.

Protecting Your Stone Surfaces

You invest a lot of time and money in your surfaces. Countertops, floors, tabletops, and other stone surfaces can enhance a home or business quite a bit. To keep your stone surfaces looking beautiful, there are certain things you can do to help them stay in pristine condition.

  1. Prevention is Key: Start by setting some ground rules for your guests. Encourage the use of coasters for beverages and ask them to avoid placing hot pots or pans directly onto stone countertops. Remind everyone to be mindful of sharp objects that could scratch or chip the surface.
  2. Clean Regularly: Regular cleaning is crucial to keeping the beauty of your stone surfaces. However, avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners that could damage the stone. Instead, opt for pH-neutral, stone-safe cleaners. Wipe up spills promptly to prevent staining and etching, especially from acidic substances like wine or citrus juices.
  3. Use Trivets and Coasters: Invest in high-quality trivets and coasters to protect your stone surfaces from hot dishes and drink condensation. Place trivets under hot pots and pans to prevent thermal shock, which can occur when extreme temperature changes affect the stone’s structure.
  4. Seal the Stone: Depending on the type of stone, it may benefit from periodic sealing. Sealing creates a protective barrier that repels liquids and reduces the risk of staining. If you are unsure if the stone needs to be resealed, perform the water drop test. Just put a few drops of water on the surface in a few different places. If the water soaks in, then it needs resealing. If your stone surface does need to be resealed, call your stone care professional before potentially damaging spills occur.
  5. Use Cutting Boards: When preparing meals, always use cutting boards to protect your stone countertops from scratches and dings caused by sharp knives. This simple habit can significantly extend the life of your stone surfaces.
  6. Be Mindful of Heavy Items: Avoid placing excessively heavy or sharp objects directly onto your stone surfaces. Use felt or rubber pads under decorative items, vases, or other heavy objects to prevent scratches and dents.
  7. Wipe up Spills Immediately: Accidents happen, but prompt action can prevent lasting damage. If a spill occurs, blot it at once with a clean, soft cloth. For stubborn stains, use a poultice or a specialized stone stain remover.
  8. Manage Traffic: Stone floors can bear the brunt of foot traffic. Place doormats at entrances to trap dirt and debris, preventing scratches from shoes. Encourage guests to remove their shoes or supply soft slippers to minimize potential damage.
  9. Consult a Professional: If you’re unsure about the care of your specific stone, consult your stone care professional. Stone experts can provide personalized advice based on the type of stone you have and its unique characteristics.

For routine care and maintenance tips, please feel free to consult our Stone and Tile Care Guide on our website.

By taking these precautions, you can use your surfaces for years to come, without compromising the beauty and longevity of your cherished stone surfaces. With a little care and attention, your stone countertops, floors, and tabletops will continue to show their true beauty for a long, long time.

By Sharon Koehler. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PRO Partners.

Textured Surfaces on Natural Stone

Textured natural stone finishes, such as honed, flamed,  sawn, river washed or tumbled, have gained popularity in interior and exterior design for their unique eye-catching appeal and functional qualities. These finishes offer a departure from the traditional polished surfaces, providing a distinct look and feel. However, like any design choice, they come with their own set of pros and cons that should be carefully considered.

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of textured natural stone finishes:


  1. Enhanced Aesthetic Appeal: Textured natural stone finishes add depth and character to surfaces, creating a more natural and rustic appearance. The honed finish, for instance, showcases a matte appearance with a soft, velvety touch, while river washed finishes emulate the smoothness and weathered look of river stones. This aesthetic versatility allows for a broader range of design possibilities, making these finishes suitable for both modern and traditional settings.
  2. Improved Slip Resistance: One of the notable advantages of textured natural stone finishes, especially river washed, is their enhanced slip resistance. The uneven surface creates additional traction, making these finishes ideal for areas prone to water exposure, such as bathrooms, kitchens, or outdoor spaces. This finish enhances safety and reduces the risk of accidents due to slipping.
  3. Conceals Wear and Tear: Textured finishes are effective at concealing minor scratches, etches, or wear and tear compared to their polished counterparts. The matte surface of honed granite, for example, tends to camouflage small imperfections, maintaining a more consistent and pleasing appearance over time.
  4. Less Reflective: Unlike a polished finish, textured finishes are less reflective, which can be beneficial in spaces where glare or excessive light reflection is a concern. This makes them suitable for areas with abundant natural light or spaces where a subdued ambiance is desired.


  1. Susceptible to Stains: Textured natural stone finishes, particularly honed surfaces, may be more susceptible to staining compared to polished ones. The porous nature of these finishes allows liquids and substances to penetrate more easily, making it important to promptly clean up spills to avoid permanent stains. Regular sealing is often recommended to mitigate this issue.
  2. Reduced Shine and Luster: While some homeowners appreciate the matte appearance of honed, flamed or river washed finish, others may miss the high-gloss shine associated with polished surfaces. If a glossy, reflective finish is a priority for a specific design vision or décor idea, textured finishes may not fulfill that requirement.
  3. Maintenance Challenges: The textured nature of these finishes can pose challenges when it comes to maintenance. Cleaning and maintaining textured natural stone may require more effort compared to polished surfaces. Dirt and grime can accumulate in the uneven crevices, making it necessary to thoroughly clean the stone more often to preserve and maintain it’s appearance.
  4. Limited Color Intensity: Textured finishes may not showcase the natural color and veining of the stone as prominently as polished surfaces. The process of honing or river washing can mute the colors and patterns, resulting in a less vibrant appearance. This may be a drawback for those who want the full visual impact of the stone.

The choice between textured natural stone finishes and polished ones depends on individual preferences, practical considerations, and the intended use of the stone. While textured finishes offer a distinctive aesthetic and improved slip resistance, they come with trade-offs in terms of maintenance and potential staining. Careful consideration of these pros and cons will help homeowners and designers make informed decisions based on their specific needs and preferences.

By Sharon Koehler. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PRO Partners.

From Earth to Elegance: What Makes Marble Colors?

Have you ever gazed upon your marble, adorned with its array of exquisite colors—some vivid and striking, while others exude a more refined and graceful allure—and pondered the origins of these beautiful hues? After learning how these colors are formed, you’ll never look at your marble quite the same.

Marble is a metamorphic rock that forms from limestone through the process of metamorphism. (Alteration of rock by heat, pressure, or other natural occurrences). During this transformation, a range of factors influence the coloration of marble, giving rise to the stunning array of colors and patterns that make each marble type unique. The main factors that contribute to the colors of marble are mineral composition, impurities, and geological processes. Let’s explore each of these aspects in detail:

Mineral Composition

Marble is primarily composed of calcite or dolomite minerals, which are both forms of calcium carbonate. (Calcium carbonate is a combination of carbon, oxygen, and calcium and is a common mineral found throughout the world.) The crystal structure of these minerals allows them to interact with light in different ways, influencing the perceived color of the marble. The presence of other minerals and impurities further enhances these color variations.


Impurities are foreign substances that find their way into the marble during the metamorphic process. These impurities play a significant role in determining the color and patterns exhibited by the marble. Some common impurities found in marble include:

Iron Oxides

Iron impurities can give marble various shades of red, brown, yellow, and orange. Hematite creates reds and yellows, while limonite produces browns and yellows.


The presence of graphite can lend a gray or black color to the marble.

Clay Minerals

Clay minerals introduce earthy tones such as beige, tan, or brown to the marble.


Serpentine impurities create green marble, such as the famous Verde Antique marble.

Sulfides and Organic Materials

These can lead to black or dark veining in the marble.

Geological Processes

The geological history of the region where the marble forms can also influence its color. The presence of specific minerals or the type of rock that undergoes metamorphism alongside the limestone can contribute to the unique colors and patterns. Additionally, the intensity of heat and pressure during metamorphism will impact the recrystallization of minerals and the formation of specific colors.

Local Geography and Environment

Different regions around the world are known for their distinct marble colors and patterns due to variations in the local geology and environment. For example, Carrara marble from Italy is famous for its white color and has been used in many famous sculptures and buildings. The Danby marble from Vermont, USA, is prized for its pure white color and minimal veining.

Age and Degree of Metamorphism

The duration and intensity of the metamorphic process can influence the colors of marble. Marble that undergoes extensive metamorphism over prolonged periods may have a more uniform color, while marble that experiences variable conditions may show a greater variety of colors and patterns.

The mesmerizing colors of marble result from a complex interplay of mineral composition, impurities, geological processes, and the specific environmental conditions where the metamorphism takes place. This diversity in colors is what makes marble such a sought-after and cherished material for various commercial, residential, and artistic applications.

By Fred Hueston. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PRO Partners.

STONE TOPS: TO SEAL OR NOT? A Simple How-to Test

Not all stone countertops need to be sealed but most will benefit from the added protection —”an ounce of prevention,” so to speak. Here’s an easy test to know if yours needs to be sealed—or re-sealed. It’s called the “Water Test,” and it is so simple:

  • Clean the surface of your countertop with a stone-safe cleaner, making sure to remove oils and grease.
  • Let the surface dry completely.
  • Pick out a few different areas to test. Preferably, areas that get a lot of use or are prone to spills and stains. These areas will be the most likely to have worn-down protection.
  • Pour a little bit of water onto your test areas. A few spoonfuls at least.
  • Let the water dwell for a bit. Give it 4-5 minutes or so.
  • Wipe away the water. After a couple of seconds, look carefully at the area. If there is no evidence that water had been spilled you’re good to go. However, if the water soaked in and left a dark spot (not a stain, as it will eventually dry out) then it’s time to reseal.

Tips About Resealing

  • Even if only one area in the test absorbs the water, we recommend a complete re-seal. It’s an all-or-nothing necessity.
  • Failure to reseal can lead to damage such as permanent or difficult-to-remove stains on your countertops.
  • Having a pro do the job will ensure the proper type of sealer is used and common sealing problems are avoided.
  • Re-test every year or so.

Your countertops are not only an investment, they play a significant role in the appearance of your kitchen. The simple act of keeping them properly sealed will go a long way in keeping them looking great for years to come.

By Sharon Koehler. This is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PRO Partners.

How Steam Cleaning Affects Natural Stone

There are many ways to clean natural stone, some are wrong, and some are right, which is why it is always recommended to leave heavy cleaning to an experienced stone care professional.

However, spills and other things can happen that need to be cleaned up right away. An often-asked question is: “Can I have my natural stone steam cleaned?” Steam cleaning is a very effective way to remove soil and contaminants without harsh chemicals. However, on marble, granite, and other natural stone, steam cleaning can be harmful.

These are some of the problems steam cleanings can cause on natural stone

  • Spalling – Steam cleaning can cause a condition known as spalling. Since most stone is porous, the high temperature of steam cleaning can cause pressure within the stone, which can lead to pitting and/or flaking of the surface of the stone.
  • Sealer Removal – Natural stone sealers inhibit staining. Impregnating sealers penetrate the surface of the stone. Color enhancing impregnating sealers intensify the colors in natural stone. Topical sealers form a strippable or permanent coating that covers the surface of stone. If natural stone is sealed, steam cleaning can remove the sealer leaving the stone unprotected.
  • Accelerated Crack Damage – As natural stone is fabricated, transported, and installed, stress on the material can sometimes cause cracks to form. Stone may also be cracked after installation because of accidental damage or environmental stresses. You may not even realize that any cracking has occurred. If natural stone has any cracks, the heat and pressure from a steam cleaner can cause the cracks to expand and open up, making the cracks more obvious and problematic.
  • Grout Damage – Grout can also be negatively impacted by continued use of steam cleaning if used regularly. Damage may include discoloration and the grout cracking and falling apart. Steam cleaning may also remove sealers that were applied to the grout.
  • Iron Oxidation – If the composition of your natural stone includes iron, steam cleaning poses a risk of discoloration. Moisture reacts with the iron, creating rust-like stains on and in the stone. Iron oxidation discoloration can be extremely difficult or even impossible to remove.

Residential vs Commercial Steam Cleaners

Can I use my store-bought steam cleaner on my natural stone?

Home-type steam cleaners may be safe to sparingly use on natural stone since these steam cleaners do not reach the same high temperatures as commercial steam cleaners. The maximum temperature of residential steam cleaners is about 250 degrees F, whereas commercial steam cleaners can reach temperatures of over 300 degrees F. However, even home-type steam cleaners should not be used on a regular basis.

Types of Steam Cleaners

There are several types of steam cleaners.

  • • Vapor steam cleaners look like a canister vacuum. They emit a fog of steam vapor to the surface with a wand. The temperature can reach over 200 degrees F.
  • Steam mops inject steam into a cloth mop. Generally, these are safer to use on natural stone than other types of steam cleaners since the temperature is lower. However, again, regular use is not recommended.
  • Handheld steam cleaners are simple to use and are good for spot cleanup. Using them on stone countertops or shower walls can result in the same type of damage as larger, higher temperature steam cleaners.

Steam cleaners are excellent at cleaning many, many things but, to be on the safe side, use a pH-neutral, stone-safe cleaner for routine cleaning of your natural stone, and let your stone care professional take care of any heavy cleaning.

By Fred Hueston. This is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PRO Partners.

Is Bleach Safe for Natural Stone?

The Safety of Chlorine Bleach on Stone Surfaces: Unveiling the Facts

When it comes to cleaning stone surfaces, it is crucial to be well-informed about the products and techniques you use. One common question that arises is whether chlorine bleach is safe to use on stone surfaces. Chlorine bleach is a powerful disinfectant and stain remover, but its compatibility with various materials, including stone, is a subject of concern. Let’s explore the impact of chlorine bleach on stone surfaces, weighing its pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Stone Surfaces

Stone surfaces can vary greatly in their composition, durability, and porosity. Popular types of stone used in households include granite, marble, limestone, Quartzite, Onyx, and slate. These materials have different levels of susceptibility to damage and staining, necessitating different care approaches.

The Effects of Chlorine Bleach

Chlorine bleach, typically a solution of sodium hypochlorite, is known for its ability to remove stains and disinfect various surfaces. (Clorox is the most well-known brand). However, it is important to note that chlorine bleach is a highly reactive substance and can have detrimental effects on certain materials.

  • Discoloration: Stone surfaces, particularly those made of natural, unsealed materials, are vulnerable to discoloration when exposed to chlorine bleach. The bleach reacts with the minerals present in the stone, resulting in permanent stains or lightening of the surface color(s).
  • Surface Degradation: Chlorine bleach can weaken the structural integrity of certain types of stone. Bleach is an oxidizing agent that can break down organic compounds, and stone surfaces often contain small amounts of organic material. Prolonged or repeated use of bleach can cause the stone to become brittle, leading to cracks, pitting, or erosion over time.
  • Sealer Damage: Stone surfaces are commonly sealed to enhance their resistance to staining and damage. Chlorine bleach can degrade the protective sealant, making it less effective or even ineffective altogether. This can leave the stone more susceptible to future stains and damage.

Alternative Cleaning Methods

While chlorine bleach may not be the ideal choice for cleaning stone surfaces, there are alternative methods that are safer and more appropriate:

  • pH-Neutral Cleaners: Choose pH-neutral cleaners specifically formulated for stone surfaces. These cleaners are non-acidic and non-alkaline, ensuring they do not react with the stone and cause damage. They are effective in removing dirt, grime, and light stains without compromising the integrity of the stone.
  • Gentle Cleaning Techniques: For routine cleaning, use soft microfiber cloths or sponges along with mild soaps or detergents. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scouring pads that can scratch the stone. Regular and gentle cleaning can help maintain the appearance and longevity of stone surfaces.
  • Professional Advice: If you encounter stubborn stains or require in-depth cleaning, it is advisable to seek professional help. Professional stone care experts have the knowledge and experience to assess the type of stone and decide the appropriate cleaning methods and products for best results.

While chlorine bleach may be an effective disinfectant and stain remover for some surfaces, it is not recommended for use on stone surfaces. The potential for discoloration, surface degradation, and damage to sealants outweigh any benefits it may provide. Opting for pH-neutral cleaners, employing gentle cleaning techniques, and seeking professional advice when needed are more appropriate ways to care for and maintain the beauty of stone surfaces. By choosing the right cleaning methods, you can ensure the longevity and visual appeal of your stone surfaces without compromising their integrity.

By Fred Hueston. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PRO Partners.

What Type of Stone is Suitable for a Firebox?

A fireplace is a beautiful addition to any home. It provides warmth and comfort during frosty winter months and adds a cozy ambiance to any room. When building a fireplace, choosing the right materials is crucial to ensure its durability and safety. One major decision to make is selecting the right stone for the firebox. Let’s explore which stones are suitable for a firebox in a fireplace.

Firstly, it is important to understand the function of the firebox in a fireplace. The firebox is the chamber where the fire is contained, and it needs to be able to withstand high temperatures without cracking or deteriorating. Therefore, the stone used for the firebox should have a high resistance to heat.

One of the most popular stones used for fireboxes is granite. Granite is a natural stone that is highly resistant to heat and does not crack or deteriorate easily. It is also durable and easy to clean, making it a popular choice for fireplaces. However, granite can be expensive, so it may not be the best choice for those on a tight budget.

Another suitable stone for fireboxes is soapstone. Soapstone is a natural stone that is known for its heat resistance and ability to retain heat. This means that it will continue to radiate heat even after the fire has been extinguished. Soapstone is also easy to clean and does not require any special maintenance. However, it can be quite soft, so it may scratch easily.

Marble is another stone that can be used for fireboxes. While not as heat resistant as granite or soapstone, marble is still suitable for fireboxes if it is not exposed to direct flames. Marble is a beautiful natural stone that adds elegance and sophistication to any fireplace. It is also durable and easy to clean. Marble that is very veiny may be more likely to crack when heated.

Limestone is another option for fireboxes. Limestone is a natural stone that is relatively affordable and easy to work with. It is also heat-resistant and durable, making it a desirable choice for fireplaces. However, limestone can be prone to scratching and staining, so it requires regular maintenance.

When choosing a stone for a firebox in a fireplace, it is important to consider its heat resistance, durability, and maintenance requirements. Granite, soapstone, marble, and limestone are all suitable stones for fireboxes, each with their own unique properties and characteristics. Ultimately, the choice will depend on personal preference, budget, and the overall design of the fireplace. Whatever stone you choose, make sure it is installed by a professional to ensure the safety and longevity of your fireplace.

By Fred Hueston. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PROS Partners.