25 March 2019
Marble: cleaning, treatment and maintenance
Marble is one of the most beautiful and refined stones in the world; but how many types of marble exist? What are their main features? How should we treat them to maintain them over time? Let's find out together by reading this interesting article.
- 1 The marble
- 2 His Majesty: The White Carrara Marble
- 3 Calacatta marble
- 4 A stone as refined as exclusive: Pink marble
- 5 Green or emerald marble?
- 6 Botticino marble: a must have for interior design!
- 7 Travertine marble: an eternal charm
- 8 Marble processing techniques
” I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble,” said Augusto, the first Roman emperor, to exalt the magnificence with which he had transformed the city of Rome and its empire.
Yes, from ancient times to the present, marble has been and is precisely this: a great symbol of deep and eternal magnificence.
The marble, from the petrographic point of view, is by definition a calcareous rock composed mainly of calcium carbonate which, due to dynamic or contact metamorphism, has assumed a crystalline structure, with a rather uniform, more or less coarse grain. From ancient Greek μάρμαρον or μάρμαρος, with the meaning of “shining stone”, as the Greeks and Romans, there have been many civilizations that have dazzled with this splendour. So many of the greatest artists of history like Michelangelo, have built their most famous works, giving them the light of this splendid stone. Even today, marble is one of the most frequently chosen stones in the world, for all types of construction and above all to offer them that particular beauty that makes each type of installation unique.
In Italy and in the way in fact there are many quarries that every day give us different types of marble, from pure marbles to impure ones (which contain 95% of calcium carbonate), the magnificence of this stone is infinite.
Like any natural stone, however, it needs special attention and treatments that make its beauty truly eternal. But let’s start with order, and before discovering how to maintain and polish marble, let’s get to know the main types of marble and the specific types of finish that make it so special and long-lasting.
His Majesty: The White Carrara Marble
Speaking of marble, we must consider that the scepter of the category belongs, by right, to the true king of this stone: white marble. In the world there are around a dozen white marble quarries: in Brazil, Greece, China and Namibia and then, of course, Massa – Carrara in Italy. White Carrara marble is considered, both in Italy and abroad, the Italian marble par excellence. This stone is extracted from the Apuan Alps in Carrara, where there are the most famous millennial tradition quarries in the world. Even today, as in Roman times, we use marble to make important architectural structures, flooring, exclusive ornamental elements, decorative artifacts, refined building elements. Its background color is pearly white, slightly cloudy; it is characterized by intrusions, veins and greyish points more or less present and evident. The predominant characteristic of white marble is that of a crystalline marble with a variable grain from end to medium, homogeneous and compact, characterized by a very high percentage of calcium carbonate and a low index of refraction which, therefore, allows light to penetrate in the stone and to give it a special shine, before being reflected. This feature makes precious white marble sought after all over the world for its elegance that gives brightness to the rooms.
Still from the famous quarries of Carrara, another valuable type of stone is extracted, which takes the name of Calacatta, although several quarries of this marble, in addition to the Apuan mountains, are present in Versilia and Garfagnana.
A type of fine-grained stone, with a white saccharoid background, the Calacatta marble has subtle and shaded veins, ranging from light yellow to gray, sometimes tending to green. There are many varieties of Calacatta and the veins themselves define the specific quality of this marble. Very valuable material, it is usually used in interiors, floors and walls, bathroom furniture, frames and other design elements, giving them a deep light and uniqueness.
A stone as refined as exclusive: Pink marble
Another precious marble with unique characteristics is the pink Candoglia marble that takes its name from the quarries of the same name, in the municipality of Mergozzo in Piedmont. Its characteristic pink color ranging from lighter shades to an intense pink with gray veins, is the peculiarity that makes it truly unique. The fame of this stone is, in fact, linked to its exclusive use for the construction of the Milan Cathedral. Still, besides for the most varied construction choices in Italy and in the world, the pink Candoglia marble is extracted and worked directly by the same “Fabbrica del Duomo”, for the realization of the replacement sculptural elements and the continuous restorations of the amazing Milanese church.
Green or emerald marble?
On the eastern slopes of Monte Piccioli overlooking Prato, in the ancient quarries of Pian di Gello, another famous type of marble was born in ancient times and is still extracted: green marble. The green marble of Prato is also called “serpentine” thanks, above all, to the serpentine of Monte Ferrato, a chain of the Apennine arch formed by a rock that is often better known, as “green of Prato”. The charm of this stone, which has determined its essentially ornamental function, lies above all in the color, which can touch the different shades of green, from light to almost black, or even present streaks between yellow and green, which ‘have effectively defined “ranocchiaia stone”. In addition to being used in the construction of numerous famous religious buildings such as the Florence Cathedral, the Prato Church, Santa Maria Novella in Florence, today, this fantastic precious marble is used, to make even more particular all those ornamental structures that characterize choices of taste and refinement.
Marble Botticino: a must have for interior design!
Speaking of taste and refinement, but also and above all of resistance and adaptability, we must dwell on another characteristic precious marble: the Botticino. Botticino marble is a particular type of compact and micritic limestone, beige in color, extracted in the quarries of Botticino, Nuvolento, Nuvolera, Rezzato and Serle in the province of Brescia. The chromatic variety of Botticino marble originates from the different concentration and widespread inclusions of organic and inorganic origin, in the homogeneous background paste, which takes the name precisely of micrite. Its extreme compactness, high porosity and low absorption values make the botticino particularly suitable for external use and determine its mechanical characteristics such as resistance to compression, bending and wear. Thus, for the unquestionable beauty and great resistance qualities, Botticino marble is widely used also in architecture and, thanks to all these particular characteristics, in the sphere of interior design, is considered worldwide a particularly valuable and therefore frequently used.
Travertine marble: an eternal charm
The timeless charm of marble finds form and extreme completeness in another precious type of this stone: travertine.
It is a sedimentary rock, subtype of limestones, composed of calcite crystals that were formed by deposition from waters rich in calcium carbonate, in natural caves or springs that enclose plant remains that lead to the formation of the typical cavities of this precious stone. Its coloring mainly depends on the type of oxides present in the material and can range from milk white to hazelnut, through various shades of yellow and even red.
If we think of the Colosseum or Piazza Navona, every description of this particular type of marble, can fail with simple words, in favor of the emotional load that these travertine constructions, from Roman times to the present, carry with them.
Specifically, it is a fairly resistant and docile stone, which is used both for paving and for covering vertical surfaces (also for the facades of entire buildings in modern style) both in external and internal environments; it also lends itself also to being sculpted and therefore it can be used for the realization of decorative elements such as for example balustrades, handrails or fireplaces.
Travertine is therefore a marble with an ancient flavor, a modern taste and an eternal charm that contributes to making any type of environment elegant and refined.
This brief excursus led us to discover some of the main types of marble and their basic characteristics. However, the composition is not the only element that distinguishes one marble from another. A fundamental process that gives the marble multiple and unique features is undoubtedly the processing. Depending on the type of processing, marble acquires different finishes. Let’s find out which are the most important marble finishes.
Marble processing techniques
Once extracted and cut, to enhance the qualities and characteristics of marble, it is possible to carry out various processes on the slabs such as sanding and polishing.
These two techniques however are not the only ones, we discover in detail which are the main types of processing that can be performed on marble surfaces and which characteristics they give to our valuable material.
- Marble smoothing: this process is carried out using sanding machines. This technique gives the marble slabs a very satiny appearance, the surface remains smooth but opaque.
- Marble polishing: polishing takes place as a second phase after marble is smoothed; to carry out this process belt sander machines are used and, once completed, it gives the surface a very bright appearance, a mirror effect. Polished marble, like limestone in general (containing calcium carbonate), is the most delicate and sensitive to contact with acid substances (eg lemon, vinegar, coca cola). To prevent unpleasant inconveniences and to facilitate the operations of laying marble slabs it is advisable, especially when they are low thickness (eg below 2 cm), to use the pre-treatment technique also called pre-installation, to avoid the formation of halos and stains caused by adhesive mortars.
For this pre-protection we recommend using specific products such as: SILOX 6, a water-repellent protective, suitable for all absorbent stone materials. This excellent product must be applied over the entire surface and guarantees a perfect defense against degradation.
- Marble bush hammering: it is made in the factory, it is a technique used to give the slab a sculpted, non-polished appearance. Reliefs and dimples can be seen on the slab.
- Marble brushing: this is a technique that gives the slab a worn but shiny appearance, which is why it is often also called the antiquing process. Abrasive brushes applied to sanding machines are used to perform this work.