Wednesday, November 14

How To Clean Marble Fireplaces & Surrounds

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Marble fireplaces are a little bit special. They’ve been used for hundreds of years to provide a focal point of a room, and they’re just as popular now as they’ve ever been.

Marble is a very durable material, but it’s porous and can be susceptible to staining, particularly from acidic materials. As such, it’s important that it’s regularly cleaned, and if you spill something on it, then it needs cleaning straight away.

This guide will tell you how to clean a marble fire surround and fireplace to keep it looking as good as new. NOTE: This is for natural marble only – we also sell micro marble fireplaces which are a whole other beast and have their own separate guidelines.

The Natural Stone Institute have the following advice on how to clean a marble fireplace depending on what’s been spilled on it:

Oil-based

Cause

Grease, tar, cooking oil, milk, cosmetics

What it looks like

Darkening of the stone

How to clean

If it’s an oil-based stain, it must be chemically dissolved. Don’t worry: if you do it quick enough and don’t let it rest then it shouldn’t damage the marble.

Clean the stone gently with a soft, liquid cleanser with bleach, household detergent, ammonia, mineral spirits or acetone.

Organic

Cause

Anything natural – coffee, tea, food, tobacco

What it looks like

Can cause a pinky-brown stain but can depend on what it was that was spilled.

How to clean

Use 12% hydrogen peroxide (the strength for hair dye) and a little ammonia.

Water

Cause

Spilled water, leaving glasses on the surface

What it looks like

Regular water spots or rings

How to clean

Use dry 0000 steel wool

Ink

Cause

Marker pens, biro, felt pens

What it looks like

Pretty much how you’d imagine ink to look

How to clean it

As marble is usually light coloured, use bleach or hydrogen peroxide, but only use a little at a time to make sure it doesn’t strip the colour. For darker stones you’d use acetone or lacquer thinner.

Paint

Cause

Paint spilled when decorating

What it looks like

Depends on the colour and how much you’ve spilled!

How to clean it

If it’s only a small amount of paint, you may be able to use lacquer thinner or even scrape it off with a blade. If it’s a lot of paint, then you’ll need to use a commercial paint stripper, which contain lye or caustic soda – DO NOT use acids or flames to get the paint off.

Follow the manufacturer directions or get a professional cleaner in to do it for you. Oil-based paints may leave an oily stain after cleaning – refer to the ‘oil’ section of this guide.

Fire & Smoke Damage

Cause

Flames and smoke from the fire or elsewhere if you’ve suffered a fire at home

What it looks like

Black or dark grey burn marks

How to clean it

You should either get in a professional cleaner or use ‘smoke removers’ to help restore your marble fireplace to its former glory.

Metal

Cause

Rust, iron, copper, etc. Can come from nails, screws, cans, fireside tools, etc.

What it looks like

  • Iron and rust stains – orangey-brown
  • Copper and bronze – green or muddy brown

How to clean it

Stains from metal must be removed using a poultice – a liquid cleaner or chemical mixed with a white absorbent material to form a paste. This will draw out the stain over the course of 24-48 hours. You can buy poultice or you can make your own depending on what stains you’re trying to remove. See below on how to make your own poultice for stains.

Some metal stains, if left for a long time, are permanent and can’t be removed.

Biologicial

Cause

Mould, mildew, fungi

What it looks like

Can be powdery, green or brown. Obviously you know what fungi looks like.

How to clean it

Use diluted ammonia, bleach or hydrogen peroxide (½ cup in a gallon of water). DO NOT mix bleach and ammonia because it will create a lethal toxic gas!!!!

Person cleaning marble fireplace

Tips for cleaning a marble fireplace or surround

Here are some more general tips for getting those pesky stains off your lovely marble fireplace or surround…

  • Use a soft microfibre cloth to remove surface dust and dirt.
  • Use warm (not hot) water.
  • Lightly rub the stain with the cloth, increasing in pressure if the stain is stubborn.
  • Regularly rinse the cloth out to keep it clean.
  • Use distilled water where possible as any impurities in the water can stain the marble.
  • Dry with a soft cloth or towel – do not let it air dry as this can cause water marks.
  • Avoid using white vinegar or limescale removers as they contain acids, or baking soda which is abrasive and could affect the finish of the marble.
  • Carefully read the directions on any cleaning products you use and start with small amounts to test.
  • You can use a marble wax to bring the stone’s shine out.

How to make your own poultice for stains

You’ll need to buy an absorbent base for your poultice which can contain materials such as talc, chalk, kaolin, and diatomaceous earth. Here’s how to make poultice for stains:

Oil-based stains

  • Poultice with baking soda and water; OR
  • One of the powdered poultice materials mixed with mineral spirits

Copper stains

  • Poultice with one of the powdered materials and ammonia. This can be a particularly tough stain to remove so may need to several applications or even help from a professional.

Organic stains

  • Poultice with one of the powdered materials and hydrogen peroxide or acetone

Iron stains

  • Poultice with diatomaceous earth and rust remover. Again, you may need a professional for this if it won’t come off.

How to apply poultice to stains

The consistency of your poultice should be roughly about that of peanut butter, and when you’re ready to apply it to the stain, follow these directions:

  • Dampen the affected area with clean water (distilled if possible).
  • Spread the poultice evenly over the stain so it’s about ½ inch thick, overlapping a little around the sides.
  • Cover the poultice with plastic sheeting of some kind (a piece of plastic bag would do it) and tape down.
  • Let the poultic dry and do it’s magic – this will take around 24-48 hours. After around 24 hours, take the plastic off.
  • Remove the poultice, which will have drawn out the stain, and clean the marble with clean (again distilled if possible) water.
  • Buff dry with a soft cloth.
  • If the stains are particularly stubborn and ingrained, then it may take several applications before it’s completely gone.

Browse our range of marble fireplaces and marble fire surrounds today, or contact us if you have any questions about cleaning and maintaining them.

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