A marble fireplace is lovely to look at and quite durable, but the fireplace trim can start to lose its patina or stain over time. Because marble is a soft stone, it is vulnerable, so it is best to properly maintain and clean it. There are two types of marble used in homes: honed and polished. Honed is generally the type of marble you find on the floor and polished is likely what your fireplace and trim is made of. Polished marble scratches much easier than honed does and needs to be treated gently. To restore the look of your fireplace, you’ll want to plan ahead and choose your cleaning materials carefully.
Step 1 – Clean
Using your cloth or sponge, wipe down the surface thoroughly with warm water. Next, either use your mild detergent undiluted on your cloth or mix it in with the warm water. In small overlapping circles, scrub the marble. Start at the bottom and work upwards on a fireplace to evade streaking.
Step 2 – Rinse and Dry
Using clear water, rinse down the surface with a new cloth or sponge. Make sure to be thorough. You’ll want to avoid leaving a film behind, so change your rinse water out often. Dry the area you’ve cleaned with an absorbent cloth like a chamois or shammy.
Step 3 – Wax
The correct wax to use on your marble fireplace trim will be of high quality and it will be a non-yellowing brand. Furniture paste wax, beeswax or a marble wax (found in fireplace stores) are acceptable types of wax to use.
Make sure you have dried the surface entirely and cleaned it well before you begin. Using a soft cloth spread the wax over the marble in moderation. Let it harden for about 15 minutes before buffing it until it is shiny with a fresh cloth or an electric buffer.
Step 4 – Stain Removal with Paste
If you’re not afflicted with a dirty fireplace but a stained one, you can remove stains from marble using a stain-removing homemade paste. There are many different types of stains and pastes to remove them with:
- Dirt or grime stains – mix a paste made of whiting (found in paint stores) with household bleach or 6 percent hydrogen peroxide solution. A pound of whiting is used to cover a square foot of marble.
- Smoke stains – mix a paste made of baking soda and liquid laundry bleach.
- Rust stains – rub with burlap or mix whiting with rust-removal jelly (naval jelly.)
- Green stains – mix whiting with ammonia and sal ammonica or table salt.
- Organic stains – mix whiting with 20 percent hydrogen peroxide solution.
- Oil, grease or fat stains – mix whiting with acetone (keep away from fire) or mineral spirits.
Step 5 – Apply the Paste
Put on rubber gloves before wetting the area with the liquid used to make the paste. Then spread on a ½-inch layer of paste over the stain. Enclose that with plastic wrap, sticking down the edges with masking tape to keep it from drying up.
Wait 12 to 24 hours, depending on the intensity of the stain, before scraping the paste off with a damp wooden or plastic spatula. Avoid using a metal spatula to lessen the risk of scratching.
Rinse with clear water. If there is still a stain, repeat the process. If you’ve gotten rid of the stain, wipe it clean with a cloth and wax the marble if you would like.
Step 6 – Restore the Sheen
If it’s the sheen you’re looking to restore, rub the marble down with tin oxide powder or aluminum oxide powder. Dampen the clean marble, sprinkle the powder onto it lightly and then rub enthusiastically in overlapping circles using a cloth or electric buffer. When you’ve restored the gloss, wipe the surface down with a wet cloth, dry it, and wax if desired.