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Can a layman hone marble if it is polished?

beckyg75
July 27, 2010

Hi there,

What is involved in honing marble?

Here is the situation: everyone is telling me to get honed, not polished, marble for my kitchen.

I *love* the look of polished. Like any stone, the richness and depth are brought out when polished. I feel like you lose some of the beauty of the veining and the "look deep into me" crystalline effect of the marble when it is not polished.

However, someone told me that polished marble will quickly etch from acids like lemon juice that spritzes on it while I'm cooking, and not look nice, so honed is a much better choice. I wipe spills quickly; my husband not so much!

Does anyone know the answer to the following:

If I go ahead and pick polished, and after a few years hate the etching, can I "sand" it in place right there in my kitchen, achieving a honed look? Or are there professionals who do this? How much would it cost? Does it produce a big mess, or is such a light sanding needed that it is no big deal? Here is another idea: What if I applied a very weak acid (like diluted vinegar or lemon juice) evenly to the stone and wiped it off? Would that give a honed look?

Thanks! :-)

Comments (26)

  • sabjimata

    Hi there--

    I have my perimeter counters in polished carrara and my island (52" x 15') in honed.

    The fabricator could only get polished, so they had to hone the island slabs in the shop. According to them, it took 3 days to do.

    The polished is holding up really well and I am a total slob. But I also love the look of aged marble. LOVE IT! So, I am not really super keen on noticing etching anyway.

    I got both because I couldn't decide between the two.

    My advice: get a sample, dump vinegar on it...not diluted...straight up, swab it around and see how you like the look. It will take the shine off but it will be different than machine honed.

  • beckyg75

    Hi Sabjimata,

    Thanks for your reply! Glad to hear your experience - if you are in the NY/NJ/CT area, would you mind telling me where you bought the marble or who your fabricator was?

    Thanks!

  • bill_vincent

    The heck with having someone do it. This is not rocket science. If it were granite, that'd be one thing. It's a much harder material, and tougher to do a good job. But with marble, all you need is a good orbital sander, and a STACK of 600 wet or dry sand paper. It should take you give or take, about 15 minutes to 1/2 hour per 12x12 tile. to hone. If the sand paper starts filling up, take a dry scrub brush, hit it a bit, and go back to sanding. Once it stops dong anything for you, obviously it's time to change the sand paper. You can do this!!

    Tell you what-- try it with one tile, and see if you're up to it. If not, all you've lost is one tile. My bet is you are. And then you've saved yourself a BUNDLE of money.

  • sayde

    My DH honed the pieces for the tub surround and the shower thresholds. They didn't take long to do and they came out just as we had hoped. Very doable.

  • sabjimata

    everyone's advice sounds very positive!

    becky, although i am originally from jersey, i am now in florida. would think in that area you could get honed easily, no?

  • niffy

    We had our fabricator hone our marble- he had never done it before, and it turned out great. Before we decided to go with the marble, I did call around to see how much restoration/rehoning would cost if I ever wanted to rejuvenate it. I was told $8/ sf to hone and $10/sf to polish in place. hope that helps!

  • beckyg75

    Sabjimata, yes, I saw some honed slabs, but like the look of polished. Only, if I can't stand the etching after a few years, what would be my options? That's why I wondered if I could then get it honed after it was installed in our kitchen.

    Bill, you sound like my Dad! He also has a real "can do" attitude. Thanks for the encouragement. I would definitely practice on tiles before attempting anything on a countertop!

    However, if I am not good at manipulating an orbital sander (although, youtube makes it look easy) how much do you think it would cost to get a professional in to do it?

  • bill_vincent

    Becky, this is no big deal. Really. I wouldn't encourage you if I didn't think you could do it.

  • beckyg75

    Niffy, you are nifty! $8 psf would actually be do-able b/c I have a small kitchen. Thanks very much.

    Bill, I believe you - I really did watch the guy on youtube showing how to use the sander and he basically drilled in to keep the thing moving, which I could definitely do.

    It is nice to know at least that it is possible!

  • wangshan

    OK Bill, then what is the best thing to use to seal it after it is honed? I am in the process of honing my island and it is coming along great , but I need to know what next!

  • bill_vincent

    OH MY GOD!!!!!

    (just kidding) :-)

    The two I usually recommend are Miracle's 511 Impregnator and Stone Tech's Impregnator Pro. Both are good quality solvent based sealers.

  • jeri

    It should take you about 15 minutes to 1/2 hour per 12x12 tile. to hone.

    Yikes - An Island could take quite a while then - right? Still - it's great to know the average Jane Doe (Jeri in this case) can do it. :-)

    Wangshan - Please share your experience with us. Do you have any pictures?

    Bill - Thanks for adding to this thread - I (and many others) highly value your input. :-)

  • babushka_cat

    just wanted to attest to the easiness of honing. i am honing marble samples in the process of studying and selecting my counter top. thanks bill for giving us the encouragement! knowing this is possible was the big turning point of me considering that marble could be a viable option - it is good to know i can self-hone in the future if they need to be spruced up!

  • rookie_2010

    Becky,
    I'm so grateful for this thread and am encouraged by Bill's advice. You can totally use an orbital sander! I have a little handheld one and it's a breeze to use.
    I haven't admitted to this on the forum yet but my backsplash is honed white marble. During installation, this weird etch mark showed up on it, maybe the installer spilled on it or something. So, I sanded it off with my little sander. Then I sealed it. I thought it was a little reckless at the time but I didn't want my husband to see the big etch and get on his "I told you so" soapbox about marble.
    I tried the vinegar on a polished sample I had and it took the polish right off and didn't look bad!

  • malhgold

    I might have DH give this a try on a tile. Squirted a whole bunch of lemon juice on the polished marble counter today and I'm just not thrilled with the way it looks. Now, I'm probably the only one who notices since I fixate on these things, but nevertheless, if I could get the whole thing honed, I'd be happy.

  • mama goose_gw zn6OH

    I've honed a carrara slab and black New St.Laurent 12x12 tiles. I used a random-action hand-held pad sander, and finished with hand sanding. You can check my albums for the results--ignore any rambling not connected to marble honing. :)

  • bill_vincent

    I tried the vinegar on a polished sample I had and it took the polish right off and didn't look bad!

    Be careful using vinegar. You stand a real good chance of it coming out uneven, if you're not careful. All it takes, especially on a slab, is letting it stay just a few seconds longer on one section of the slab than you did on another, and then you'll see an uneveness to the finish.

    Not to mention the salad smell, that lets you know there's still vinegar in the pores of the stone!

  • mama goose_gw zn6OH

    I agree with Bill V--I noticed that even the action of pouring vinegar on the black marble tiles caused a blotchy look. When I 'honed' multiple tiles, I put them in a vinegar bath, so that all surfaces were exposed at the same time. After a set amount of time (5 minutes, I think), I rinsed the tile with clear water, then dipped it in a baking soda bath to neutralize the acid, and followed by rinsing again in clear water. Then wet-sanded and polished the tile to a finish that I liked.

    I used these tiles on a small counter, 22"x50", and used the scraps on a backsplash mosaic. Doing a kitchen with lots of counter space would be very time consuming.

    The carrara slab was an already-etched, second-hand find. Because of that, and the difficulty of getting an even etch without a 'vinegar bath', I used only the sanding method on it. The slab was too big for me to take outside, and even with a filter canister on the sander, it produced a lot of fine dust.

    When experimenting with etching, I laid a vinegar-soaked paper towel on one of the 12x12 tiles. It etched a really neat 'snakeskin' pattern into the tile. I've seen other GW members, experimenting with etching marble, mention the 'paper towel effect,' too. After I polished the tile, it was really neat--almost like a fossil. I loved it, but my husband preferred the smooth finish, AND I was afraid that if I had to sand out any new etches, the pattern would no longer look uniform. So I continue to use that tile as a sample beside my stove.

    LOL, Bill, haven't noticed any salad smell, but sanding produces a sulfur(?) smell. Also, I dropped some marble chips into a jar of vinegar, and grew some beautiful calcium crystals. If your kid is looking for a science-fair experiment, that's an easy one!

  • dianalo

    I have a friend who is unhappy with her polished Black galaxy granite. Can she hone hers by the same method? Thanks in advance...

  • bill_vincent

    Diana-- It's possible, but alot more difficult. First, it's a granite. Secondly, it's a BLACK granite, which makes it one of the more dense (and hardest) stones around. First, you'll most likely have to go with an emery cloth, and I don't know if it even goes up to 4-600 grit, which is what you need to hone the stone. Secondly, even with that, you'll be there a while trying to get a nice even finish.

    I don't see a problem with a DIYer honing marble. But granite's a whole other story.

  • dianalo

    Oh well... I thought I had the perfect answer for her, but guess it is a no go. Thanks for the info. Better to find out now than halfway through ruining her counters!

  • paperdog

    I have recently installed honed carrerra in my kitchen and there are a few visible pores about the size of a pin head. Is this normal?

    I know that my fabricator started with a polished stone and honed it. I'm wondering if they did it wrong, or should have filled these pores with a filler of some sort.

  • theglampad

    Apologies for the delayed response here, but I am hoping to revive this thread. My husband and I are in the midst of a complete kitchen gut/remodel, and all of the decisions galore are causing me to get very little sleep these days!! I have decided to use Statuary marble on our center island and all backsplash areas. For the peripheral cabinet tops, I will use a Barroca soapstone (my fretting and nail biting over that decision can be seen clicked on below). So here is my latest quandary... The Statuary I found (and can afford, I have received multiple bids) comes in polished slabs. I am leaning towards keeping them polished to save money and if a few years down the road I just can't stand the "higher visibility of etching" that comes with polished marble anymore, then I can have them professionally honed. I am TERRIFIED of doing it myself, however, I am just way too chicken for that. And $8 a sq foot doesn't sound too horrible, especially since I have read other threads about people maintaining their marble over the years by having it refinished/repolished. But it would be the island AND backsplash, and that sounds like a bit of a pain. Any thoughts? And furthermore, will polished marble look weird directly next to my soapstone, with its 'matte' finish?

    Here is a link that might be useful: Statuary with Black Marble or Soapstone in the Kitchen?

  • Paris1973

    HI.
    I just moved into a house with a polished dark green and white marble fireplace surrounded by a traditional while wooden mantle. I do not like the look of the polished marble at all and am looking to hone it, hoping to get to a dark natural almost slate or stone look.

    I read the responses to honing with a sander. Do you think it is possible to do this with the tiles in place already? Could a professional do it? Also, I heard of the DuPont product Renew, to take the shine off marble. Has anyone used it, can anyone comment on it.

    Thanks!
    Lynn

  • Paris1973

    HI.
    I just moved into a house with a polished dark green and white marble fireplace surrounded by a traditional while wooden mantle. I do not like the look of the polished marble at all and am looking to hone it, hoping to get to a dark natural almost slate or stone look.

    I read the responses to honing with a sander. Do you think it is possible to do this with the tiles in place already? Could a professional do it? Also, I heard of the DuPont product Renew, to take the shine off marble. Has anyone used it, can anyone comment on it.

    Thanks!
    Lynn

  • ylehring

    I just finished honing my countertops using diamond polishing pads I purchased on ebay. I had struggled with an orbital sander and regular sanding discs to finish one section which took more than 4 hours and I still was not happy with the finish. With the diamond pads, I did a similar section in less than an hour. Best thing I ever purchased. 50 Grit to remove the polished finish and then used 100, 200, 400 & 800 to gradually smooth out the surface to perfection.

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