Marble Polishing

Polishing Marble is the final step used after diamond honing a marble

Explaining the marble polishing process can be quite a daunting task. Marble polishing is typically done after diamond honing (wet sanding) a floor. 

However, when someone asks me to polish their marble, more then likely they want the floor to have more shine.  It is possible to apply a marble polish to a marble without diamond honing first.  Here is a great website that helps to explain the confusion with trying to polishing marble without diamond honing first.

Adding shine to a marble can be achieved in three main different ways:

  1. Applying wax or a floor finish sealer (a top coat) – These coats are very difficult to apply to a floor and will wear in a couple months.  They require toxic strippers to remove.
  2. Marble polishing powders – These powders contain acid and resins that are buffed into floor.  These typically will last about 6 months to a year.  Some powders contain small amounts of Oxalic acid.  While others contain more then 50% of Oxalic acid.
  3. Marble densifiers and crystallizers – These products will harden the surface of the stone.  These polishes will last a year up to 3 years.

Note: That polishing marble will only make the surface appear more shiny and less dull.  None of these processes above will remove scratches, deep wear, or deep etching.  In 90% of floors I see, the floors are dull as result of these factors.  Therefore, the polishing marble will have minimal effect. Thus, the floor will require diamond honing (wet-sanding) prior to polishing.

Here is a more extensive look at the Marble Polishing Processes

  • Crystallizing – Crystallizing is the most common form of polishing.  Most polishing compounds (compounds include liquids, pastes, and powders) are a form of crystallizing.  Crystallizing is simply the process of densifying the surface of the stone by using friction (heat) combined with an acid to react with the calcium in the stone.  The purpose of this process is to densify and harden the surface of the stone, thus helping polish the stone.   However, most crystallizing products sold contain large amounts of wax.  We do not use these types of crystallizers to polish a floor.

    Like anything in life, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.  In homes, crystallizing is a great option as the last step in polishing a floor because most floors will only require crystallizing 2-3 times in the time a homeowner lives in a house.  Crystallizing takes lots of experience and understanding to become proficient.  We know how to use the these polishes to strengthen, expand the life of a floor and proctect it from loosing its luster.

    Many companies repeat what they read on the internet about crystallizing without becoming educated.  These same companies will tell customers that crystallizing is bad for marble, while they are using a modified or hybrid form of crystallizing themselves.   However there polish will not hold up since there polishing compounds contain larger amounts carnaba and resin wax to compesate.  The result is these waxes will wear done or off the floor in a very short period of time.

    Can crystallizing be harmful?  The way we use crystallizers is good for the stone and your floors.  However most companies use crystallizing incorrectly.  Continued use of crystallizing a stone floor without properly diamond honing the floor (known as over-crystalizing).  Secondly, using too much wax with the crystalizer.  Thrid, many companies would only use crystallizing without diamond honing or cleaning floor first.  In a home, over-crystallizing can cause a problem if this is the only method used to polish the floors over an extended period of time (for example, crystallizing a floor yearly can cause problems after about 7-8 years of continued polishing).  Over-Crystallizing is mostly seen in commercial settings.   In hotels for example, contractors will crystallize a floor weekly for years with tons of wax.   The results can be a build up of waxes that keep the stone from breathing.
  • Non-Acidic Polishes – These types of polishes work great for a final buff.  These types of polishes are much like the type of wax used to buff a car.  They contain carnauba wax, shellac, sulfur and other resin fillers that will help pop a floor's shine.  However, these types of polishes will only last about 6 months.
  • Waxes and Floor finishes -    Floor finishes are not recommend for natural stone.  Floor finishes are commonly sold in a gallon container and look like milk.  They are applied with a mop.   These products are commonly used to polish marble since they are the least expensive way to make a floor look good.  Some of the negatives are as follows: The finished product can look streaky or have mop stroke marks.   The finish scuffs and scratches up very easily.  The cost to remove the finish can be expensive to get the wax finish off the tiles, out of the grout and off perimeter of the room.  Strippers used to remove the wax finish can cause painted baseboards to need touch-ups.

What Polishing process does Bizaillion Floors use on floors?

We use crystallizing process and a hybrid of Acid-based polishes and Non-Acidic polishes to give our customers the longest possible wear ability.  We use a diamond honing process that cuts the stone up to a 3,500 grit level before we start polishing.   The result is we use less polishes then our competitors to give our customers a much longer lasting shine.

I was told acid will etch marble.  Can I polish out these acid marks on my own?   

No, is the best answer.  Since the process of polishing takes one of our technicians a full year to become proficient in the use of acid-based polishes.  And in some instances, acid can etch deep enough into the surface of the stone, requiring diamond honing sand past the etching.   In some very rare cases, homeowners may try non-acidic polish to buff out these etches in the marble with good results.     

Will polishing remove the scratches or wear in my stone?  

In short, No.  But sometimes a diamond-impregnated maintenance pad can be used in conjunction with a crystallizer to remove some light wear in the stone.   This process will typically result in the floor having a plastic look since the wear is just being polished.   The only way to truly remove scratches and wear in marble or travertine is with the use of Diamond honing pads. 

How do I know if the company polishing my marble did a good job? 

Since so many homeowners do not know or do not remember what their floor looked like when it was new, many companies will skip steps or use the cheaper polishes and diamond pads to bring a floor back to life.   When the floor is completed, ask the company to measure the shine with a marble shine instrument.  And easier way is to look for clarity in the reflection.  Marble floors should have a nice clear reflection.  Think of your granite countertops.  In the reflection, one should be able to see the details of the reflection.  

How do other websites recommend I polish marble.

What makes explaining the process of polishing Marble so difficult is that even the “so called” experts do not know.  Websites that actually tell you the truth will run the risk of being sued if a homeowner tries it and messes up the floors. - They recommend polishing marble with water and baking soda.  This is laughable to think that someone will be able to polish their marble with baking soda and water. - This website provides a more extensive an honest approach.  “Marble polishing is a delicate process, but can be done at home if carefully executed.”  Then the website recommends buying about $600-$1,000 worth of equipment, diamond pads and polishing powders. - M3 Technologies makes marble polishing compounds and cleaners.  This website offers some good advice on how to polish marble using their products. - Here is an article that was posted in the realestate section of the Washington Post.  The author recommends using silcon-carbide sandpaper to sand the marble.  He recommends starting at 24 grit and progressing through the sandpaper steps (24, 60, 120, 220, 400, 500, 600, 1000 grits).  It is good he recommends trying this on a piece of sample tile first.  This process will most likely leave the marble looking worse.

This website recommends the use of chalk ground up and buffed into the floor.  I am not even sure I can comment on this process. 


How is marble polished at the quarry?

Marble is a natural rock pulled from the earth and cut into slabs (performed at a stone quarry).   Then these slabs are "polished" to be considered for tiles or countertops.   The process for taking raw stone from the earth to your floor is the same process we use to restore your polished marble floors.  However, stone quarries are very tight lipped on the exact process of how they polish marble (Trade Secrets).  But we can explain the basic process. 

First, the stone quarry will use a diamond honing process to hone the marble.   This process includes running through a series of diamond pads from 30 grit up to 1,500 grit or higher (some marble may be taken to 3,500 or 8,500 grit).   This process of diamond honing the marble will result in an impressive mirror-like shine.    However, the marble still will not have the highest level of shine without completing a few more steps known as Marble Polishing.  

After the Diamond honing is completed, the Marble polishing process can begin.  The marble polishing process is basically a trade secret.  There are several methods of taking a marble floor from a 3,500 grit hone to a high polish.  Many companies will talk bad about a particular process in a effort to sell their services as superior.   However, we do not like to dismiss a particular method of polishing just because the makers of another polishing company says a method is bad.  

Actually, we use all methods of polishing in various combinations to create the best polish based on the type of marble or application of the marble in a home.   Not all marble polishes are equal. They are all chemically made up slightly different to achieve same results, polish marble.

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