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How To Seal Marble

A couple months ago I wrote about tiling both the surround and hearth of our wood-burning fireplace with marble.

Marble tiled fireplace surround and hearth

I chose marble after researching this material ad nauseam and forged ahead knowing that marble is porous and can stain, etch and chip. Still, to me it’s merits outweigh the fact that it requires care:  marble is a classic and timeless material to use in design, and I have always loved it’s soft, natural beauty and old-school charm.

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I couldn’t be happier with the decision to use marble, but it DOES require care if you are using it as a backsplash over a cooktop, or as a surround on a wood-burning fireplace. While marble is heat-resistant, smoke will discolor it (as will grease in a kitchen). I sealed the marble a few months ago and waited to see how it held up to many fires before I reported back to you.

This isn’t a sponsored post, I just wanted to pass along what worked for me because I had no idea what to use and ended up spending money and time on a product that was terrible on my first sealing attempt! This post does contains affiliate links for your convenience. Read my full disclosure policy here.

The first sealant I tried, recommended by a store employee who probably had no real tiling and sealing experience, sat on top of the the tiles and made them all streaky – it was a disaster. I scrubbed that sealant off with a LOT of elbow grease, consulted a tile expert, and started over with this product – 511 Impregnator Penetrating Sealer (whose name provided endless fodder for us!!! A male definitely named this…..)

Marble and granite sealer

With a porous stone like marble, you need something that is going to seep in there to stand up to stains versus leaving it bare. We have had on average 3 fires a week ever since I installed the surround and hearth 5 months ago, and while the white grout did yellow a bit, the marble still looks great. I plan on resealing the marble a couple times a year because it’s really easy to apply – I think the whole application start to finish probably took me a half hour and that’s with me shining up each and every tile. This sealer is expensive but I got a quart and after one application it feels like the bottle is still full.

This sealer is also good for granite and other natural stones.

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I applied it with this applicator –  packaging is a tray to pour the sealer into.

marble sealer applicator and tray

You just wipe the tile with the sealer……(13 year old cell phone photography right here :))

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…..then buff with a chamois (aka “shammy” >>>no idea it was spelled like that!)

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After all the fires we enjoyed this winter in our newly remodeled fireplace, I was SO happy to see the tiles didn’t discolor (I was holding my breath and crossing all my fingers, toes, arms and legs all winter!!!!!)  The grout right above the firebox DID yellow a bit though, even thought the 511 claims to seal grout too.
Marble hearth and surround.

I have grout paint, but I find my regular trim paint (Ben Moore’s White Dove btw) whitens the grout better – the paint just has to be wiped from the tiles with a damp paper towel really quickly or it sticks and is a bugger to scrape off. I painted the yellowed grout around 3 or 4 tiles at a time and then wiped off the excess before continuing. Cheap kid’s paintbrushes are perfect for applying the grout paint (and a million other little projects like applying Rub’n’Buff to mirrors or furniture casters – a must-have in the DIY arsenal!!!)

After seeing how the tiles have held up to smoke I would recommend the 511. If you use marble in a kitchen or on a fireplace, definitely use a sealer and be conscientious about applying it;  it’s worth the investment and your time to maintain that lovely marble beauty!

This week is the finale of the One Room Challenge and I’m scrambling to finish up my family room. Come on back for a visit on Thursday when I share some changes that our fireplace makeover inspired!

 

 

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Steph

Thursday 28th of July 2016

Would you mind sharing your overall expenses for this project in total if you kept track?

Lisa

Wednesday 26th of July 2017

Hi Steph, you asked me this question oh so long ago and somehow it slipped past me! So sorry for the delayed response - almost exactly a year! :O . Between remodeling the bookcases and mantle and installing tile over the surround and hearth, rental of a wet saw and what we needed to mount the TV, the fireplace makeover came in just under $1000. We were given an estimate of almost $10K so this seemed like a bargain compared!

Vel

Wednesday 11th of May 2016

I wish I had your determination and patience Lisa! But I think after reading this, and I get to re-do any of my fireplace, I'll strongly consider trying it!

Lisa

Thursday 12th of May 2016

I'm so glad I tackled it Vel - it made such a difference to our house!

nancy

Wednesday 11th of May 2016

our installer sealed ours but now i'm getting paranoid...hoping he used this stuff...if not i'm pinning this fo' shizzle! thanks for the tip!!!!

Lisa

Thursday 12th of May 2016

I'm guessing he knows what works! I love how your fireplace came out Nancy!

Sheila Irwin

Tuesday 10th of May 2016

I use the same sealant on my marble in my kitchen and it works great. Glad you found a product that works!

Sheila www.maisondecinq.blogspot.com

cassie @ primitive & proper

Tuesday 10th of May 2016

oh my goodness it is SOOOOO gorgeous!