A marble backsplash can add elegance and style to any kitchen. However, marble requires proper sealing and care to keep it looking pristine. Sealing a marble backsplash protects it from stains and etching while allowing it to be easily cleaned. With the right sealant and technique, sealing a marble backsplash is a straightforward process.
Why Seal a Marble Backsplash?
Marble is a beautiful natural stone that makes an impressive backsplash. However, marble is porous and acid sensitive. Without a protective seal, liquids can soak into the stone and cause stains. Acidic substances like wine, coffee, juice, and vinegar can etch the marble surface. Sealant fills the pores in the marble to prevent stains and etching.
Sealing also makes cleaning easier. Spills and splatters can be simply wiped off the impervious surface. Soap scum and hard water deposits won’t absorb into sealed marble. Proper sealing allows you to keep your marble backsplash looking like new for years.
When to Seal a New Marble Backsplash
A new marble backsplash should be sealed before grouting. Sealing before installing protects the marble from staining during the grouting process. Grout can be messy and it is easy for some to get on the surface of the stone. Applying sealant first prevents grout from soaking into the marble.
It is also important to seal before using the backsplash. Unsealed marble is highly prone to staining and etching from kitchen messes. Don’t take a chance on wine, oil, juice or other liquids soaking into the beautiful stone. Taking the time to seal before exposing the backsplash to kitchen use will preserve its flawless appearance.
What Type of Sealer to Use
Stone sealers come in two main types: topical sealers and impregnating sealers.
Topical sealers, also called surface sealers, coat the outside of the stone with a protective layer. These sealers provide a shiny, wet look that enhances the marble’s natural veining. Topical sealers are affordable and easy to apply. However, the coating can wear away over time and will need frequent reapplications. Topical sealers also do not offer as much staining protection compared to impregnating options.
Impregnating sealers, often referred to as penetrating sealers, are formulated to soak into the stone and fill the pores. These sealers become part of the marble and won’t change its natural appearance. Impregnating sealers provide long-lasting protection against stains and etching. Though they cost more initially, most impregnating sealers only need reapplication every few years.
Impregnating sealers are recommended for sealing marble backsplashes. The penetrating protection will withstand regular use and cleaning while allowing the marble’s natural beauty to shine through. Look for an impregnating sealer designed for use on polished marble that provides maximum stain protection.
How to Seal a Marble Backsplash
Sealing a marble backsplash involves cleaning, applying sealer, and buffing excess. Allow new marble to cure for at least 48 hours before sealing. Follow these steps to properly seal your backsplash:
- Impregnating marble sealer
- Clean cotton cloths
- Low-odor mineral spirits
- Plastic wrap
- Painter’s tape
- Protective gloves
- Respirator mask
- Eye protection
- Well-ventilated workspace
Step 1: Clean the Marble
Thoroughly clean the marble with mild soap and water to remove any dirt or residue. Rinse well and let dry completely.
Go over the surface again with mineral spirits applied to a clean cloth. The mineral spirits will dissolve any remaining oils or waxes and ensure the sealer penetrates effectively. Let the mineral spirits dry completely.
Step 2: Protect Surrounding Areas
Cover nearby surfaces like countertops with plastic wrap secured with painter’s tape. This will prevent them from getting sealed accidentally. The sealer could discolor or damage surfaces like wood or laminate.
Be sure to remove cabinet hardware and cover any fixtures. Sealers can be difficult to remove if spilled or dripped on surfaces. It is best to properly cover all surrounding areas you want to keep free of sealer.
Step 3: Apply the Sealer
Put on protective gloves, respirator mask, and safety goggles. Carefully read and follow the product instructions for application directions. Most impregnating sealers are applied using a clean, soft cloth.
Apply the sealer generously over the marble surface using circular motions. Allow the sealer to penetrate the stone for 5-10 minutes. During this time, keep the surface wet with sealer, adding more if needed. Extra sealer that doesn’t soak in will be removed in the next step.
Step 4: Buff Off Excess Sealer
Once the sealer has had time to penetrate, use clean cotton cloths to buff off any remaining sealer. Take care to remove all excess from the surface of the marble. This will prevent any residue or pooling that could dry and leave a film.
Work in small sections until you have gone over the entire surface. Flip cloths frequently to prevent redepositing sealer you have buffed off.
Step 5: Remove Coverings and Ventilate
After buffing, let the sealer cure per manufacturer directions, usually 24-72 hours. Remove any coverings and ventilate the area well. Properly dispose of any used cloths. Avoid using the backsplash until fully cured.
Step 6: Test Sealer
Once cured, test the sealer by dripping a few drops of water on the marble. The water should bead and wipe up easily. If it soaks in, apply another coat of sealer.
Check for any remaining shiny or tacky areas that could indicate excess sealer and buff again if needed. Properly sealed marble will look natural and uncoated.
With the right sealer and techniques, it is easy to seal your marble backsplash. Be sure to reseal as needed per manufacturer recommendations to keep the stone protected. Take care of this necessary step and your backsplash will stay beautifully streak-free for years.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sealing Marble Backsplashes
How long does sealer last on marble backsplash?
Most quality impregnating sealers will last 3-5 years on a marble backsplash with proper care and maintenance. Topical sealers may need reapplying more frequently, like every 1-2 years.
Does marble sealer have to be cured before grouting?
It is best to seal marble prior to grouting. This allows the sealer to fully cure so it won’t be affected by the grouting process. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for cure time, usually 24-72 hours.
Can I use my backsplash after sealing?
Avoid using the backsplash until the sealer has fully cured. This takes 24-72 hours typically. Early use can damage the seal before it has bonded properly.
How do I know if my backsplash needs resealing?
Signs that resealing is needed include water or oils soaking into the marble rather than beading up, etching, stains, or a dull or rough appearance. Marble that absorbs liquids requires a new application of sealer.
Does sealing prevent etching on marble?
A quality impregnating sealer provides protection against etching by filling marble’s pores and preventing acidic liquids from penetrating and damaging the stone. However, sealers cannot prevent etching completely, especially over time as the seal wears.
Is it safe to seal marble yourself?
Sealing marble backsplashes is a safe DIY project. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area, wear protective gear, and follow the product instructions closely. Professionals are best for sealing large areas like floors.
Does the sealer change the look of marble?
Impregnating sealers soak in and won’t alter the natural look. Topical sealers add a glossy coating that enhances veining but must be reapplied. An impregnator is best for maintaining the marble’s appearance.
How do I clean my marble backsplash after sealing?
For routine cleaning, use a PH-neutral stone cleaner and soft cloth. Avoid abrasive scrubbing. Reseal as needed when water stops beading on the surface. Harsh cleaners can degrade sealer over time.
Sealing a marble backsplash is essential to prevent staining and etching of the vulnerable stone. With a little time and care taken to properly apply an impregnating sealer, your beautiful marble backsplash will maintain its elegance for many years. Be sure to reseal as necessary and take care when cleaning to get the most out of this protective treatment.
A properly sealed marble backsplash is crucial for both aesthetic and functional reasons. Take the time to seal marble before and after installation using a high-quality impregnating sealer. Apply the sealer generously, allow it to soak in, and buff away any residue. Reseal every few years based on usage and manufacturer recommendations. With proper sealing techniques, your stunning marble backsplash will maintain its like-new beauty and provide long-lasting enjoyment for years to come.