How to sympathetically restore an old marble top?
November 6, 2009 1:52 PM   Subscribe

How best to sympathetically restore an old marble top?

I have an old sideboard (around 100 years old) with a marble top which has broken into two pieces. The top also has scratches and some dirt. I'd like to restore the top, but want to do so sympathetically, with respect for how it originally looked. I'm worried that if I take it to a professional restorer they will over-restore it so that it looks like a new piece. How should I go proceed? What would a sympathetic restoration involve, and how should I go about it? More specifically, how should I repair the break (glue?), and should I allow it to show? How should I treat the surface (polish? wax? oil-based polish? sanding?). Would the surface originally have had a shiny finish or a matt one? Does anyone have any advice, please?
posted by kitfreeman to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We bought an old (100+ yrs) marble bathroom sink/countertop several years ago. It had some rust spots on it, and was dirty.

We called around and found a marble fabrication shop (very small, about five employees) who said they'd done restoration work, and took it in to them.
They beveled an edge for us (that had been raw) and cleaned it up a bit.
Their advice: Clean off the rust yourselves (which we did, with a product made for that).
That's all.
Don't let oil or oil-based substances get/stay on it, or it will stain.
To respect the marble, you'll want to leave in the scratches/dents/mars. Sadly, there is no 'glue' that I know of that will work on marble. You could grout it, but that would look pretty awful (IMO).
Original finish was likely matte, but a restorer could advise you better.
Hope this helps.
posted by dbmcd at 4:11 PM on November 6, 2009

I've seen broken marble slabs joined with epoxy fairly successfully, but it was not an invisible repair -- the crack showed. It held well enough to lift and move the slab, but would possibly break under stress; that is, I think epoxy would be strong enough for a sideboard top.

Sorry, I've no ideas about the surface finish.
posted by anadem at 5:45 PM on November 6, 2009

A good thing for marble in general is talcum powder. It's only a teeny bit abrasive, and will polish the marble relative to how hard and how long you rub the surface.

Mostly just a nice marble and granite cleaner is all you need. It will remove surface dirt, and works really well! I got some at OSH hardware for cleaning gravestones of departed loved ones.

If even that is too much, then a wipe with a warm damp cloth and then a dry one will leave the "old" without adding any shine. You should feel a smooth surface for the most parts, except where there are pits in the marble. Clean marble is a lovely thing. It doesn't have MUCH of a patina, so even if it were to come up "too clean", that will soon fade, and clean shiny original marble doesn't reduce the value or originality of a piece like that.

As far as the repair, you can ask a marble restoring company about rejoining the two pieces, and let them know you want the original patina to remain. They should respect your request to a tee! They should also charge you less if they don't have to redo the surface! They should be able to do it in a way that the repair is NOT obvious! Call some antique stores and appraisers, and ask who they might recommend for this!
posted by Jinx of the 2nd Law at 10:59 PM on November 6, 2009

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