You’ll be a Carrara marble connoisseur in no time
Marble is a unique furnishing material. Its popular use in both old and modern homes is a testament to its prestige and timeless appeal. Marble tables, benchtops and tiles are highly sought after interior elements, and the distinctive patterns in streaked marble mean no two pieces are exactly alike.
Raw marble is sourced from various regions across Europe, but the undisputed cream of the rocky outcrop comes from the Carrara province in Italy. Mined in quarries at the northernmost tip of Tuscany, Carrara marble is renowned for its purity and durability. Italian quarries also have a reputation for strict quality control – a reputation they take great pride in maintaining.
To give some idea of its repute, Carrara marble was used to build the Pantheon in Rome, as well as London’s Marble Arch. It’s also what Michelangelo’s David was sculpted from.
Quick geology lesson: marble is a metamorphosed form of limestone. When sedimentary rock such as limestone is subject to high temperatures and pressure beneath the earth’s surface, the calcium carbonate minerals re-crystallise and bind together in dense, individual patterns that forms marble.
When it comes to its usage in furniture, marble is typically bought as a stylish centrepiece. It’s not the cheapest material going around, but with good reason. Its weight, durability and status as premium stone also contribute to the idea of marble as a long term investment. With that in mind, you want to know you’re not being fooled by the rocks that you’ve got – that you’re getting the best quality on the market.
Here are our tips for sourcing and maintaining high-quality marble furniture:
Signs of good quality:
The hallmark of high-quality marble is subtle, delicate streaking. This is usually a good sign that the marble is genuine and sourced in Carrara.
Visually soft, that is. We’re still talking about incredibly dense stone. Look for a texture that is smooth and creamy.
Signs of poor quality:
Harsh, obvious streaks
Non-Carrara marble shows obvious streaking. Think of those chunky peroxide hair jobs your friends had in the 90s – that’s exactly what you want to avoid.
A starker, grainier finish is a red flag, indicating the marble in question is of low quality – or imitation. The pattern can change depending on the cut and finish; but generally speaking, the rougher the pattern and feel, the lower the quality.
Marble maintenance tips
Despite its density – which makes it long lasting and stain-resistant – marble’s composition of calcium carbonate reacts with acidic liquids such as lemon and vinegar, and some cleaning products.
Once you’ve chosen your marble, it’s important to treat it with care. Being a natural, ‘live’ material, it isn’t entirely impervious to harm. Here’s what you can do to protect marble furniture.
If there’s a spill, handle it quickly. Don’t allow moisture or residue to sit on marble surfaces for long. Similarly, don’t place hot items directly on its surface – heat-protective coasters and placemats are your friends.
Keep it simple
Just because you have fancy marble doesn’t mean you need fancy cleaning products. In fact, the chemicals in many of these products are likely to do more harm than good. A small amount of warm water and soap with a cloth will do the trick.
Apply sealant annually
As a preventative measure, your marble should be finished with a strong sealant. As part of ongoing maintenance, you should reapply sealant once a year. This will extend the lifespan of your marble, keeping it in tip top condition.