I found an antique dry sink with the original marble top and backsplash that I wanted to clean up and re-do… the cabinet part I could easily paint, but the marble top was in horrible shape, could I successfully do a DIY marble restoration project to it and be happy with the results?
The answer is yes, and here are the tips to restoring an old marble counter yourself…
So I’m calling this top marble, but I’m not a stone specialist… I know this is a natural stone, but it may be soapstone and not marble? I’m pretty sure it’s not granite because this is a fairly soft stone and I think granite is harder. But whatever the stone is, I believe this following process I did to it would apply to any of these types of stones.
Like I said, the counter was in horrible condition. I don’t know what caused the severe discoloration, but it almost looked like some sort of lime deposits on the counter.
A close up of the front edge of the antique marble top to the dry sink shows how much it was detracting from the natural beauty of the stone.
So I set to work.
A while back, an old carpenter friend told me that I could sand a ding out of my granite counter top edge, so I figured I would sand the entire top of the marble and see what would happen…
I started with a fairly fine sandpaper… 220 grit.
After cutting the right sized strip of sandpaper and placing it in my sanding block, I sanded the entire marble top and edge.
The discoloration did seem like hard water deposits or something like that and they actually sanded off fairly easily.
You can see the ‘dust’ here in this picture.
I wasn’t sure if the sandpaper would wind up leaving some sort of scratches or marks in the marble top, so I sanded the entire top in one direction, like how you’d sand a piece of wood, with the grain… even though there’s no visible ‘grain’ with this marble slab.
Once I felt I had all of the old yucky stuff sanded off the top of the marble, I switched to a finer grit sandpaper… 400 grit.
And repeated the whole thing on both the antique marble countertop and backsplash for the dry sink.
This is what the marble counter looked like once both sandings were finished and the piece was wiped down with a dry cloth… (that light edge on the front left corner is the sun shining on just that part)
Next, I remember seeing on Martha Stewart many years ago, her using mineral oil on the soapstone sink and counters she had installed… (by the way, I used mineral oil to restore the antique hardware for this same dry sink project too)
So with a clean dry rag, I poured some mineral oil out on the rag and started wiping.
I gotta be honest, the mineral oil is kind of thick and I can be a bit impatient, so after one swipe with it on my rag, I decided that was going to be too slow… so instead I just went right ahead and poured some oil directly on the marble slab. That worked much better.
Working on a small area at a time, I continued to pour out a bit, wipe it into the stone and move on…
The oil soaked into the old stone and instantly revealed the depth and beauty of the stone that was right there just hiding from sight.
Here you can see the left half of the slab that’s finished:
Once both the backsplash and top were oiled, I left them out on the bench in the courtyard for the rest of the day to dry. (I’m not really sure how long the actual drying time took, but a few hours after they were done, when I brought them back in, there was no oily residue at all)
This was such an easy restoration project, and the results were amazing.
At the beginning I wasn’t sure how it’d turn out because I was only grasping at a few random tips I’ve heard about…
but I’m thrilled with how the DIY marble restoration actually worked out, and that it was really quite an easy process.
Be sure to check out the complete dry sink restoration project and see how this marble looks installed on the antique dry sink.
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