Marble is one of the most elegant materials you can use to furnish your home. It looks extremely resistant at first glance, but it is actually a very delicate material: because of its calcareous, porous nature, it needs specific, tailor-made maintenance. The process of crystallisation enables you to take care of this material in an affordable way, it allows you to unleash its natural shine and, at the same time, to give it more durability.
The crystallisation of marble: in what does it consist?
Crystallisation is a professional technique employed to restore the shiny look of marble, as well as to make it more durable and harder. This process combines a chemical reaction to mechanical action so that it can last for as long as possible. It consists in scraping off a very thin layer of the marble surface, of imperceptible thickness, to retrieve the natural glossy look of this material. This technique can be regarded as an actual “controlled consumption”.
It starts with a deep cleaning of the slab using specific machinery that can get rid of every little imperfection and impurity, so that they don’t affect with the chemicals which will be employed in the following stage. This phase is particularly important because marble, due to its natural porosity, tends to absorb not only the microplastic present in the environment and in detergents, but also in the wax which is sometimes used to give it greater sheen.
After a thorough cleaning, the next step consists in the actual crystallisation. A crystallising product containing oxalic acid is applied to the marble surface, then spread out with steel wool pads that generate friction. The heat thus created, together with the acid previously applied, leads to a chemical reaction with the calcium carbonate (limestone) largely present in marble. This way, the outer layer is gently abraded and it creates a saline coating which is specifically what gives marble more durability and a high-gloss look. Finally, a softer brush is used to perfect the look, while less accessible areas, such as angles and the areas around fixed furniture, are polished manually.
When should I resort to marble crystallisation?
Marble crystallisation is only feasible if some fundamentals criteria are met. Firstly, the surface needs to be perfectly intact and smooth, with no abrasions, holes or even minor cracks. Secondly, it’s crucial to wait for marble to completely get dry off before starting any chemical reaction: there cannot be any droplet of water.
Crystallisation can be performed on all the materials that have a calcareous origin, such as marble, grit, palladiana, travertine. It can’t be done on other surfaces, like granite, that don’t contain enough calcium carbonate for oxalic acid to react.
Finally, crystallisation cannot be used to remove nicks or small steps, because it only removes a very thin layer so it can’t be considered a background restoration technique. However, it’s perfect for surfaces that are partially worn off, as it can give them an even shine, for example the central passageway of a hallway or a room.
The difference between crystallisation, honing and polishing
Crystallisation, honing and polishing are all maintenance processes of marble, but they employ different techniques, thus creating different effects. As mentioned earlier, crystallisation is a chemical process that removes a fine layer off the marble surface and creates a saline coating which is more durable than marble itself. This technique can last between three and five years, so it lasts longer than waxing but shorter than honing and polishing. Between all of these techniques, though, also considering the duration, it’s definitely the most economically advantageous.
Honing, on the other hand, is a deeper process that is usually performed in combination with polishing, and starts with washing the surface, then filling the cracks and fissures, and finally levelling the surface. After the slabs are even, they can be polished using water and brushes made with synthetic diamond. This technique is undoubtedly more aggressive, though, and it is used to restore damaged surfaces.