The Italian Marble Known as Siena
Marble is found all over the globe. It comes in many variations and in a number of countries, regions, and zones. One such marble is Siena which is found in Italy and for this reason is referred to as Italian marble. What is Siena marble? In what ways is it like other marble? How do professioanls work with it? And what are the care requirements for Siena and other Italian marbles? In this article, we will consider those questions.
Siena - A Italian Marble
As mentioned in the introduction, marble is found all over the world and in a variety of locales. Additionally, marble comes in a variety of colors. Because of these factors you will find that this intriguing material is referred to by names indicative of its color and/or the area of the world from which it originated. For example, the marble that we are here discussing is, in this context called Italian Marble and is known by the name Siena. Fundamentally though, the characteristics of the stone are what earn it the classification of "marble". What are the traits that warrant a material being classified as a marble?
Characteristics of Siena: a Italian Marble
Italian Marble is classified as such because of its composition and the fact that it is from Italy. In fact, even materials that are geologically classified as some other material are actually called marble because of their composition. We won't get into the details of what makes marbles different from other, similar materials here. What we will do though is look at the traits of Siena and show why these traits qualify it, at least by some if not all, as marble.
Marble is composed largely of calcite or calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and Siena is no different in this sense. It is made up of this mineral and this is what gives it the characteristics that earn it the title of "marble". The fact that Siena from Italy has so much of this mineral means that it has characteristics indicative of marble natural stone.
The presence of calcium carbonate in such high quantity make Italian marble (and really all marble) a "soft" stone. Marble registers in the range of 3-4 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. So it is softer than other notable natural sotne materials such as granite, quartzite, sandstone, etc.
Calcium carbonate also affects the color of Siena. Since calcium carbonate is white, most marble is a light color. Other, non clacium carbonate, minerals add other colors to the stone's appearance and contribute to the intriguing beauty of marble in Italy and other places.
How Italian Marble is Processed for Surfaces
Processing of Italian marble is consistent with how other natural stone is processed to become surfaces in homes, businesses, and even government and public structures. Fabricators work with the material; cutting it, shaping it, and polishing it. Through these tasks, Siena is transformed into a surface that amazes onlookers. But how do fabrication professionals actually work with it?
Handling and Working With Siena
One of the main challenges to working with any marble is handling the slabs into which it is cut. Just moving the material form one aprt of the shop, warehouse, or factory presents a challenge. This particular hurdle is overcome by using marble slab lifters to help maneuver these and move them just as other industries do; with large steel plates for example.
Another aspect of working with marble from Italy and really any location is cutting the material. It is tempting to think that blades that cut harder materials will naturally work on soft stone like Siena but that is not necessarily true. Blades can be ineffective at cutting marble when the blade is not compatible with surfaces like slabs of Italian marble. For this reason professionals use blades for cutting soft stone to cut Siena. Having a blade that is designed for use on this material will yield the best results and removes the question of whether the blade is the right one for the task.
Care and Maintenance of Siena Surfaces
Even after the Siena surface is completely processed and installed, it requires specific treatment. How so? Well, just like all other natural materials, Italian marble and specifically, Siena must be cared for and maintained properly. This is best done by implementing a regular routine consisting of multiple parts. Let's look at each of these now.
Periodically Seal Italian Marble
This first aspect of caring for marble from Italy that we will discuss is sealing. Natural marble surfaces benefit greatly from being sealed periodically. Incorporating sealer applications into your routine of Siena care and maintenance will help it resist staining from water based and oil based liquids that get absorbed into the pores of the surface. It is recommended that one of the sealers for marble designed for Italian marble be used periodically to reduce the absorption rate of the material.
Proper Daily Cleaner for Siena
Sealing a Siena surface will not be effective if the proper daily cleaner is not used. Why is that the case? Well, harsh cleaners or cleaner that is not formulated for use on natural stone will strip away the sealer very quickly; making a Italian marble surface vulnerable to staining. That is correct, in one fell swoop, all the work of sealing Siena surfaces can be completely undone by using the wrong daily cleaner. We recommend using a cleaner for marble surfaces so that the sealer remains effective and in tact as long as possible. Doing this will increase the period between sealer applications.
Removing Stains On Marble From Italy
Inevitably there will be cases where a liquid gets through and makes its way into the pores of a stone. When this happens to Siena surfaces, a stin remover formulated for the type of stain must be used. These removers will have instructions on how to use them properly and should be followed. Because a stain is likely to occur, having one of the marble care and maintenance kits is recommended because it has various products; some of which can be used all the time.
Siena Etch Removal
One specific type of discoloration to be aware of is etching. We say "discoloration" because etching is not technically a stain since it is not a substance that penetrates the pores. However, it does change the appearance of the stone in a way that makes it appear to be a color change. For example, a Siena surface that is polished will show an etch as a dull spot. On the other hand, a honed surface made of Italian marble will present an etch as a dark spot. The solution to etching is 1) using etch remover for marble, 2) a great deal of elbow grease, and 3) a heavy dose of patience. Etching in any marble surface, including Siena is challenging to remove but it can be done.
As we have seen in this article, Siena is a Italian marble that is very much like other marble materials. It takes specific equipment to handle it and it requires specific care and maintenance practices for a long life. Knowing these basics about this interesting material from Italy will go a long way toward getting the most from it.
PLEASE NOTE: There is a difference between what geologists define as marble and what is commonly called marble in the stone industry. Some natural stone that gets classified as "marble" in commercial contexts are in all actually, truly limestone geologically. Therefore, some materials discussed on this site which are geologically limestone may be presented and referred to as "marble" since consumers may have heard these referred to as such. There is more information about marble types at Wikipedia.org