Rubbing Vs. Finishing Compound for Marble

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Whether the marble in your home is in your kitchen, in your bathroom or on your floors, it needs a little buffing from time to time to maintain its shine and remove minor scratches. Both rubbing compound and finishing compound have a place in your marble maintenance plan, but the two products are not interchangeable.

Rubbing Compound

  • You use rubbing compound to remove minor scratches and imperfections. It is abrasive enough to microsand the surface, but not so abrasive that it damages the marble if used properly. Rubbing compound may come in a tub in paste form or as a gel or powder. You typically use it with an orbital drill and a natural polishing pad. Rubbing compound alone brings out the shine in marble, but for a high-gloss finish, follow it with a finishing compound.

Finishing Compound

  • Finishing compound is also known as shining compound, shining powder and polishing compound. It's less abrasive than rubbing compound, and it creates a glossier surface than rubbing compound alone. You can use finishing compound with an orbital drill and a polishing pad, or you can apply it by hand. It cannot remove most scratches on its own, which is why it is used as a finish after buffing with rubbing compound when there is surface wear.

Using Rubbing and Finishing Compounds Together

  • Before buffing and polishing marble, clean it with mild dish soap and water or a commercial marble cleaner. Rinse off the soap, and dry the marble. You need two soft polishing pads -- one for the rubbing compound and one for the finishing compound. Apply rubbing compound to the spinning pad, or apply mixed powder compound directly to the marble. Buff the surface with the orbital sander, wipe or vacuum away any leftover compound, then apply the finishing compound.

Using Finishing Compound Alone

  • If the marble isn't scratched or if it has only minor surface scuffs, you may not need to buff with rubbing compound. Clean the marble with mild soap or commercial marble cleaner, and rinse and dry the clean marble. Then wipe it with finishing compound using a soft cloth, or mix finishing powder with water as directed and apply it to the surface. Buff the compound into the marble with the orbital sander or by hand to polish.

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