Natural stone is beautiful and luxurious and can last the lifetime of your home if properly maintained. Knowing how to clean your stone and taking proactive precautions will make a huge difference in the long lasting appearance of your natural stone. Here are a few important tips to get the most out of your natural stone products.
- Always keep your stone sealed.
- Always clean spills up immediately by blotting and not wiping as wiping a spill will spread the spill. Wash the area with a mild soap and rinse thoroughly.
- If the stone is installed on a counter, always use coasters under all glasses and cups. This is especially true for those containing alcohol or citrus juices as these can dull the appearance of your stone.
- Although most stone products can withstand heat, it is always advisable to use a trivet if placing a hot plate on a counter.
- Be sure to dry mop your stone floors regularly. Sand, dirt and grit are abrasive and can scratch the surface of a natural stone floor.
- Using a floor mat at the entrance will drastically reduce the amount of sand, dirt and grit that builds up on the natural stone floor.
- If you use a vacuum on your natural stone floor be sure the wheels are not worn down as they can scratch the natural stone floor.
- Never combine bleach and ammonia as this can cause lethal gases.
There are two classifications that natural stone falls under according to its mineral classification. The two classifications are siliceous and calcareous and knowing which one your natural stone falls under is important in terms of care and maintenance.
The composition of a siliceous stone is mostly silicates like feldspar, quartz, mica..etc. Examples of a siliceous stone would be slate, granite, soapstone and sandstone. Although these products are typically resistant to acids, acidic cleaners are still not recommended as some of these stones may have a mineral in them that can be damaged by acidic solutions.
Calcareous stone is composed of calcium carbonates which are sensitive to acids solutions. Examples of a calcareous stone would be marble, limestone, travertine and onyx. Refrain from using cleaning products with lemon, vinegar or other acids to avoid the stone from being dulled. Be careful to not let citric acid juices from lemon, lime, orange and etc. from being spilled and dwelling too long on this stone.
For cleaning stone we recommend a neutral cleaner, stone soap or mild dishwashing detergent for the best and safest results. Be sure to rinse very thoroughly as a build of soap will give the stone a dull appearance. Be sure to change the rinse water often. Do not use abrasive pads or creams to clean natural stone as they may scratch the surface.
Aqua Mix Concentrated Stone and Tile Cleaner is a safe, neutral, water based cleaner that is great for everyday cleaning of both siliceous and calcareous stones. For stone that has been neglected or subjected to heavy use we recommend Aqua Mix Stone Deep Clean. Stone Deep clean effectively cleans soap scum, dirt, grease and grime and other hard to remove contaminants.
Sealing Natural Stone
It’s a very common and recommended practice to seal natural stone tile and countertops to give them protection against staining. Some natural stone is very dense and others are softer and more porous but all natural stone can benefit by being sealed. Note that sealing natural stone makes it stain resistant but not stain proof.
There are topical sealers and penetrating (or impregnating) sealers available for stone.
Topical sealers cure as a film on the surface and might be better referred to as a topical coating. These coatings are applied and remain on the surface of the stone similar to paint and are meant to protect the surface from water, oils and other contaminants. An important detail to know about this type of sealer/coating is that because it is on the surface it becomes the wear layer and it will scratch and get scuffed. This is the job it was meant to do. As the sealer/coating gets scratched it will need to be recoated to bring it back its original luster. After several of these cycles of wearing and being recoated it will need to be stripped and resealed from scratch. When this type of sealer is used, the maintenance program focused on the stone is often shifted to one focused on maintaining the sealer.
Topical sealers will enhance a stones appearance by highlighting the natural variations and beauty in the stone. They will darken the stone similar to the way water would. An easy test to see how a topical sealer will enhance a stone is to simply wipe it with a damp cloth.
Products like Aqua Mix’s Enrich N Seal, High-Gloss Sealer, Seal and Finish and Floor Shine and Hardener are all topical sealers that are good for various types of stone and will have either a no sheen or glossy finish. If a coating is being used in an area for food, verify that the coating is approved for food use.
Topical sealers might be better referred to as topical coatings. These are applied and remain on the surface of the stone similar to paint. Generally they will also darken the stone, akin to what water would do. But as they are on the surface they become the wear layer. They will scratch and will require recoating, and after several recoatings they will need to be stripped and then start over from scratch.
Penetrating (or sometimes referred to as “impregnating”) sealers will penetrate a few millimeters below the surface, residing in the microscopic spaces between the minerals in the stone. These products don’t actually “seal” the stone, but are more correctly referred to as a repellant than a sealer. As such, they are formulated to prevent transmission of liquids, while allowing transmission of vapor. Since they reside below the surface of the stone, the change to the appearance of the stone surface is minimal and gives the stone a more natural, no sheen look. To acquire this natural, no sheen look we recommend a penetrating-type sealer like Aqua Mix Sealer’s Choice Gold.
Source: Marble Institute of America (www.marble-institure.com)