Stone Floors – The Nine Myths About Stone Restoration

There are a number of myths about stone restoration. It is important that individuals are well-informed when approaching any stone cleaning project. The following content works to investigate detail that will leave you assured that you are up-to-date with the required information.

Myth 1 states that vinegar will clean and disinfect any surface. Stones such as marble, travertine, terrazzo, limestone and even some granite will etch when they come into contact with acids such as vinegar. These marks are in fact chemical burns when alcohol, ammonia, or acid comes into contact with the surface of the stone. It appears that the finish or shine has been removed from the surface of the stone and these marks cannot simply be cleaned off. The stone needs to be re-honed or re-polished.

Myth 2 is that there is no reason to seal marble if sealing does not protect against acids. Sealers will not stop acids, ammonia, or alcohol, but it is still recommended to seal stone with a penetrating sealer annually. Sealers are great against oil, grease, coffee, tea, etc. Sealers stop non-acid liquids and oil from penetrating into the stone and prevent dark staining, which is important around areas such as cook tops.

Myth 3 is that new stone installed just two years ago does not need restoring. Natural stone, especially marble and limestone immediately react to acids, ammonia and alcohol, so if orange juice is spilled on marble an hour after installation, it will need to be re-polished or re-honed. Softer stones require more maintenance. Buildings may need monthly, quarterly or annual maintenance. Homes may need refinishing after two to five years.

Myth 4 is that power washing is sufficient to clean exterior travertine, flagstone, slate and granite. Power washing a natural stone is not a good idea. Natural stone requires a more delicate touch and power washing is too powerful for stone. It can erode the surface of granite, slate or flagstone; it can remove fills in travertine and will expose more voids; it can also remove the grout between joints. If exterior stone needs cleaning stick to damp mopping or scrubbing with a soft brush using water and neutral cleaners.

Myth 5 is that refinishing stone is a very dusty process. Restoration and maintenance of natural stone and tile is a wet process. Consequently little dust is created and most companies cover all baseboards and surrounding areas.

Myth 6 is that only the grout needs cleaning; the stone tiles look fine. Many people request only grout cleaning, which is completely understandable. Dirt gets trapped and accumulates in the grout lines over time and this accumulation makes the grout lines darker. However, in order to thoroughly clean grout, it is necessary to clean the stone and tile as well. The best way to scrub clean stone, tile, and grout is by using a soft brush with an effective cleaner. This enables cleaning into all small crevices.

Myth 7 is that the only way to polish ceramic tile is by putting a coating on it. Many janitorial companies have resorted to constantly waxing and stripping and re-waxing ceramic and porcelain tiles to ensure the floor remains shiny. Applying a coating or wax on tile floors may seem less expensive at first, but when added up, all the maintenance it incurs (stripping and constant spray buffing), it becomes a costly option. There is a natural, non-wax compound for the honing, polishing and restoration of most unglazed ceramic, porcelain and quarry tiles. This system gives a long-lasting finish and natural shine to tiles. It does not yellow or scuff and it eliminates the need for the constant waxing and stripping of tiles.

Myth 8 is that plain water cleans stone safely. Water alone does not clean stone. It simply moves the dirt around. There are neutral cleaners available which clean without harming the stone.

Myth 9 is that you only need to re-polish the affected tiles and that you do not need to re-finish the whole floor. When a glass of orange juice (or some other acidic liquid) has been spilled in one large spot on a marble, travertine, or limestone floor it is often thought that just that area needs cleaning. However, when a surface is restored, the stone is thoroughly cleaned then re-polished or re-honed. If only the four tiles in the middle of the floor are restored, those four tiles may not match the rest of the floor. It is difficult to blend those four tiles to the rest of the floor, especially because the entire floor most likely has some embedded dirt, light scratches, and small etch marks as well. The whole area needs restoring in order to give a consistent and uniform finish.

Carefully consider the above information and you too may find that some aspects of stone restoration that you have always believed have, in fact, been incorrect. You are provided with an insight into the field of stone cleaning and restoration.