Friday, October 2, 2009

How To Maintain A Natural Stone Floor

The most common natural stone floors in homes today are marble and limestone. Both these stones are calcite based, meaning they contain calcium carbonate. They are also generally soft stones compared to Igneous varieties such as Granite and Basalt. What this means from a maintenance point of view is that the stone will absorb liquids and will easily etch (meaning the stone can suffer acid corrosion)

The first step which needs to be taken in order to facilitate easy maintenance of the stone is to have it sealed properly with an impregnating sealant. This needs to be an oliophobic sealant which will repel both oil and water, especially in the kitchen. This is the single most important step in stone protection. Generally, water based sealers will offer less protection than solvent based sealers, however there are exceptions to this rule. A qualified stone restoration company will have the skills and knowledge to properly seal a stone floor and so this is usually a job that should not be left to the tiling contractors.

Unfortunately, although a good quality sealant will protect the stone from staining nothing can really protect it from acid based substances. A polished floor which is subjected to lemon juice or vinegar which is left on the surface of the stone will almost definitely show etch marks. These are where the acid reacts with the calcite and shows signs of corrosion.

Once the marble or limestone is properly sealed the next issue which needs to be addressed is surface scratching. The main cause of scratching on a marble or limestone floor is grit from outside being caught under shoes and walked across the floor. Therefore the easiest way to minimise scratching on the stone is to introduce good quality, deep coir barrier mats. One should be placed outside the front door and one inside if possible. Scratching is more of an issue on a polished floor as damage to the natural crystals in the stone is the main cause of a dull looking surface and lack of shine and reflection.

For regular maintenance and cleaning of the floor, a good quality natural stone soap will need to be used. This can in most cases be simply mopped on and left to dry. The better natural stone soaps will contain linseed oil which also helps to keep the stone protected by leaving an invisible film on the surface.

Described above is one stage of the maintenance cycle and at some point the stone will need restorative maintenance due to a loss of shine, staining due to sealant needing to be re-applied or repairs to damaged tiles. At this point a stone restoration expert will restore the floor to as new and the cycle of maintenance will start over.

All information was taken directly from and is written by Nick Gonnella.

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