Home | About Us | Info | Buy | Sell | To Pay | Images | Library | Advice | Search | RSS Feeds | Site Map | Contact Us  

ADVICE WANTED!   July 31, 2002
www.findstone.com   info@findstone.com

Ask any question, share your knowledge, or offer your services!

Stone Care
Q 2198: I'm redoing a bathroom in my house and have chosen limestone for the bathroom walls (including tub/shower area) and tumbled travertine on floor and top of vanity. 
but ----- I'm in a sea of confusion -which should I use of the apparently dozens of sealer/impregnators available on the market! I'm ready to begin installation of the tile today (literally!) and would *very much* appreciate your recommendation for pre-installation sealer/impregnator and post installation sealer/impregnator. It would be really helpful to have your recommendation for a cleaner, as well. , Jan, July 9,

R1: Dear Jan: That said, the use of an impregnator / sealer is not recommendable only in relation to the type of stone one's about to install, but also and above all, to the environment in which the given stone is going to be set. Example: granite (true geological granite, that is) needs to be sealed, if you use it to make a kitchen countertop (where a lot of spills will occur), but if you install the same stone on the walls of you studio, the application of a sealer would only help to put the kids of the manufacturer and its distributor through college! I mean, what could you possibly spill on those walls??!
That said, limestone would need to be sealed when installed in an environment where staining is likely to occur, but a bathroom?? ... Are you going to spill coffee and cooking oil in your bathroom, and let it sit there for several minutes?
It's a proven scientific fact that the more you leave the stone alone -- like Mother Nature intended -- the better it is for it, especially when dealing with limestone, which some time may turn out to be as unpredictable as the weather! Most of the times, limestone will turn out to be all right, but I witnessed all too many problems related to limestone to advise the use of it to begin with. What's even more disturbing and should give anybody  pause, is that all those problems, bar none, had no solution, and some of them were stemming from the application of a penetrating sealer (impregnator). So, please, if you still insist on sealing your limestone, do NOT use my sealer. I prefer someone else who doesn't care so much to enjoy the ride! and Maurizio, USA

A 2038: We are the 2nd owners of 6-yr old home with a granite island with a cook-top. Do we need to put a wax or some other type of treatment onto the granite counter to maintain its sheen, and if so, what kind and how often? Peter, June 10

R1: Dear Peter: No, I don't consider it a necessary procedure. If your countertop were REALLY cleaned, it should be shiny enough!
What I mean is that, in the vast majority of the instances, when a customer inquires with me about the fact that their countertop is not so shiny anymore, it turns out that it's some sort of film sitting onto its surface. That happens when ones doesn't use the proper specialty cleaner, or when they "clean" their "granite" surface with water and dish soap.Maurizio, USA

A 2004: I have blue Pearl granite counter tops in my kitchen. I have been cleaning with Windex and now I find out that was the wrong product to use. Is there any spray cleaner that I could use on a daily basis. The tile store I went to suggested a mixture of mostly water with a little white vinegar. I was just wondering if there was any commercial spray or cleaner available, something that would leave a very high shine. T. Leslie, June 3,

R1: Dear Leslie: You should you go back to your dealer and tell them that they should suggest their all too precious customers to also use sandpaper, when dealing with stubborn soil. There's not much difference between that and water and vinegar, anyway!
and Maurizio, USA 
PS: It wouldn't hurt if your dealer would take some time to read them, too. but, who knows, probably it would represent a too risky proposition for them ... All that information in one single dose... It could be just deadly!

A 1996: I accidentally spilled grease on my stone patio. Any ideas on how to clean? thanks! Carmen, 
June 1,

R1: Dear Carmen: First line of attack (if you didn't do that already) is to wash it with a  concentrated solution of warm water and dish detergent, followed by  substantial rinsing with a garden hose. This will take care to thoroughly clean the surface. If a stain remains due to the fact that some of the grease has been absorbed by the stone, the you'll need ot poultice it out with acetone and talc powder (baby powder). and Maurizio, USA

A 1895:I have questions about the care of terrazzo and marble floors. I have looked into maintenance machines and am confused as to the different between polishing and burnishing. I thought a simple machine for about $800.00 275 RPM designated for "polishing" would be fine ...then someone suggested 1500 RPM for "burnishing". I thought with a newer floor, less than a year old simple care would keep it looking good with a good polish. May 15

R1: To take care of your floor yourself, my suggestion would be, do a two day course so you won't make things worse purchase a 17 inch 175 rpm floor machine with 1.5 horse power 110 volt and a full faced Velcro drive pad to place your 3 or 4 inch diamonds too, This can all be done for $3000 or less. NO bURNISHERS. Good luck. Randy, USA. 


A 1868:I recently purchased a house and was told the kitchen bench tops were granite. How can you tell if they are the real thing or imitation. To clean the surface of granite, what ingredients are required. I have been using a mixture of metholated spirits, vinegar, disinfectant and water. Vicki, May 15

R2: Dear Vicki: Only by looking at it it could be possible to tell what it is. There are no 
"secret tests" that can be run to find out. As far as your cleaning solution is concerned, I give you two options:
1) You keep brewing your own concoction, but I would also add to the mix the following ingredients: Hydrocloric acid, some liquified sand-paper (the coarser the better), Methylene Chloride, Kerosene (available at your local airport), Phosphoric acid, and - last but not least - a dash of TNT (if you can't find that, some C-4, Plastic Explosive will do just fine). Trust me, your stone will be cleaned and disinfected like nothing else on the face of this earth, and she'll love it, too!!
2) You use specialty cleaning products for stone. and Maurizio, USA

R1: You could ask a local stone fabricator to look at them. If you use the solutions you describe and don't suffer any long term dulling then it could be granite. Generally, stone can be cleaned with a neutral pH cleaner. It is not naturally a good surface to culture bacteria so you don't have to go to the length you are going to keep it clean. , Steven, USA

A 1850: I've just had travertine installed in my bathroom--floor, shower, vanity top--and want to care for it in the best way possible. I also want to clean the toilet, sink and mirror w/out damaging the stone. I've been phoning cleaning supply companies to inquire whether Formula 409, 7th Generation or Scrubbing bubbles are ok. So far Clorox Clean-up and 7th Generation are the only cleaners that have been recommended. but I'm weary of using either because Clorox Clean-up has bleach in it (is bleach ok to use on travertine?) and 7th Generation--an environmentally safe cleaner--has citrus, which I understand should not be used around marble. So tell me about the products. And where might I purchase them in Seattle, Rjrohde, May 14

R1: Dear Rjrohde: Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT USE any of the cleaning products you've listed!!
and Maurizio, USA


A 1671: I have about 2000 square feet of marble in my home. I live in Houston, Texas. I am trying to find the correct products to use to care for it. I am also interested in learning how to wax it. Can you help me. I am willing to go to school to take a class. Linda, April8

R1: Dear Linda: Get in touch with me directly through the link at the end of the question and I'll be glad to assist you. and Maurizio, USA

A 1593: I'm installing a marble shower.  I'd like to know the pricing and how-to-order information on the German soap product mentioned.  Thanks. Tim, March 26

R1: Dear Tim: Pricing it much depends on the geographical area where you reside, and on how good is the contractor. For some mysterious reason, good contractors have the nasty habit to charge more!! 
Now, what are you seeking that German Soap for? To clean your shower stall from soap deposit? ... Wow, some logic, huh!! Stone soap in general (German or otherwise) is a (wrong) cleaner sold (thank goodness by a minority of manufacturers) for polished marble floors. In fact -- like any other soap -- it leaves fatty deposit on the floor, which, eventually, will have to be stripped off with a soap scum remover (which, if ask me, it a product that makes much more sense for your shower stall!) 
No matter how good it is per se, no screw-driver will hever help you at driving home a nail! 
and Maurizio, USA

A 1408: Please tell where I could find information about granite slabs maintaining to front of the building. The 15 m high wall is from blocks that are made from flamed air filled clay pieces, concrete, sand and water. Granite slabs are about 30kg ,30x120x3cm.What is the possible facing procedure? Mitstar. Feb 6,

A 1339: My kitchen and bath countertops are granite. No problem cleaning with soap and water. but how do I clean my granite shower on a daily basis? The cleaner I was given is a lot of hard work, includes cleaning and polishing. betty, Jan 16.

R2: Dear betty, Cleaning shower stall on a regular basis is a painful job. We have a impregnating sealer which would provide an impervious surface and a simple wipe and clean with a terry towel or a mop would do the job. , Arun, India

R1: Dear betty: I don't agree about the soap and water to clean your granite countertop. Unless you rinse it thoroughly, and more than once, with plenty of water EVERY TIME you clean it, you're going to have an accumulation of hard to remove soap film that will make your countertop look dull. Now, if you want to give any value to your time, it will turn out that a good stone spray cleaner -- although more expensive than water ond soap to buy -- will do the job right and in a fraction of the time. As far as the cleaners for your shower stall, I would like to encourage you to contact me. , Maurizio, USA

Thank you for your . I would be interested in information about a good stone spray cleaner and a cleaner for the shower. If you have the names of good brands and where I can purchase such cleaners, I would really appreciate the information. Again thank you. Your web site is great. I found it very educational and enjoyed reading all the questions and answers. betty, Jan 23.

A 1258: We are looking for a product that fills in the small pits to apply to natural stone countertops after we install them. Can you help? Dec 12,

R2: Use either clear acrylic glue or a shellac stick. best Steven, USA 

R1: Yes I can; It's penetrating epoxy glue. Now a couple of pieces of advice: 1. Don't bother with it. 2. If you still insist, call a pro to do it for you. by and large it is not a DIY project. and Maurizio, USA 

A 1192: Can you recommend a comprehensive book or publication on cleaning and maintenance of natural stone products? Kind , David, Australia, Nov 17

R1: Dear David, As far as I know there is no such thing (that is published) on the subject of cleaning and maintenance covering the range of natural stone products.  A few books touch on the subject superficially and some of this information is gleaned from other sources and is not always reliable.  On larger projects that utilize a variety of stones or use stone in a variety of applications I am occasionally asked to prepare a comprehensive guide of the sort that you are after. (Dr.) Hans, Australia

A 1027: Care: I have been told of a marble cleaner, "Natural" is the label and I am unable to locate the product here in the Seattle area. Do you know who makes it and I will contact the Company or do you know of a distribution point out this way and I will call and order it. Sultan, USA. June 29
R1: Now let's understand the definition of "marble cleaner". We're all brainwashed! We see a label on a cleaning product that says "glass cleaner" and we assume that such product is designed to clean glass. Wrong. A cleaner -- any cleaner -- is formulated to interact with a certain type(s) of soil, no matter on which surface it (they) are sitting. A glass cleaner is designed to clean light soil such as finger-prints, dried-on dust and water-spots. Needless to say, if you have such type of soil on, say, a "Formica" surface, the glass cleaner will perform just fine. It is not that the "glass cleaner" has a brain and goes: "Hey, that ain't glass, it's Formica ... Whadda ya think I'm stupid?! I ain't cleaning it!..." On the other hand, if you have, say, soap film and hard mineral deposit on your glass shower stall door, or if you have baked-in food on the glass of your oven, you can try using a "glass cleaner" until you drop, but you're never going to be able to clean that stuff off your glass surface!

Do you follow me so far? OK, then, what's a "marble cleaner"? Something that cleans marble surfaces no matter what kind of soil you have sitting on it? Not by a long shot. For starters, you'll never get away with ONE "marble cleaner". In fact, there's no way that you can clean, say, your marble shower stall from soap film, hard-mineral deposits and mildew, with the "marble cleaner" you use to clean your marble floor, or your vanity top. They are totally different types of soil.
Now, let's understand marble. It's a calcite-based rock that has a very delicate and somewhat unstable chemistry. Calcite (Calcium Carbonate) reacts in "strange" ways to harsh chemicals, especially of an acidic nature. If something acidic hits a marble surface, the Calcium Carbonate will immediately go to work to neutralize (kill) the acid (that's way most heartburn remedies are made mostly of Calcium Carbonate). What happens is that the Calcite gives itself up in order to neutralize the acid. In other words they kill each other. If the marble surface happens to be polished to a high gloss (by the way, the gloss on a marble surface is produced mechanically, by abrasion and friction, like gemstone, not by applying some sort of finish onto it), then the damage will appear like a dull spot that looks like a "water spot", but that is actually an etch mark, that is a surface damage, not a stain (no matter what it looks like).
The chemistry of most household cleaning products available off the shelves of the supermarket is typically too harsh for marble, therefore those products will no doubt clean whatever soil they were designed to remove from the marble surface, but they will clean off some of the marble, as well, by corroding it. Therefore, a "marble cleaner" (in its different formulations, accordingly with the soil it has to deal with) it's a cleaner that will remove the soil off the marble surface, while leaving the marble alone. Needless to say, it will also work fine on any other surface it's applied on. Typically, "marble cleaner" are either neutral (pH 7, also referred to as pH balanced), or alkaline (but with specific chemical characteristics).
All that said, as you can easily understand, there's nothing "miraculous" about "marble cleaners" (although there's a company out there calling itself Miracle...), so, if I were you I wouldn't get too much worked up about finding such "Natural" brand. If you have no problem, so far, with your marble, any good "marble cleaner" will do just fine. If you do have a problem instead, chances are that you'll never going to be able to solve it with a cleaner. If you do have a problem, feel free to tell me about it. best of luck! Maurizio, USA
I read your note with interest and appreciate the work and effort you went to in explaining your thoughts. Sincerely, Sultan.

A 1015: Care: We just purchased a home with limestone floors.  We don't know how to take care of them or anything about limestone. Rhonda, USA. June 21
R1: Limestone floors usually have a relatively high water absorption (compared to granite) and are light coloured, therefore they are susceptible to staining.  To avoid this they must be sealed and the sealant maintained.  A good way of telling if the surface needs resealing is to place a drop of water in a high traffic area a another in a low traffic area and watch them bead and soak in.  A drop of water on a well sealed floor will sit high on the floor and take a while to soak in.  The drop will soak in quicker a s the sealant deteriorates.  For regular maintenance, avoid wet mopping the floor, instead use a dry mop regularly and a damp mop when necessary.  A wet mop will tend to carry any dirt into the tile even if it is sealed.  Sealers only reduce the staining potential. Jim Man, Australia

A 1014: Care:  I would like to know if after installation the things that you need to know about the upkeep of granite.  Does it stain?  Does it crack?  Is there ever a "bad batch" of granite?  How often does it need to be sealed, etc.? Dbrown, USA. June 20
R1: The quality of granite varies, but in general it has a low water absorption, high abrasion resistance and high strength.  This means it has good stain resistance, shouldn't show wear (some blacks may show tracking) and shouldn't crack after laying if laid correctly.  The most important maintenance issues are maintaining the shine and minimising stains.
Maintain the shine by reducing the introduction of grit - use mats outside. Clean the floor regularly with a dry or damp (not wet) mop.  If necessary use a neutral pH detergent to clean very grubby areas. Tracking on darker monotone colours may be a problem.  In a home this may be reduced by periodically changing traffic paths eg. moving furniture where possible.
Granites are very dense with low porosity so they shouldn't need sealing. Attend to spills as soon as possible by blotting up liquids and using minimal liquid to clean up drier stains (water can carry the stain into the stone).  If stains do occur, various methods can be used - a web search under stone, stain and the staining agent will get you some useful advice. , Jim Man, Australia
R2: You ask if the granite stains.  Well, it might. You see our beloved stone industry is, alas, pretty much totally unregulated. When they find a stone in some corner of our blessed planet that take a polish and doesn't look like marble, they label it as "granite", no matter  what the heck that stone is. As a consequance, the vast majority of the stones traded as "granite" are in fact related to granite like a cat to a cow. Granite (the real one, that is) is more porous than marble (approx. twice as much). but then there are stones like labradorites, basaltic, etc. that are much denser and virtually water-proof (therefore they will not stain). At the other end of the spectrum, we have stones (gneiss, anitrites, metamorphic sandstones, quarzites, etc.) that are as absorbent as a sponge and will stain like crazy. So to give an answer to your question, one must know what kind of "granite" you have.
As far as cracking is concerned, it's a possibility that's only connected with poor installation, not the type of stone. Yes, of course, there can be a bad batch, like with any other natural product. Unfortunately, however, since there's not any official grading, you're at the mercy of the dealer's ethics. Finally, the sealing is advisable only with "absorbent granites", therefore the answer is consequent to the type of "granite" you have. Maurizio, USA

A 1010: Care: I am starting a cleaning business and I am interested in cleaning public buildings. This of course would include cleaning of sandstone, granite and marble. Could you please send me some good reference texts. John, Australia. June 19
R1: All you will ever need to CLEAN natural stone floors is a good professional-grade mop, some good pH neutral detergent, and plenty of good ol' tap water. The funny thing is -- you will soon find out -- that the persons in charge of maintenance of the buildings you'll be servicing won't be much interested in that, however. They will expect you to keep those floors as shiny as they were on the day of the cutting of the ribbon! And at this point, cleaning has nothing to do with it. That is stone surface refinishing and it represents the pinnacle of all the stone related activities. From a professional knowledge point of view, in fact, stone refinishing is much more demanding than setting or fabricating. It makes sense: it doesn't take an expert to make the human body -- just some passionate lovemaking! -- but it does take an expert (a doctor) to take care of it! The reason why stone refinishing is so professionally demanding is because Mother Nature made stone so different from one another. Not one marble is the same of the next one, therefore, you can't treat all marbles the same way. In other words, it is not a standard procedure.

If this is beginning to sound scary (and it should), wait until you get into granite! Just consider this: the vast majority of the stone traded as "granite" are in fact related to granite like a cat to a cow! And this is not my opinion, it's a geological fact. Of course, in your search for THE solution you will meet with a whole army of salesmen touting their miraculous one-medicine-cure-all, and so-easy-that-even-an-idiot-can-do-it! There are even a couple of companies here in the US selling their franchise! (Franchising something that can't be standard? ... Wow!). You may even go for one of them, but -- mark my words now -- you will eventually find out that there's no substitute for professionalism. Nobody can become a surgeon by just watching one while operating for a couple of days! Of course, all that doesn't mean that you should give up; it only means that if you're serious about it you should consult with serious professionals and stay away from the quacks. You're starting with the right approach: you're asking for reliable publications on the subject. I don't know about anything else, but I think that the technical papers that I've been publishing over the years could be helpful. If nothing else, you will find out that the only things the salesmen ever published are some fancy brochures! Maurizio, USA

A 1007: Care: I'm gathering information on stone care maintenance and restoration. I need information with companies providing this type service. Thank you.
Carlos, USA. June 13

R1: Look no more! You can get in touch with me and perhaps we could talk business. Fair enough? Maurizio, USA    
Comments? Complaints? Compliments? info@findstone.com
The views expressed in this section are not of FindStone. 
Dear Maurizio, I have been reading your advice for quite some time and have developed trust in your judgment and knowledge since the advice regarding "granite" has been nebulous at best. Thanks for your time and assistance. Rowena, USA.