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Stone Care

Inquirers: Experts will answer your questions and solve your problems. So email your question for free display here. If you are willing to pay for some specific service or want to buy some specific type of product, do state so.
 
Advisors: Please share your knowledge and expertise and give as detailed a reply as possible to each inquiry. If you can offer some specific service or product, please mention the type of service or the generic product-type with indicative prices. If you can email us a detailed list of products and services, we will give it as a separate link.



A 1277: I just bought a granite countertop (referred to in some circles as Cappuccino or brown pearl-it has gray, black and mauve in it). My question is similar to one you got before. The granite installer told me there is NOTHING I must do to the granite, that it was sealed at the shop. Just clean it and forget it. Now my friend was saying that even though it was sealed at the factory and has a nice shine, I still should put an additional layer of sealer or even impregnator color enhancing sealer now and every 6-12 months? Is he correct or is my stone guy correct. Any help you can give would be appreciated. David, USA, DEC 21. Reply
R2: Your stone guy has got it bang on. Polish and the like are only needed where there have been short cuts taken in the original polishing. Massari, UK. Reply
R1: Dear David: They are both dead wrong.
1. Your stone guy has no clue on how to take care of your countertop, and solved the problem (answered you question, that is) not by telling you what you have to use to maintain it properly, mind you, but by just reporting to you that "they have sealed it" at the shop. So what?! First off, that particular type of stone (which is not a granite by long shot) needed a sealing job like you need a hole in your head (In fact, it's extremely dense). Second, the use of the proper intelligence and cleaning products are of the utmost importance. Needless to say, if the salesmen got to your "stone guy" to the point of sealing his brains, too, then you'll never get any real valuable information out of him.
2. Your friend talks just because he or she has a piece of tongue in his or her mouth and has to show that off. On the other hand, very possibly, he or she is reporting your what some other "stone guy" told him or her. Maybe, if you'd like to get in touch with me directly, you may get a chance to hear something more constructive than some idiotic blanket rule. Sorry, I'm upset. Ciao and good luck. Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
A 1263: I have a Rosa Gerona marble in the master bath of my home. I have never had marble before and wonder as to what kind of upkeep there is. It is a new home. Do I need to reseal it every so many years? Must this be done professionally? Is just cleaning it with a marble cleaner going to keep it nice? Thank you. Cindy. Dec 15, Reply
R2: To maintain the marble in your bath or other wet areas, soap scum can be minimized by using a squeegee after each use. To remove soap scum, use a non-acidic soap scum remover or a solution of ammonia and water (about 1/2 cup ammonia to a gallon of water). be aware that frequent or overuse of an ammonia solution may eventually dull the surface of the stone. Vanity tops may need to have a penetrating sealer applied. Check with your local restoration company for recommendations. A good quality marble wax can be applied to minimize water spotting. Good luck in your project. Sincerely, Alicia, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
R1: Dear Cindy: It's "Rosso Verona", I guess. Now, let's try to take some sealer out of our brains, so that some intelligence can sink in! 
FACT: Contrary to popular (and greatly misinformed) believe, marble, especially in its polished form, is not very porous.
FACT: Sealers for stone (which are bELOW surface, therefore invisible) do one thing, and one thing only: CLOG THE PORES OF THE STONE, SO THAT STAINING LIQUIDS WILL NOT bE AbSORbED bY IT. In other words, sealers for stone (impregnators) prevent staining, and nothing else.
FACT: The likelihood of staining in a bathroom is only theoretic. Ask to yourself: "What kind of chances do I have to spill, say, coffee, or Coca Cola, or Ocean Spray, or cooking oil in my bathroom WITHOUT REALIZING IT?
(That is, that you let the staining liquid sit on your marble for half an hour or so, before you blot it up). The answer to that, will tell you how much you needed a sealing job to begin with, and how much you need to have
it repeated.
FACT: Marble is a calcite-based stone, therefore is sensitive to pH active substances, such as acids and salts (even alkaline, sometimes). What that means in layman terms, is if you spill something acidic on the surface of
your marble (a glass with a drink in it on your "Jacuzzi" platform), perfume, after-shave, many a formulation of glass cleaner (when you over-spray glass cleaner on your marble while cleaning your mirrors), and other wrong
cleaning solutions (toilet bowl cleaners are murder!), you will damage the surface of your stone on contact, virtually immediately, and permanently. The visual results are "water stains", "water rings", etc. The problem is that they are NOT stains at all (nor were they generated by water!), no matter what they look like, and are strictly related to the chemistry of the stone (it's makeup, that is), NOT its absorbency. NO SEALER EVEN ADVERTISES TO DO ANYTHING TO PREVENT SUCH DAMAGES. In fact, all cans of sealers for stone do disclaim that they are not meant to protect marble from "etching". Maybe the wording is different, but the substance is the same. HENCE: once more, it goes to prove that you need a sealer in your bathroom marble just as much as you need a hole in your head! (Keep in mind that I manufacture sealers and specialty cleaning products for stone, therefore, in a way, I'm shooting myself in the foot!). Now that I turned all the "education" imparted to you by the marble dealer who sold the stone to you (and who typically is just as intelligent about natural stone as you are), upside-down, and in the right direction for the first time, why don't you ask him or her to give you a definition of a "Marble Cleaner"? Do you really think that a so called "marble cleaner" (whatever that means!) sold to you by someone who doesn't have a clue about cleaning chores to begin with, and cleaning requirements of natural stone IN RELATION TO WHERE the stone has been installed is it going to solve your
bathroom problems? Dream on! If you want to know something intelligent that's really going to help you,
contact me directly. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
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, Reply
R2: Use either clear acrylic glue or a shellac stick. best regards Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
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. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
A 1257: I just did my whole downstairs (about 1500 sq ft) in Honed Light Travertine. I am now in the process of sealing it. My question is "what is the best way to protect your travertine from scratches, stains, and dullness? I understand the sealing process and it purposes, but need more info on Expert cleaning and maintaining travertine floors. This is my first time experiencing a natural stone floors. I appreciate any suggestions. Thanks in advance. Holly, Dec 12, Reply
R2: Well, sealing the floor with an impregnator would not help against scratches, stains and dullness. In order to do that you would need to put a coating on top of the surface. My friend Maurizio has these types of products plus (this is most important) the necessary expertise to tell you how to care for the floor. Generally speaking you will need to invest in a professional stone restoration company. Please have them provide references and other floors they successfully maintain. best regards, Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
R1: Dear Holly: Why don't you ask your question to the people who sold the stone to you? I'm sure they made good money out the deal, and I am also sure that they are absolutely concerned that you're going to be a happy camper with the stone they sold to you for years to come! I mean, if they sell it, they've got to know how to properly maintain it, right! Well ... maybe not. If that's the case, get my website address through the management of this site. A visit there should give you some insight. Ciao and good luck with the sealing (I'd call a pro to do it, if I were you), Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
A 1231: I have installed a new Travertine tile floor in my kitchen. The seller says I should seal it, the installer says I shouldn't, just wax it. What is the proper care for this stone? Thank You, Richard, Nov 30. Reply 
R4: Hello Richard, Is the stone polished or honed? In both types of stone it's always good to seal. you should always seal. MFDA, USA, Reply 
R3: Always watch the grout and caulk joints. You want them to stay solid. Damp mopping with a neutral pH cleaner is necessary. I prefer impregnators rather than topical sealers. The wax is a topical sealer. If you have a problem with the floor due to traffic or heavy duty stain problems then look into coatings. With wax I always feel that I am getting into a cycle of wax maintenance. best regards Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply 
R2: Dear Richard: Do you want it sugar coated, or do you want it straight in between your eyes? Well, I'll pick.
Sealing would help a tiny bit, but wouldn't do you any REAL good. And so would waxing (whatever that means! That is, would you know what kind of specialty wax you should use to begin with, and what kind of equipment?
Who's gonna tell you, the same "genius" who went along with the choice of your stone?! but relax, like I said, even if you'd know, it wouldn't help you much). The bare truth is: POLISHED TRAVERTINE (LIKE ANY POLISHED CALCITE-bASED STONE, SUCH AS MARbLE, LIMESTONE, ETC.) DOES NOT bELONG IN A KITCHEN, PERIOD. No sealer or specialty wax can overcome that. Ciao and good luck, Maurizo, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply  
R1: Hi! You should not wax it. Seal it. Pini, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply 
A 1213: I have seen many installations (living room/dining room floors) of 'Pierre bleue' (which I believe is also called 'Petit Granite') but have been unable thus far to find out the type of bonding and finish must suitable for Pierre bleue
Also, I have a question regarding 'Gres Espagnol' - how is that bonded and finished - what type of stone is it - I have checked in books, on the Internet, ... and it doesn't seem to exist - I've been in contact with the architects for both of the above installations and following many faxes, phone calls, etc. I'm still unable to get an answer from them. Can you please, please, please help me also or point me in the right direction on the web. Many thanks for your time. Martina - belgium, Nov 24. Reply
R1: Dear Martina: I've never heard of any of those two "all too important stones". Nor I honestly care to: their names are scary enough to me, and I have the gnawing feeling that they kinda spell T-R-O-U-b-L-E. but if you're a stone dealer or an interior decorator of sorts you don't care about that. As far as the bonding (setting) material is concerned, I would ask the guys who sell them. Finally, about the "finish" thing, once again, I have no idea what you are talking about. Stone tiles are typically finished in the factory to either a high gloss, or to a hone finish, or flamed, etc. Ask the distributor what's available, have him / her show you samples, then make your decision. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist. Contact
A 1199: I have just installed 2 colors of granite in my kitchen. The countertops are in blue Carmel and the work island is made with Sapphire black. We also have a tumbled marble backsplash. Our fabricator recommends using a penetrating sealer. She recommended the brand "bullet Proof" which I have been unable to find. Do you  recommend this type of a sealer for my stone? I also have travertine floors in the living room, foyer, guest bath, and dining room. Should they be sealed as well? I appreciate your advice. We will be moving into our new home next week. Lynn, USA, Nov 21. Reply
R2: Lynn, Try Maurizio's lemon slice test for absorption. both stones are good but need a good impregnator. 
Go ahead and have your travertine sealed also. Some of the areas you describe may not need it but the vast majority do. Please check with the people who installed the products to find out what they did. best regards, Steven, USA,
Expert Panelist, Reply
 
R1: Dear Lynn: "bullet Proof", huh. Sounds impressive, don't it! Never heard of it, although I think I can say have heard of them all! Regardless, to determine whether your "granites" need sealing or not, have a little fun and perform my "lemon juice test". That will tell you. As far as the tumbled marble is concerned, yes, that does need to be sealed. You have two options: 1. the use of a regular good-quality penetrating sealer (bullet Proof or not); it will seal the stone, but will leave the color as is now.  2. The use a good-quality sealer that's a color enhancer at the same time. Not only will this seal the stone, but it will make it look -- permanently -- darker. To see what I mean, try to wet the stone with some water. Once it's soaked, that's the color that a color enhancer will give you. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
 
A 1195: Advise on cleaning and sealing a limestone kitchen counter. The materials of course has to be food compatible. Nov 19. Reply
R2: With limestone, you might as well adopt the attitude of 'what will be will be'. Sealers will only help 1 small part. I won't lambast you for choosing the surface. I will only say that it will deteriorate. Didn't anyone try and talk you out of this as a countertop? Regards, Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
 
R1: Dear I am other: Ask findstone.com to give you my direct E.mail address and get in touch directly with me on this one. One question comes to my mind, though: "WHO ON EARTH GAVE YOU THE bRILLIANT IDEA TO USE LIMESTONE AS MATERIAL FOR A KITCHEN COUNTER TOP?" Ciao and good luck ( you really need it!!) Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
A 1192: Can you recommend a comprehensive book or publication on cleaning and maintenance of natural stone products? Kind regards, David, Australia, Nov 17. Reply
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, Expert Panelist, Reply
A 1250: I could have an order for installation of Yellow St. Cecilia. I am doing a job near boston, MA, USA. Owners only concern is gritty or flaking of granite counter for cooking surface. Dec 11. Reply
R4: The areas in this stone that flake are the oxblood color spots. They are significantly softer than the the other parts of St. Cecelia. There are some varieties that have fissures and some surface pitting. This product is very absorptive, consequently if they cook a lot steer them into a different stone. Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
R3: THE REASON IS THAT THE STONES WERE UTILIZED SLAbS FROM bLOCKS OF THE UPPER PART OF THE QUARRY, NOT PERFECTLY "STONED". THIS PRObLEM IS EASILY SOLVED WITH EPOSSIDIC RESIN ON THE SLAbS bEFORE POLISHING, bECAUSE THE RESIN CLOSE ALL THE MICRO HOLES AND YOU HAVE A PERFECT PLAN AFTER THE POLISHING. THIS IS THE NORMAL WAY WHEN YOU HAVE MATERIAL WITH SMALL HOLES ON THE PLAN ; OUR SLAbS DO NOT HAVE THIS PRObLEM, bUT IF THE CUSTOMER WANTS WE CAN DO IT, THE PRICE OF THIS PROCESS IS $ 15.00/SQ.MT. REGARDS. VINICIO, Italy, Reply
R2: Quite honestly I don't understand much your question. Maybe you were thinking at the cost of wiring your message, where they charge you by the number of words! Anyway, if the grading of the slabs is good, you shouldn't have any problem with that particular stone. Keep in mind that's not a true granite, and it does require massive doses of a good-quality impregnator-type sealer. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
R1: This granite should work for you in the kitchen, After install clean & seal. Atkin, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
The problem is they have friends, who have this stone and when you run your hand over it your hand is full of what feels and looks like sand. Your expertise in this matter is what is needed soon. Thanks again, Mike
This counter does not seal or clean and still flakes. Note this is not a true granite. I need to know if this stone is ever going to stop flaking. Would like to give more info, but tell me what you need to know? Mike
A 1159: Just had a granite countertop installed in my kitchen. What brand of sealer do you recommend? The granite is Verdi butterfly. Thanks. Dave, USA, Oct 29. Reply
R2: Dear Dave: I make a sealer (and a very good one, indeed!), but I won't push it to you. I feel it would be unethical to use this site to free-advertise products (unless they represent a breakthrough and are one-of-a-kind. It's certainly not the case with sealers for stone!!). What bugs me is: How come you don't feel like relying on your fabricator on this very important issue? Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
 
R1: Hi Dave, Not to parse words but what you want is an impregnator. Sealers are usually topically applied i.e. waxes and other plastics. Impregnators should be oleophobic and hydrophobic (repel oil & water). Our friend Maurizio has come up with a lemon slice test for consumers to use & I expect you to see his response on how often to check. (twice a year probably) I rarely endorse specific brands as I know people from most of the different companies that make them. I will say contact Maurizio because he has formulated some dynamite products. Regards, Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
A 1119: I need some help with some words I hope you can take the time to help me : Delippage, grinding, honing, flaming, tumbling, satin, polishing, crystallization, buffing compounds, impregnators, color enhancers,and topical coating. USA, Oct 3. Reply
R2: There is a new way of texturing granite = DC thermal plasma machine (www.findstone.com/pr1.htm). Micheal, Canada, Reply
R1: Here they are!
Delippage: A grinding action aiming at eliminating "lips" from a poorly executed installation, a "lip" being a difference in level where two tiles meet. The industry standard of acceptability of a "lip" is 1/32" Grinding: An aggressive frictioning action implemented with very coarse tools and material aiming at reducing the thickness of a given piece of stone.
Honing: It's grinding with gloves! It's still grinding, but with much less aggressive tools and material, which is meant to eliminate scratch patterns from a stone surface, without producing additional ones (at least very visible). There are several degrees of honing; Low hone, when the final result is a smooth surface without any reflection whatsoever. Medium hone, when there's a slight reflection from a low angle point of view; high hone, when it's almost polished. Medium hone and high hone -- according with different types of stone -- are also referred to as "Satin finish".
Flaming: Is a particular process that aims at tempering the surface of a slab of granite (or marble). The procedure is usually implemented on a very rough surface, and is carried out by alternating the action of a very powerful torch, with cold water from a hose. The operator actually holds a torch with one hand and the hose with the other.

Tumbling:
It's a process by which rough pieces of stone (usually precut to a determined size) are put inside an asymmetrically turning barrel (or drum, or tumble), together with some harder materials, usually, stones. The process -- that goes on for several hours -- produces a rough, yet scratch-free finish, and it also creates chips along the edges of the pieces of stone (that get smoothed out by the tumbling action), giving a final look as if the stone had been used for centuries.
Polishing: Is the extremely fine abrasive action -- that follows the honing phase -- that will produce a gloss as high as the stone at hand can show. It can be implemented with specialty powders, or with manmade "brick" (same abrasive powders cemented together with some sort of resin). The most popular powders for polishing stone are aluminum oxide, or tin oxide.
Crystallization: It's a marketing term to describe what turns out to be a make-believe polishing procedure for calcite-based stones. It's designed for operators with no previous experience, who would like to learn how to polish marble, but think it's too difficult. The process is a chemical approach which is meant to actually destroy the crystals of Calcium Carbonate on the surface of the stone by means of a strong acid (typically fluoridric acid), so that some other shining agents (mostly waxes) can bond to it.
buffing compound: itís a mix a polishing powders. Some times it can be found in a cream or paste form.
Impregnator: it's a below surface, penetrating sealer meant to clog the pores of the stone, so that it will not absorb staining substances.
Color enhancer: It's mostly mineral oil (of the type that doesn't evaporate), that's absorbed by the stone and gives it a so called "wet look". It's very popular with tumbled marble. Most color enhancers are impregnators, too.
Topical coating: Itís a coating that's applied to any surface for protection purposes. In the case of a floor it could be a wax. In the case of a hardwood floor it could be polyurethane, etc.
Ciao, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

A 1081: Care: I would like information on how to clean and seal a slab of blue limestone which is to be used as a hearth in front of my fireplace. Jennifer, USA, August 30, Reply

R1: Dear Jennifer: There are specific products such as impregnator-type sealers (below surface) that have the task to clog the pores of the stone to dramatically reduce its absorbency. Once properly applied, it will not be visible, nor will it change the color of the stone. If you want to make your stone look darker (like when it's wet), then there are other types of impregnator-sealers that are color enhancers, too. There are also topical finishes (Urethane-like) that are applied to give the stone a shiny or satin look. Unless you plan not to use your fireplace, my advice is against these latter types of product. They scratch easily and can't be spot restored. Every time you have to strip them completely, and that represents a nasty chemical chore that, in the long run, could even have unwelcome side effects on the stone itself. For routine cleaning there are products specifically designed to deal with the delicate chemistry of natural stone. Since I want to restrain myself to advertise specific products, if you want more precise information, don't hesitate contacting me directly. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Contact 

A 1078: Care: We are going to be putting honed black granite in our remodeled kitchen.  On your site you advised using a penetrating sealer that's a color enhancer.  Is there a brand or product name we should look for? Is this something that you reapply every year? Thanks for your help! Marks, USA, August 28, Reply

R1: Dear Marks: This site has an educational purpose and it's not meant to advertise specific products. I'm sure that you can appreciate that. On the other hand, I can understand the need of consumers for more precise answers. It doesn't help much, does it, to read about a particular type of product without a precise indication of a recommended brand, and where to get it! Do contact me, and I will gladly help you. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist. Contact
A 1055: Care:  I am renovating a 1930 log cabin built on the pre-cambrian shield (Manitoba, Canada) It has a huge 10 foot fireplace constructed of local stone, much of which I believe is granite. The stones look great when wet, and I would like to enhance the colour of the stones...Any suggestions? Thank you in advance. J Micheal, Canada, July 24. Reply
R1: There are lots of colors enhancing sealers in the market. Check with your local tile store or building supply to see what is available in your area. JVC, USA. Contact

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 reply
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, Expert Panelist. Contact
I read your note with interest and appreciate the work and effort you went to in explaining your thoughts. Sincerely, Sultan. Reply

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. reply
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, Expert Panelist. Contact

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 reply
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. Regards, Jim Man, Australia, Expert panelist. Contact
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. Good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist. Contact

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 reply
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! If you want, you can contact me at our website and I'll be glad to e-mail you our publications at no charge. Good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist. Contact

A 1008: Care: I was wondering what your thoughts are on applying a protective clear coating to stone and brick exterior walls. I've read a lot of conflicting information. What types of preservative clear coatings are available and what are their pros and cons? Finally, is applying a preservative something I can do myself or do I need to hire someone? (What are the steps I should take in determining if I need to apply the coating or not, who to hire, etc?) USA. June 14 reply

R1: First of all decide on why you want to coat the stone.  Is it for stain resistance, additional strength, graffiti resistance, increased durability. The product you choose will depend on your reason.  When applying a coating, stones especially must be allowed to breathe, that is, allow the transmission of water vapour. The application of a impermeable coating may result in irreparable damage by spalling of the surface caused by build up of pressure form water - especially in high frost areas.  Most of the chemicals used are hazardous, so if you do apply them protective equipment is essential. Jim Man, Australia, Expert Panelist. Contact

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 reply

R1: Look no more! You can get in touch with me and perhaps we could talk business. Fair enough? Good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist. Contact
 
e 1606 USA: I am attempting to find the product "Dress Slate" that I used several years ago on my interior slate floor.  It is a petroleum-based product. I have not been able to locate the company nor anyone who carries the product. Is it available?  If not, what product can I use over Dress Slate? I don't want to remove the existing material if it can be avoided. June 7 contact
R1: You must find out other name for your slate, for "Dress slate" is common name for a slate given to required size. Daniel, Slovakia, Expert Panelist. Reply

A 931: What is the proper daily care for a granite kitchen top (black with a grain running thorough it)?  My countertop is less than 2 years old, and I am starting to notice blemishes, as if someone took a piece of plastic and made a scratch mark.  I have special polish from the fabricator I bought the granite from, but I was told to only use that once or twice a year. Coda, USA, Feb 27, reply

Q 891: I love carving limestone. I am currently working on several pieces, which can be used as water bowls and birdbaths. (An attempt at art function) so my quest now is to find the best solution to seal the porous limestone for the pool of water. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you, Joan, USA, Feb 23, reply
R1: Well Joan. This is a dilemma.  I have carved several limestone fountains, and sealing the bowl is always a problem.  Regular stone or tile floor sealers do not hold up under water for very long.  They tend to "float" back out of the stone, and the result is water penetration, eventually completely through the stone. Recently we used a product called a brushable tripolymer sealant with excellent results.  The draw back to this type sealer is that while it does try transparent, it has a definite yellow appearance.  So after 20 years, I'm still looking for that perfect product that will stay in the stone doing its job for a long period of time under water, without affecting the appearance of the stone.  If you come up with something, please let me know.  JVC, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply


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