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

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


Issues: polishing, recrystallization, vibrifiction, un-honing, edgepolishing
Materials: granite, marble, alabasters, onyx, travertine, sandstone, slate, cultured marble

Q 2342: We have a new marble floor that was not installed improperly and the contractor sent a restoration company out to cut down raised edges and restore the entire floor. We have heard that the finish on a manufactured floor is far better than that of a restored finish since the restored marble is made to look good by being chemically treated with impregnator and a new manufactured marble floor has a machined finish. Is this true and can you share with us Steve, July 20, Reply

R2: Dear Steve: Whoever gave you that information was wrong. I am a professional stone refinisher and I can tell you that any competent stone refinisher will make your floor look as good, or better, than new without using any chemical treatment. In addition, since he will also be leveling your floor, it will give the appearance of being monolithic instead of appearing to be made of individual tiles. By the way, the impregnator you referred to is used to seal the marble to protect it from staining. It does nothing to enhance the appearance of the stone because it penetrates into (impregnates) the stone. Mike, USA

R1: Dear Steve: The information you've got is wrong, in the sense that the possible  application of an impregnator has nothing to do with the refinishing the stone and the quality of the final result. But it is true, alas, than more often than not, the marble does not get actually re-polished, but it's treated chemically with some sort of highly acidic concoction called "crystallization", or "vetrification", or other garbage like that. It's nothing but a high-tech and high-RISK (for the stone) way of waxing, opposed to polishing by abrasion and friction like it was done in the factory. It is also true, however, that there are several good restoration companies out there who do the job right; which means that they actually polish the stone, more or less in the same way it was done in the factory. In such case, there's no reason why the newly achieved finish shouldn't last as long as the original. There's to be said that a ground marble floor -- once the job is done right -- is going to be a better floor that if the tiles had been originally installed properly. In fact, it's un upgrade that I -- a stone refinisher contractor -- I'm hired to do every now and then, regardless of 
how the floor had been originally installed (it's called: "grind-in-place" installation and the final quality of a floor installed like that can't even begin to be compared to the "traditional" North American method of installation.), Maurizio, USA

Q 2299: We have just bought a house with a Rosso Verona marble tiled floor and vanity top in the bathroom. The bathroom was refurbished 10 years ago at which time the marble was fitted. Parts of the high traffic floor area and the vanity top are slightly scratched, dull and slightly worn looking. Can you advise us on how to maintain this type of marble and perhaps even polish or brighten up the worn parts? Many thanks, Derek. Reply  

R1: Dear Derek: I'm afraid that the only recourse you have is to call in a marble restoration professional. There is nothing you can do personally that will restore the shine and luster to your floor. Mike, USA 

A 1959: I have inherited an assorted range of marble (and granite) tiles (the standard 12x12, 3/8 in. thick kind). They all have a highly polished finish. I would like to embark on a mosaic floor project; I have a small diamond wet saw which works great, so I'm eager to start, but I have two questions: What's the best way to "un-hone" the surface so that it has a natural, worn look? I can imagine grinding the edges a bit for a vaguely 'tumbled' effect to soften the look, but what about the super shiny surface? Would it be better to consider a process in situ, once the mosaic is installed, or could it be done more easily on the individual tiles before cutting into mosaic components? Also, what sort of grout is best if I want the mosaic pieces to have as small a seam as possible? Ciao & Grazie! -Cynthia, Boston, May 24, Reply

R1: Dear Cynthia: Unless you know how to grind a floor perfectly flat, you can't hone (mechanically, at least) your "tessera" after they've been installed. Besides the chipping of the edges as you indicated, I would use muriatic acid to chemically hone the marble (it will keep the same depth of color. If you use phosphoric acid instead, it will lose depth and become pale). As far as the granite is concerned, unless you cat get your hands on some Hydrochoric Acid, you will have to hone them by wet-sanding, again before installation. As far as the seaming is concerned, since to do mosaic requires a lot of patience anyway, I would take my time to "wipe" the edges of the single pieces with a thin layer of unsanded grout, then butt-joint the pieces to one another. Of course, you will clean the excess of grout with a sponge every two of three square feet (before it dries, that is). Ciao & Prego, Maurizio, USA

A 1938: We have a pair of 30 year old alabaster bookends that had a number of stains. I've removed the stains with fine grit sand paper and would now like to polish them back to their original shine. Could this be done by just rubbing with piece of felt or rough side of tanned leather? Thanks, Raymond, May 20, Reply

R1: Dear Raymond: How on earth did you get to know about the raw side of leather?! It seems to be one of the "best kept secrets" on stone polishing!! ... Well, let's put it this way, you couldn't certainly polish the flat surface of a marble slab with leather! But ... Very few know that when Michelangelo was around they were using strips of leather to do the final polishing of the statues! Go for it. Alabaster in particular (a very "soft" and highly shiny stone) will take a nice polish! Maurizio, USA

A 1911: I have 1k of empress green, what is the best way to get the luster back into the floor. Thanks, Jeff, May 16. Reply 

R1: Dear Jeff: It's not -- by and large -- a DIY project. Get hold of a professional stone refinisher. , Maurizio, USA

A 1903: I have installed sandstone tiles to a vanity unit in my bath room at home and need to grind it flat and then polish it to a fine surface. I have looked on your web site and the instructions on floor finishing are first rate, but I need to know how to get the same result's on my counter top. I have looked on other sites but they don't seem to give as much information as you. Best regards, Steve, 
May 15, Reply

R1: Dear Steve: Sandstone does not polish. If you want to grind it and then make it as smooth as sandstone can be, hit  the "Reply" link at the end of your own question, and ask to be put in touch with me directly. I'll be glad to help. , Maurizio, USA

A 1892:I need help with my floors, I removed all old wax, with stripper and difficult bits around corners etc. with a razor blade holder. Now, I would like to know what I should do next, since I want to consider two options. I. Wax- should I use sealer and then go on to wax with thin layers of course, and then polish. 2. It is very common in Puerto Rico to call in "experts" and paint with a special liquid (it seems to me like the old plastic finish) it with a solution, that takes on a hard finish. They call it crystallize. It is expensive and I would like to try with family to do it myself. Someone pls. help. Thank you, May 15. Reply

R1: Hello, If the floor is completely cleaned of old wax, and it is a stone floor, and you want to place a coating on the floor you can do either process but I would recommend a wax finish for stone floors. By crystallizing the floor, if you already have scratches on the surface, won't remove the scratches. It can only remove very light scratches, maybe. The crystalizer is a very thin coating it is not much protection and it needs done more often. I would seal and wax it. However my belief for stone floors is to restore with diamond  abrasives for removing scratches and abraded Finnish, and finish with powder polishing if you desire a shine. I hope this is helpful to you. Good luck. Randy, USA.  

A 1853: Recently, I bought a house with 3200 sq.ft of white granite floor. In general terms, the floor is in good conditions, however some areas are dull. I am the handyman type, and I was trying to gather information on the granite polishing, in order to do it myself. Information in the net is vague, tools are available, but really I need an expert advice, for example: what are the advantages of dry or wet polishing? Is it feasible to polish the floor by myself? Regards, Jose, May 14. Reply

R2: Dear Jose: The answer is NO, spelled N-O. You'd need some $4,500 worth of equipment (you can't rent it) and material. Once you have that, all you'll be able to do with it is to screw your floor up.
By far, it is not a DIYer project. Stone refinishing (especially "granite") is the very pinnacle of all stone related activities. Get a pro, it's much cheaper and, above all, sound. If you're not too far from NJ, I may be able to help you. , Maurizio, USA

R1: With granite there is not a dry procedure. Alas, I will tell you that I don't consider this a DIY project. Polishing stone takes a lot of practice and skill. Regards, Steven, USA

A 1817: Please can anyone advise how to restore this material often referred to as black marble. I have tried a slate blacking product but it merely polished off when waxed 2 days later leaving a mottled grey appearance. I have known this Ansonia clock now left to me in a will for some 45 years. It used to shine deep black when I was a lad in the 1950's, Try as I might I cannot get it to shine black with proper marble wax & plenty of "elbow grease". Any ideas please? Thanks, Peter,May 14.Reply

R1: Dear Peter: The roads to stone refinishing failure are paved with thick layers of good will and elbow-grease!! Marble (black or otherwise) is polished by abrasion and friction, like gemstone, not by applying some "special marble wax" and buffing it up! Get a professional stone refinisher. It's the only sound advice that I can give to you. , Maurizio, USA

A 1792: Need information and recommendations on using acid wash to take polish off Carrara. Emily May 14.Reply

R1: Dear Emily: Use a mild solution of water and Muriatic acid (available at any hardware store). , Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist.

A 1791: I have purchased prefabricated granite slabs for kitchen counter tops. I have cut the sink hole and routered the edges for an under-counter sink mount. We have used a wet polish from 50 grit to 8500 grit (diamond resin), but we can not match the original polish of the prefabricated granite. What should I do next? Ed, May 14.Reply

R1: Dear Ed: You have two options:
1. You get a professional. But, somehow, I don't think you're interested on this one! ...
2. You apply a color enhancer on the edge of the hole and see how it looks like.

A 1696: We have black slate on our hearth of our fireplace. It has become very dull- how can we get the black back? It's now grey and dull. Thanks, Fran, April 13. Reply

R2: Dear Fran: You need a pro to re-grind and refinish your stone. The next best thing is to keep it "dressing" it up with mineral oil (Baby oil will do fine.)  , Maurizio, USA

R1: Dear Fran, Sadly for you you can't get the black back. When the slate was new the carbon in it made it a nice dark colour. It might even have received some waxing or colour enhancing to keep it dark for a while. However, the exposure to heat has dulled the carbon particles and any applied substance has long disappeared. Live with it and consider that many architects would, at the moment, give an arm and a leg for this grey dullness. They are specifying honed black granite for all sorts of purposes and for many types of situations in lieu of a much darker polished surface. Honed black granite is great for a base in an enclosed museum showcase where it doesn't get touched and where there are no maintenance requirements. Have you ever wondered why black marble is not commonly used in a fireplace hearth or why polished black marble is rarely used on the exterior of buildings. They go dull! (Dr. Hans), Australia

A 1650: Please advice on how to re-polish marble floor in my kitchen. Erika, April 4. Reply  

R1: Dear Erika: Get a pro. No DIYer can do that. , Maurizio, USA

A 1604: Can stone floors be polished? If so, what kind of polish should be used and how do you avoid creating a slippery surface by polishing? Karen, March 28. Reply

R2: Dear Karen: Only certain stones can be polished, i.e. marble, granite, certain limestone, travertine, onyx, serpentine, ophicalcite, etc. Certain other stones, such as most limestone, sandstone, slate, etc. don't have the type of crystallization that's necessary to bring a polish out of them. Polishing stone is a craft very difficult to implement and hard do learn. Stone is polished by abrasion and friction (like gemstone), not by applying some sort of finish onto its surface and then buffing it up. There is no such a thing like "HOW TO POLISH STONE." Not only do geologically different stones need different techniques, but even among stones of the same geological classification, there are often huge differences of application. That is the very reason why stone refinishing represents the very pinnacle of all stone related activites, because it's the one that requires the utmost professionalism and in-depth knowledge of stone. Hence the high rates applied by good professionals! 
I don't know the real scope of your question, but if you were thinking about polishing you marble floor yourself, just forget about it! You can't even rent the necessary equipment and materials, let alone knowing what to do with them! , Maurizio, USA  

R1: The phrase "polished" in the stone industry is not the same as it is in say furniture. It is simply sanding the surface of the stone until maximum gloss, color, clarity, and smoothness is achieved. The addition of impregnators and other topical applications increases slip resistance.
Regards, Steven, USA  

A 1515: I wanted to know if you have any polishes to polish scratches out of cultured marble. Thank you. Mike, March 11, Reply

R2: It is not difficult to get small to medium scratches out of cultured marble vanity tops. As far as finding the proper compounds, look to your local automotive store, and use car paint buffing compound. It is very similar to that used by (us) cultured marble manufacturers and should work nicely for you. The "buffing" can be done with an automotive type power buffer, following the directions on the compound. There should not be need for you to replace your top due to some scratches. Good luck. Bill, USA

R1: There is no such animal available - New Top is the only solution. Try Granite this time. Rebecca, USA, Reply  

A 1496: Could you tell me of a reputable refinisher that deals with marble floors? Have an extensive floor that needs refinishing. The floor was originally laid some 30 years ago and is losing its lustre. I am in the Sydney area. Joseph, March 4, Reply

R2: The best thing to do is to repolish the marble floor. I think you will have in Sydney a specialised company. After repolishing, you need a good maintenance to keep the floor in condition. Tiledoc

R1: My husband can cut and polish your floor to restore the finish. He is Greek and it does take a special touch and skill to do this. We are in Florida. We do travel. Rebecca. USA 

A 1473: I am doing high-relief carving with slate and am having difficulty getting a high shine or lustre on the surface when polishing. Can you give me any tips or tricks to achieve a very glossy finish? Gerben, USA, Feb 25 Reply

R1: Gerben. Having never tried to polish a piece of slate, I'M not sure if it is even possible. The material itself may be what is preventing a polish from coming up. The best you might be able to do is use a color enhancing sealer on the stone once you have gotten it as smooth as you can. I'm referring to a sealer that will give a "wet look". And please test a scrap piece, or a hidden surface first before applying anything to a piece of sculpture that you have invested so much time in. Good luck, JVC, USA

Thank you for your kind response, we did not take picture of this problem, flak & blister, we get to see quite often in our tropical setting. The marble tiles came from Turkey, it's yellowish brown with many crack & fissures on its surface, the floor looks good for the 1st 2nd months after polishing, we do not have the names of the tiles as the supplier and owner is ganging up against the polisher, which they claim causes the defect. Thanking you, Best regards, Lee. March 8

A 1460: Gentlemen, trying to find a solution to my problem (repolishing some old marble  stairs and entrance floor) I happened to find your page and enjoyed very much your instructions to some of the questions sent to you.
My problem is that these marble surfaces I described above are very good, as far as mechanical abuse is concerned (no cracks, not pitted or otherwise scratched or broken), they are very smooth but, probably years of cleaning with not- so- right cleaning agents has made them, dull with no shine. The older one is White Pentelis and the more recent, Ajax.
I have heard that I could use oxalic acid to further clean and vitrify the marble but I don't know exactly how. I don't know how strong I can make the solution or if I have to use the oxalic powder "as is". I have a floor polisher that I can equip with buffing pads and a smaller one for the steps, so as means of doing the job, I believe they, are adequate. What I don't know is how to mix the oxalic acid, how to apply it and if the acid is the right way to achieve what I am trying to do.
The marble in question is, mostly white, some with greyish and/or brownish veining. We live in Greece and you understand that marble is a very common building material. The problem is that professionals here use grinding machines with oxalic stones and the process is very long and tedious and, because of that, too expensive. 
Alexander, Greece, Feb 21. Reply

R2: Hello, It sounds as though you have a surface that is showing a genuine mature patina, it may be useful to ask a few people if they feel it needs to be 'improved' before you do anything. If you really feel it needs a little smartening up, please don't use any oxalic acid, there is a good chance it will end up duller than it is already. 
Check with your local polishers, I think you will find they are using something else after the oxalic blocks that brings out the shine.
If you are really not able to have the area repolished correctly and by a experienced craftsperson, it might be wiser for the time being to:
Once or twice a year.
Clean the area with warm water and a little mild PH neutral soap. Rinse well and dry thoroughly. Apply a light coat of thin clear furniture wax. Whilst this is not a long term answer, it will cause no lasting harm to the surface. Roy, U.K.

R1: First I am not a refinishing professional. However I believe that the use of oxalic acid is used when stains need to be removed. This is not the case here. It is my experience that you do not want to chemically crystallize the stone. The way it should be processed is to use polishing pads and water to refinish the stairs. This is the way I would do it based on your description. In other words, use friction and the right abrasives. You may finish the process with some polishing powder and a felt pad. But I don't ever use acid to polish. Regards, Steven, USA

Dear Roy, I read your answer to my problem and thank you very much for your advice.
Yes, the area has to be improved, at least a good deep cleaning, and then some kind of vitrification to make the surface smoother and harder to the use of commercial cleaners.
We are talking of an area larger than 10m square and I am happy to undertake the task of doing the initial work but cannot do the cleaning the family likes to have, three times a week.
I agree with you that the best way to keep marble clean and beautiful is by the use of mild soap (green, made from olive oil) still plenty to be found in Greece, warm water and lots of elbow grease, but no cleaning crew will do it that way for a reasonable price.
If you can give me what do you consider as the best polishing abrasive and pads, I will be happy to do the initial job, since I love to work with things alive and I consider wood and stone alive.
I like your idea of the clear furniture wax and I will try to see where I can find some in liquid form, If I was still in Canada, I would know where to go and what to get but Greece is so difficult for me, yet I believe that in areas of heavy traffic with lots of dirt coming from outside it will not last too long. Alexander, Greece

Dear Steven, Being an expert you definitely know more about marble than I will ever do, yet when first faced with the problem and tried using the WEB to find a solution, that was before finding Findstone, I came across many references of oxalic acid used to vitrify Marble. You must have come across the same references in your everyday contact with similar problems.
In my case, I believe, years of cleaning with commercial products and use of chlorine to make the marble look more white, I blame my wife mostly for that since she was pestering the cleaners that the entrance and stairs were never clean enough, have made that beautiful marble lose its smoothness and shine by erosion of the lime which makes the majority of the elements contained in it. This is why I thought of some kind of regeneration of the whole thing and started asking around for what should be done. Since the area is quite large, over 100 sqm including the steps, the professional charges are prohibitive and since I have a lot of time in my hands, as recently retired Nortel engineer, and a love of doing things myself, especially in matters I consider alive, such as wood and stone, I decided to undertake the task myself.
I do believe that after, somehow, deep cleaning the marble I will have to repolish it and vitrify it, in order to make it, some, impervious to commercial cleaners since I do not like to clean myself all that area three times a week.
I know that the best way to keep natural stone clean is mild soap (green, made from olive oil), warm water and lots of elbow grease but who has the time and the stamina to do that for all that area.
To cut my diatribe short, it is already too long, I will ask you:
What do you consider "right abrasive"? 
What do you consider as good polishing powder? and 
What kind of polishing, buffing pads are the best for this job? Alexander, Greece

A 1440: I have a recent job at a hotel to relift / repolish the shine in the absolute black granite floor. I've tried different sealers and methods and can't seem to "LIFT" the color back to the surface. After the buffing, there appears to be a dull black to gray tint to the floor. If possible, I would like to know your techniques for restoration and polishing of absolute black granite. Feb 12. Reply 

R2: We are manufacturers of polishing powder having new product specifically for black granite, a powder and a liquid used with steel wool pads. Try it out otherwise you need a solvent based wax (not acrylic) to bring out the color. Good luck! 

R1: Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you have made an assumption (often made) that stone is polished with something from a bottle. Granite in particular is difficult to obtain a good deep color, Absolute Black is also one of the most difficult to obtain a consistent rich depth of color due to it's fine grain being very unforgiving. Before the where first laid the granite would have been polished in huge polishing machines using many grades of grinding going through the grades usually at least eight until the final natural shine appears. Miss a grade or move to a finer grade to quickly and these micro scratches will catch up with you later and you will never achieve a good shine. Yes there are chemical polishers out there generally frowned upon by purists (myself included) but they will only generally work to any degree all scratching is removed. Trouble is the unenviable position where you are now. You have limited choices, you can call in a professional polisher which as you will expect is going to be an expensive affair but obviously the best results. You could attempt it yourself but the more I do it the more I realise that there is an art to polishing stone and I am almost convinced you will curse the day you attempted it. You can always do a botch and use floor polish. Although not advocating this method, if you do need a cheap and cheerful method, then don't use high build floor polish as it will dry cloudy as it has a high solid content. Best results are achieved by using the wateryest one you can find, put it on as thin as possible and in many many layers buff with a floor polisher using what janitors over here call 'maintainer' and with a bit of luck, you will have a reasonable result. It will however be dependent on constant buffing and will periodically need to be restripped and re done, unlike the genuine article which should last many years. I hope this helps Bryan UK

A 1414: I am interested in manufacturing of grinding and polishing abrasives (stones) synthetic and magnesite bond for marble and granite. Raw materials including polishing materials and its manufacturing process. Rakesh. Feb 7. Reply

A 1371: We just built a house in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. The granite countertops were installed improperly which resulted in significant 1-2mm ridges wherever two pieces intersected. To rectify this problem the contractor used a grinder to grind the joints. This left us without the bumpy ridges, but also without the nice gloss that the rest of the countertop has. Very ugly. Unfortunately, there are no granite experts on the island so I'm hoping that we can find a solution on this page. Can the gloss be restored just by buffing it? High grit sandpaper? If special materials are required I can have them shipped to the island, but we will have to rely on non-skilled labor to do the work. Allan, Jan 25. Reply

R1: Sorry, just forget about it. Only few and far between professional stone refinishers know how to polish a granite surface. It is not just a question of technical means (diamond pads, polishing powder and the right machine), but, most importantly, how to use them. Call back the contractor and have him either re-polish the granite (that he obviously doesn't know how), or replace the whole thing. If not, have your lawyer handle it. You don't have to accept such an inferior workmanship, Maurizio, USA

A 1366: Could you please explain a little more about color enhancer and marble wax for granite tile edges? We had not heard that was a viable alternative and are not in an area where there are any granite specialists. We have a lot of granite for use in our mountain home and have resisted installing it if we could not make the edging look good. Margaret, Jan 23, Reply

R3: Hello Margaret, If you are going to install granite in your home it could be both good and bad. The good part is that it's a hard stone, and durable. The bad part is that it's very expensive to prefabricate. You asked about how to make your edges look good, well your edges should be bull-nosed or rounded and diamond polished and then final polished, prior to the installation. Marble wax is just a temporary fix. F. D., USA 

R2: A color enhancer or a wax are both high molecular weight complex polymers which have a very long evaporation time. Application of these on the edges give them a wet  look and they appear polished. Regards Arun, India

R1: Dear Margaret: I don't think there's a whole lot of explaining to do. A good-quality stone color enhancer applied to the edges of a stone tile (granite or otherwise) will make the edge permanently as dark as the polished surface of such tile. If, after proper curing (48 hours) you will apply a wax onto it and buff it, it will give you some sort of sheen. Ciao, Maurizio, USA

Thank you. We will try it on a couple tiles and report back on the result. Might have a snazzy mountain house after all! Margaret

A 1164: I own a small cleaning chemical producing company and at the moment I am trying to develop a granite polishing compound to restore fine scratches on granite tiles. Since granite is a very hard rock, can you help me with information what kind of substance may polish this stone and what would be the best mesh grade to bring up the shine again?, Luty, Indonesia, Oct 31. Reply

R1: They are already out there. Wait for Maurizio's answer I bet it will succinctly tell you how to get it. Most granites need to be mechanically ground properly to get a good shine. Steven, USA  

A 1111: Can you tell me about the chemistry involved in the recrystallization process of marble polishing? Thank you very much! USA, Sept 24, Reply
R2: For starters, "Recrystallization process of marble polishing" as you say it, is an oxymoron. In fact, there's no actual polishing of the stone with the "Recrystallization"process. It's just a plain make-believe. The chemistry involved varies greatly, since there are several formulae out there, which, of course, will provide different chemical reactions and, consequently, different results. The "crystallization" process for maintenance of marble floor came along when the owners of the buildings with brand-new marble floosr got to realize that the maintenance of those "weird things" was way beyond the know-how of janitorial crews. It turned out, that marble refinishing is the very pinnacle of all the stone-related activities, since it's the only one that
demands the indepth knowledge of the different marbles, and how to deal with each one of them. It doesn't take a stone man to import hundreds of container a year, it only takes a merchant. It doesn't take a stone man to install tiles finished in some mysterious way, in some far away factory. It's not so much different from installing ceramic tiles. But when it comes to treat the stone, it takes a doctor. Building owners could not accept that. The general perception is that the activity of maintenance ranks at the very bottom of the food chain, therefore "it's gotta be cheap". What the heck did they know (or care to know) that different marbles call for different treatments? Besides, the whole thing was probably in the hands of some high-school dropout who just so happened to be in charge of maintenance of a certain building with marble in it. Therefore, the lowest bidder was the one to get the job. It was a tremendous business opportunity that did not go unnoticed by the
salesmen. "There's gotta be an easy way!" And a way that the salesmen concluded (from the heights of their in-depth stone knowledge) was easy they found. They packaged it, and off they went touting all the different concoctions their chemists came up with like "the-miracle-in-a-bottle", "the-easy-way-to-maintain-marble-that-even-an-idiot-can-do". Unfortunately, it turned out that there's no room for idiots. The general idea of "crystallization" is to use a strong acid (typically -- but not necessarily -- Hydrofluoric acid) to destroy the crystals (some crystallization!) of Calcium Carbonate in the stone and substitute them with some sort of chemical compound that would make the wax in the formula stick and give some sort of shine to the whole thing. I could be much more technical, but I don't want to be boring. With certain marbles -- that can take such a horrible chemical attack -- the process "looks" good enough to get the owner of the marble sign the check.
With certain other marbles -- that can't take that stuff -- trouble began to surface. What to do? Find a "better" formula of the same stuff, of course! What the heck do you expect from a salesman? Life's a bitch, ain't it! Damn, there's no substitute for professionalism! Ciao, Maurizio, USA,

R1: I've polished a few marble pieces over the years, and as far as I know, there is no chemistry involved.  Polishing is a mechanical process involving elbow grease. Each successive sanding grit removes the surface scratches of the previous grit, and leaves a finer scratched surface. After no. 400 grit, the scratching cannot be seen with the naked eye, after no. 900 grit the polished surface starts to appear. After 1800grit it begins to glow, and at no. 3500 grit, it is as smooth and lustrous as glass. The trick to getting a well-polished surface is to spend enough time with the coarser grits to close the surface, and remove all the pitting and bruising created in the carving process.  Of course, one can always use chemicals like oxalic acid, which dissolves the calcite, and lets it flow a bit, to help with the process, but in my experience, the best surface is the result of my diligence and effort. Good luck, JVC.

A 1020: Please give me info on how to polish the granite tiles for residential use. Shahida, USA. June 24 reply

R1: Dear Shahida: Are you a professional stone refinisher, or just a home-owner? If you're the latter, the only advice I can give you is to get hold of a good professional stone refinisher. Polishing stone is way beyond the ability of any handy-man. Maurizio, USA  

A 973: I have installed a Travertine Tile that has a honed surface. Where there were high edges or lipage, the installer ground down the surface removing the finish. I now need to have the surface re-honed. I am trying to find out what products do this and if I can tackle this project myself. I do have some experience with installation and repair. I however have never used Travertine before. Thank you, Jim, USA, April 24. Reply

R1: Dear Jim: Travertine -- much like marble, granite, etc. -- is not polished by coating it with something, and then buffing it up. Rather it's polished by abrasion and friction, like gemstone. I know what you're thinking, you're not interested in a polished finish, all the phases of the process after the grinding and prior to the final polishing are defined as "honing". All honed finishes are obtained by abrasion and friction. You can have a "low hone" finish: a scratch-free and smooth surface with no reflection whatsoever. If you keep going through the grits of the abrasive elements (typically -- but not necessarily -- resin-bond diamond pads to be operated in the constant presence of water), you're going to get a "medium hone", kind of a satin finish, that gives you reflection as you observe the surface of the stone at a low angle. You then have a "high hone", which is almost a polish. Usually the hone finish delivered by the factory for travertine tiles is a "medium hone". You won't be able to rent a floor machine suitable for the job, nor the proper attachments and grinding / honing elements. Your only hope to do it yourself is to be friend of a professional marble refinisher who's going to lend you his equipment. Keep also in mind that whoever ground those travertine tiles must have removed a good percentage of the filler applied by the factory, therefore those tiles are now full of holes that need to be refilled. The best time to do that is after the first "hone cut", which is the one designed to remove the heavy scratch patterns left behind by the grinding action.  By the way, I'm wondering how on earth the tile setter ever ground those tiles. I mean, the first cut (grinding) is one of the two phases of the whole process (the other one being the polishing), where you separate the champs from the chomps. If the grinding is not done properly, when the project is finished (at whatever finish level) you will notice waving all over the floor. Good luck, Maurizio, USA  

A 957: Can you tell me how to polish the un-polished edges of granite tiles. I installed granite tiles as a kitchen counter top and would like to know how to polish the exposed edges.  Thank you. Richard, USA, April 10. Reply

R1: Dear Richard: You need a variable speed, water-fed right angle grinder with a small water-pump to feed it, a 4" or 5" "Velcro" backed attachment, and several grits (from 50 grit to 3,500) of resin-bond diamond pads (4" or 5" diameter). You then need to mask with plastic sheets the whole room, ie.floor, walls and ceiling. That's it. Oh, I almost forgot, knowing what you're doing would help, too! That is the right way to actually polish those edges. If you feel uncomfortable with the procedure above, you can try treating the
edges of those tiles with some good-quality color enhancer, followed by a couple of coating of wax for marble. It won't be an actual polishing, but the final visual result will be pretty darn good. Maurizio, USA

A 953: I recently picked up this nice piece of onyx that has a surface area of around 2-3 square feet.  The one-side has been finished cut and I'd like to make a table top out of it, but it needs some polishing to bring out the color.  Any Suggestions, I'd like to try this myself! Steve, USA, April 4. Reply

R1: Dear Steve: The equipment and materials that you need are the following:
1.  A variable speed right-angle grinder / polisher.
2.  A 4" or 5" diameter "Velcro"-backed pad-holder.
3.  Several grits of resin-bond diamond pads (probably from 50 grit to 800 grit)
4.  A white nylon pad (4" or 5" diameter, to fit the pad-holder mentioned above)
5.  Some good-quality polishing powder for marble (with a low content of acid. Not any less than 5 to 4 pH)
6.  An empty spray bottle.
7.  Some tap water to be put into the empty spray bottle.
8.  Having a clue about what you're doing. Maurizio, USA