Natural Stone - Maintenance

Purchasing natural stone is an investment in lasting beauty that will give you many years of wear. Below are a few tips on how to properly care for your natural stone and help extend its life and beauty. It is highly recommended that a maintenance professional be consulted if there is any doubt about whether or not a specific method or product is safe and effective.

Granite

  • Hardness: Hard
  • Absorption: Varies - Oil, Water
  • Limitations: Absorbs oils and other liquids, brittle
  • Sealer: Sub-surface repellents - oil repellent type recommended
  • Cleaner: Neutral pH detergent or pure soap
  • Finish: None normally, wax recommended

Granite is the least susceptible of any product to scratches. It is the second hardest natural substance next to diamond and holds its luster forever. Polished granite usually is more absorbent to liquids than many people suppose. We seal the granite prior to installation. Following that, you should seal the stone after six months and again a year after installation. After the one year anniversary granite should be sealed once a year. Granite is completely impervious to heat. Unlike synthetics that can be easily damaged from a hot pot or pan, you can place any scorching hot or icy cold item directly on the stone without a worry.

Marble

  • Hardness: Soft
  • Absorption: Oil, Water
  • Limitations: Absorbs oils and other liquids, easily scratched, acid sensitive
  • Sealer: Penetrating type siloxane or fluoropolymer
  • Cleaner: Natural soap or neutral pH detergent
  • Finish: Polished - liquid, paste wax

Polished marble is ideal for vertical application but requires a high level of maintenance when used as flooring especially in high traffic situations. Non-reflective finishes perform well as flooring with minimal maintenance once treated with recommended sealers. Marble isn’t quite as worry-free as granite. It has softer less stain resistant surface and it should be treated like a fine piece of wood. Use coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices. Do not place hot items directly on the stone surface. Place mats under china, ceramics, silver or other objects that can scratch the surface. With proper care marble beauty will last for generations.

Limestone

  • Hardness: Soft
  • Absorption: Oil, Water
  • Limitations: Absorbs oils and other liquids, easily scratched, acid sensitive, polished-interior use only
  • Sealer: Penetrating type siloxane or fluoropolymer
  • Cleaner: Natural soap or neutral pH detergent
  • Finish: Polished - liquid, paste wax

Most true limestone types are porous and absorbent. Some limestone is semi-metamorphic and will have physical properties similar to metamorphic marble. If the limestone is metamorphic it is "Marble". For our purposes here, Limestone is the chalky porous type typical of most French and Spanish limestone. Non-reflective finishes are practical as flooring but require sealing to minimize stains. Dense, low absorbent varieties of limestone can be suitable in shower areas but beware of using too soft a limestone in high stress areas. Sealing is normally recommended for both interior and exterior locations.

Slate

  • Hardness: Soft - easily scratched
  • Absorption: Low - medium oil, water other liquids
  • Limitations: Absorbs oils/ liquids
  • Sealer: Sub-surface repellents oil repellent type recommended
  • Cleaner: Neutral pH detergent or pure soap
  • Finish: Acrylic/wax recommended

Cleft slate is very durable in most situations but quality varies. Slate is typically rustic in appearance but some milled or smooth products are available in some varieties. Wear is typically taken on the peaks or high spots of the textured surface. Acrylics are used when a highly reflective finish is desired. Excellent exterior paving stone. Higher absorbency varieties may not be suitable for exterior areas in freezing climates.

Slate characteristics vary with source. Domestic is typically black, green or mottled (Pennsylvania) and is relatively dense. Many imported slates are available today with wide ranging physical characteristics and overall suitability. Evaluate your stone for density, tensile strength, absorbency and abrasion resistance. Make sure your slate characteristics are compatible with the intended function.

Natural Stone - Cleaning

Natural stone is easier to maintain than you’d expect. Warm water and soft cloth clean up most spills on both surfaces.

Dust mop interior floors frequently using a clean non-treated dry dust mop. Sand, dirt and grit do the most damage to natural stone surfaces due to their abrasiveness. Entry floors require walk off mats that will cover two adult steps. Remember to shake or wash off the matt frequently to remove the accumulated dirt. Be aware that rugs with rubber backs can leave marks in your stone requiring costly restoration to remove.

Clean your natural stone on a regular basis with neutral cleaner, stone soap or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water. Use a clean rag mop on floors and a soft cloth for other surfaces for best results. Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on marble or limestone. Rinse the surface thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth. Change the rinse water frequently. Do not use scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface.

Some stone cleaners have a petroleum or animal fat base which may alter the appearance of your stone. Petroleum (or oils such as animal fat) can darken natural stone and leave a residue which over time can building up and turn yellow. This buildup is usually difficult to remove. Be sure to use a cleaner which does not have a petroleum or oil base and contains chemicals that will be safe on the finish of your natural stone floor or countertop.