Mar 18 2017

A Stone Pro Answers Your Questions

By Joe Sykes, Jr. for The Island Connection


The natural stone you have in your home is an investment which will give you many years of beautiful service. It is not uncommon to find many different stones in todays’ homes on the floor, countertops, fireplace, and outdoors. The stones may be granite, marble, travertine, quartz, terrazzo, to list only a few, but each require certain amounts of maintenance to protect the beauty. Here are a few essential care tips for maintaining your natural stones.

Q: What are some of the most common mistakes made by homeowners in taking care of their natural stone?

A: Some owners don’t recognize the need to protect their investments. Most natural stone is porous, which means it can absorb staining agents in spilled liquids, dropped food and other substances. To protect against staining, most natural stone countertops should be properly cleaned and sealed. Depending on use and type of stone, resealing is recommended every two to three years.

Q: How would I know if my countertops need to be sealed?

A: Pour a bit of water on the most used areas and let it sit for several minutes before wiping it away. If the area where the water was left a dark spot , this is an indication that the stone absorbed the water, and sealing is needed.

Q: Can cleaning and sealing be done by the homeowner, or does it require a professional?

A: This can be done by the homeowner, but caution is advised. Be sure you don’t have a stain in your natural stone. You don’t wish to seal in stains. Also, be sure to select the best products and follow the directions carefully. For routine cleaning, (no etching, stains, scratches, etc.), use a pH neutral cleaner specifically designated safe for natural stone. Many of these products for treating/protecting your stones can be found in home improvement centers, but we recommend that some of the more effective products and directions are best found with those who specialize in the business.

Q: What are some general guides of Do’s and Don’ts—natural stone

A: Do dust mop floors frequently. Do clean surfaces with mild detergent or stone soap. Do thoroughly rinse and dry the surface with clean, clear water after washing. Do blot up spills immediately.

Do protect floor surfaces with non-slip mats or area rugs, and countertops surfaces with coasters, trivets, or placemats. Don’t use vinegar, lemon juice, or other cleaners containing acids on marble, limestone, travertine, or onyx surfaces. Don’t use cleaners that contain acid such as bathroom cleaners, grout cleaners, or tub & tile cleaners. Using glass cleaner can be even worse, as it may eventually dull the polish. Don’t use abrasive cleaners. Don’t mix chemicals together unless directions specifically instruct you to do so.

Q: What is the best way to clean and protect the grout in the shower and other areas in the home?

A: There are many grout cleaners available, but it is suggested you acquire a cleaner from a firm which specializes in the restoration/maintenance of natural stones. Sealing is very important to this process as today’s products will last for many years.

Unfortunately, grout which has not been cleaned for an extended period of time may not come completely clean even with the best product and skilled technician.

The good news is today’s technology has developed products which not only seal and protect the grout, but also allow color.

Color sealing allows the homeowner to add new color, and conceal any stain which may not have been removed.

Scrubbing is required, but be careful as not to loosen the grout. Beauty treatment, i.e. cleaning, polishing, or sealing can often be performed by the homeowners.

There are specialists available in natural stone restoration/maintenance when the homeowner doesn’t have the time or desire to engage in these activities. Over time, with all best efforts, etching, scratching, or otherwise damage will occur. This is the time to look for a qualified stone restoration maintenance service. Enjoy bringing out the rare beauty of natural stone.

Joe Sykes, Jr. is the owner of Atlantic Stone & Tile Care, 2770 Maybank Hwy. Johns Island.

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