Caring For Your Stone Installation
The natural stone your have purchased for your home or office is an investment that will give you many years of beautiful services. Stone is a natural product and simple care and maintenance will keep it looking beautiful. You will find a large selection of high-quality “stone-safe” cleaners and sealers for all stone types available on our Stone Care Products page. Here are some recommendations for routine care and cleaning.
- Use coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices. Many common foods and drinks contain acids that will etch or dull some stone surfaces.
- Do not place hot items directly on the stone surface. Use trivets or mats under hot dishes and place mats under china, ceramics, silver or other objects that can scratch the surface of some stones.
- Be sure to know what type of stone you have before using certain cleaners. Chemicals found in some common household cleaners will damage some stone surfaces.
Know Your Stone
Natural stone can be classified into two general categories according to its composition: siliceous stone and calcareous stone. Knowing the difference is critical when selecting cleaning products for your stone.
Siliceous stone is composed mainly of silica or quartz-like particles. It tends to be very durable and relatively easy to slean with mild acidic cleaning solutions.
- Types of siliceous stone include granite, slate, sandstone, quartzite, brownstone and bluestone.
Calcareous stone is composed mainly of calcium carbonate. It is sensitive to acidic cleaning products and frequently requires different cleaning procedures than siliceous stone. What may work on siliceous stone may not be suitable of calcareous surfaces.
- Types of calcareous stone include marble, travertine, limestone and onyx.
How To Tell the Difference
A simple acid sensitivity test can be performed to determine whether a stone is calcareous or siliceous. You will need about 4 oz. of a 10% solution of muriatic acid and an eyedropper. Or you can use household vinegar (5% acetic acid) and an eyedropper.
CAUTION: Muriatic acid is corrosive and is considered to be a hazardous substance. Proper head and body protection is necessary when acid is used. Always wear gloves and eye protection when working with strong acids.
Because this test may permanently etch the stone, select an out of the way area (a corner or closet) and several inches away from the mortar joint. Apply a few drops of the acid solution to the stone surface on an area about the size of a quarter. If the stone is calcareous, the acid drops will begin to bubble or fizz vigorously. If little or no reaction occurs, the stone can be considered siliceous. Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water and wipe dry. This test may not be effective if surface sealers or liquid polishes have been applied.
General Cleaning Procedures & Recommendations
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. Mats or area rugs inside and outside an entrance will help to minimize the sand, dirt and grit that will scratch the stone floor. Be sure that the underside of the mat or rug is a non-slip surface. Normally, it will take a person about eight steps on a floor surface to remove sand or dirt from the bottom of their shoes. Do not use vacuum cleaners that are worn. The metal or plastic attachments or the wheels may scratch the surface.
Clean stone surfaces with a few drops of 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. Too much cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks. Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on marble or limestone. Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with the soap solution 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.
Bath and Other Wet Areas
In the 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). Frequent or over-use of an ammonia solution may eventually dull the surface of the stone.
Vanity Top Surfaces
Vanity tops may need to have a penetrating sealer applied. Check with your installer for recommendations. A good quality marble wax or non-yellowing automobile paste wax can be applied to minimize water spotting.
Food Preparation Areas
In food preparation areas, the stone may need to have penetrating sealer applied. Check with your installer for recommendations. If a sealer is applied, be sure that it is non-toxic and safe for use on food preparation surfaces. If there is a question, check with the sealer manufacturer.
Outdoor Pool & Patio Areas
In outdoor pool, patio or hot tub areas, flush with clear water and use a mild bleach solution to remove algae or moss.
Do’s and Don’ts-
- Do dust mop floors frequently
- Do clean surfaces with mild detergent or stone soap
- Do thoroughly rinse and dry the surface after washing
- Do blot up spills immediately
- Do protect floor surfaces with non-slip mats or areas rugs and countertop surfaces with coasters, trivets or place mats
- 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
- Don’t use abrasive cleaners such as dry cleansers or soft cleansers
- Don’t mix bleach and ammonia; this combination creates a toxic and lethal gas
For a wide selection of stone maintenance products such as sealers and cleaners specifically formulated to protect your stone, visit our Stone Care Products page.
Call your professional stone supplier, installer or restoration specialist for problems that appear too difficult to treat.
We have also made a blog post about Stain Removal that we recommend reading as well.