Initially non polished or "honed" marble, granite, and limestone were used for flooring because they were an inexpensive building material that were highly durable and easy to maintain. This unpolished finish only required sweeping and mopping to keep it clean.
Through the years ,styles changed and manufacturing methods improved. More elegant and beautiful flooring was created. Highly polished stone with mirror like finishes became popular, resulting in an increased cost in both raw materials and maintenance to keep them that way. Sweeping and moping could no longer maintain these finishes. Abrasion from walking on polished floors causes the shine to go dull and only regular polishing could bring back and maintain the beauty and elegance of the stone.
To maintain your stone floor you need be familiar with standard maintenance procedure and with the specialized techniques used to polish stone floors. In this way you can build a proper maintenance program to suit your needs and keep your floor in its original condition.
The main types of stone used today in flooring are marble, granite and limestone.
Granite can have solid backgrounds with shiny specks or flecks of crystals throughout the surface and has little or no veining.
Limestone is usually consistent in color with little or no veining and usually ranges in color from gray to buff. Limestone sometimes has iron streaks ,streaks of calcite and embedded fossils as other identifying features. Limestone floors are soft and scratch easily. These can be polished by various methods but will generally not achieve a mirror like shine.
Marble usually has veins and variant colors running through it and comes in a wide range of colors. It ranges from soft to very hard and will polish well to a deep mirror like reflection.
The first step in developing a floor maintenance plan is to determine the current condition of the stone. Some common problems and recommended treatments are listed below. Our professional marble restoration company can diagnose all these and other problems . We will provide you an evaluation of what the present condition is and what is needed to bring your marble back to its original finish.
Cracks can be repaired using a suitable filler material. Very large cracks or brakes can be repair by our company. Very small hair line cracks, may not be able to be filled possibly needing replacement.
Stun marks are caused by sharp impact on the stone surface. Ladies high heeled shoes are the most common cause of stun marks. These marks are sometimes very deep into the stone surface. Most times grinding with diamond abrasives can remove or improve the area. However there are some situations that may need replacement.
Deep scratches normally can be removed by using medium to coarse grit diamond abrasives.
Etching is a dull area on a stone caused by spills of acidic products such as citrus juice, vinegar, etc. Very light etching can be honed and polished. Heavy etching needs to be restored using diamond abrasives.
Lippage or uneven tiles must be ground down with coarse grit diamond .
Chip is a condition in which a piece of stone has broken leaving a chip or hole in the face of the stone. These can be repaired by filling with a polyester, epoxy or cement based filler material colored to match the stone. The affected area must be ground with diamond abrasives , honed and polished. Replacing the stones is another, but more costly, alternative.
Staining, in most cases, can be removed by a process known as "poulticing". The appropriate poultice for the stain is prepared and placed on the stain and allowed to dry. As the poultice dries it draws the stain out of the stone. If this method doesn't work, "honing" (grinding) the surface down to a fresh layer of stone and then re-polishing may be needed to remove the stain.( some stains may not come totally out due to the depth of the stain however the stain will be lightened)
Yellowing, in white marbles, can be cause by iron present in the stone that oxidizes over time. Unfortunately since the yellowing is from the nature of the stone replacement would be recommended. More commonly yellowing is cause by ground in dirt or wax coatings that can turn yellow. This type of yellowing can be removed by stripping off the existing restoring the stone.
Daily maintenance includes, damp mopping daily . The loss of polish on stone floors is usually caused by dust, dirt, sand and other fine particles scratching the surface from foot traffic. Removing the dust and dirt from the floor can help reduce scratching of the stone. The less scratching that occurs, the less frequently polishing or restoration will be required. A good quality cotton mop works best for cleaning . Do not over wet the floor, light damp mopping is all that is needed. If grout lines start to darken scrub the grout lines well and wet vac out the debris.
Make certain that the cleaner you use has a neutral pH of seven. High alkaline or mild acidic cleaners particularly "no streak" cleaner scan dull or damage the finish. Although the cleaners may be neutral pH seven some may contain "Chelates" which dissolve or destroy calcium in the water and eliminate hard water deposits. Marble and stone contain a large amount of calcium therefore these cleaners attack the finish on stone floors.
Methods of Polishing and Restoration
Sanding with diamond abrasives is the most durable polishing method and is also the only choice for restoration. This method involves grinding the floor with commercial grade diamond abrasive pads. Successively finer pads are used to bringing out a mirror like shine.
Polishing powders can also give very effective results. In this method polishing powder is applied with a buffing machine to bring out a mirror like shine. This is choice is used for regular maintenance.
Coatings like wax and urethane are not recommended. These coatings prevent the stone from "breathing" and may yellow light colored stones. The chemicals used for stripping the coatings off can damage the floor. The best approach is to not use coatings at all.
The only sure method of polishing all forms of granite floors is by sanding with diamond abrasives and /or polishing powders. A chemical spray and buff method is available for dark colored granite. Granite is very scratch and acid resistant so the need to polish is very rare. Daily dust and damp mopping is all that is needed to maintain the finish.
Marble and Limestone
Are effectively treated by all methods . Diamond abrasives are the best choice if there are minor imperfections in the stone that need to be ground out before restoration, and if a tough durable finish is desired.
Polishing should be done regularly. Once the finish goes dull it takes three to four times longer to bring it back. The time schedule for polishing will be determined by how well the stone is cared for on a daily basis and the level of traffic on the floor.
In commercial applications, main traffic areas like lobbies and entrances should be polished frequently Low traffic areas may be polished less frequently.
Commercial sites with heavy traffic may need polishing a weekly or monthly basis. Residential floors with low traffic levels can be done on yearly or twice yearly polishing schedules.
To decide on the polishing schedule you will need. Observe how long it takes for the floor to begin to dull. The floor should then be polished. A schedule can be set up from the observed wear information. When high traffic areas may become too worn down to polish to a deep shine, the area should be restored with diamond abrasives to bring back the original clarity and depth.
Impregnators / Sealers are a good idea when getting your floor refinished. Untreated stone can easily stain. To treat these stains can be expensive. At times removing the stain may not be possible. It is essential that stone be properly protected with a good quality Impregnator /sealer to reduce the possibility of staining.
Impregnators / Sealers are very effective but do not stain proof the stone. To limit the possibility of staining , have your stone floors treated as well as clean up stains quickly. Our technicians can advise you on how often you should have a Impregnator /sealer applied.