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Caring for and Maintaining Natural Stone

Read below for helpful, step-by-step instructions on how to best care for Daltile Natural Stone.

natural stone backsplash

Routine Care

To ensure your natural stone products will provide you with a lifetime of aesthetics and utility, a proper maintenance program is crucial. Natural Stone products are porous by nature and require a different maintenance program than traditional ceramic tile.

Natural stone requires a different maintenance routine than traditional, man-made ceramic tile. Many of the cleaners acceptable for use on ceramic tile can stain, damage or dull stone. Dirt and dust will scratch the surface of stone. Therefore, stone floors should be vacuumed or dust mopped frequently to remove abrasive agents from the stone surface. Natural stone should be cleaned with neutral cleaners. Stone cleaners should never contain acid or bleach. Acids, even a light solution of vinegar and water, will etch and eventually damage natural stone.

 Stone Cleaners:

 Only use cleaners specifically designed for cleaning stone. These cleaners contain no acids and are concentrated neutral pH cleaners that will not affect existing sealers or wax-type coatings. The surface of the stone should be dampened with clear water. This will keep the cleaning solution on the surface so it can be effective. A solution of the cleaner and water mixed to manufacturer instructions should be applied to the stone surface with a sponge or mop. On walls, kitchen counters or vanity tops, a spray bottle can be used to apply the cleaning solution. Allow the solution to sit for manufacturer’s specified amount of time (usually 3 to 5 minutes). Agitate with a sponge, synthetic mop, soft bristle brush or through the use of a floor-scrubbing machine. Mop up dirty solution and buff dry.

Once the stone has been cleaned, you can periodically apply a Spray-Buff wax-type floor finish to enhance the beauty and luster of polished stone (including countertops). Apply the finish with a spray applicator and buff immediately with a white nylon pad. Reapply as often as needed, depending on volume of surface traffic and consistency of routine maintenance program. This product is not designed to restore the original shine, but is intended to maintain and protect the original shine. This can be purchased from most Home Centers or through your local Professional Floor Covering Dealer.

 Heavy-Duty Stone Cleaning:

 When some areas have been neglected, you will need to use a heavy-duty non-hazardous and non-polluting stone cleaner and degreaser to effectively remove dirt, grease, grime, waxes and floor finishes. An optimal heavy-duty cleaner should contain low percentages of volatile organic compounds. These cleaning products are concentrated and designed to deep clean the stone without damaging it. Apply the solution of the cleaner and water mixed to manufacturer instructions to the stone surface with a sponge or mop. Allow setting for manufacturer-specified amount of time. Agitate with a sponge, synthetic mop, and soft bristle brush or through the use of a floor-scrubbing machine. Mop up dirty solution and buff dry. Be sure to change out the cleaning solution every 100 square feet to avoid reintroducing dirty water during the cleaning process. Rinse thoroughly with clean water when finished. After cleaning you may apply the Spray-Buff wax-type floor finish to enhance the natural shine.

 Stain Removal:

 Stone poultice will remove stains and grout haze from stone. Poultice is a fine, nonacidic, absorptive clay cleaning powder that removes deep-set oil stains, grease and light cementitious grout haze from polished and unpolished natural stone.

 CAUTION: Poultice may dull the shine of the polished stone. If this occurs you will need to use a marble polish to restore the natural shine.

Restoration:

If a marble finish has become dull, scratched or etched, you can restore the natural shine through the use of a marble polish. Some marble polishes are available in kits. The process can be enhanced with the use of floor buffing machines. The process is generally a re-crystallization process to remove fine scratches and restore the original shine and polish to the stone. This is not an application of a topical sealer or wax to cover-up damaged or worn surfaces.

natural stone mosaic

New Installation

Sealing is strongly recommended for newly installed marble and other natural stone to provide maximum below surface stain protection. Consult your Professional Floor Covering Dealer or Home Center Store to ensure that you select a high-quality sealer to protect your natural stone. Immediately after natural stone has been installed and grouted, the new installation should be covered with brown paper to protect it from debris during the remaining construction process. The protective brown paper should remain in place until construction is completed and the area is opened to intended (post-construction) use.

 Pre-grout Sealing:

 A non-sanded grout is strongly recommended for natural stone installations due to the narrow grout joints customarily preferred. This type of grout has very fine particles of cement, polymers and color pigments that can penetrate the microscopic pores of the stone surface where they become trapped and appear as a stain in the stone. Therefore, all travertine, slate, tumbled stone and honed/flamed/unpolished granite should be sealed prior to the grouting process to protect them from staining. The application of a good-quality sealer should be used as a grout sealer and applied again as the final sealing process once the installation is finished.

 Sealing:

 A premium natural look penetrating/impregnating sealer is the normal choice on polished or honed marble, limestone, granite or where the natural color of a slate is desired. A stone enhancer sealer is often used on tumbled, antique stones or on slate where a darker, enriched or highlighted character is desired. When choosing either one of these types of sealers, make sure the brand you have chosen is formulated to provide maximum stain protection for stone products. Stone products should be tested periodically per manufacturer's instructions to ensure that the sealer is working effectively.

Penetrating/impregnating stone sealers are a no-sheen, natural-look sealer that can be water-based or solvent-based, good for interior and exterior applications. Most quality sealers of this type are rated to protect the stone for several years.

Stone enhancer sealers are also a no-sheen, penetrating/impregnating sealer that is formulated to darken, enrich and highlight the natural color and beauty of stone products. They will rejuvenate and improve the appearance of worn and weathered stone. Always test loose pieces of stone to ensure desired effect with enhancing sealers. However, they will also darken the color of grout joints. They are, generally, suitable for interior and exterior use, and rated to protect the stone for several years.

Always reference manufacturer's literature for specific information on the duration of the sealer's protection and make sure that the sealer is applied in strict accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

stone countertop

Finishing

A stone floor finish should be applied to a polished natural stone floor only. This type of product will help enhance the shine and provide a protective coating for "soft" or polished marbles. Verify the finish is a wax-type finish designed to add luster and enhance the beauty of sealed and polished natural stone only. A topical finish may change the appearance and performance of your stone, so always test a small area first. Application of topical sealer or wax should never be done as an attempt to add a shine to a honed, scratched or non-polished stone product. This will only create maintenance and/or slip resistance problems.

Disclaimer

Daltile does not manufacture installation products or tile cleaning/maintenance products. Daltile provides the information contained herein to its customers as an information source only. The products identified in this website may have chemicals that cause reactions in certain individuals. Daltile strongly recommends the use of safety glasses, respirators (masks) and gloves in handling any materials that contain chemicals.

Daltile, in keeping with its Healthy Planet objectives, recommends the proper disposal of any scrap tile/stone, installation and/or maintenance products discussed herein.

Please contact the manufacturer directly, PRIOR to usage, to obtain proper handling instructions, application instructions and warnings concerning potential health hazards for any product contemplated for use. Daltile also strongly recommends that you ALWAYS test a small area PRIOR to usage of any installation/tile/cleaning/maintenance product to determine whether the product you are about to apply serves its intended purpose.

Natural stone has its own unique qualities that not only distinguish it from man-made materials, but also should be considered in selecting it for a particular project. Stone is not manufactured; it is a product of nature. Blocks are removed from the quarry, slabs are cut from these blocks, and the slabs are further fabricated into the final stone to be installed. Each block is different; each slab is different. Skillful blending or matching of the dimension stone blocks, veneer panels, tops, etc., results in a beautiful blending of nature’s variety and man’s design. “Uniformity of material,” when applied to natural stone, is a term of relative value that needs to be understood when making a selection.

To ensure your Natural Stone products will provide you with a lifetime of aesthetics and utility, proper maintenance is crucial. Natural Stone products are porous by nature and require a different maintenance program than traditional ceramic tile.

 

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