Frequently Asked Questions
Sand/dirt/grit does the most damage to natural stone surfaces due to their abrasiveness. Therefore extensive entrance matting is extremely important to keep grit from coming onto the stone surface. Homes have the advantage of low traffic and the ability to leave shoes at the door. The stone surface should be dust mopped/vacuumed regularly, as removing grit from the floor will keep scratching to a minimum. Prompt spot cleaning of (organic and acid based) spills will minimize or eliminate stains and etches. When mopping no longer removes surface dirt from the stone, light damp mopping will be required with clean water, clean mop, and a moderate amount of a neutral PH cleaning agent.
Sealers in the stone industry are called impregnators because they impregnate the interior of the stone with finely engineered silicones and resins that go through the pores of the surface. Stone sealers do to stone what exterior wood sealers do to wood. They protect the interior of the material.
All stones need to be sealed with a penetrating sealer. Most contaminants that damage your stone are water or oil soluble. Premium silicone impregnators that reject both oil and water should be used. The premium impregnators allow you more time to blot up spills before they penetrate your stone’s surface. Never assume that your contractor or installer has sealed your stone. Always ask if it has been sealed and with what type of sealer.
Since there are currently no coatings available for stone that are harder than the stone itself, coatings will scuff and mark much more readily than stone itself. Coatings are soft and will attract dirt faster than a natural polish. Removing the dust and debris from the coated surface is much more difficult than from natural polished surface. The coating seals the stone, allowing it not to breath which causes the stone to spall. Coatings will also build up on the surface producing a plastic-like appearance that is subject to yellowing from entrapped dirt and ultraviolet rays. The removal of coatings by harsh strippers can also damage the stone.
Technically to a limited extent. Impregnators will not prevent traffic patterns or scratches, nor will they prevent etching from acidic spills. An impregnator will keep acid and other damaging liquids out of the stone but not off of the surface.
Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. If one contractor is going to polish and the other is going to grind and polish, the difference in price and results will be considerable. A competent contractor will be glad to answer questions about the process. If you are still unclear ask the contractors to justify their price. Establish a sense of trust and ability for the contractor through conversation and a sample in a representative location. Even the best contractors can make mistakes. The difference between a good and bad contractor is the willingness to correct mistakes.