Natural stone is a beautiful and impressive flooring feature which can dramatically elevate the sophistication of an environment. A porous material, it requires a certain amount of regular maintenance in order to preserve its look and function. At the same time you have to use caution with some cleaning procedures when dealing with various types of stone. However, if properly cared for an installation can last for decades.
Liquids: The toughest challenge facing natural stone flooring is the fact that this material is porous, and contains thousands of tiny invisible holes in its surface. These can be an immediate pathway for liquids and water based staining agents to seep down into the tile, discoloring it dimensionally, or causing the growth of mold and mildew.
The solution is to use two types of chemical sealant to protect your floors against water and stains. The first is a below surface treatment that will seep down into the pores of the stone, clogging them so that moisture can’t get in. The second is an above surface barrier application that will create an invisible layer over the installation. However these will wear and fade over time, requiring them to be re-applied every 6-12 months depending on the level of use.
Stains: All natural stone materials are a chemical base on the alkalinity scale. That means that when they come in contact with an acid, a reaction will occur in the form of a nasty, permanent stain. Unfortunately acidic sauces and juices are very common in kitchens, bathrooms, and public eating areas such as restaurants. The regular application of a barrier sealer can help with this problem to some extent.
Scratches: Born in the belly of mountains, natural stone flooring materials are tough, durable, and resistant to damage. However the surface can be prone to scratches when direct physical pressure is applied. This is particularly true of polished tiles such as marble and onyx, and is less noticeable and pervasive in natural cleft stone finishes. Multicolored stones also tend to hide damage marks better.
Natural Stone Tile Cleaning Instructions
Cleansers: It is important to avoid acid based cleansers or substances when washing a natural stone tile floor of any kind. These will cause a chemical reaction which will result in permanent discoloration. The best options are certified stone cleaning products, and PH neutral substances which are cut with a percentage of water. Avoid vinegar, bleach, ammonia, lemon, or any citrus based solutions. The use of regular soap can also lead to the buildup of soap scum over time.
Brushes: The fact that stone can scratch means that you can not use any harsh, abrasive tools to clean its surface. Steel wool, brillo pads, and mops with rigid threads can all do damage to the floor’s surface.