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How to maintain natural stone floors

Natural stone has become a very popular choice for flooring in recent times.

Over the last 30 years, there has been an increase in technology that can produce stone in tile form. This allows easier installation by ‘tilers’ instead of being the exclusive domain of the rarer Stone Mason and the opening up of new, cheaper sources from all around the world have fuelled this growth.

Natural stone provides a practical and great looking floor covering which is easy to care for and can last a long time. Caring for them is easy but often overlooked.

By following the basic principles described below, we’ll show you how to maintain natural stone floors. Consequently, your floors should provide you with many years trouble-free service.

Eliminate Grit

Grit is the number one enemy to all hard floors. It’s the grit carried in on footwear that will abrade, scratch and wear any hard surface. There are a couple of things you can do to keep dust and grit to the minimum:

1. Place a good dust mat by the door, ideally one inside and one outside if possible.
2. Clean the dust mats regularly as they will soon be full of grit.
3. Sweep or vacuum the floor at regular intervals to keep the floor’s exposure to grit to a minimum. Using a soft ‘swiffer’ type dry mop, is a good idea – sometimes grit can become trapped beneath metal parts of a vacuum cleaner and cause scratching

Attend to isolated spillages as they occur

A seal of some kind may protect the your floor but liquid contaminants should be removed as soon as they occur. The longer they are left to on the stone (and the grout), the more likely they are to create to a stain.

Also, some contaminants may contain acidic compounds (for example, red wine or vinegar) in addition to potentially causing a stain. They can also etch the surface of some acid-sensitive materials (such as limestone and marble, and others) so speed is of the essence.

Use absorbent paper towels or similar to absorb as much of the spillage as possible. Let any remaining stain dry and then wash lightly with a neutral detergent.
Regular Washing – Routine Maintenance

For routine cleaning use a mild, neutral detergent (the use of ‘off the shelf’ high alkaline cleaners should be kept to a minimum, and avoid using bleach).

Follow the on-bottle instructions and rinse the floor well with clean water. Quite how ‘regularly’ you will need to do this will depend on the type and frequency of the traffic, some floors will require washing more frequently while others less so, but for a guide, once per week should be sufficient.

Periodic Deep Cleaning

From time to time, it may be necessary to give the floor and in particular the grout joints, an intensive or deep clean. This may be just once or twice per year, again depending on individual circumstances.

For this we would generally recommend an alkaline deep cleaner (to be effective in removing built up grease and grime).

Again, follow the instructions on the bottle paying particular attention to the dilution recommendations. The recommended ‘dwell time’ and even more so to the rinsing of the floor with clean water.

For some polished surfaces, like marble, it can be a good idea to polish the floor dry with a towel to prevent watermarks.

Periodic re-sealing

If your floor was sealed during installation, then depending on the situation and the type of sealer used, it will from time to time, require re-application.

You can test the integrity of your sealer occasionally by conducting a water test – drop some clean water onto the stone and let it sit for a few moments, then wipe dry.

If the water has penetrated the stone and left a significant dark patch that takes a while to dry out, then it may be time to top up the sealer.

If, however, the water leaves nothing, or just a faint shadow, which dries to leave no mark within a few minutes (this is called Surface Wetting and is normal for most impregnating sealers) then it is fine.

Don’t be too concerned about seeing tight water beads on the surface – water beading is a bit of a misleading indication, it is temporary at best and only indicates that a sealer has been very recently applied, it is no indicator of the sealer’s current effectiveness.

If you do need to re-seal, we would generally suggest carrying out a periodic deep clean as described above first.

Furthermore, we would normally advise using the same sealer as was used originally. If in doubt, consult your installer – he/she may also be able to undertake the work for you.

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