Ultimate Guide to Cleaning and Maintaining Marble
CARING FOR YOUR RESIDENTIAL MARBLE
STONE FLOORING AND FURNITURE
To keep your stone in tip-top shape, it is important to recognize what can harm your stone.
All stone surfaces (floors, walls, vanities, etc) have four major enemies:
Low on the Ph scale: many liquids such as common bathroom cleaners, alcoholic drinks, carbonated beverages, fruit juice, fruit and vinegar.
High on the Ph scale: these liquids are opposite acids. Many of your household cleaners are alkaline and may be too harsh for your stone.
This is the right pH for your stones. Because is says good for marble too does not mean It’s the right cleaner. Rinse less cleaners are best for natural stone.
Caused by foot traffic, abrasive grit, moving furniture, vacuum cleaner wheels, and sometimes your dog’s toenails.
Caused by various foods, spilled drinks, water damage, pets and anything else imaginable. Elimination of these potential problems, and awareness of your stone’s vulnerability, will prolong the life of your stone giving you added enjoyment.
All stone needs to be sealed with a penetrating sealer, which leaves no coating on the surface of the stone. While the stone is trying to reject liquids that can leave a stain, these sealers give you more time to wipe up a spill. Sealing is a must for all kitchen and bathroom areas. Premium impregnators that reject are worth the extra cost. Always require a small test of the proposed sealer on your stone. Approve a sample tile or piece of slab before the sealing is done. Some sealers can slightly change the color of your stone. Do not assume that your builder, installer, or stone fabricator sealed your stone.
Household chemicals are not formulated to clean your stone. Many can do more harm than using nothing at all. Even the use of water alone can have long-term detrimental effects on some stone. Neutral cleaners, containing conditioning agents, or the use of stone soap, is recommended. Repeated use of an appropriate cleaner will keep your stone looking fresh, and add to the natural luster of the stone. Due to the softness of much of the stone used in your home, it is imperative that grit (sand, dirt) be kept off all surfaces. Grit is normally harder than stone used in residential building, and is the main cause of scratches, especially in floors.
Entry floors require walk-off mats that will cover two adult steps. Remember to wash off the mat frequently to remove the accumulated dirt. Be aware that rubber backs can leave marks in your stone requiring costly restoration to remove. If your floors have a lot of traffic, dust mop daily with an untreated dust mop. Damp mop your floors weekly with a conditioning neutral cleaner or soap. Follow the directions. In most cases it is advisable not to put coatings on your natural stone floor. Coating restricts the flow of air through the stone, causing moisture-related problems.
Vanities, counters, and walls can be cleaned, by placing an appropriate cleaning agent in a bottle. Spray the surface, and wipe clean with a soft natural fiber cloth. These surfaces can be polished with a topical stone paste. The application of this paste wax will add shine, and protection, to the stone.
It is best to seal and wax stone showers. If mildew begins to grow on the stone in your shower, it can be difficult remove. The chemicals used to remove scum and mildew will ruin a marble, requiring expensive restoration. Several granites are acid resistant, making them easier to clean. Waxing and using the correct maintenance cleaners, are much less expensive than having to pay a stone professional to restore your shower.
When stone begins to lose the factory shine, it is best to call a professional to re-polish it. Using the proper abrasives and polishing powders can bring back the original shine, if the surface is not too badly damaged. Polishing generally does not remove scratches. However, on some stones it can remove light etch marks left by chemicals or cleaning agents.
Resurfacing operations are required to remove scratches, uppage (uneven tiles), and wear patterns from foot traffic. The stone is sanded with various grinding grits. This makes the surface flat, establishing a new finish. A ground-in-place floor extends the life of the floor. This is not recommended for the do-it-yourselfer, a professional stone contractor is required.
DON’T use vinegar, bleach, ammonia, other general purpose cleaners, bathroom cleaners or tub and tile cleaners.
DON’T use abrasive cleaners such as dry cleansers or soft cleansers.
DON’T use alkaline cleaners not specifically formulated for stone.
DON’T use products that say and good for marble too when ceramic or porcelain tiles are also recommended.
DON’T use scouring pads that will scratch the surface of the stone. White polishing pads are best.
DON’T sit or stand on your countertops.
DO use coasters under glasses, especially if they contain alcohol or citrus juices.
DO use protective mats under hot dishes or cookware.
DO use place mats under china, ceramics, silver or other objects that may scratch your stone’s surface.
DO use hard mats outside and soft backed mats at entryways to trap dirt and sand from normal foot traffic.
DO use dust mops before mopping floors and dust mop regulary.
DO blot up spills immediately to minimize permanent damage to the stone.
DO clean surfaces regularly with neutral cleaners designed for stone or a neutral cleaner with sealer in it.
DO use bath rugs around toilet and floor mats for marble and limestone floors
DO use non acid toilet bowel cleaners for all natural stone surfaces.
DO use trays for all soap and soap dispensers in kitchen and bathrooms. No sealer will hold this out.
DO use soft towels or Micro Fibor towels.
Stone & Marble Cleaning Instructions
Created By David Bonasera Of Environmentally Safe Products And Procedures
If all of the marble and tile in your home has been sealed, the sealer can last for years with the proper care. Please check the warrantee on each sealing application.
Using a marble cleaner will help the sealer hold out staining, not etching. The marble cleaner should have a PH of 7, which is neutral.
When spills occur, wipe them up quickly. Do not allow them to sit for an extended period of time.
Most foods, fruits, vegetables, soft drinks, and juices can eat through the sealer and cause staining to occur. There are some sealers that are not affected by acids. They area much more expensive to the customer. There is no sealer on the market that is 100% stain proof so even the best sealer can stain after an extended period of time.
The proper cleaner to use is one with a sealer in it. A regular marble and granite stone cleaner will help keep the countertop protected and keep its beauty for years. Some cleaners now have 1-3% sealer in them.
Be careful of stone soaps. These are good for a limestone floor, but not countertops. Too much soap can build up after time.
Never buy a product that says “and good for marble too”!
Dish soap can cause the counter top to loose its luster. Soap build up over time will become sticky and attract dirt and become streaky when trying to clean it. Soap dispensers drip and can slowly eat through the sealer and stain the counter top. The trend now is to use a foam soap which will not drip and cause unsightly stains and also takes less water to rinse.
Most store bought spray polishes tend to be oily and cause a build up over time. Even some that say Stone, Marble or Granite polish on the label. A spray polish is most likely the best choice. Liquid polishes tend to be very oily and look great for a while and then build up over time. Some polishes now have silica in them and adds a micro thin coating to keep the Marble and Granite easier to maintain that beautiful look.
The biggest problem with floors is the way it is cleaned. Most TV commercials show a flat mop. This looks great but these applicators clean the top of the tile and then drop the dirt into the grout. Using too much soap can make the floor harder to keep clean.
Sealed floors need a marble neutral cleaner. This is a mix with 2 to 5 oz of product to 1 gallon of water. Warm water is better than cold when cleaning ground in dirt or grease.
AVOID: Store bought cleaning chemicals!
Most of these cleaners are a base (alkaline) or an acid. Both will strip the sealer and cause the tile and grout to be harder to keep clean. Harsh cleaning chemicals can and will discolor the grout and make it hard to keep that beautiful even look. Most bathroom cleaner will etch the polish of the marble and limestone finishes.
CARE INSTRUCTIONS FOR STAINLESS STEEL AND METALS
If you own a stainless steel appliance, you know that it rarely ever lives up to its name. It is hardly ever stainless! I cannot seem to remember a time when finger print marks and water stains did not decorate the surfaces of my dishwasher, oven and refrigerator.
What adds insult to injury is the harsh chemical cleaning products that promise to return stainless steel appliances to their showroom origins. With the hefty price tags of these cleaners, and their pestilential nature, why own anything stainless steel? Do we really want those adorable little toddler mouths and fingertips in contact with the cosmetically fragile contraptions, coated with chemical cleaners?
Here is a ‘how to’ on how to clean stainless steel appliances without harmful chemicals for a flawless finish!
Find the grain of the metals and clean with a neutral cleaner or degreaser and a soft rag, micro fiber, or soft paper towel. Clean with the grain and then buff out.
Oil polishes are ok but tend over time to make a streaky mess which is hard to clean up. These products are good but need to be deep cleaned and removed once in a while.
Remember Oil’s attract dirt like a magnet.
THE TEN MOST COMMON STONE PROBLEMS
Marble, granite, limestone and other decorative stone are durable materials that will last a lifetime. However, if not installed correctly, or properly cared for, will experience problems that will shorten its life. The following are the top ten problems most common in dealing with stone tile:
1. Loss Of Shine
The loss of the high polish on certain marble and granite can be attributed to wear. This is especially true of marble, since it is much softer than granite. The bottoms of our shoes act like sandpaper on a stone floor surface, and over time, will wear the polish off. To prevent excessive wear, it is important to keep the floor dust mopped, and place walk-off mats at all entrances. To repair a worn, or dulled, stone surface, it will be necessary to re-hone and re-polish.
The dull spot created, when liquids containing acids are spilled on marble, is called etching. Marble and limestone etch very easily. Granite is more acid-resistance, and will rarely etch. To prevent etching, avoid using cleaners and chemicals that contain acids. Bathroom cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and lemon cleaners commonly contain acids. Certain drinks and foods contain acids that will also cause etching. Light etching can be removed with a little marble polishing powder. Deep etching will require resurfacing of the stone.
All stone surfaces can become very easily stained. Most foods, drinks, ink, oil and rust will stain marble. Once a stone becomes stained, it can be very difficult to remove. To prevent staining, clean the spilled material as soon as possible. Blot the spill with a clean paper towel or cloth. If this does not remove the stain, a process called “poulticing” may be needed. For more information on poulticing, please refer to our brochure, “Removing Stains from Marble, Stone & Other Porous Surfaces.” It is important to seal stone with a good quality penetrating sealer to prevent staining.
Efflorescence appears as a white powdery residue on the surface of the stone. It is a common condition on new stone installations, or when the stone is exposed to a large quantity of water, such as flooding. This powder is a mineral salt deposited from the setting bed. Do not use water to remove efflorescence. Instead, buff the stone with a clean polishing pad, or a #0000 steel wool pad. The stone will continue to effloresce until it is completely dry. This drying process can take from several days to as long as one year.
5. Spalling, Flaking & Pitting
Spalling is the development of small pits, or small pieces of stone are popping off the surface. This condition is common on stone exposed to large amounts of water, when deicing salts are used for ice removal. Like efflorescence, mineral salts are the cause for spalling and pitting. Instead of the salts depositing on the surface (efflorescence), they deposit below the surface of the stone. This causes pressure within the stone; therefore, the stone spalls, flakes, or pits. Unfortunately, once a stone begins to spall, it is almost impossible to repair. Replacement of the stone is recommended.
Note: Several ice-melting devices are available, which do not contain harmful salts.
There are several reasons why a stone will turn yellow: embedded dirt, and grime, can give the stone a yellow, dingy look; waxes, and other coatings, can yellow with age; certain stones will naturally yellow with age. This is caused by oxidation of iron within the stone, and is especially problematic with white marbles. If the yellowing is caused by dirt, or build up, clean the stone with an alkaline cleaner, or wax stripper. If the yellowing is the result of aged stone, or iron oxidation, it is not coming out.
7. Uneven Tile-Lippage
Lippage is the term given to tiles that are set unevenly. In other words, the edge of one tile is higher than the next. Lippage is the result of a poor installation. If the lippage is higher than the thickness of a nickel (1/32″), it is considered excessive. The tile will have to be ground to flatten the floor. This requires the services of a professional stone-refinishing contractor.
Settling, poor installation, and excessive vibration are the causes for cracks in stone tiles. This is especially true in California. Sometimes, cracks can be repaired, by using a color-matched polyester or epoxy filler. Before a crack is repaired, it is wise to find out how, and why, the cracked occurred in the first place. Otherwise, it may recur.
9. White Stun Marks
Stun marks appear as white marks on the surface of the stone, and are common in certain types of marble. These stuns are the result of tiny explosions inside the crystal of the stone. Pinpoint pressures placed on the marble cause these marks. Women’s high heels, or blunt pointed instruments, are common reasons for stun marks. Stun marks can be difficult to remove. Grinding and/or honing can reduce the number of stuns, but some travel through the entire thickness of the stone; therefore, are impossible to remove.
10. Water Rings/Spots
Water rings and spots are very common on marble tabletops. These spots are hard water minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals are left behind, when the water evaporates, leaving a ring or a spot. To remove these spots, use a marble polishing powder. Deep spots may require honing. To prevent spots on counters and tabletops, frequently apply a good stone paste wax.
Other Stone Problems
Many problems can occur with stone surfaces. The above ten are the most common. The following is a quick problem-solving technique that will help identify other stone problems that might be encountered.
Identify the problem – Is it discolored, etched, or cracked?
Cause of the problem – What happened to cause the problem? Identifying the cause will often lead to the solution.
Stone Type – Identify the stone type. Is it marble, granite, limestone, or slate?
Check the installation – Is it installed properly?
Age – How long has the problem existed? Old problems range from difficult to impossible to cure.
Maintenance Procedures – How is the stone being maintained? Could the maintenance, or lack thereof, be the cause of the problem?
Test the Solution – Perform a small test in an inconspicuous area to decide if your proposed cure will work effectively.
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