Caring for Your Natural Stone
Polished marble and other types of natural stone look beautiful, but their characteristics present an intriguing paradox. On one hand, marble is hard, durable and lasts for years. On the other hand, the polished surface can be marred by chemicals, stains and abrasion. Keeping natural stone in its magnificent, original state takes ongoing care.
What can ruin your marble floor?
- Scratches: Outdoor sand and grit carried indoors by shoes can easily scratch and abrade the marble surface like sandpaper. Unprotected furniture legs may leave scratches, too. Dragging heavy objects or sharp items on the floor can cause very deep scratches or gouges that may be permanent.
- Stains: Marble is porous and can be easily discolored by spills from food, sitting pots, metal furniture legs, oil, ink, water damage, and other substances.
- Acid: Spills from drinks, liquids, or foods containing acid will make dull marks called etches on marble surfaces. For example: lemon juice, orange juice, carbonated beverages, cranberry juice, apple juice, wine, tomato, etc. The dull mark may be as small as a coin-size or large enough to spread over several tiles. Another source for etch marks are cleaning products containing acid, such as tile cleaners, vinegar, Ajax, Soft Scrub, etc.
- Alkaline: In addition to chemicals containing acid, chemicals that contain high alkaline or bleach can damage marble floors and cause the finish to lose its shine and elegance.
- Moisture: Local water may contain chlorine, salts, magnesium, potassium and other minerals. When water is used continuously to clean the marble floor, it may ruin certain types of marble by causing pitting, spalling, and yellowing. This is why it is important to protect the floor with a premium sealer.
- Improper Maintenance Procedures: Continuous use of water as the sole cleaning agent (without chemicals), or using dirty mops, or not changing the cleaning solution frequently enough, can cause the marble to look dingy, streaky, and unattractive.
- Inadequate Maintenance: Not having a steady use of dust mop and damp mop may cause a decrease of the shine. In addition, a yearly maintenance may be required to renew the shine, especially when the floor is exposed to medium or heavy traffic.
- Seal: Protect the floor with a premium penetrating sealer to reduce etch marks and prevent stains and moisture from filtering into the marble. To apply the sealer properly, call a professional stone care company. Traffic areas should be resealed on a yearly basis.
- Mats: Install walk off mats by the main door to prevent sand and grit from spreading on the floor and causing scratches and dullness. A good quality mat will capture dirt before someone walks on the floor. When it is placed outside your door it will signal people that they need to wipe their feet before entering the house.
- Protect: Protect all furniture legs that come in contact with the marble with special felt pads or plastic. These can be purchased in home centers. Proper protection will reduce the damage from scratches. Place all plants on a special base to prevent deep stains and scratches.
- Proper Cleaners: Use only pH neutral cleaners or stone soap liquid specifically formulated for natural stone that will not harm the surface.
- Remove Sand and Grit: Dust mop or vacuum the floor at least 1-2 times per week to eliminate sand and grit and to reduce possibilities of scratches. Do not use oil-treated dust mops on marble surfaces. Do not get the dust mop wet. If the floor is wet, be sure to dry it before dust mopping. Run the dust mop in one direction, do not move it back and forth. Always store the dust mop with its head off the ground. Wash it in cold water with laundry detergent and machine dry.
- Regular Cleaning: Damp mop the floor regularly, 1-2 times per week to remove dirt and soil. Mix solutions as per manufacturer's directions. Always use clean cold or warm water. Do not use hot water, since it will cause the floor to streak. It is important to rinse and wring the mop as often as possible. If you don't rinse the mop enough you will only be pushing dirt.
- Cleaning Spills: Blot spills with a paper towel. Don't wipe, because it will spread the spill. Flush the area around the floor so that when the floor dries, it will not streak or appear dingy. If your marble tends to streak every time that you mop the floor, then dry the marble with a clean terry cloth towel or buff with a residential buffing machine.
Seven Maintenance Mistakes & How to Prevent Them
- Cleaning only with water can be very detrimental to your marble floor. Water contains chlorine, salt and some other minerals that will diminish the shine if used on a regular basis. In addition, water doesn’t have the ability to cut through dirt and mainly dust will be removed. Use special neutral cleaner that when mixed properly with water will keep the floor looking beautiful all the time.
- Not replacing the cleaning solution frequently enough can create stone problems. First, it will leave streaks all over the floor and second, the grout joints (especially if they are light color) will get dirty very rapidly. When you damp mop the floor be sure to divide the area into a few sections. Whenever you notice that the cleaning solution becomes cloudy and dirty, immediately replace it with a fresh new solution.
- If the cleaning mop head is not kept clean, streaking and other problems happen. By using a mop or cloths that are soiled and dirty, you are actually tracking the dirt back into the floor and grout joints. Dirty mops can create streaks and an unattractive look. Be sure to designate a special mop or cloth for your marble floor. Keep the cloth or mop head clean all the time. Wash them thoroughly after you have finished the cleaning with neutral soap and warm water
- If the floor is not vacuumed or dusted enough, the shine will be ruined. Remember that sand and grit is the number one enemy of your marble floor. They become like sandpaper and start to abrade the shine. If you don’t vacuum the floor enough, it will wear off faster than it should. Make yourself a habit to thoroughly vacuum or dust mop the floor before cleaning. You’ll be amazed how good the floor is going to look.
- Not using a door mat can affect the amount of sand and grit that are brought into your house. And as you already know, sand and grit will diminish the shine and will create a lot of scratches. Purchase a door mat and install it by your main entrance and any other exit or entry to the house. You can buy it in any home center, janitorial supply or carpet retail store.
- Using the wrong cleaning chemical can ruin your marble floor very easily. Marble is a soft material and made from calcium carbonate that is very sensitive to any acid or high alkaline chemicals. Do not use any tile cleaners, vinegar, ammonia, alcohol (Windex), Ajax, etc. on your marble floor. Use only liquid stone soap or neutral cleaners that have pH7.00 and were made specifically for cleaning stone. In this way you prolong the stone life.
- Not having a planned program for maintenance can affect the look of the marble floor. Skipping cleaning days and polishing dates inevitably will cause the shine to diminish. Designate the days that you want to clean the marble floor and stick to it. Have your floor cleaned and polished once a year by Royal Care Services! Doing that will keep the level of the shine steady and it won’t deteriorate rapidly (which will require restoration).