Natural stone refers to a number of products quarried from the earth and has been used for over thousands of years as building materials and decorative enhancements. These products include marble, granite, travertine, limestone, quartzite, slate, sandstone and onyx, and others. Natural stone is a wonderful investment but requires the right care to keep it looking beautiful. While natural stone is very durable, it is not indestructible, and neglecting it can lead to damage.
Common Mistakes in Caring for Natural Stone
1. Never using vinegar or bleach to clean natural stone. It is important to only use cleaners that are appropriate for natural stone and make sure that any company you hire does the same. Cleaners that are made for natural stone have the correct pH level, which is 7. This is a neutral pH and won’t damage the stone. Vinegar should not be used on natural stone as it is acidic and stones like marble, limestone or travertine will react adversely to it because of its acidity. Bleach is also a no-no as it can etch or burn the surface of the stone. Even if it doesn’t look like the stone has been damaged, it can break down sealants and open the stone up for stains and damage. You will find yourself having to seal it more often or paying someone to do it.
2. Avoid using abrasive tools on natural stone. Using a scrubbing pad to try and remove etching or stains just makes the problem worse. Scrubbing pads are very abrasive to natural stone and the harder you scrub, the more damage there will be. Use a soft cloth for daily cleaning and call professionals in if you have a spot that needs to be “buffed out”. Stone that has been etched needs to be honed and restored.
3. Skipping the dust mop on natural stone floors is a mistake. The dust and debris that sits on top of your stone can be abrasive when walked on. To avoid this, use a dust mop daily or every other day. When natural stone is polished it looks smooth and reflects light. Scratches will refract light making it look dull and scuffed. Clean your natural stone with a neutral cleaner after you use a dust mop. You can also use a vacuum cleaner to pick up dust and debris.
4. Not protecting high traffic areas is an error. The best way to protect high-traffic areas is to use rugs. Placing mats at entry points of the home also helps keep more dirt outside instead of getting tracked into the home where it can mar the surface.
5. You will regret failing to seal natural stone regularly. It is recommended to seal your natural stone but many homeowners neglect doing it regularly. It is best to have it done by professionals to get the best results. Natural stone should be sealed every three to five years. Higher traffic areas may need to be sealed more often. If you want to seal your stone yourself, use a solvent-based impregnating sealer to repel water and stains and to help prevent etching.