GUIDELINES THAT ENSURE MATERIALS LAST OVER TIME
CARE & MAINTENANCE
A comprehensive care and maintenance program is just as important as the actual material selection. If you’re a homeowner, you’ll want to be aware of the care and maintenance requirements before you select a material. If you are an architect or designer, you’ll want to know this information prior to specifying a material. It is strongly recommended that you provide this information to your client. This document covers:
• General guidelines – How to care for materials based on application.
• Suggested products – Products to be incorporated into an
ongoing care and maintenance plan.
Recommendations for the use of cleaning and maintenance products are included in this document as a convenience to the reader. The suggestions regarding product application are a guide in the use of the products and are not a guarantee of their performance. This document and the information provided herein, including any reference to products, is provided “as is”, without any warranty or implied term of any kind. Specifically, this document disclaims any responsibility or liability relating to the use of the suggested products and shall under no circumstances whatsoever, be liable for damages of any nature resulting from the use of or reliance upon information from this website or the products to which the information refers.
A comprehensive care and maintenance plan helps ensure long- term satisfaction with a material choice. These recommendations are based on those from The Marble Institute of America. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the information outlined here, please contact us for more information.
What you should know about cleaning Natural stone
Νatural stone can be classified into two general categories according to its composition: siliceous stone or calcareous stone. Knowing the difference is critical when selecting cleaning products. Siliceous stone is composed mainly of Silica or Quartz-like particles. It tends to be very durable and relatively easy to clean with mild acidic cleaning solutions. Types of siliceous stone include granite, slate, sandstone and quartzite. Calcareous stone is composed mainly of calcium carbonate and will react to acidic foods such as lemons or tomatoes. This reaction will result in a dulling in surface sheen and change in texture, otherwise referred to as “acid etching”. Cleaning products that work on siliceous stone may damage the surface of calcareous surfaces. Types of calcareous stone include marble, travertine, limestone and onyx.
As a general rule of thumb, whenever a spill occurs, immediately blot the spill with a paper towel. don’t wipe the area; it will spread the spill. Flush the area with plain water and a mild liquid dishwashing detergent. Rinse several times. Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth. Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on marble or limestone. Do not use scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface.
For application-specific cleaning instructions, see below:
Dust interior floors frequently using a clean, dry dust mop. Sand, dirt and grit do most of the damage to natural stone surfaces due to their abrasiveness. Mats or area rugs inside and outside an entrance will help minimise sand, dirt and grit that will scratch the stone floor. Be sure that the underside of the mat or rug is a non-slip surface. Do not use vacuum cleaners that are worn – as the metal or plastic attachments or the wheels may scratch the surface.
In the bath basin or other wet areas, soap scum can be minimised by using a squeegee after each use. To remove soap scum, use a non-acidic soap scum remover or a solution of ammonia and water (about 1/2 cup ammonia to a gallon of water). Frequent or over-use of an ammonia solution may eventually dull the surface of the stone.
VANITIES + OTHER COUNTERTOPS
Vanity tops may need to have a penetrating sealer applied. Check with your installer for recommendations. A good quality marble wax or non-yellowing automobile paste wax can be applied to minimise water spotting.
All natural stone used for kitchen countertop applications must be regularly maintained and resealed to prevent staining. Always use a neutral detergent to clean marble countertops.
- do use a cutting board in all kitchen countertop applications
- do use coasters or placemats under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citric juices
- do use trivets under china, ceramics, silver or other objects that might scratch or scorch the surface
- do protect flooring applications by using walk-off mats or area rugs
- do dust, mop floors frequently
- do clean surfaces with mild detergent or stone soap
- do thoroughly rinse and dry the surface after washing
- do blot up spills immediately
- don’t place hot items directly on the stone surface
- don’t use vinegar, lemon juice or cleaners containing acids on marble, onyx, limestone or travertine surfaces
- don’t use cleaners that contain acid such as bathroom cleaners, grout cleaners or tub and tile cleaners
- don’t use abrasive cleaners such as dry cleansers or soft cleansers
EXTERIOR POOL + PATIO APPLICATIONS
In outdoor pool, patio or hot tub areas, flush with clean water and use a mild bleach solution to remove algae or moss.
Staining (wine, oil or grout stains on the surface of the stone)
Staining refers to the residual effect of a spill that cannot be removed with dishwashing detergent. Identifying the source of the stain is the key to removing it. If you don’t know what caused the stain, ask the following questions to help identify the source: Where is the stain located? Is it near a plant, a food service area, an area where cosmetics are used? What colour is it? What is the shape or pattern? What goes on in the area around the stain? Surface stains can often be removed by cleaning with an appropriate cleaning product or household chemical. Deep-seated or stubborn stains may require using a poultice or consulting a professional.
The following sections describe the types of stains you may encounter and how to appropriately treat them without damaging the surface of the stone.
(grease, tar, cooking oil, milk, cosmetics)
An oil-based stain will darken the stone. Generally, oil must be chemically dissolved so the source of the stain can be flushed or rinsed away. Clean gently with a soft, liquid cleanser with bleach or household detergent or ammonia or mineral spirits or acetone.
(coffee, tea, fruit, tobacco, paper, food, urine, leaves, bark, bird droppings)
May cause a pinkish-brown stain and may disappear after the source of the stain has been removed. For outdoors, with the sources removed, normal sun and rain action will generally bleach out the stains. For indoors, clean with 12% hydrogen peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia.
(iron, rust, copper, bronze)
Iron or rust stains are orange to brown in colour and follow the shape of the staining object such as nails, bolts, screws, cans, flower pots, metal furniture. Copper and bronze stains appear as green or muddy-brown and result from the action of moisture on nearby or embedded bronze, copper or brass items. Metal stains must be removed with a poultice. Deep-seated, rusty stains are extremely difficult to remove and the stone may be permanently stained.
(algae, mildew, lichens, moss, fungi)
Clean with diluted (1/2 cup in a gallon of water) ammonia, bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Do not ever mix ammonia and bleach! This combination creates a toxic and lethal gas!
(magic marker, pen, ink)
Clean with bleach or hydrogen peroxide (light-coloured stone only!) or lacquer thinner or acetone (dark stones only!)
Small amounts can be removed with lacquer thinner or scraped off
carefully with a razor blade. Heavy paint coverage should be removed only with a commercial “heavy liquid” paint stripper available from hardware and paint stores. These strippers normally contain caustic soda or lye. Do not use acids or flame tools to strip paint from stone. Paint strippers can etch the surface of the stone; re-polishing may be necessary.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions for use of these products, taking care to flush the area thoroughly with clean water. Protect yourself with rubber gloves and eye protection, and work in a well-ventilated area. Use only wood or plastic scrapers for removing the sludge and curdled paint. Normally, latex and acrylic paints will not cause staining. Oil-based paints, linseed oil, putty, caulks and sealants may cause oily stains. Refer to the section on oil-based stains.
Water spots and rings (surface accumulation of hard water) buff with dry steel wool.
FIRE AND SMOKE DAMAGE
Older stones and smoke or fire stained fireplaces may require a thorough cleaning to restore their original appearance. Commercially available “smoke removers” may save time and effort.
Acid etching (surface erosion of natural stone)
Marble, travertine, limestone and onyx will react to acidic foods (i.e. lemons or tomatoes) and acidic liquids (i.e. some cleaners or acid rain). This reaction will result in a dulling in surface sheen and change in texture, otherwise referred to as “acid etching”. Some highly-pigmented liquids, such as wine, will etch the finish and stain the stone. Remove the stain (see making and using a poultice) before attempting to address acid etching.
• To remove an acid etch from a polished surface, use a special Marble Restorer.
• To remove an acid etch from a honed surface use a mild neutral or alkali detergent and buff with dry steel wool.
• Contact a professional stone restorer for refinishing or re-polishing etched areas that you cannot remove.
EFFLORESCENCE (film on surface of the material)
Materials that are exposed to moisture may, over time, develop a white or dark film on the surface. Efflorescence in natural stone is caused by water carrying mineral salts from below the surface of the stone rising to the exposed face.
• For natural stone, if the installation is new, dust, mop or vacuum the
powder. You may have to do this several times. Do not use water to remove the powder; it will only temporarily disappear. If the problem persists, contact your installer to help identify and remove the cause of the moisture.
Scratching (scratch marks and abrasions appear on the surface)
Light scratching occurs over time with exposure to sand and other abrasives. The finish will patina or dull over time as a result of this scratching.
• If a material with a low abrasion resistance is used, use walk-off mats
at entrances and expect the material to patina rapidly.
• Always use a cutting board for countertop applications.
• Slight surface scratches may be buffed with dry lowest grit steel wool.