What should I use to clean my marble and granite natural stone tiles and countertops

 

With so many new products in the marketplace adding to the age old industry tricks, it’s no wonder there are so many questions about the finding the right product to maintain marble and granite natural stone tiles and countertops  

My tile setter told me to use vinegar and water to clean my tile floors?  Vinegar and water was used for years as a grout release, before big name brands like Stone Tech and Aqua Mix marketed such products.  As a onetime application cleaning the tiles with vinegar would help remove sealer haze left behind from the grouting process. Vinegar is still a great solution to remove leftover gout and thin-set from the face of the tile, however, it’s not recommended to use on a consistent basis.  Its low ph solution is great for dissolving lime which is one of the core ingredients in grout. So we know that vinegar dissolves grout, right, so how do you stop it from attacking the grout between the tiles, you don’t!  The reality is over time cleaning with vinegar will slowly breakdown the grout eventually causing premature grout failure. Another reason not to use vinegar and water is the long term affects it has on calcite based stones like Marble, Limestone and Onyx. These materials are comprised of the mineral lime and will quickly show adverse reactions to vinegar.   

Another common misconception is the acceptable use of dish washing detergents. Unless you plan on rinsing the floor several times with clean water to remove the soap residue, avoid using dish soap. This super concentrated surfactant is great for breaking down oil and grease but when not rinsed properly, it will create a haze and could become very slippery when wet!

Rubbing alcohol and water? Another one for the ages, again a great product for spot cleaning, especially if you are trying to remove ink marks or shoe scuffs. However, for daily cleaning of natural stone tiles, alcohol and water brings nothing to the table.    

For cleaning natural stone tiles regularly damp mopping is the best solution. A lightweight cotton or acrylic mop rung dry with clean warm water will remove almost everything. For disinfecting pet accidents and spilled food you can use product that are specially formulated for natural stone; just make sure it’s a no rinse formula.  Even then it’s best not to saturate the floor. Allowing the mop water to pool on the surface will cause unsightly water marks and will discolor the porous grout.  

Keeping your natural stone tiles clean and safe is simple. Daily dust mopping to remove abrasives that will scratch the tiles following a regiment of damp mopping and spot cleaning will maintain the beauty of your natural stone for many years.

Until next time,

Caayu!

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The facts on Resin Treated Slabs

The beauty of granite comes from its individuality; however, natural stone characteristics extend far beyond aesthetics. When purchasing granite for your home, it is important to understand the performance and how it relates to your means. There are many different types of “granites” currently available and while the most common perform equally in view of staining, scratching and etching, there are still those which require more attention. 

          When selecting a slab for a granite countertop it is important to know whether or not the slab was resin treated. Resin, either epoxy or polyester based is a thick binding adhesive infused into the vallecula structure of the stone. Resin has played an important role in the natural stone industry for over 25 years; especially in the countertop sector. The current process which has been perfected over the past 10 years helped contribute to the vast increase in rare and exotic materials.  The resin process was originally developed to help fragile slabs from breaking during transportation and fabrication and to help minimize small surface pits and micro fissures; which are typically found in most natural stones. As a result, resin slabs are often a few shades darker in color and capable of being brought to a glossier finish when compared to the contrary. Resin also has a positive effect on the stone’s porosity.  Stones that are resin treated are less absorbent, favorably decreasing the risk of staining. Typically, resin treated slabs require fewer sealant applications and will be slightly easier to clean.  Currently about 85% of granites imported to the US are resin treated, ranging from exotic to commodity stones. Often you can see the resin that has dripped down the sides of the stone during the application; however, in some cases the edges of the slabs are cut square removing any evidence of treatment. 

          So now you know if the slab was resin treated, the next likely question is “if it is resin treated, do I have to seal it?” The answer is yes; even though the slab is resin treated there are still microscopic pathways vulnerable to staining.  In Fact, Sealers and Resins have been scientifically formulated to achieve different results. Resins are thick, slow penetrating liquids that are used in conjunction with ovens and vacuum tables in the mid stages of manufacturing. Resins are topically applied to the slab and then placed into ovens to cure for many hours while slowly penetrating the surface to increase its strength. Once the resigns are cured they are then ground off in the final stages of manufacturing. Only the resin that is below the surface will remain.  Sealers are thinner liquids designed to quickly permeate even the smallest pathways in the stone after the slabs have been fabricated. Once inside the sealer evaporates leaving the polymers behind to plug the voids blocking the stain pathways while creating a slick and easy to clean surface.

To keep up with the increase in demand for natural stone, many suppliers of raw materials have had to change their manufacturing process. Older quarries and manufacturing facilities had to invest in the newer resin treatment equipment or learn to do without by a manually applying the resin. While the newer technically advanced facilities have incorporated modern resin treatment plants into their initial design.   

Resins facts:

  • Resin is applied to the slab during the mid stages of manufacturing. After the final polishing only the resin that permeated the surface remains.
  • When the resin is applied and polished correctly, you can not see or feel the resin on the surface.
  • Most of the slabs imported to the states that are used for residential and commercial countertops are resin treated.
  • Slabs treated with resin still require as sealant regiment.
  • Slabs that are not resin treated will be more porous and will need to be sealed more frequently.
  • Finished edges may be a few shades lighter in color when cut from slabs that are resin treated.
  • Resins used for natural stones are not UV stable. Slight discoloring may occur when installed outdoors.
  • Slabs treated with resin are less porous than the same material with no resin.
  • Some light colored granites are not resin treated due to the adverse affect the resin has on the natural color of the stone.
  • Resin slabs are a few shades darker than non resin slabs.
  • Slabs treated with resin are approved for residential and commercial kitchen countertop applications.
  • Direct heat from a hot pot will not deteriorate the resin.
  • Resin does not affect the hardness of a stone. Resin slabs are not less likely to scratch or chip.
  • Resin treated slabs will not off gas harmful volatile organic compounds (VOC)
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