The natural stone you have purchased for your home or office is an investment that will give you many years of beautiful service. Like any organic substance, natural stone is susceptible to certain factors that can cause it to lose its natural luster and strength including wear and tear, weather, and even the chemicals found in most common cleaners. Simple care and maintenance can keep it looking beautiful.
The following information offers recommendations for routine care and cleaning, as well as techniques for the removal of simple stains and etch marks, should this become necessary. However, if you feel you need a professional opinion or assistance, or if you are unable to achieve the results you are looking for, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Check back often as we’ll be updating and adding to this information on a regular basis.
Impregnating your stone is a crucial first step in stone maintenance. Most stone surfaces are relatively porous (as is the grout). Impregnators penetrate below the surface of the stone and protect from within. There is no coating or film formed on the surface of the stone. This helps keep liquids and dirt on the surface making the stone easier to clean and provides additional time to clean up spills before they may cause stains or etches. We generally recommend that the impregnator be applied once per year.
Use coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices. Many common foods and drinks contain acids that will etch or dull the surface of many stones.
Do not place hot items directly on the stone surface. Use trivets or mats under hot dishes and placemats under china, ceramics, silver or other objects that can scratch the surface.
Floor Surfaces Dust mop interior floors frequently using a clean ,non-treated, dry dust mop. Sand, dirt and grit do the most damage to natural stone surfaces due to their abrasiveness. Mats or area rugs inside and outside an entrance will help to minimize the sand, dirt and grit that can scratch a stone floor. Be sure that the underside of the mat or rug is a non-slip surface. Normally, ittakes people about eight steps on a floor surface to remove sand or dirt from the bottom of their shoes.
You should clean the surface on a regular basis (weekly) with a pH neutral cleaner specifically designed for use on all natural stone surfaces. We recommend MARBLE Renewal CPR (Cleaner Protector Restorer) for all natural stone surfaces including polished marbles, granites, limestone, terrazzo, slate and ceramics and porcelain tile.
Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on marble or other calcareous stones.
Do not use scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the stone.
Bath and Other Wet Areas
Apply at least two coats of MARBLE Renewal Peneguard 24 hours apart and repeat every six-months minimum. After each use, squeegee the walls. You should clean the surface on a regular basis (weekly) with a pH neutral cleaner specifically designed for use on all natural stone surfaces. We recommend MARBLE Renewal CPR (Cleaner Protector Restorer) or Citrus Clean (which can be used on glass, chrome, stainless steel etc.)
Vanity and Counter Top Surfaces
Vanity tops need to have an impregnator applied to protect against staining (MARBLE Renewal Peneguard). In addition, a good quality marble wax can be applied to minimize water spotting. We recommend MARBLE Renewal BVP to clean, protect and shine your surface. BVP is ideal for use on bar tops, vanity tops and other non-floor stone surface applications.
Natural 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 less sensitive to acids. Types of siliceous stone include granite, slate, sandstone, quartzite, brownstone and bluestone. Calcareous stone is composed mainly of calcium carbonate. It is sensitive to acidic cleaning products and frequently requires different cleaning procedures than siliceous stone. Types of calcareous stone include marble, travertine, limestone and onyx. What may work on siliceous stone may not be suitable on calcareous surfaces.
A polished finish on the stone has a glossy surface that reflects light and emphasizes the color and marking of the material. A polished finish should give a clear reflection at 90 degrees. This type of finish is used on walls, furniture tops and other items, as well as floor tiles.
A honed finish is a satin smooth surface with relatively little light reflection at 90 degrees and some reflection at 45 degrees. Generally, a honed finish is preferred for floors, stair treads, thresholds and other locations where heavy traffic will wear off the polished finish. A honed finish may also be used on furniture tops and other surfaces. A flamed finish is a rough textured surface used frequently on granite floor tiles for contrast, traction and low maintenance.
Stone Colors and Appearance
Granites and marbles are quarried throughout the world in a variety of colors with varying mineral compositions. In most cases, marbles and granites can be identified by visible particles at the surface of the stone. Marble will normally show “veins” or high concentrations of minerals. The minerals in granite will typically appear as small flecks distributed uniformly in the stone. Each type of stone is unique and will vary in color, texture and marking.
Sandstones vary widely in color due to different minerals and clays found in the stone. Sandstone is light gray to yellow or red. A dark reddish brown sandstone, also called brownstone, has commonly been used in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Bluestone is a dense, hard, fine-grained sandstone of greenish-gray or bluish-gray color and is quarried in the eastern United States.
Limestone is a widely used building stone with colors typically light gray, tan or buff. A distinguishing characteristic of many limestones is the presence of fossils that are frequently visible in the stone surface.
Slate is dark green, black, gray, dark red or multi-colored. It is most commonly used as a flooring material and for roof tiles and is often distinguished by its distinct cleft texture.
All stone surfaces—and especially most grouts—are very porous and can become stained very easily. Most foods, drinks, ink, oil and rust will stain marble. And once a stone becomes stained, it can be very difficult to remove. Sealing the stone with a good quality, Impregnator (MARBLE Renewal Peneguard) is a very important part of stain prevention.
To prevent staining, clean the spilled material immediately. Blot the spill with a clean paper towel or cloth. Don’t wipe the area, as this will spread the spill. Flush the area with plain water and clean with a pH neutral stone cleaner (MARBLE Renewal CPR). Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth. Repeat as necessary.
If this does not remove the stain, then a process called “poulticing” may be needed. Please refer to the section on stain removal .
A poultice is a mixture of a liquid vehicle/emulsifier and poultice clay. It works by driving the emulsifier into the stained area by covering the poultice with plastic. After a 24 hour action period the poultice is exposed to air by placing slits in the plastic, causing the clay to dry and pull the liquid back out with the emulsified stain. . This process may need to be repeated a number of times. However, if this method doesn’t work, sanding the surface down to a fresh layer of stone and then re-polishing may be needed to remove the stain. Honing a stone surface should only be done by a professional stone technician (contact MARBLE Renewal)
Stain Removal Identifying the type of stain on the stone surface is the key to removing it. If you don’t know what caused the stain, play detective:
• Where is the stain located?
• Is it near a plant, a food preparation area, an area where cosmetics are used?
• What color 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 calling in a professional. The following sections describe the types of stains that you may have to deal with and appropriate household chemicals to use and how to prepare and apply a poultice to remove the stain.
Oil-based (grease, tar, cooking oil, milk, cosmetics) An oil-based stain will darken the stone and normally must be chemically dissolved so the source of the stain can be flushed or rinsed away. Clean gently with a soft, pH neutral stone cleaner (MARBLE Renewal CPR) OR acetone.
Organic (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. Clean with 12% hydrogen peroxide.
Metal (iron, rust, copper, bronze) Iron or rust stains are orange to brown in color 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. (See section on Making & Using a Poultice.) Deep-seated, rusty stains are extremely difficult to remove and the stone may require professional help or may be permanently stained.
Biological (algae, mildew, lichens, moss, fungi) Clean with diluted bleach OR hydrogen peroxide.
Ink (magic marker, pen, ink) Clean with hydrogen peroxide (light colored stone only!) or lacquer thinner or acetone (dark stones only!)
Paint Small amounts can be removed with lacquer thinner or scraped off carefully with a razor blade. Heavy paint coverage should be removed with a commercial “heavy liquid” stripper available from hardware stores or paint centers. Do not use acids or flame tools to strip paint from stone. Paint strippers can etch the surface of the stone; repolishing 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 #0000 steel wool.
Fire and Smoke Damage Older stones and smoke or firestained fireplaces may require a thorough cleaning to restore their original appearance. Commercially available “smoke removers” may save time and effort.
Etch Marks are caused by acids left on the surface of the stone. Some materials will etch the finish but not leave a stain. Others will both etch and stain. Once the stain has been removed, wet the surface with clear water and sprinkle on marble polishing powder, available from a hardware or lapidary store, or your local stone dealer. Rub the powder onto the stone with a damp cloth or by using a buffing pad with a low- speed power drill. Continue buffing until the etch mark disappears and the marble surface shines. Contact MARBLE Renewal for refinishing or repolishing etched areas that you cannot remove.
Efflorescence is a white powder that may appear on the surface of the stone. It is caused by water carrying mineral salts from below the surface of the stone rising through the stone and evaporating. When the water evaporates, it leaves the powdery substance. If the installation is new, dust mop or vacuum the powder or buff the stone with #0000 steel wool pad. You may have to do this several times as the stone dries out. Do not use water to remove the powder; it will only temporarily disappear. If the problem persists, contact MARBLE Renewal.
Scratches and Nicks Slight surface scratches may be buffed with dry #0000 steel wool. Or, refer to the section on etch marks and follow the polishing procedure. Deeper scratches and nicks in the surface of the stone should be repaired and repolished by a professional, contact MARBLE Renewal.
A poultice is a liquid cleaner or chemical mixed with a white absorbent material to form a paste about the consistency of peanut butter. The poultice is spread over the stained area to a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch with a wood or plastic spatula, covered with plastic and left to work for 24 to 48 hours. The liquid cleaner or chemical will draw out the stain into the absorbent material. Poultice procedures may have to be repeated to thoroughly remove a stain, but some stains may never be completely removed.
Poultice materials include kaolin, fuller’s earth, whiting, diatomaceous earth, powdered chalk, white molding plaster or talc. Approximately one pound of prepared poultice material will cover one square foot. Do not use whiting or iron-type clays such as fuller’s earth with acid chemicals. The reaction will cancel the effect of the poultice. A poultice can also be prepared using white cotton balls, white paper towels or gauze pads.
Cleaning Agents or Chemicals
Oil-based Stains: Poultice with baking soda and water OR one of the powdered poultice materials and mineral spirits. Organic Stains: Poultice with one of the powdered poultice materials and 1 2% hydrogen peroxide solution (hair bleaching strength) OR use acetone instead of the hydrogen peroxide.
Iron Stains: Poultice with diatomaceous earth and a commercially available rust remover. Rust stains are particularly difficult to remove. You may need to call a professional.
Copper Stains: Poultice with one of the powdered poultice materials and ammonia. These stains are difficult to remove. You may need to call a professional.
Biological Stains: Poultice with one of the poultice materials and dilute bleach OR hydrogen peroxide.
Applying the Poultice
1. Prepare the poultice. If using powder, mix the cleaning agent or chemical to a thick paste the consistency of peanut butter. If using paper, soak in the chemical and let drain. Don’t let the liquid drip.
2. Wet the stained area with distilled water.
3. Apply the poultice to the stained area about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and extend the poultice beyond the stained area by about one inch. Use a wood or plastic scraper to spread the poultice evenly.
4. Cover the poultice with plastic and tape the edges to seal it using a “low tack” masking tape. Allow the cleaner/emulsifier to work it’s way into the stain, usually about 24 hours.
5. Next cut slits into the plastic and allow the poultice to dry thoroughly, usually about 12 to 24. The drying process is what pulls the stain out of the stone and into the poultice material. Once dry remove the plastic
6. To remove the poultice from the surface use a wood or plastic scraper. Rinse with distilled water and buff dry with a soft cloth.
7. Repeat the poultice application if the stain is not removed. It may take a number of applications for difficult stains.
8. If the surface is etched, apply a polishing powder and buff with a clean soft clothor felt buffing pad to restore the surface.
• Protect the interior of the stone with a high grade impregnator
• Dust mop floors frequently
• Clean surfaces with pH neutral stone cleaners
• Thoroughly rinse and dry the surface after washing
• Blot up spills immediately
• Protect floor surfaces with nonslip mats or area rugs and countertop surfaces with coasters, trivets or placemats
• Do not use vinegar, lemon juice or other cleaners containing acids on marble, limestone, travertine or onyx surfaces
• Do not use cleaners that contain acid such as bathroom cleaners, grout cleaners or tub & tile cleaners
• Do not use abrasive cleaners such as dry cleansers or soft cleansers
• Do not ever mix chemicals together unless directions specifically instruct you to do so
Call MARBLE Renewal for problems that appear too difficult to treat.
Improperly used chemicals or mechanical processes can increase stone maintenance expenses, shorten its lifetime and degrade its appearance.