Natural stone is porous, which means it has interconnected capillaries through which liquids and gases can move. In fact, porous materials act like a hard sponge and actually suck in liquids over time, along with any dissolved salts and other minerals or contaminants (stains). More porous stone, such as sandstone will absorb liquids relatively quickly, while denser volcanic stones such as basalt are significantly less porous and may take longer to absorb oils and water-based liquids. Natural stone should be protected against sub-surface staining, everyday dirt and spills; this can be done by sealing the stone in 1 of 2 ways, a penetrating or topical sealer.
Topical sealers can alter the surface texture and finish, as well as build up on the surface creating a layer that is less durable than the stone. Penetrating (impregnating) sealers are carried into the stone by either solvent or water. The carrier then dissipates bonding the sealer resins with the stone. This process doesn’t alter the slip resistance or natural look of the stone. The deposited resins then creates an oleophobic (oil-repelling) and hydrophobic (water-repelling) barrier which prevents sub surface staining. These products are considered “breathable,” meaning they allow for vapor transmission. Spirit Water-Based Premium Seal is on the cutting edge of this type of technology and is the perfect product for both DIY applications & commercial.
Pre-sealing is a term used to describe sealing the tile or stone prior to laying. The benefit of this is that is reduces the porosity of the tile/stone and works as a grout release. However the main reason is to prevent the possibility of water marking. Water marking is reverse staining that occurs when a piece of stone is exposed to water and chemicals generally associated with high alkaline cements or other fixing materials. This moisture is absorbed into the dry stone which can add minerals and dissolves existing minerals in the stone. As this moisture dissolves and migrates through the stone then works its way to the surface to dry, the minerals are unevenly left behind and almost always alters the colour of the stone. The problem with that is that the contaminates show a much darker colour that the balance of the stone and a resulting stain remains and can be impossible to remove through cleaning efforts. This stain is often on the edge of the stone where the grouting occurs, and the mark can surround the tile and look like picture framing. Another form of this type of staining is where areas of the stone will have a blotchy effect at any location on the tile. The same effect but random through out the tile. The pictures below show a few examples of water marking. The first picture has staining from moisture form the glue, this could’ve been prevented by pre-sealing the back of the tiles. It would be fair to note that up to the present, there is no known method for removing this type of marking. It is also fair to note that the use of Spirit Pre-Seal will prevent this from occurring.
Maintenance is the key
Once a natural stone has been sealed, maintaining the finish is very important, regular cleaning will allow you to keep the floor looking new. Sweeping and vacuuming the floor should be done as often as possible, this will help remove loose debris and reduce the amount of soil settling in the grout joints. A wet mop should be used afterwards to remove the rest of the soil, it is very important that a ph neutral detergent such as Spirit Neutral Cleaner should be added to the mopping liquid. Acidic and strong alkaline cleaners should not be used on regular basis as these types of cleaners can damage the sealer and the natural stone. Heavy traffic areas will need a scrub on a more regular basis with either a nylon scouring pad or a bristled brush depending on the finish of the surface.
Newly Installed Tiles
Properly removing excess grout smear left from the tiling is one of the most important things to do, if not removed completely it can make maintaining your tiles a nearly impossible task. Acid cleaners are designed to remove stubborn grout residues, however when used incorrectly they can damage the tile surface. Spirit Marble & Tile Care are experts in stone & tile, they can assist you on which cleaners are appropriate for your particular situation. Some natural stones are acid sensitive, ie. Marble, Limestone, Travertine and other calcium based stones. If an acidic cleaner cannot be used, a good quality detergent such as Spirit Neutral Cleaner will do the job. When cleaning acid sensitive stones it is important that you remove all the grout smear between 3-5 days from grouting, this allows enough time for the grout to cure in the joints but still be easily removed from the tiled surface. If the grout smear is left on for to long it can bond to the stone and may need to be removed by regrinding the surface. When using acid cleaners it is always a good idea to rinse thoroughly and neutralize the tiles so that all the acid residues are removed.
The above pictures are of a Tumbled Travertine floor with excess grout smear. Spirit H.D.C and a black nylon scouring pad were used to remove the excess grout smear. Spirit Phosphoric Acid was NOT used in this situation because Travertine is highly reactive to acids and it would have etched the stones surface.
Clean between the lines
Grout joints can be a major problem as they are recessed, porous and textured. When you’re mopping, the combination of friction from the mop and the wetting agents from the detergent loosen the soil from the tiles and send them into the grout joints which absorb the dirty water, this will build up and become unsightly. To help with this problem Spirit make easy to use sealers to reduce the absorption and assist with this problem, this is also very important in wet areas where mould and mildew occurs. Using bleach type products regularly is not ideal, although effective, these products are bad for your health, grout and the environment. By sealing and maintaining the joints, you will reduce the use of harsh expensive cleaning products and allow your grout to always look clean and uniform.
Spirit Marble & Tile Care
Our goal is to provide as many home users and professionals high quality products that assist them in protecting their valuable tile and stone assets, reduce cleaning time and reduce the need for harsh cleaning chemicals being used and entering our environment. At the same time educating the industry to prevent tiles and stone from being damaged through incorrect laying procedures and incorrect cleaning products being used. Our website provides valuable information to the public regarding care & maintenance and correct cleaning methods. The website also provides key product information to ensure the optimal application and performance of all Spirit’s products.