Restoration of Tile, Stone, Concrete, Carpet Floors for Coachella, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio and for the rest of the Coachella Valley.
TILE, STONE FLOOR MAINTENANCE
Initially non polished or "honed" marble, granite, and limestone were used for flooring because they were an inexpensive building material that was highly durable and easy to maintain. This unpolished finish only required sweeping and mopping to keep it clean.
As styles changed and manufacturing methods improved more beautiful and elegant flooring was created. Highly polished stone with mirror like finishes became popular, resulting in an increased cost in both raw materials and maintenance to keep them that way. Sweeping and moping could no longer maintain these finishes. Abrasion from walking on polished floors causes the shine to go dull and only regular polishing could bring back and maintain the beauty and elegance of the stone.
To maintain your stone floor you must be familiar with standard maintenance procedures, and with the specialized techniques used to polish stone floors, so you can build a proper maintenance program to suit your needs and keep your floor in its original condition.
The main types of stone used today in flooring are marble, granite and limestone.
Granite has little or no veining and can have solid backgrounds with shiny specks or flecks of crystals throughout the surface.
Limestone usually ranges in color from gray to buff and is usually consistent in color with little or no veining. Limestone sometimes has imbedded fossils, iron streaks and streaks of calcite as other identifying features. Limestone floors are soft and scratch easily. These can be polished by various methods but will generally not achieve a mirror like shine.
Marble comes in a wide range of colors usually with veins and variant colors running through it. It ranges from soft to very hard and will polish well to a deep mirror like reflection.
The first step in developing a floor maintenance plan is to determine the current condition of the stone. Some common problems and recommended treatments are listed below. A professional marble restoration company can diagnose all these and other problems and give you an evaluation of what the present condition is and what is needed to bring your marble back to its original finish.
Cracks may be repaired by filling with a suitable filler material. Very large cracks, or very small hair line cracks, cannot generally be filled and the only alternative is replacement.
Stun marks are caused by sharp impact on the stone surface. The most common cause of stun marks are ladies high heeled shoes. These marks are sometimes very deep in the stone. Grinding with diamond abrasives can remove or improve some, but if not then replacement of the damaged stone is the only alternative.
Deep scratches can usually be repaired by resurfacing with medium to coarse grit diamond abrasives.
Etching is a dull area on a stone caused by spills of acidic products such as citrus juice, vinegar, soft drinks, etc. If the etching is very light it possibly can be repaired by polishing the area with a polishing powder.. Heavy etching must be repaired by resurfacing the area with diamond abrasives.
Lippage or uneven tiles must be ground down or beveled to alleviate the problem. This is done by grinding with coarse grit diamond or abrasive stones.
Spalling is a condition in which piece of stone has broken leaving a chip or hole in the face of the stone. These can be repaired by filling with a polyester, epoxy or cement based filler material colored to match the stone. The affected area must be resurfaced after filling to level the filler material to the stone surface. Replacing the stones is another, but more costly, alternative.
Staining, in most cases, can be remedied by a process known as "poulticing". The appropriate poultice for the stain is prepared and placed on the stain and allowed to dry. As it dries it draws the stain out of the stone. If this method doesn't work, "honing" (grinding) the surface down to a fresh layer of stone and then re-polishing may be needed to remove the stain.
Yellowing, in white marbles, can be cause by iron present in the stone that oxidizes over time. Unfortunately since the yellowing is from the nature of the stone the only treatment is replacement. More commonly yellowing is cause by ground in dirt or wax coatings that turn yellow. This type of yellowing can be repaired by stripping off the coating and cleaning the stone well.
Daily maintenance is very simple, damp mop daily . The loss of polish on stone floors is mostly caused by dust, dirt, sand and other fine particles scratching the surface from foot traffic. Removing the dust and dirt from the floor will help keep this scratching to a minimum. The less scratching that occurs, the less frequently polishing or restoration will be needed. A good quality cotton mop works best. Do not over wet the floor, light damp mopping is all that is needed. If grout lines start to darken scrub well and wet vac out debris.
Make certain that the cleaner you use has a neutral pH of seven. High alkaline or mild acidic cleaners can dull or damage the finish, particularly "no streak" cleaners. Although they may be neutral pH seven some contain "Chelates" which dissolve or destroy calcium in the water and eliminate hard water deposits. Since marble and stone contain a large amount of calcium these cleaners attack the finish on stone floors.
Hint: You can test whether your cleaner is neutral by pouring a drop of the concentrated cleaner in an inconspicuous location and let it sit for 5-10 minutes then wipe up. If the spot is dull then the cleaner is not neutral and will etch your floor, but if no change is observed in the finish it should be fine.
Methods of Polishing and Restoration
Sanding with diamond abrasives is the most durable polishing method and is also the only choice for restoration. This method involves grinding the floor down with commercial grade diamond abrasive pads. Successively finer pads are used to bringing out a mirror like shine.
Polishing powders can also give very effective results. In this method polishing powder is applied with a buffing machine to bring out a mirror like shine. This is a good regular maintenance choice.
Coatings like wax and urethane are used as quick fixes and are more of a problem than a solution. These coatings prevent the stone from "breathing" and may yellow light colored stones, and the chemicals used for stripping the coatings off can damage the floor. These finishes are no answer to imperfections in a stone floor and in the long run may only exacerbate problems. The best approach is to not use coatings at all.
Which method is best?
The only sure method of polishing all forms of granite floors is by sanding with diamond abrasives and/or polishing powders. A chemical spray and buff method is available for dark colored granite. Granite is very scratch and acid resistant so the need to polish is very rare. Daily dust and damp mopping is all that is needed to maintain the finish.
Marble and Limestone are very effectively treated by all methods. Diamond abrasives are the best choice if there are minor imperfections in the stone that need to be ground out before restoration, and if a tough durable finish is desired.
No matter which method is used polishing should be done regularly. Once the finish goes dull it takes three to four times longer to bring it back. Your polishing schedule will be determined by how well the stone is cared for on a daily basis and the level of traffic on the floor.
For commercial applications, polishing main traffic areas like lobbies and entrances should be done frequently while low traffic areas may need to be polished less frequently.
With heavier traffic levels, commercial sites will need polishing a weekly or monthly basis. Residential floors can usually be done on yearly or twice yearly polishing schedules due to significantly lower traffic levels.
The best way to decide on a polishing schedule is to polish the floor and observe how long it takes for the floor to begin to dull. The floor should then be polished and a schedule set up to suit that observed pattern of wear. Over time high traffic areas may become too worn down to polish to a deep shine. When this happens the area should be restored with diamond abrasives to bring back the original clarity and depth.
When getting your floor refinished, having it treated with an impregnator or sealer would be a good idea. Untreated stone can stain very easily. Treating these stains can be expensive and sometimes not even possible. To eliminate or reduce the possibility of staining it is essential that the stone be properly protected with a good quality impregnator or sealer (in this guide the terms are synonymous).
An impregnator is a chemical that penetrates the stone and helps to repel water, dye, dirt, and other substances from causing a stain. Since the impregnator penetrates the stone (rather than coating it like wax) it allows the stone to "breath". Impregnators do not offer 100% protection from staining.
Maintenance of Stone Floors
The most common mistake made by cleaners of stone floors is not recognizing the chemical sensitivity of the flooring material they are caring for. Marble and limestone are alkaline-based stones and can be dissolved by acids in cleaning products and other kitchen sources, such as lemons, citrus juices, wine, and soft drinks. These fluids can etch and remove the polish from a marble floor, if not wiped up quickly. These stones are soft and vulnerable to scratches and dulling by sand, grit and soil under common foot traffic, and can absorb stains.
Without great additional investment for equipment and supplies, using a carpet cleaning extractor, either portable or a truck-mount, the addition of a hard surface cleaning tool, and a good 1.5 hp 175 rpm weighted floor machine with the ability to go from 100 lbs to 140 lbs to do marble polishing and honing, a cleaning operation can, with adequate training, take on stone floor care.
Identifying the material to be treated is essential. Test the surface in an inconspicuous area with a drop of acid. If the stone fizzes or loses its shine, it is marble or limestone. Observe the stone - does it have swirls of veining?
Does the stone scratch easily with a pocketknife blade? If so, it is most likely marble.
Our company has marble-specific cleaning products that reduce the potential for damage. When used in combination with mechanical agitation and clear water rinse with an extractor, they should produce excellent results. Many general cleaning compounds can etch marble or leave salts in the stone.
Light scratches and wear patterns in marble can be removed with a special honing pad and an application of marble honing compound agitated by machine producing a matte finish. Most marble without deep scratches can be "freshened" with marble polishing, similar to honing. Using the floor machine, a special polishing pad and polishing compound can bring the floor to a very natural high polish.
Solvent-based impregnating sealer should be applied to newly polished marble to reduce potential staining. Rather than sitting on the surface, impregnating sealers provide an invisible subsurface seal, penetrating deep into the stone. The problem with using topical floor "coating" type sealers with floor finishes or waxes, acrylic or polyurethane finishes, is that they do not allow the stone to breathe, can scratch and peel easily, show scuff marks and require frequent buffing and reapplication requiring more maintenance than a natural un-waxed floor.
NOTE: A high-gloss marble floor can be slippery!
Measurement of Hardness
(MOH) Scale for Stone:
The objective of the MOH Scale is to measure stones’ resistance to hardness. The harder the stone (the higher the MOH), the more resistant it is to abrasion and the harder it is to hone or polish.
Remember that exterior sediment that is tracked into buildings approximately measures from 3 to 7 MOH. Therefore, it is able to scratch and dull most of the stone surfaces above.
Ceramic Tile and Grout:
Glazed ceramic tile is now commonly used in living areas - bathrooms, foyers, indoor pools, etc. Ceramic tile has a glazed hard surface which is thinner on wall tiles than on floor tiles. This glaze is on the surface only and can wear off. Glazed ceramic tile is not acid sensitive.
There is no glaze with porcelain tile (mainly commercial). The entire body of the tile is porcelain and won’t wear through. Efflorescence is a common problem with the porous porcelain tiles. It is from minerals that wick to the surface and are easily removed with a Heavy Duty Acidic Cleaner or simply buffed off.
Dirty Grout is the #1 complaint about ceramic tile.
Please contact us for a free inspection and professional quotation.