NATURAL STONE AFTERCARE: SEALING AND MAINTAINING

Natural stone aftercare: sealing and maintaining

If you take a minute to think about natural stone, it is highly probable that slate would readily spring to most minds, closely followed by a whole host of other stones including limestone with its various finishes, light colouration and unique fossil deposits.

We all know someone who has some type of stone wall or floor covering in their home or workplace. Indeed at mrs stone store we have supplied our natural stone for a variety of projects ranging from residential hallways, bathrooms, conservatories, gardens/patio's wet-rooms, to commercial offices, bars, cafes, restaurants etc... the list of uses for natural stone really is endless.

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Whilst natural stone is a versatile and beautiful product to work with, there are those who have negative pre-conceptions about using it. Usually such reservations focus on the idea that natural stone is 'hard to keep clean' or that it 'would scratch easily'. In all honesty, these are common myths of which we take great pleasure in easily demystifying when assisting mrs stone store customers.

To address these myths, we need to take a step back for a moment and consider again the meaning of the words 'Natural' and 'Stone'. The Oxford Dictionary lists the definition of the word Natural as being 'Existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind'. The Definition of 'Stone' is stated as being 'hard, solid non-metallic mineral matter of which rock is made'. So, essentially, what we have is 'A hard mineral matter, that is not made or caused by humankind but is made entirely by nature'.

The formation of natural stone takes many thousands, indeed millions of years before it will be sufficiently processed, by nature, to enable the extraction of the beautifully unique floor and wall coverings we have available today. With this in mind, in order to ensure that these fantastic textures, colourations and clearly visible fossil gems are suitably cared for, it is essential that the stone is properly protected and maintained.

Myths - Truths

The 'difficult to clean and maintain' tale more often than not starts from someone that knows someone, who may have had a stone floor; that in a short space of time looked dull and lack lustre. The first thing that springs to mind in this case is the probability that the stone was not 'sufficiently' sealed at installation or that the stone has not been maintained with the correct routine cleaner since installation.

Whilst is to be expected that any floor or wall covering of any material will experience 'scrapes and bumps' in their lifetime especially with today's busy lifestyles, the beauty of using natural stone however is that these inevitable mishaps can be easily disguised by topical use of the sealer directly on the scuff - no extra products, no additional tools! This is what's made natural stone historically a perfect choice as a floor or wall covering in many homes, many of which are still functioning a thousand years on i.e. castles etc.

Sealing and maintaining your natural stone project is not only a very simple process but it costs very little. Just a little knowhow, will keep your natural stone tiling project looking as good as it did the day it was installed, whether your stone be in or outdoors.

Sealers and sealing

There are two types of sealing products available, impregnators and surface sealers - the ultimate job of these products is to help prevent stains, protect and enhance natural surfaces.

Impregnating sealers are 'absorbed' into the minute pores of the tile, resulting in a protected, breathable surface with little or no change to the 'texture' of the stone. Depending on the type of impregnating sealer you choose, you can also 'enhance' the overall colour and look of the stone.

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Surface sealers, do just that... 'sit on the surface'. This type of sealer fills the pores of the stone, effectively forming a protective film - these are available in either a satin or wet-look finishes*.

The presence of both of these types of sealer on a natural stone surface can be easily established by the way that water reacts when in contact with the surface as shown.

Unsealed or incorrectly sealed surfaces will absorb moisture along with any contaminants and colourings they may carry, resulting in staining. As you can see from the image above, a sealed surface will sufficiently form a hydrophobic barrier.

Cleaning and Maintaining

The great news about natural stone is that even the most unsightly stain on an unsealed or insufficiently sealed surface can usually easily be removed with the relevant LTP proprietary cleaner.

At mrs stone store we champion the use of the 'routine maintenance cleaners**' LTP Waxwash and the LTP Floorshine* . These individual products are high quality liquid soaps that when used regularly, reinforce the protection provided by your initial sealing product.

A 1ltr container will wash a 20m2 floor approximately 40 times, which, when costing £7.50 - £8.00 per container, works out at approximately 19p per wash, to hygienically clean and maintain your natural stone surface.

The incorrect use of regular household cleaners will, over a short space of time potentially degrade or remove the sealer completely, leaving your stone unprotected and vulnerable to the very thing we set out to protect our beautiful natural stone from - staining.

Like all fine traditional building materials, with simple care and maintenance, our beautiful 'made by nature' natural stone will aesthetically improve with age.

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* Not suitable for external use.

** LTP Floorshine to clean surfaces sealed with the surface sitting Ironwax products. LTP Waxwash to clean surfaces sealed with Impregnating sealers i.e. Mattstone, Mattstone H20, Colour Intensifier and Stainblock and the LTP MPG