Thursday, 5 March 2015

Is Your Cleaning Chemical Damaging Your Stone Floor

The natural stone tiles you have in your house, offices or other building is a considerable investment. It will give you many years of beautiful service if you look after it properly.

It is not difficult to look after your stone flooring if you know what kind of stone floor your have.

Know Your Stone

For cleaning and maintenance purposes, natural stone can be classified into two categories based on its composition; calcium based or silica based stone. Understanding this difference is critical for selecting the right cleaning products.

Calcium stone is composed mainly of calcium carbonate.  Polular calcium flooring tiles are: limestone, marble, travertine, onyx and terrazzo. Acidic cleaning products will dissolve the calcium, causing visible damage; from light etching to noticeable holes. Calcium stones are also sensitive to strong alkaline cleaners. These cleaners can damage the finish on polished stones.

Silica stone is generally made up of silica or quartz grains. It tends to be a hard wearing stone and can be cleaned with alkali and acidic cleaning chemicals. Examples of popular silica type stones are slate, granite, quartzite  and sandstone.

So cleaning chemicals that are great for silica type stones, may damage calcium stone.

What Type Of Stone Do You Have?

Ideally you have records from when the stone was installed showing; the type of stone, the origin of the stone, the original finish on the stone and the recommended maintenance schedule. However very few people are lucky enough to have this information.

If you don’ t have this information then you have the following options

Contact a specialist stone supplier, or stone restoration company

Any reputable company will be more than happy to help you identify your stone. They may ask you to email them a photo to help them with the identification. They may need to visit you to inspect the stone. If this is the case, they may charge you a small fee to cover their travelling.

Do a simple acid sensitivity test

You will need some household vinegar and an eye dropper or cotton wool bud. If your stone is made of calcium, the vinegar will start to react with the calcium as it starts to dissolve it. So you need to pick an area where a small etch mark will not be seen, eg. behind a cuboard.

Apply a couple of drops of vinegar onto the stone, if it fizzes, you have a calcium based stone.  If there is no reaction, then you have a silica based stone.

Once you have identified your stone, thoroughly rinse the vinegar away with a damp cloth and wipe it dry.

There is one caveat to this procedure

If the stone has a surface sealer, then try to remove a small area of the sealer so the vinegar can reach the stone.

If you are still unsure, then check with a stone expert.

Now you have identified your stone you are well prepared to make the right choice of cleaning chemical.

Stone and tile retailers supply stone cleaning chemicals and equipment. Now, when you contact the retailer, you armed with the right information so they can supply you with the cleaning chemicals best suited to your stone floor.

Related article: The Wonderful World of Soapstone

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