Natural stone used for interior or exterior applications, is inherently low-maintenance. When combined with the use of a sealer (when and where needed) in combination with a proper maintenance program, it will provide decades of satisfaction in even the most challenging applications.
In an article written for Stone World magazine, the author suggested that a good maintenance program consists of three essential components: Product, Procedure and Equipment (PPE). When these three elements are used in the daily or routine cleaning as well as periodic heavy-duty maintenance, they will determine the overall success of the stone installation and ultimately, satisfaction of the owner.
Some factors to know and consider when determining the best maintenance program will include characteristics such as surface texture, type of stone, area of use (such as food exposure), interior or exterior, floors, counters or walls, etc. and amount of use. All of these variables will influence and determine what decisions need to be made related to PPE. Discussing these with the stone supplier and manufacturer of the care products are absolutely essential to ensure that owner expectations are realistic and results achievable – with the right material and maintenance program.
Routine Daily Maintenance:
For daily or routine stone floor maintenance, often dust mopping with a good microfiber mop is sufficient. Also, using a vacuum is ideal to pick up everyday dirt, dust and common debris that may get tracked across the floor. For countertops and walls, the use of a mild pH neutral cleaner will keep these surfaces looking great in most applications. Showers may require the use of a little stronger cleaner to remove soap scum, hard water, etc., but when done routinely, this will help prevent buildup and the need for more aggressive cleaners and procedures. With regard to equipment, using nylon pads or scrub brushes may need to be used to achieve the desired result. Always check that these are non-scratching and suitable for natural stone. Understanding the stone’s hardness, finish/texture and the contaminants to be cleaned in relation to the use of the right brushes or pads is extremely important.
Choosing the Right Cleaner:
When choosing the right cleaner for daily/routine cleaning, a pH neutral product designed for the maintenance of stone is highly recommended to avoid the damaging effects of most common household and commercial cleaners. Everyday grocery store and or commercial cleaners found at many janitorial supply stores contain acids, bleaches, caustic and corrosive agents and abrasives that can permanently damage the stone and remove any sealer present, often within weeks or months of use. If the stone has been sealed, using products designed for the careful cleaning of natural stone will help ensure maximum performance of the sealer and maintain the beauty and function of the installation.
Even with a proper routine maintenance program, the author suggests all installations will require some type of deep cleaning. When periodic heavy-duty cleaning is required, using specialty cleaners that are designed for natural stone are a must. These products tend to be alkaline in make-up and are extremely good at deep cleaning the surface, degreasing and restoring the installation to its original appearance. The frequency will vary and may need to be done once a year or up to monthly for some installations, as needed. Again, contacting the manufacturer of the maintenance products, the supplier and or equipment manufacturer (for commercial installations) is always recommended to help understand and identify the relevant factors for each project. Hiring a professional to do this type of cleaning is strongly encouraged.
In summary, following these simple recommendations will help customers achieve their desired results while saving time and money and avoiding some of the most common mistakes and misunderstandings.