Fearing Natural Stone Care

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Ostrich Grey honed quartziteHoned Bianco Carrara countertop

To follow up and expand on my first article, “Introducing, Natural Stone!”, this article will focus on the care and maintenance of natural stone–something which puts unecessary fear into the minds of many homeowners who value the beauty of natural stone but do not want to A) ruin it and B) spend long hours caring for it. For all of you busy bees out there, I understand! This article is for you.

Everyday customers come into the showroom looking for just the right tile for their home or commercial space. I see many furrowed brows and looks of caution when I mention natural stone as a great option for floors, walls, bathrooms and kitchens. Perhaps you heard about what happened to your cousin Mary’s marble countertop or your Uncle Larry’s travertine shower pan and made a pact with yourself to never buy natural stone. Before you right it off completely, let me dispell some myths about natural stone care and offer a brief education about how to keep your your stone looking swell for decades. Here you will find my suggestions for sealing, cleaning and regular maintenance of natural stone. Read on, and then decide whether it’s the right product for you.

Natural stone needs to be well-sealed upon installation. This is something that needs to be done at the time of installation and periodically thereafter depending upon the quality of sealer that you use. To test whether or not your natural stone is well-sealed, put a few drops of water on the surface of the stone and leave it alone for 10 minutes. If the water remains beaded on the surface, it’s in good shape; if it has soaked in, it’s time to reseal your stone.

Use a penetrating sealer to reseal your stone. Also called an impregnating sealer, this type of sealer penetrates the pores of your natural stone. Instead of sitting on top of the stones surface (called a topical sealer which we do not recommend) a penetrating sealer works its way into the stone so that other liquids will not settle there. To make this a bit more complex, there are many types of penetrating sealers, each with it’s specialty:

hydrophobic sealers repel water based liquids

oilphobic sealers repel both oil and water based liquids

microbial sealers discourage the growth of molds and bacteria in the pores of natural stone.

So now that you know what type of sealer to use, you need to know how often to seal your stone. Before I go any further, you should know that there isn’t a set formula for resealing natural stone. The need to reseal your stone depends on the quality of the sealer you have been using (use a high quality sealer such as Stonetech Heavy Duty sealer), the type of natural stone you have, the location of the stone in your home and how much it is used (and/or abused).

With this in mind, always buy a high quality stone sealer to seal your stone initially and then follow the manufacturer’s instructions after that! Some sealers will call for resealing once every year; others will claim to keep your stone sealed for 10 years or more. In any case, pay attention to the surface of your natural stone to make final decisions about whether it’s time to reseal it. If your stone is on a kitchen countertop and receives a lot of wear and tear, it will most likely need to be sealed more often than a countertop or backsplash in a powder room which see much less use. If your stone is in a wet application like a shower or steam room, it will also need more frequent resealing especially if it’s a more porous stone like limestone or travertine. As you can see, there are not any hard and fast rules when it comes to resealing natural stone. However, as you live with your stone, you’ll begin to understand how and when to care for it.

If the idea of resealing your natural stone once a year sounds daunting, there are stone cleaners that clean and seal at once, alleviating the need to put a distant date on the calendar and evacuate the house for a weekend. These products are a good option for those of you who would prefer to seal and clean as you go. Here at Statements, we use Stonetech Pro’s Revitalizer to do the job.

When it comes to cleaning your natural stone, remember to use a neutral-pH stone cleaner. Remember the pH-scale? Well, if you don’t, that’s okay. Just remember this: only buy high-quality stone cleaners with a neutrual pH (neither acidic or alkaline) because both acidic and alkaline liquids are liable to etch or discolor the surface of your natural stone. Many drugstore stone cleaners are acidic or alkaline, so read those labels and call the manufacturer to double check on the products pH rating. Once you’ve bought your cleaner, it’s best to use a very small amount of cleaner and lot’s of hot water. Because soap is made to attract dirt, you do not want to use much of it and you need to rinse off any left over soap fromthe surface of your stone once it’s been cleaned. This is true for cleaning any surface in your home.

For more in depth information about cleaning, sealing and restoration of natural stone I recommend these helpful sites:




Lastly, much of this information has been gleaned from Statements stonecare expert and partner, Denise Frakes of Blue Sky Services. She and her husband Dallas have been in the stone care industry for over 20 years and specialize in cleaning, sealing and restoring damaged stone. For Denise’s helpful stone care tips, please read this: Blue Sky Services Stone Care information. If you’d like to contact Dallas or Denise directly, they can be reached at 253.927.2240 or 253.946-2056.

One Response to “Fearing Natural Stone Care”

  1. Thanks Kristen,

    I really enjoyed that article and I plan on using some of the tips for my new tumbled marble tile floor. I did notice that you recommended using Stonetech Pro for the sealing and cleaning, however my tile installer (who’s been installing tile for over 20 years) strongly recommended using Brightstone’s Optimum Sealer (http://www.brightstn.com). He says for the price and quality, that you can’t beat Brightstone. What has been your experience with either of these sealers? Thanks again!