Mar 29th 2021 / General Stone Care
Routine Maintenance of Natural Stone Floors
Maintaining any floor is not a mean feat, let alone natural stone ones. Some homeowners install natural stone floors because they think they do not have to do much to maintain them. However, the truth is that any lack of proper maintenance will ruin the look and feel of your natural stone floor.
Dealing with spills
Spills are some of the worst ruiners of natural stone floors. They vary from each other, and while some may not be serious, some spills can be detrimental to your floor if left uncleaned. There is a long list of products that might not cause a lot of harm to a normal floor, for example, orange juice, vinegar, perfume, wine, or even tomato sauce. However, on a natural stone surface such as limestone, alabaster, marble, and travertine.
It is important to clean all spills when they happen, always immediately, because they might cause a lot of damage if not. Instead of rubbing off the spill, it is recommended that you use a piece of cloth or clean paper to blot it out.
Which products should you use?
What most homeowners do is use general cleaning products such as dish soap or glass cleaners to clean their natural stone floors. While these products might look safe, they might not be doing any good to your natural stone floor. The best products to use would be those which are specifically designed for natural stone. If your toilet sits on top of a natural stone floor, for example, you should be very careful not to spill your toilet cleaning product on the floor because it might be too harsh on stone.
How should you clean?
While cleaning is an important part of the cleaning process, this is not the only factor to consider when cleaning a natural stone floor. How you do it is also important. This is the means and includes other items used in the cleaning process. For example, the scrubbing pad, squeegee, mop, and cleaning rag are all important. Your cleaning gear's type and quality will determine how well you care for your natural stone floor.
One of the best ways to ensure you give your natural stone floor a proper clean is by getting a proper-sized mopping bucket and a high-quality mop. Some experts recommend a mop that is made of closed-loop cotton strings. If you can afford a micro-fiber mop, this could be the best option. Many homeowners will use one mop for all their floor cleaning sessions for many months or even years. When the mop is dirty, you do a lot more damage than good for your floor. If possible, switch mop heads every now and then, especially when you notice it is dirty.
It is also important to get a bucket that is not too small. Small buckets hold less water and get dirty faster. You need plenty of water to ensure that when you squeeze out the mop and take more water, it is clean, and you do not have to change the water often. Choose a bucket that also comes with a wringer, which makes it easy to drain and dry the mop before you continue cleaning.
These products can be found in the cleaning section of most home improvement stores. You also do not have to break the bank to get the right fit for your home. The good news is that nowadays, in most popular home improvement stores, you will find buckets that not only hold the water but also come with wringers. You might also be lucky to get a mop that goes with this combo.
The cleaning process
How you clean your stone floor says a lot about its longevity. The cleaning process varies depending on the stone's phases, for example, whether it is new or refinished. Here are some tips.
When natural stone floors are newly installed, they should be cleaned and detailed by a professional stone finisher or janitor. Detailing involves cleaning every square inch of the floor very carefully and giving it a deep clean. It also involves removing the grout and adhesive or other residue left during the installation phase. This process is important and should be done diligently to avoid damaging the floor. Specialty cleaning products should be used to prevent damage and to let the floor breathe.
If you do not have the resources or an expert to do the detailing for you, you should consider using a vacuum cleaner the first few weeks after installation. It is not advisable to use a wet mop, not the floor, immediately after it is installed and grouted because it will trap the powder used, and over time, cause ugly marks or streaks on your floor. Dust mopping is also safe for freshly-installed floors. Only use a wet or damp mop when the powder is gone.
Most homeowners refinish their floors once in a while to improve their look. It is important to keep in mind that water might damage refinished floors. If you must use water immediately, consider adding to it a janitorial grade PH neutral cleaning detergent that is specifically formulated for natural stone. You can also use heavy-duty alkaline PH cleaners but make sure to rinse it out once done.
Avoid non-stone specific products
When buying cleaning products for floor mopping, you should consider buying those made explicitly for stone floors. It is also important to note that while damp mopping your floor by dipping the mop in a concentration of soap and water is conventional practice, it might ruin your natural stone floor. Instead, read the labels of the cleaning agents you buy and avoid leaving stone soap on without cleaning it off after cleaning. Otherwise, you will end up leaving a layer of scum on your floor. Look for products that can be used as a stripper or degreaser, removing the leftover scum from the floor. PH neutral detergents which are rinse-free can also be a better alternative. Dish soap should not be used not the floor, though, because it has the same effect as other harsh detergents.
Another mistake some homeowners make is cleaning their natural stone floors using a solution of water and vinegar. This is not ideal because vinegar contains acetic acid, which is highly acidic, and which could cause lasting, devastating effects to your floors. Commercially available cleaners are also not recommended unless they are properly labeled as suitable for cleaning stone surfaces.
Protect your floor surface
While cleaning your floor is an ideal way of keeping out dirt and other unwanted particles, there are other ways to protect your floors. Using proper floor mats can help you avoid damaging your floors. Janitorial-grade mats, which are heavy-duty on the outside and softer on the inside, are ideal. Some companies which sell them even custom-fit it for your floors, so you do not have to incur more installation costs. Do not forget to clean your mats regularly, because if they are left on the floor for a long time, they may also damage the floor.
How to preserve the finish of your floor
Apart from cleaning a naturals one floor, homeowners also look for ways to preserve the finish and look of a newly restored or refinished floor. It takes a lot of work and time to make sure that the floor retains its shine. For starters, you should find fine wax, which has been specifically made for natural stone floors. There are a few companies which sell these.
When using such products, it is advisable to apply them as soon as possible after the floor is installed or restored and not wait until years are gone by. This is because the product is intended for keeping the polish intact, not to give it the polish from scratch. When the floor is already damaged, applying these waxing products may not have any effect. To apply the wax, use a floor buffer which is sold in many small appliance stores.
While some do not recommend stone waxing, it has its benefits and has proven beneficial when it comes to preserving already polished stone floors. It is not a full-proof method, but it can help you prolong your floor's life for some years to come.
Caring for a natural stone floor can be seen as an easy task, but most homeowners do not appreciate the work that goes into maintaining one the proper way. The main takeaway is that you should not use just any cleaning agent you have around the house. Instead, consider buying specially formulated products designed for stone floors. This will save you both money and time spent on restoring or re-installing your stone floors because they were damaged as a result of poor cleaning habits. It is also important to have the right cleaning gear to ensure that you effectively clean your floor and protect it like it is supposed to be cared for.