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Natural stone is a natural wonder — tough enough to endure long periods of exposure to even the harshest of elements in nature, and made only more beautiful for having done so.
On one hand, this durability and beauty make natural stone a particularly appealing building element for residential and commercial projects. On the other, these same characteristics lure many people into believing that exterior and interior natural stone is maintenance-free. Undoubtedly, natural stone will last for generations when used in architectural applications; however, proper care is an important part of keeping it looking its best. Here are some common sense tips for preserving natural stone’s elegance:
1. Tend to spills immediately
Unlike most man-made cast stone products, natural stone can get wet. This makes it an ideal choice for exterior applications like pool coping and pavers, but it isn’t an invitation to ignore spills. Acids and other chemicals in liquids like fruit juices or liquors, for example, can mar some natural stone finishes.
To prevent unsightly etching, use a soft cloth or paper toweling to blot up the spill and thoroughly rinse the entire area with clean water.
2. Carefully choose cleaning products and tools
Cleaning natural stone enhances its aesthetics, but abrasive cleansers can actually have the opposite effect. Polished surfaces are particularly susceptible to dulling and scratching from acidic cleaners such as vinegar or lemon juice, scouring products intended for bathrooms, grout or tub and tile, and soap-based products not intended for stone surfaces. Vacuum cleaners or other cleaning tools with hard plastic or metal wheels and attachments can also scratch or blemish natural stone.
Forego these products and tools in favor of a dry, soft cloth for wiping and drying surfaces, and use a dust mop daily to remove any lingering dirt and grit from floors. For more thorough cleaning, research and use cleansers specifically formulated for natural stone.
3. Protect surface areas
Carelessness is perhaps one of the top threats to the long-term appearance of natural stone. Exercise due care. Use non-slip mats in high traffic areas to protect floor surfaces. Trivets, coasters and placemats are easy and effective solutions for keeping stone countertops, bars and tables pristine.
4. Apply a poultice
Even with the most attentive maintenance, accidents happen and natural stone stains can result. That’s the bad news. The good news is that a simple remedy exists to treat almost any type of stain without jeopardizing most natural stone surfaces.
The poultice cleaning method, a special stain removal procedure for deep-seated dirt and grime, uses a thick, paste-like material to draw out or absorb stains from porous materials like natural stone. A poultice may be applied to various finishes and is particularly useful on intricately carved stone, craggy surfaces and other difficult-to-clean areas.
While effective, the poultice cleaning method cannot completely remove some stubborn stains. In that case, consulting with a stone professional to map out next steps is recommended.
When treated with care, natural stone will provide many lifetimes of beautiful surroundings in private and commercial environments. For a detailed discussion of specific cleaning and stone removal techniques, be sure to read The Guide to the Care and Maintenance of Natural Stone. Click the button below to access your copy!