How to Address Limestone Chipping or Staining

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Versatile and naturally captivating, limestone is often the go-to building material for adding an organic element to residential and commercial spaces. Certain grades, particularly Type III dolomitic limestone, are also prized for their durability which makes them all the more ideal for wall panels, veneers, pool coping, flooring, fireplace facades, etc.

With so many things working in its favor, limestone certainly brings with it high expectations around quality and performance — all of which are routinely met. However, on rare occasion, it may chip or stain despite due care taken in handling, transport, installation or maintenance. The resulting unintended, minor blemishes are generally polarizing. Some people feel they add more appeal to limestone’s visual depth, while others are distracted by what they consider imperfections.

If you or your client happen to fall in the group of decidedly non-fans of limestone chips or stains, there’s good news: remedying the flaws does not necessarily mean costly and disruptive reinstallation. Use these proven methods to address flawed limestone:

Chipping

The size of the chip dictates the fix:

  • Small chips and snips not appearing at eye level in the finished work are probably best left unattended, as any attempted repair could actually make the defect more noticable.
  • Medium-sized chips can be fixed by a skilled stonemason using a cement-like epoxy to fill and reinforce the damaged area. Should the piece of limestone that was chipped out of the slab be available, it can be re-inserted using a thermosetting adhesive “super glue.”
  • Larger chips, especially those that appear in critical locations, can be addressed using what’s commonly referred to as a “dutchman,” meaning a separate piece of stone expertly cut to fit into the chip void. Like medium-sized chips, restoration of larger chips requires the skill of an experienced stonemason to achieve desired results.

Staining

Depending on limestone color, staining can be particularly troublesome. However, most surfaces like countertops, bathroom tiles, flooring, pool pavers, hearths, and mantels can be either spared most inadvertent staining or reconditioned using common sense, tools and treatments, including:

  • Provide a layer of protection. Limestone can take a great deal of punishment, but a hot pan placed on a tile tabletop or continued neglect of a high traffic hallway are among the quickest ways to incur potentially permanent stains. Keep a supply of hot pads and coasters on-hand to keep the limestone kitchen fixtures stain-free, and note that routine dust-mopping and non-skid mats make for worry-free limestone flooring. Beyond these precautions, we recommend using a limestone sealer prior to or just after installation, as this will reduce the likelihood of staining altogether.
  • Take immediate action. If a spill occurs or a stain appears from oxidation or another natural occurrence, don’t delay! Use a soft cloth to blot up as much of the spill or stain as possible to counteract the etching effects of acids and other chemicals.
  • Don’t underestimate a gentle soap and some elbow grease. Sometimes, permanent stains can be wholly prevented with nothing more than paper toweling, warm, sudsy water and a little effort. Before graduating to commercial cleaners, try a gentle detergent.
  • Apply a poultice. Sometimes, a mild soap is no match for a stain. Time to mix up a poultice. As the thick paste-like material sets, it will draw out deep-seated dirt, grime and stains for good-as-new limestone surfaces.

Limestone is meant to last a lifetime, and it can — even if chips or stains befall it — provided proper steps are taken to preserve it, like those you’ll find in the Care and Maintenance of Natural Limestone. Click the button below to access your copy of this valuable guide now!

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