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Natural stone is a collective name for thousands of different types of stone, found and quarried throughout the world...

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This page has been created to post information that applies to "OUR EMPLOYEES ONLY" and inform them about various topics, which are mainly Project Management & Human Resources related.

STONE maintenance

Surface finishing is the treatment that brings out the esthetic features of the material. The ornamental function and also some technical characteristics (e.g. its resistance to wear and weather conditions or its slipperiness) are strongly influenced by the surface finishing applied to the product. Depending on the treatment, we can divide the finishing into mechanical, impact, and chemical methods.

Mechanical Finishing

  • Rough
  • Polished
  • Honed

Impact Finishing

  • Brushed
  • Brush Hammered
  • Tooled
  • Sandblasted
  • Flamed
  • Water Finishing
  • Antique Finishing-Tumbled

Chemical Finishing

  • Acid Wash
  • Epoxy treated
  • Meshed
  • Protective Treatment

Mechanical Finishing

In mechanical finishing, the stone is put in contact with an abrasive to reduce the original surface roughness to some extent.

Rough

Though infrequent, sometimes the sawn material or even just-quarried material is ready for installation and needs only to be cut to size. The surface in this case is generally rough, with an uneven face. Rough stone is predominantly used outdoors, where it is appreciated for its non-slip quality. It is often used with slate and with some kinds of sandstone.

Polished

Polishing is the main and the most frequently applied finish. It follows the finest honing and employs polishing abrasives that add brilliance with mirror effect to the stone surface. A glossy surface that wears away with time due to heavy foot traffic and using improper maintenance procedures. This surface is very smooth and not very porous. The reflectivity of polished crystals brings out the brilliant colors and grains of natural stone. The shine comes from the natural reflection of the stone's crystals. The polish is provided by polishing bricks and polishing powders that are used during fabrication. The shine is not from a coating.

Honed

This finishing aims to produce a smooth surface by using abrasives of ever finer grain on the surface, so there is not a single honing but a series of progressive degrees of it. Honed finish is not reflective and makes the color tones slightly dull, but the treatment preserves the material's natural esthetic characteristics.This surface is very smooth, but often very porous. This texture is common in high traffic buildings. Honed floors should always be protected with a Penetrating Sealer because it has wide-open pores. Honed stone colors are not as vibrant as a polished stone.

Impact Finishing

In impact finishing a strong external force is applied to the stone surface in order to alter and enhance the original surface roughness. Because they produce surface unevenness, these finishes are usually not slippery, but they do get dirty easily.

Brushed

Brushed finish is obtained by applying hard plastic or metal brushes to the stone surface. The heavily action removes the softer part of the stone and wears out the surface, giving it a look similar to that of antique finishing.

Brush Hammered

Brush hammering is obtained by hitting the material surface mechanically or by hand with a specific multi pointed tool. This method creates a rugged surface full of little grazes at the impact points, and it modifies the color, making it lighter. The surface becomes non-slip. This technique has been replaced by flaming and pressure water finishing because these are faster and less costly.

Tooled

Tooling is similar to bush hammering but it is obtained with a larger, single-pointed steel tool. The chromatic and non-slip effects are similar to those obtained with bush hammering, but tooling can applied only to a chosen part of the surface, thus leaving some rough areas. The effect it produces is useful in giving stone a medieval character.

Sandblasted

In sandblasting, a high-pressure jet of siliceous sand or carborundum or steel shots is applied to the area to be treated. It produces a smooth abrasion, leaving the material slightly scratched on the surface, but not rugged. The color tones and the veins are a bit dulled.

Flamed

Passing a blowpipe that emits a high-temperature flame over the surface to be treated. The heat acts by blowing the crystals out as they suffer thermal shock, with an effect that is particularly evident in materials composed of minerals with various degrees of expansion, e.g., the vast majority of granites. The surface produced is rough and non-slip, and the color is generally faded, hiding defects and tone variations. Because of oxidation, yellow materials become orange or red. This surface is very porous and must be treated with Sealers.

Water Finishing

This process consists of passing a pipe emitting a jet of high-pressure water over the surface to be treated. The effect is the negative of what happens with thermal finishing. While with flaming the hardest part of the material bursts and is removed, in water finishing the softest part is removed. But the result looks the same, the surface is similarly rough. The colors of the material and the veining pattern are not affected by water finishing and the esthetic effects are comparable even to those obtained by polishing. As water finishing does not induce oxidation, it is the usual finish employees for making yellow material non-slip.

Antique Finishing-Tumbled

Special machinery that looks like industrial washing machines is used to obtain an antique finish. The pieces to be treated are put in the machine with abrasive elements (small pieces of marble, limestone, and sometimes granite ), the cylinder revolves tumbling small pieces and achieve an archaic/worn appearance. In a short time the impact of the stone with the abrasives produces an effect similar to aging caused by use and wear. The impact method is not suitable for large pieces, for which brushing or acid washing is the method of choice. It often requires an application of Stone Color Enhancer to bring out the colors.

Chemical Finishing

Chemical finishes are applied to stone in order to produce reactions that transform the material surface, or they are employed together with other types of treatment in order to improve their characteristics. These finishes can also be applied to cut, or even installed, materials.

Acid Wash

Acid washing has a corrosive action on the stone. It can be used to obtain different effects depending on the material, the chemical, and finally, the processing time. Finishes can range from simple superficial cleaning of the material to a more definite ruggedness, similar to that achieved by water finishing. Acid washing is sometimes used to obtain an antique finish in place of the impact method. It is possible to acid wash already cut pieces or, with appropriate precautions, already installed ones. Some chemicals produce other results affecting the aspect of the stone but not its roughness. There are acids that remove oily or rust spots on the material others that instead induce oxidation effects and are employed to change the material color.

Epoxy Treated

This method consists of several steps:

  • One face is honed to create a smooth surface on which the resin is applied.
  • The slab is dried in a special oven to allow the resin to penetrate into the material and set.
  • Resin is poured and spread on the slab.
  • The slab is put in the oven again to dry the resin.
  • When the slab comes out from the oven it is ready for polishing.
This complex process has two main goals: the improvement of the material's esthetic characteristics and its mechanical resistance. The high fluidity of the resin allows it to penetrate the smallest interstices and to fill defects in the material. Unlike resin treatment, cement filling, usually applied to travertine, is employed for purely esthetic reasons.

Meshed

In addition to resin treatment, in order to strengthen material it is common to apply a thin net made of fiberglass or plastic on the back side of the most defective marble or stone slabs.

Protective Treatment

This category includes all those treatments that are used to protect the material surface from external elements. Among them are hydro- and oil-repellent treatments used to seal kitchen countertops, anti-graffiti treatments to avoid damage caused by vandalism, and products that give a wet appearance to flamed stone. These products are often the final protection given to finished and installed stone.

 

Understanding the Stone Maintenance Cycle

Stone is a natural material which should be cared for with proper maintenance procedures. Once the stone is installed, it will always go through a natural life-cycle. To prepare for this cycle, precise maintenance schedules must be developed to care for your type of stone.

Two main factors that should be considered when designing a maintenance program are the hardness and absorbency of the stone. These factors will help decide which chemicals, pads, brushes, and equipment are necessary to maintain the stone.

The Stone Maintenance Cycle is comprised of three segments:

  • Preventive Maintenance
    • Protecting the interior of the stone with a Penetrating Sealer.
    • Proper walk-off entrance matting.
    • Understanding your stone, chemicals, and procedures.

  • Maintenance
    • Dust Mopping with clean rayon mops.
    • Properly laundering and caring for mops.
    • Wet mopping
    • Repairing pits and cracks with epoxy or glues.
    • Prompt spill pick-ups to prevent etching and staining.
    • Powder or liquid polishing to revive polished finishes.
    • Reabsorbing stains with poultice powders.

  • Restoration
    • Resurfacing the stone with a diamond abrasive program to remove scratches, abrasions, and traffic patterns.
    • Deep cleaning the pores of honed, flamed, or ground floors.

 

Understanding Stone Maintenance Chemicals

In the stone maintenance industry there are two main types of chemicals that are utilized, water-based and solvent-based.

Solvent-based chemicals do not contain any water and do not register a pH balance. These ingredients are only soluble in other solvents. Some examples of solvent chemicals are paint thinners, most penetrating sealers(impregnators), D-Limonene, and alcohol.

Water-based chemicals are chemicals that contain water and have a pH balance. Chemicals mixed in water are soluble in water. There are a variety of water based chemicals such as neutral cleaners, ammonia, bleach, and most chemicals that have a pH balance.

In order to determine the difference between solvent and water based chemicals, read the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Most solvents have a flash point and can ignite. Most water-based chemicals do not have a flash point unless they contain a solvent ingredient to add strength to the product. For example, many degreasers contain D-limonene. In most stone care situations, if a stain or coating is water-based, then water-based chemicals are needed to remove it.

Listed below are samples of the two types of chemicals:


WATER-BASED: SOLVENT-BASED:
Alkalis D-limonene
Acids Alcohol
Hydrogen peroxide Siloxane
All purpose cleaners Acetone
Glycols Mineral spirits

Some product lines are derived of mainly water-based chemicals. The reason is due to the environmental concerns that solvent-based chemicals are harmful to our environment. Water-based chemicals are usually more user friendly. Remember to always wear proper protective gear when using any chemical and keep them all out of the reach of children.

 

Marble, Granite, Slate and Limestone are products of nature and as such may have small cracks, blemishes, voids, different shadings and variations in colour, veining, pitting, and or surface textures, which are inherent properties of natural stones and their products and ARE NOT CONSIDERED DEFECTS.

Natural Stones, and products made thereof, are susceptible to the penetration of liquids and other staining agents if the surface is not sealed, but even if the countertops have been sealed, the material remains porous. Sealer acts as a temporary barrier to keep the stone from staining, allowing you a short period of time to clean the surface of the countertop. Wipe up spills immediately using a clean cloth, clean water, and a mild detergent. Do not use abrasive cleaners, which may cause damage to the stone. To further reduce the chance for a countertop to be stained, it is also recommended that the homeowner re-seal the countertop periodically after the initial sealing.

Granite differ in their texture but they all have similar properties such as resistance to the invasive action of most substances found in the house. Unlike marble and limestone, granite is the least affected by acids or alcohol. It shouldn't be damaged from standing hot utensils on it or by sharp knives. Please read below some of our recommended stone care tips. For further information please don't hesitate to contact us.

Stones Are Porous - Sealing

All stones, due to their granular construction, are porous to a greater or lesser extent and most granites fall into the latter category. To reduce the slight ability of granite to absorb liquids, the surface is treated with a proprietary sealer that penetrates the surface and fills the microscopic voids between the crystals. This process is done in the factory at the completion of manufacture and again when installed. We recommend that you re-seal granite every 6 month to 1 year, depending on the use and porosity of the stone. Marble, Limestone and other natural stones will also have to be re-sealed every year.

Staining

With the lighter coloured granite you may notice a slight darkening of the stone in areas where water has been allowed to stand, but this should fade away as it dries out. While Granite is highly stain resistant, substances such as oils, grease, and products that contain these substances can stain or darken your granite if not wiped up quickly. Other natural stones other than granite have a much higher chance of staining. Please use the utmost care and wipe up spills immediately.

STAIN REMOVAL

Most stains can be removed using standard household products. If the stain is particularly difficult to handle, a commercial stain remover can be used. Stains of every kind can affect tiles and grout joints.

The list that follows provides some of the most common staining problems and potential solutions:



 Problem
 Remover(s)
 Blood  Baking soda, bleach, hydrogen peroxide
 Chewing gum  Ice cubes, paint remover
 Coffee  Baking soda, bleach, household cleaners, hydrogen peroxide
 Dyes  Bleach
 Fats  Detergent, salt soda
 Fruit juices  Baking soda, bleach, household cleaners, hydrogen peroxide, oxalic acid
 Grease  Detergent, plaster of paris, salt soda
 Ink  Baking soda, bleach
 Iodine  Ammonia
 Lipstick  Bleach, household cleaners, hydrogen peroxide
 Mildew  Ammonia, baking soda, bleach
 Motor oil  Plaster of paris
 Mustard  Bleach
 Nail polish  Bleach, nail polish remover
 Paint  Paint remover
 Rust  Baking soda, scouring powders
 Tar  Ice cubes, paint remover
 Tea Bleach, household cleaners, hydrogen peroxide
Tough stains Oxalic acid
 Vegetable oil  Baking soda, detergent
 Water/mineral stains  White vinegar
 Wax  Ice cubes, paint remover
 Wet paper  Bleach
 Wine  Baking soda

Most of the following items are regarded as household cleaning products and may be purchased at local supermarkets. Please review the packaged directions before using any products for efficacy and safety.

Acids and Alcohol

Marble and Limestone are susceptible to the aggressive action of acids and alcohol. Care should be taken to remove spillage of fruit juice, particularly lemon, wine and vinegar, beetroot etc., e.g. the residue of red wine on the base of wineglasses will leave its mark. Nail varnish and any other solvent or oil based products will stain if not wiped up immediately.
Materials not to be used on Granite: Formic acid, Hydrofluoric acid, Nitric acid, Sulphuric acid, Phosphoric acid, Hydrochloric acid.

Routine Care

We recommend that you clean your granite worktops with either a mild soap (or a non-abrasive light neutral detergent (PH7)) and water or a cleaner specifically made for stone surfaces. To dry your granite, you can use a chamois leather or similar. Drainer Grooves can be cleaned using a wire wool.
Do not use glass cleaner to clean marble, travertine, slate, limestone or onyx under any circumstances!

Scratching and Chipping

Under normal use Granite should not scratch or chip. It is safe to occasionally cut and slice on your worktops. However, we recommend using a cutting board to keep from dulling your cutlery. Dragging very heavy objects, such as a tool box with dirt, grit or sand on its bottom may cause the granite to scratch.

Heat Resistance

Pots and Pans taken directly from your oven or stove top can be places directly onto your granite worktops. Burning or marring will not occur. Natural stones other than granite are not heat resistant.
Marble, Travertine, Onyx and Limestone are highly porous materials that can stain, scratch, etch, chip and crack if not taken care of properly.

Important Notice to the Recipient:

Any advice, recommendation, information, assistance or service provided is given in good faith and is believed by us to be appropriate and reliable.
However, since conditions of use vary widely and are outside of our control, it is provided without liability or responsibility on our part.
It is the responsibility of the recipient to decide if the advice, recommendation, information, assistance or service provided is appropriate for their situation

 


Maintenance DO & DON'T

DO:

  • Dust mop the stone on a regular basis removing lose dirt and dust.
  • Use a non acidic neutral soap with warm water to clean the stone.
  • Wipe up spills quickly.
  • Check the stone every few months to see whether it is properly sealed.
  • Use floor mats and carpets for entrances especially in the winter.

DON'T:

  • Use vinegar, acidic or citrus cleaners, or any product with ammonia to clean the stone.
  • Allow common household cleaners to come into contact with the stone. (ex. Windex, Vim etc.)
  • Use inexpensive wipe on wipe off “quick waxes”
  • Leave sharp objects such as keys, knives etc. on stone surfaces including granite
  • Allow any kind of oil, wine or citrus juices to sit on the stone for an extended period of time.

Following these guidelines will help to keep your stone looking new and stain free. A simple neutral soap such as Palmolive mixed with warm water and applied with a cotton string mop is all that is needed to keep the stone's surface clean. A properly sealed floor or counter top will be able to resist harmful liquids long enough for you to clean them up. Eventually though, if left to sit, harmful spills will penetrate the surface and leave a stain, even on newly sealed stone. It's the sealer however that gives you a chance to clean up a spill before any damage is done.