Restoring Luster to Stone Floors

Help for cleaning marble, granite, quartzite or limestone floor.

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By Rosemary Sadez Friedmann
Scripps Howard News Service

Do you have a marble, granite, quartzite or limestone floor? Has it lost its luster? Do not worry as help is on its way. First let's get the negatives out of the way. Do not use vinegar, no matter how diluted, as a cleaner. Vinegar is acidic and that acid will etch the stone. Same goes for tub and tile cleaners and any cleanser that contains acid.

It is best not to have the luster restored by means of re-crystallization or vitrification because these processes are acid based.

So what's the big deal with acid? Marble and limestone are made up of a compound of calcium carbonate along with other minerals. Scientists have deduced that when the stone mixes with acid, this calcium and carbonate bond is broken. Once this compound is destroyed, calcium ions are released by the stone, producing a new compound, calcium fluorosilicate, forming an impervious film on the stone which blocks its pores. If the pores are blocked, the stone cannot breathe so moisture is trapped inside the stone and it will begin to rot.

Well, now that the don'ts are out of the way, let's get to the do's. There is a natural process that all quarries and fabricators use to polish stone floors. Even if the stone floor has been destroyed by acid, this process can and will erase all etchings and scratches and put shine back into the stone.

The first step is to remove all waxes, acrylics urethanes or any re-crystallization or vitrification the floor might have. An impregnator is then applied which will protect the stone from spills such as water, coffee, colas, etc. The impregnator seals the floor, yet lets it breathe. Don't ask. I don't know how it can breathe yet be impregnable. Somehow, though, it works.

What if the flooring has an unpolished look? This process is still the answer. The only difference is the end product is a matte finish instead of a glossy one. Stone floors are beautiful, but very expensive so you will want to be sure they are protected in the best way possible.

After the floor is protected, maintenance is simple. Dry mop the stone daily. That is all that needs to be done. Recoating, waxing and later stripping the accumulated wax is all eliminated. If something spills, simply blot with a paper towel -- always blot -- never wipe because wiping will spread the spill. Rinse the area with water and blot again.

(Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, Fla., is author of Mystery of Color.)

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