Cleaning Various Types of Stone Materials
Now that you have your stone surface installed and your home looks modern and up-to-date, what should you use to clean that surface? You may be surprised to find out that each kind of care and maintenance product is designed for use on certain kinds of material. That’s right, each material has care products that are designed for use on that specific material. Now, we aren’t saying that some care products are not safe for multiple materials. We are merely saying that each surface has specifically formulated care and maintenance products designed for use it. In fact, even certain kinds of stains and discoloration will play a role in which kind of cleaner is needed to remove it. Let’s explore some of the specifics.
Types of Stone
While it is possible to classify stone types with various levels of granularity (or specificity), we are going to start with very basic categories and work our way down to the specifics. Now, we aren’t going explore every single material type, but we will try to mention as many as possible along our path of discussion.
Natural Quarried Stone
The first main category that we will explore is natural quarried stone. Sometimes you will see this referred to as simply “natural stone”. However, we are using the more specific phrase natural quarried stone because you will find that many brands of quartz point out that 90+% of their quartz product is composed of natural stone. So, to avoid ambiguity, we will use this phrase. As we progress through the topic, you will see why this category was chosen.
There are a number of natural quarried stone materials that are used to produce surfaces – whether countertops, flooring, or work tops. We will go through them here and discuss important points regarding their care and maintenance.
When you shop around looking for natural stone surfaces, you find a number of materials referred to as “granite”. This may be in part because the characteristics of the stone fit with the qualities of natural granite. Yet, when you hear a geologist talk about granite, you will find that there are specific criteria for geologically labeling something as “granite”. For the most part when you get something called granite for your home, the care process goes something like the following.
Because of its porosity, granite and other natural quarried stone benefit from sealing. Applying a sealant to the stone helps protect stain producers from getting into the stone and discoloring it. Maintaining this barrier is a key in caring for granite.
Daily Cleaning of Granite
Cleaning granite should be done using a cleaner formulated for granite. This is primarily because certain cleaners can destroy the barrier that sealers produce. When this barrier is gone, the surface is not as stain resistant and can be discolored more easily.
Granite Stain Removal
In addition to regular daily cleaning, granite at times might need to have a stain removed. When this is the case, it is imperative that the proper stain remover be used. There are stain removers designed for working on oil based stains and there are ones that remove specific kinds of stains. On example is rust. Removing rust from granite is accomplished by using a rust remover that works on the rust in a specific way.
Marble, like granite, is a natural quarried stone that benefits from being sealed. However, it is not the same in its composition and therefore must be treated differently than granite. Marble is different in a couple of ways. First, it is softer than granite. Second, it contains calcite. The fact that marble contains calcite means that it reacts with acids, even ones that found in the home. This means the care and maintenance for marble is very similar to that of granite.
As mentioned, sealing marble is important because it contains a mineral (calcite) that will react with acids. these acids dissolve the calcite in the marble. What are the consequences of the calcite dissolving? Well, since the calcite is what gives the marble its “sheen” or “luster”, a dull spot is left where the calcite was. This is called “etching”. Additionally, calcite is actually part of the stone. So, when it is dissolved, that part of the stone is gone and cannot be replaced. This “etch” however is able to be treated and the stone’s luster can be improved greatly.
Cleaning Marble Daily
Just like granite, cleaning marble daily with a specifically formulated cleaner can go a long way in caring for your marble surface. First, because it will not breakdown the sealant. And second, because the proper cleaner will not dissolve the calcite (or etch) the marble.
Marble Stain Removal
Removing stains from marble are similar to removing them from granite if they are oil based stains. However, there are a couple of differences. First, the etching that occurs on marble must be treated in a specific way using etch remover. Second, when rust is removed from marble, it leaves an etch. So, if your remove rust form marble, you will need to remove the etch afterward.
Quartzite shares a number of properties with granite. Yet, it is a different kind of stone. Many of the maintenance guidelines for granite may be applied to quartzite. However, one specific thing that is of particular interest when it comes to quartzite is this: sometimes stones that are labeled as quartzite are not quartzite. Rather, they have properties of marble. Namely, these mislabeled stones contain calcite. So it is of utmost importance that you are absolutely sure that your quartzite is not mislabeled.
Just like granite and marble, quartzite too benefits from being sealed since it is a porous stone and can absorb liquids. So, a regular routine of sealing quartzite can help protect your stone by adding a protective barrier. And even though the sealer won’t make the quartzite stone stain-proof, it does help protect the material.
Cleaning Quartzite Daily
As long as the stone is not mislabeled, the cleaning procedure for granite can be used on quartzite. Lustro Italiano natural stone cleaner is a cleaner formulated to clean quartzite.
Removing Stains From Quartzite
As a general rule, removing stains from quartzite is the same as removing them from granite. However, as we have mentioned, sometimes stones are mislabeled as quartzite but they contain calcite. If a stone that is labeled quartzite actually contains calcite, care should be taken when removing stains. Again, care must be taken when purchasing stone slabs that are marked as quartzite. In fact, doing an acid test on a slab labeled quartzite is recommended if you want to be absolutely sure the stone is actually quartzite.
Caring for bluestone counters are very similar to caring for granite. The material is durable and is unique. Like other natural quarried stones, it is porous so sealing and cleaning would following the process mentioned for granite.
Like the other stones mentioned, soapstone is a natural quarried stone. It is used for outdoor hardscapes and indoor countertops. It has a waxy, smooth feel. It is often gray or bluish-gray in color. Soapstone’s composition consists of talc and other assorted minerals. The mineral composition is what determines its hardness.
Unlike granite, quartzite and marble, soapstone does not need to be sealed using a sealer. However, treating the material using mineral oil is the recommended maintenance program. Additionally, there are wax products designed to treat soapstone and protect it.
Soapstone is inert and resists acids as well as alkaline cleaners. Because of this, many cleaners will work on it. Keeping it oiled helps the stone to maintain its deep, rich appearance.
Removing Stains From Soapstone
Since soapstone is non-porous, it is very resistant to staining.
Caring and maintaining limestone is much the care and maintenance for marble. Since limestone is composed of calcite like marble, it also is susceptible to etching. As a result, to clean it, seal it, and remove stains from it follow the same routine as you would for maintainingmarble surfaces.
Caring for travertine is a lot like caring for marble. Travertine is a form of limestone. Additionally, like limestone and marble, travertine contains calcite. Therefore, the care and maintenance program for travertine is similar to that of marble and limestone. However, there is another aspect to caring for travertine that may need your attention.
Travertine naturally forms in such a way that produces varying sized holes throughout the stone. these holes are referred by a range of names including:
The pits found in travertine are often times filled at the factory using a travertine filler. However, there are occasions where the filler works its way loose and some of the pits need filled back in. This type of maintenance is more common in travertine that has been filled with a non-adhesive filler.
In contrast to natural quarried stone, you will find that there are a number of materials that are stone-like or that contain stone material. However, they are not quarried and cut into slabs. Rather these materials are engineered. Hence, the term engineered stone. Engineered stone for our discussion will include material that is not quarried, cut, and then processed. If humans produce (or engineer) the material, it will be in section.
In the realm of engineered stone (as we are using the term), quartz is among the most popular of materials. Quartz surfaces are available by many brands including:
- Corian Quartz
- Aurea Stone
- Color Quartz
Does Quartz Need to Be Sealed?
This is a common question that many people wonder about. The answer is simply no. Quartz is non-porous and therefore does not need to be sealed. As a result, it is relatively easy to maintain.
Cleaning Quartz Daily
Cleaning quartz on a daily basis can be achieved by using a quartz cleaner designed for use on quartz surfaces.
Quartz Stain Remover
As mentioned above, quartz is a non-porous material and it does not absorb stain-causing substances. However, not all substances must penetrate the material in order to cause a discoloration that does not come off easily. Limescale is one type of “stain” that requires a special stain remover to clean.
Quartz Ax Cleaner is available and is a cleaner designed to remove lime scale from quartz countertops.
As mentioned at the outset, researching how to clean stone materials can be much like researching how to plant a bush. Each one must be considered individually. There is not procedure that works for every variation. In the end, knowing a bit about the material, what its weaknesses are and how it responds to various treatments will go a long way toward getting many years of service out of your stone surface.