Having natural stone as a covering option brings in a unique and classic look that still holds true to this day. All stone is not created equal and it's important to understand why. Every region of our world is different and therefore contains unique mineral deposits due to the formation of the earth. All stones vary based on where they were quarried or excavated. The dimensional stones used in commercial applications fall into one of these categories.
Silica is the most common mineral on earth
Generally hard stone
Easy to maintain and very durable
Next most common rock-forming group
Generally softer, more porous stone than silica
Durable, but sensitive to acids (like acid-based cleaners)
Created above and below the earth's surface, these stones are commonly believed to have solidified from molten rock (called magma) under pressure. Underground, they are formed when magma becomes trapped in small pockets. As these pockets of magma slowly cool, the magma becomes dense igneous rocks. On the surface, when magma appears above the earth, its is called lava. As the lava quickly cools above the ground, different variates of igneous rocks form.
Igneous Stones are found in Granite, Quartz, Obsidian, and Pumas.
Created from a blend of organic materials; small pieces of our earth that have been eroded, broken down through the action of glaciers, rivers, wind, oceans, and plants. These sedimentary pieces include the skeletal remains of living organisms collected to form rock beds(carbonates). These stones have a variety of combinations.
Sedimentary Stones are found in Limestone, Travertine, Sandstone, Gypsum, and Conglomerate.
The result of the transformation of pre-existing rock type is a process called metamorphism, which means "change in form". Metamorphic rocks make up a large part of the Earth's crust and are classified by texture, chemical, and mineral assembly. They are also formed by the forces of molten rock into solid rock, particularly at the place of contact between the magma and solid rock, where the temperatures are high.
Metamorphic Stones are found in Marble and Slate.
The fabrication of the stone will affect its appearance. There are many types of textures applied or fabricated to dimensional stone surfaces. This list shows some of the more popularly used fabrication methods applied to stone.
A glossy, highly reflective surface
Surface is very smooth and not that very porous
Polished crystals bring out brilliant colors and grains (400-3500 grit to polish stone
Shine comes from the natural reflection of the stone's crystals
Polish can wear away due to heavy foot traffic and improper maintenance
A slightly rough texture that is achieved by tumbling small pieces of marble, limestone, or granite to achieve an old-world/worn appearance.
Surface is Rough, but very porous
Natural-looking exposing chips, cracks, and uneven gaps
Found in certain mosaics, used in high-traffic areas
To ensure your natural stone products will provide you with a lifetime of aesthetics and utility, a proper maintenance program is crucial. Natural stone products are porous by nature and require a different maintenance program than traditional ceramic tile. Many of the cleaners acceptable for use on ceramic tile can stain, damage, or dull stone. Dirt and dust will scratch the surface of the stone. Therefore, stone floors should be vacuumed, or dust mopped frequently to remove abrasive agents from the stone surface. Natural stone should be cleaned with neutral cleaners. Stone cleaners should never contain acid or bleach. Acids, even a light solution of vinegar and water, can potentially etch or damage natural stone.
Only use cleaners specifically designed for cleaning stone. These cleaners contain no acids and are concentrated neutral pH cleaners that will not affect existing sealers, coatings, or finishes. The surface of the stone should be dampened with clear water. This will keep the cleaning solution on the surface so it can be effective. A solution of the cleaner mixed to manufacturer instructions should be applied to the stone surface with a sponge or mop. On walls, kitchen counters, or vanity tops, a spray bottle can be used to apply the cleaning solution. Allow the solution to set up according to the manufacturer’s specified amount of time (usually 3 to 5 minutes). Agitate with a sponge, synthetic mop, soft bristle brush, or through the use of a floor-scrubbing machine. Mop up the dirty solution with clean water and buff dry.
Heavy-Duty Stone Cleaning:
When some areas have been neglected, you will need to use a heavy-duty stone cleaner and degreaser to effectively remove dirt, deposits, grease, grime, waxes, and floor finishes. These cleaning products are concentrated and designed to deep clean the stone without damaging it. Apply the cleaner solution according to manufacturer instructions to the stone surface with a sponge or mop. Allow setting for manufacturer-specified amount of time. Agitate with a sponge, synthetic mop, and soft bristle brush or through the use of a floor-scrubbing machine. Mop up dirty solution and buff dry. Be sure to change out the cleaning solution every 100 square feet to avoid reintroducing contaminants during the cleaning process. Rinse thoroughly with clean water when finished. After cleaning you may apply a finish, sealer, or enhancer in order to restore to the desired look, but this is not necessary.
Stone poultice can remove deep-set stains from stone. Poultice is a fine, nonacidic, absorptive clay cleaning powder that removes deep-set oil stains, grease, and light cementitious grout haze from polished and unpolished natural stone. CAUTION: Poultice may dull the shine of the polished stone. If this occurs, you will need to use a marble polish to restore the natural shine.
If a marble finish has become dull, scratched, or etched, you can restore the natural shine through the use of a marble polish. Some marble polishes are available in kits. The process can be enhanced with the use of floor buffing machines. The process is generally a re-crystallization process to remove fine etchings or scratches and restore the original shine and polish to the stone. This is not an application of a topical sealer or wax to cover up damaged or worn surfaces.