How do I care for my natural stone (marble, granite, limestone, travertine & slate)?
Always protect your finish against dirt, sand or any abrasive substance that might scratch or harm the finish. Clean stone surfaces with a few drops of neutral cleaner, a mild dishwashing detergent or stone soap. We recommend and stock the DuPont StoneTech Professional line of cleaners. Use a clean rag mop on floors, and a soft clean cloth for other surfaces. Too much cleaner may leave a film or cause streaks. Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on marble, travertine or limestone. For best results, rinse after washing and dry with a soft cloth. Do not use scouring powders or creams with abrasives. Avoid caustic cleaning products – they break down the sealer and leave your stone unprotected. Sealer is a sacrificial layer – you will need to reapply it. Frequency will depend on many factors Always follow the manufacturer’s directions. DO NOT mix cleaning products together. Read labels carefully.
A Few Tips:
- Dust mop floors often
- Use the gentlest cleaner for the job
- Blot up spills immediately
- Protect floors with mats or area rugs
- Don’t use abrasive cleaners
- Do a test area with new products
- Rinse cleaners where required
- Re-seal when appropriate
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, grease, grime, waxes and floor finishes. These cleaning products are concentrated and designed to deep clean the stone without damaging it. Apply the solution of the cleaner and water mixed to manufacture 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 dirty water during the cleaning process. Rinse thoroughly with clean water when finished. After cleaning you may apply the Spray-Buff wax-type floor finish to enhance the natural shine.
How do I know when to reseal my natural stone?
A simple test to see if your sealer is still present is to flick a little bit of water on the area with your fingertips. If the sealer is present at an adequate level, the water should “bead” on the surface of the stone. If this does not occur a layer of sealer is recommended to protect and care for your stone surface. Before sealing, be certain that the area is thoroughly cleaned and thoroughly dry before applying. We recommend and stock Miracle’s 511 Porous Plus Sealer.
What is the difference between porcelain and ceramic?
- Porcelain is fired at a higher temperature, approximately 2,200 degrees F, while ceramic tile would be around 1,800 degrees F or lower. This high firing temperature shrinks the tile approximately 10% during firing.
- Porcelain has a breaking strength of 390-400 pounds versus approximately 250 pounds for regular ceramic.
How do I care for porcelain/ceramic tile?
Initial Care: Sealing
Porcelain should be sealed to fill the tiny pores that are created when the porcelain tiles are fired, much as when you cook a pancake and the bubbles come to the surface of the pancake. Sealing your porcelain tile will prevent tiny particles from getting in those pores and making your tile look dingy, as once the pores are filled with dirt particles there is no getting them out. Your best choice is to prevent this and seal the pores to ensure that your tiles stay beautiful and easy to care for, one of the biggest benefits of porcelain tile—easy care and maintenance.
A penetrating sealer is one that does not leave a coating on top of the tile. Rather, these sealers assist in filling the microscopic surface pores.
Proper application of penetrating sealers is important. Follow the manufacturer’s application guidelines. The following is a suggested application procedure for a penetrating sealer:
- Surface must be thoroughly clean and free of any foreign matter that may prevent the sealer from penetrating.
- Apply in a circular motion using a clean rag, an applicator or a dense sponge, working sealer tightly into tile surface.
- One thin application should be sufficient.
- Completely remove excess sealer from the surface within 3 to 4 minutes using a clean cotton cloth, rag or absorbent paper towels. Penetrating-type sealers must not be allowed to dry on the tile surface.
Penetrating sealers are applied only once, and generally do not require constant maintenance through reapplication.
General maintenance and cleaning of porcelain tile will vary depending on the surface texture and soil load. General cleaning should be performed first by sweeping or vacuuming to remove loose soil or other surface contaminants, then lightly damp mopping with clean water.
Depending on the soil load, a more aggressive cleaning process may be required. This could include the use of a neutral cleaner or a general household cleaner, followed by a thorough rinsing.
There are five steps that are critical and should always be remembered for the successful maintenance of porcelain tiles:
- All spills should be cleaned as quickly as possible.
- Use only the recommended dilution of detergent. More is not always better; higher concentrations of detergent in the cleaning solution will only make it more difficult to rinse.
- Allow the proper dwell (remain on the floor) time. The detergent solution must be given time to act on the soil load. Generally 5-10 minutes is sufficient.
- Scrub with a nylon pad or bristle brush.
- Rinse thoroughly with clean, clear water to remove the dirty detergent solution and emulsified soil. Rinsing is a critical step in the maintenance procedure. Remove the rinse water with a wet vacuum, dry mop or toweling. If dirty detergent solution is not removed and is allowed to dry on the surface, a coating will form which is very difficult to remove.
- Buff with a soft cloth or buffing pad to increase the shine and prevent water spots (for polished tile), for matte finishes buffing is also a good idea to ensure surface is dry and to be sure cleaning agent is thoroughly removed.
What is proper maintenance for my grout?
Neither sealing the grout not using a 100% Epoxy Grout will guarantee against surface build-up or discoloration of the grout. Grout needs to be cleaned on a periodic basis to remove any surface build-up. Routine grout cleaning can be done with a daily concentrated household or commercial cleaner depending on the application. When heavy duty grout cleaning is required, you will need to use a professional strength Tile and Grout Cleaner that is capable of removing grease, soap scum, body oil, mildew stains, algae, and synthetic or acrylic waxes from the grout joints. We recommend and stock the DuPont StoneTech Professional line of cleaners.
Some things to know about grout:
Normal settling of a house will cause cracking of the grout, particularly in corners and edges. You can purchase caulk and grout to repair initial cracks and insure proper maintenance.
Efflorescence (or whitening of the grout) is caused by the settling of soluble salts in gray, cement-based materials or from grouting materials floating to the top. Clean with a grout and tile cleaner and rinse well for several days after cleaning.
All grouts should be sealed. Grout in high use areas such as kitchen counters and showers should be sealed every six months. Low use areas may only need to be sealed every 12 months. We recommend using Miracle’s 511 Porous Plus Sealer; we can order this for you.
Sealing grout does not make the grout water-proof, which is why your grout may appear as though it has “changed color” when it gets wet. This “color change” is temporary until the grout dries. The sealer is meant to make the grout stain-resistant and keeps the stains closer to the surface so they can be cleaned up.
Grout sealer may be applied with a brush or a narrow sponge applicator. Have a clean, dry, soft cloth to wipe any excess that may touch the surface of the tile. Remove this right away. If it dries on the face of the tile, remove with acetone.
– Penetrating/Impregnating Sealer
Most tile installations us cementitious grouts. This type of grout should be sealed after installation to prevent the color from staining. The grout should be sealed with a penetrating/impregnating sealer (often called grout sealers) which does not contain silicone, as silicone can shorten the useful life of the sealer. Epoxy grouts conversely, are chemically cured and acid resistant and, as a result, do not require a sealer. The application of a good quality penetrating/impregnating sealer into the grout joins of a cementitious grout will not change the natural color of the grout, but will prevent the penetration of moisture, simplify maintenance, and help prevent staining or discoloration.