Man has always been fascinated by rocks. We remain captivated by the products of volcanic eruptions that occured millions of years ago. In recent times, we have given favor to certain stones over other ones. They have become a luxury item and a sign of wealth. The fashions come and go, but the desire for precious stones largely remains stable. It is not just a recent development either, the Greeks were fond too of precious stones and used them in many of their places of prayer and their houses. As technology developed, we were able to engineer our own kind of stones that would better suit our homes. However, many prefer a stone that is all natural. All types of stones continue to be used for a multitude of purposes on a variety of surfaces.
As a society, we have always taken great pride with our homes. They are the way in which we can physically communicate ourselves to others. It is a way to show off our supposed wealth and our superior tastes. Walkways have always been historically important. They are the entrances to our homes and to some of our most valued places. Precious stones were used to signify important homes and also used in places of prayer. Kitchen countertops are a relatively new invention that came packaged in with the capitalist revolutions of the West in the early 20th Century. Since then, they have become a key aspect of our homes. They serve important functional purposes, however they also carry crucial aesthetic duties. The countertop is something we see everyday and it also the piece of furniture that usually catches the attention of guests. We are therefore inclined to make it stand out.
Trends have changed numerously throughout history. Granite was used to build monuments even as far back as 5000 years ago. These creations have passed the test of time and it is a testament just how durable the stone. Pharaoh chambers in Ancient Egypt were built using Granite materials. In the past few decades, Granite countertops eventually become an American obsession. Having spent a large amount of time as a “niche” surface, they suddenly became an item of luxury. This was a result of exaggerated housing trends and easier importing of the material. These factors played a crucial in so called “granite mania”. Eventually Granite did fall back out of style, but there has been a recent resurgence. There is a similar story with other precious stones such as Marble which have gone in and out of fashion. The word Marble is even derived from the Greek word, “Mur”. There are actually a range of different types of marble. However the one most people are familiar with are the white ones. This is the same one that was used in the iconic Michelangelo’s, “David”. Marble and Granite both have prestigious historical significance.
However in recent times, it is an engineered stone which has raced ahead. Quartz has become a staple stone in the American household. Engineering has allowed for a durable stone that is non porous and also resistant to stains. This has made it an increasingly popular option for kitchen countertops. By reading through our 101, you will be able to distinguish between natural and engineered options. There are pros and cons of both options and the choice isn’t always clear.
There are many different stone surfaces that you can use in your home. The most common are Marble, Granite, and Quartz. This guide will give you an overview of the main stones used in the home and explain the best way to care for these precious surfaces. Different stones have different sensitivities and therefore require a tailored approach to maintenance. This detailed guide will explain the best ways that you can keep your stone surfaces in the best condition.
There are a variety of stone surfaces to choose from in your home. They have certain similarities but also many differences. There are all natural stones and also surfaces that are man-made. We provide a background of the most common stone surfaces currently being used in the household.
Granite is a natural material than being found in most regions throughout the world. It is a stone that has existed since the Earth, and it has been used for construction by humans for centuries. Amongst its oldest uses was for the construction of ancient temples. However, this type of design wasn’t the granite that we are familiar with today. Polished Granite gained popularity in 1851 after it was shown at The Great Exhibition in London.
Granite is a natural stone that is Igneous. Some Granite stones are being sold with calcium composition. It is important to check the composition of Granite before purchasing to ensure you pick the right material.
Countertops made from granite have seen a sharp increase in popularity within the past few years. It is no surprise to see this material being frequently used as it is very durable and offers a sleek aesthetic option. It is also sometimes used in flooring. Consumers are more design savvy than ever, and the allure of home design remains strong. Another reason why consumers have gravitated towards granite is that it is relatively easy to maintain and care for. However there a few pitfalls to watch out with this surface, which we will go into detail later.
Although the stone is relatively inexpensive, Granite countertops are amongst the most expensive choices for stone surfaces. This cost is related to the high labor demands that are required for polishing and various installations. Granite has to be handled with care, and there are many intricate processes involved before it can be used as a countertop. The average price of polished granite is around $65+ per square foot.
Granite can be easily spoiled by liquids with high acidic content. This includes beverages such as citrus and wine. In theory, Granite should not be susceptible to these acids since it is not based upon a calcite formation. However, there are many surfaces marketed as Granite which have a calcium composition. This means you have to be sure to clean acidic stains immediately.
Marble is another natural material that has an impressive and rich history behind it. Marble has a rich history in being used for construction. Many of the most beautiful Ancient Roman and Greek structures were created from marble. Marble is available in a range of colors, and this difference occurs because there can be different types of material inside the marble. There is pure white marble, red marble, and marble with a yellowish tone. These color variations give the surface flexibility. This is why the stone remains an ever-present choice for countertops and floors.
Marble is a metamorphic rock that is formed from limestone. Heat and pressure causes the metamorphism of Limestone. This occurs when tectonic plates converge. Marble is primarily calcite, however it does also contain a few other minerals.
Marble continues to be a popular choice for countertops as consumers like the sleek aesthetic design that it has. However, it is also commonly used in the making of modern temples, and floors. It gives a sense of premium luxuriousness which is why so many consumers favor the use of marble in their floors. The elegance of marble is something that never goes out of style.
Marble has always been a premium stone surface, and this is reflected in the price. However, prices can vary depending on which color you go with. So it can be worth selecting a different color to save a significant amount of cash. The most popular choices are also the most expensive, however it can be worth taking a look at other Marble based options.
Marble is incredibly sensitive to anything with high acidic content. This means that food such as lemons can cause significant acid etching. Marble is also likely to stain easily when it comes into contact with oil and other highly pigmented liquids. This makes it essential to wipe stains immediately. The surface is also susceptible to scratching which means it must be handled with care.
Quartz is a man-made engineered stone. It has a surface that is somewhat similar to Granite. However, the appearance of Quartz can be changed depending on how the material is ground. It can be flecked or completely smooth.
Quartz is created through a combination of ground quartz and various resins and polymers. The resulting material is very durable and also heat resistant which makes it ideal for home surfaces.
Quartz is used in the production of glass making. It’s durable nature also means it is commonly used as an abrasive in materials such as grit. They are now starting to be seen in the kitchen, although they are still a less popular option than the natural stone surfaces. This man-made stone is relatively low maintenance when used as a home surface.
Quartz costs around $60-85 per square foot when installation costs are also taken into account. Prices do tend to vary though, depending on the type of brand that is used and the manufacturer. Overall they hover around the same price as the natural stones. There are also different levels of quality Quartz available which has an effect on price.
Although Quartz is designed to be heavily stain resistant, there are certain materials which can cause significant staining. This is due to the composition of resin and pigments. This can react when exposed to a solvent such as paint. Therefore it is recommended to refrain from these activities near the surface. Quartz is heat resistant; however, very high temperatures can cause discoloration. You should be careful to never leave items straight out of the oven onto the surface. Quartz is relatively scratch resistant, but you should be aware that heavy items can cause scratches and these can be near-impossible to remove.
Corian was created in 1967, and the company maintains the rights to use it. It is a solid and nonporous substance. Although it has dipped in popularity in home use due to the emergence of more “luxurious” surfaces, it is making a comeback.
Corian is an artificial surface material that is made up of polymers and some materials derived from bauxite ore.
Corian is primarily used for countertop & benchtop surfaces. However, it is fairly flexible for other purposes. Corian is becoming popular in households due to the increased flexibility it offers when compared to other stone surfaces. This includes integrated sinks.
Corian surfaces come in a wide variety of colors and styles. Depending on the one you pick they usually cost around $40-65 per square foot (excluding installation fees). Corian can only be installed by a certified DuPont engineer. Costs vary wildly for this surface depending on the complexity of the installation.
The material is susceptible to dents and scratches, however many of these are repairable. It also has a low tolerance for heat. The material will start melting quickly if pans are left on it. Corian is also known to react badly to certain cleaning solutions, which can cause discoloration.
Slate is not commonly used for countertops; however, its highly versatile nature means that it can make an excellent choice for kitchen use. The material is known for its unique cleft texture.
Slate is a metamorphic rock that is formed from sedimentary clay and volcanic ash. The formation of Slate occurs in layers, which makes it different from the previous stones we have mentioned. This gives it a unique texture, but also leave the surface susceptible to some key maintenance issues
Slate is mainly used for roofing and flooring. However, it is fast emerging as an option for a kitchen countertop. One of its main advantages is its versatility.
Slate installations can cost between $100-$200 depending on which type of fabrication you end up using.
Slate can come in a wide range of variations which have significant differences in their sensitivity. High-quality slate is incredibly durable. They won’t chip or etch and are relatively heat resistant. Low-quality variants are susceptible to staining and etching from acidic materials.
Soapstone is a natural stone that is fairly durable and highly heat resistant. This makes a solid option for Kitchen countertops and other home surfaces. It is less popular than stones such as Granite & Marble due to its limited color selection.
Soapstone is a metamorphic rock which is primarily composed of talc and other carbonates. It is a relatively soft rock.
Soapstone can be used for kitchen countertops, sinks, heaters and flooring. It’s properties which include heat resistance, nonporous nature, and acid resistance, mean that it makes for a fairly versatile home stone surface.
The installation of soapstone costs around $70-$120 per square foot.
Although the surface is fairly heat resistant, very hot materials can scratch the surface. It is stain resistant, however, the soft surface makes it prone to certain types of scratches. Although, these are fairly easy to remove through sanding. A big advantage of soapstone is that sanding can usually return it back to its original form.
There are three main finishes that a stone surface is likely to have.
Polished – This is one of the most popular finishes. It is highly reflective and shows off the vibrancy of the stone’s surface. It is extra glossy and the shine will help to reveal the intricate details of the stone.
Honed – This is where the surface is surface is ground to create a satin like smooth surface. The reflection on this surface will be very limited. This type of finish is used mainly by surfaces such as floors where the polish is likely to wear out quickly. However it can also be used on countertops.
Flamed – This finish is less common. It is a rough finish that has texture. It is mainly used for granite floor tiles.
What Not to Clean With
There is so much misinformation about what the best cleaning methods are. It is easy to damage your stone surfaces by using incorrect cleaning methods and also through the use of damaging cleaning solutions. We go through some common mistakes and explain the preventative measures you can take to avoid ruining your stone surface.
Avoid Acidic Cleaners
You should avoid the use of any acidic cleaners when handling stone surfaces. This includes cleaners that contain vinegar and lemon juice. It also includes bathroom cleaners and tile cleaners; these are known to contain acid. It is essential to check the type of cleaner that you are using carefully. This is especially relevant towards marble surfaces which are known to etch.
Avoid Abrasive Cleaners
It is important never to use abrasive cleaners on your stone surfaces. This includes dry and soft cleansers. These can permanently damage your surfaces. Abrasive cleaners are more suited to outside surfaces, rather than anything interior.
Never Mix Bleach and Ammonia
This should be a fairly obvious precaution, however, there are still many people who mix these two. As you should know these combine to make a gas that can cause death. Keep these two cleaners away from each other. In fact, you shouldn’t mix any chemicals together unless there are specific instructions that state it. By themselves they can be innocuous, but mixing chemicals can have severe consequences.
Never Use Worn Vacuum Cleaners
A vacuum cleaner can quickly become worn after prolonged use. It is important not to use a vacuum after it has reached this stage, on a stone surface. The attachments of the wheels can cause significant scratching on stone surfaces. These can be difficult or even impossible to remove once the damage has been done.
Do not use pine-sol
The use of pine-sol on stone surfaces can cause them to etch and haze. Pine-Sol is far more suitable for soap scum and toilet cleaning. You should keep these types of cleaners far away from your precious stone surfaces.
There are certain measures you can take to reduce the risk of damaging your stone surfaces. These include the use of sealers and protectors. It is important to have a good maintenance plan in place for your stone surfaces. Depending on the material and the finish, this may be rare or frequent. The lack of a tailored maintenance plan will mean the condition of your stone surface is likely to deteriorate.
Should I Seal the Stone?
A sealant can be a reliable preventative measure; however, it is not suitable for every surface or situation. There are many factors that should influence your decision on whether to seal your stone surface. Sealing provides excellent protection against most dirt and spills; however, the texture and finish can undergo dramatic change. Sealing also creates a new layer on top of the surface which is likely not to be as durable. It is important to check if the sealant will react with the surface. Most of the time it is better to leave a stone untreated, although if it is constantly interacting with a staining agent and not being regularly maintained, then a sealing process could be a good consideration. Just keep in mind, that a sealer will also need to undergo maintenance.
Types of Stone Sealers & Protectors
Here are the options available for stone sealers.
These are applied regularly and provide protection to the stone on a surface level. Topical sealers provide a coating over your stone surface. Maintaining use of the same cleaner is important. Switching products can damage your stone surface. It is important to use the product as suggested. Incorrect use can permanently damage or change the look of your stone surface.
Best Topical Sealers & Protectors
Not all topic sealers are effective. Some can cause damage to your surfaces. That is why we have picked the best and most reliable topical sealers to use on your stone surface.
One of the most best-reviewed sealers available for purchase is produced by StoneTech. It provides a highly effective and powerful sealing solution. It is effective for all natural stones and can provide long-lasting protection. It works well as a stain protector; creating an extra strength barrier. The unique formula which consists of water-based fluoropolymers works well for use on multiple surfaces.
The next sealer that we recommend is one that provides additional porous protection. It forms an effective barrier that keeps out water, but one that remains breathable. The formula allows vapor to escape. This means that the natural look of your surface will not be altered.
Serveon Sealants have produced a solution that is effective for both natural and man-made stone surfaces. This flexibility makes it an excellent choice for those who have a range of surfaces in their home. The fast drying time and easy application ensure that this sealant is highly convenient to use.
These are solvent solutions which tend to go deeper into the surface and are used as repellents. These solutions are considered more breathable than topical solutions. They sit below the surface of your stone They are not affected by UV light and unlike topical sealers, they will not need to be reapplied often. This makes them a more convenient option.
Best Impregnator Sealants
We list our recommendations for these types of cleaners. We have selected the ones providing the best protection and also the ones that leave the surface in its natural state. Some of these sealants can be very powerful and therefore it is essential to handle them with care. You should wear good hand and eye protection when using this sealants. You should be sure to stay away from the fumes.
This impregnator sealant is perfect for any dense porous surfaces. The strong transparent layer created by the sealant doesn’t change the look of the surface. But it does provide the surface with additional protection from water, stains and slippage. The surface immediately becomes harder and less slipper upon application. Customers have noted that it works especially well for Granite surfaces.
Our second recommended impregnator sealant is one that provides superior protection (as the name suggests) . One advantage of this specific sealant is that has an exclusive formula. This is based upon a bonding formula that efficiently utilizes a solvent. It is another sealant that will not change the appearance of your surface. It has a nice fresh scent and it is easy to apply and use.
The last impregnator sealant to feature on our list is made by Stella Sealants. It forms a premium water base which provides an effective defence against stains. It is recommended for all natural stones. Customers have noted how much smoother and easier to clean their surfaces became after application. One coat is often enough to provide fantastic protection.
Identifying and Removing Stains
If your surface gets stained; it is important to identify the type of stain and remove it immediately immediately. These are the steps you should follow for each specific stain. You can clean these stains using natural products that are found in the home. Knowing which action to take for which stain can prevent stains from causing any permanent marks to your surfaces. Most spills should be immediately blotted with a paper towel. It is important not to wipe the area at first, because this can spread the stain.
- Oil-Based Stains
This includes stains such as cooking oil and grease. This will generally cause a stone to darken in color. This particularly occurs in porous surfaces. It is vital to chemically dissolve the oil as this will allow the stain to be easily removed. It is important to remove the stain quickly, as they can react with the air and resinify. Once it has been removed, the surface should be cleaned with a soft liquid cleanser.
- Biological Stains
This includes stains such as Moss, Fungi, and Mildew. This can be removed through the use of dilute water and ammonia. You should dilute half a cup of ammonia with a gallon of water. You can also alternatively use either diluted bleach or hydrogen peroxide.
- Organic Stains
These stains generally caused by fruits, tea, and coffee and they are likely to cause a brownish stain on the surface. The easiest way to remove these stains indoors is with a 12% hydrogen peroxide solution with some added ammonia.
- Ink Stains
Pen and Ink stains can be frustrating to clean from stone surfaces. Light colored stones should be treated with bleach; whereas darker colored stones should be treated with acetone.
- Metal Stains
Metal stains can cause significant changes to your stone surface. The best way to remove these stains is through the use of a homemade poultice.
- Paint Stains
The removal of these stains depends on how much has been in contact with the surface. Smaller amounts can be gently removed with a razor. Larger coverage requires the use of a liquid paint stripper. However you should be sure to use this in small amounts.
- Water Rings
Hard water can lead to the formation of water rings on your stone surfaces. The best way to remove these stains is by buffing them dry with the use of a 0000 steel wool.
If you are unsure of how to use natural products, there are a range of specially designed cleaning solutions that treat stone surfaces. We have picked out 5 All-Stone cleaners that do a fantastic job at maintaining your stone surfaces. These cleaners have been specifically designed to make your surfaces sparkle, without damaging them in any way. All of these solutions are products designed by stone care experts.
MB Stone Care Cleaner are well known and have received numerous rave reviews for their stone care products. They provide professional standard products, and this is why we have chosen to place this particular cleaner on our list.
This stone care cleaner is one of the best natural stone cleaners available to purchase. It is made completely in the United States. It is recommended for both Marble and Granite. It is a good option for use on mirrors, glass, and other fixtures. They have received rave reviews from industry experts. The cleaner is easy to use and does a fantastic job at cleaning without leaving behind streaks. It can be used on both honed and polished surfaces. Also, it leaves behind a nice shine. For marble countertops, it is a highly recommended cleaner.
Stone Guys are also professionals in this field. This next product on our list was even given the title of “Best Stone, Granite and Quartz Countertop Cleaner” by fellow professionals of the industry.
This solution is effective for hard stone surfaces such as Granite, Quartz, and Marble. The product is suitable for both sealed and unsealed stone surfaces. There is no streaking, and the cleaner is effective at returning the polish to the surface. It is suitable for all types of surfaces and is effective at removing fingerprints. The natural solution is also fairly effective at removing certain tough stains without needing to resort to harsh chemical use. This is a good option if you need flexibility since the solution works well on most solid surfaces. Customers have noted that it works great on Quartz.
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Next up on our list is a reliable cleaner that is suitable for daily use. It is made by NYC Stone Care who have a fantastic reputation for all types of cleaning services.
The flexibility of this cleaner makes it a good choice as it can be used on both natural and man-made surfaces. It is PH neutral which makes it a suitable for all surfaces, as there is no risk of any acidic etching. It is also pet-friendly which is an added bonus. Some cleaners can pose significant danger to your pets. The application of the cleaner is easy as it simply takes a spray and wipes. The nozzle is formulated to provide the correct amount every time. This is convenient as some cleaners will not have any guidance as to how much should be applied. This cleaner will leave your surfaces in a smooth and shiny condition.
The fourth cleaning solution that we recommend combines three aspects of stone care into one. It is formulated by Supreme Surface who are renowned for their professional surface cleaners and stone care products.
This all in one cleaner also includes polishing and sealing. The specially formulated ioSeal protectants form a protective barrier that does not wash off. It self-seals after every application of the cleaner. It leaves the surface resistant to hard spots and soap scum. The cleaner results in a smoother and reflective surface. It is safe to use on all natural stones. The 3 in 1 aspect of this cleaning solution makes it a standout product. It is excellent value for money due to its fantastic effectiveness in delivering a combined cleaning solution.
The final all-stone cleaning solution we recommend is made by FILA. They are experts in the cleaning of various surfaces. This cleaner is universal, however it is particularly effective in stone surfaces.
The cleaner leaves no residue or streaks. It is very flexible and able to clean all varieties of stone surfaces. However, it works best on laminated surfaces, and it is ideal for maintaining waxed surfaces. It is completely safe to use on pretreated and sensitive surfaces. The solution is a gentle detergent which makes it a fantastic and flexible option to use on a variety of stone surfaces. It works particularly well on polished natural stone. Customers have noted the effectiveness it had on these types of stone surfaces
You should now be somewhat of an expert in stone surfaces and in knowing the best ways in which to maintain and clean them. Precious stones have the ability to capture our imaginations and we continue to treasure them as we had done so in the past. Stone surfaces add a touch of luxury and class to our home, but we have to be ever so careful with how we use them. As you will have read, they are sensitive materials that need to be looked after with the correct methods and correct cleaning solutions.