Natural stones are bringing natural beauty to your places. Natural stone always is dazzling your eyes with lustrous appearance unless time-worn effects are diminishing all. Some areas are affecting rapidly due to ongoing wear& tear or weathering while some less, thanks to proper cleaning and maintenance practices.
So, today I am going to describe ten (10) best cleaning & maintenance tips for natural stone pavers for patio in 2019.
Know Your Stones
All natural stones are not alike in their intrinsic properties. Applying the same cleaning and maintenance treatments can result in more harm than good. However, stone craft professionals are classifying stones into two major categories specifically for cleaning purposes.
- Siliceous Stones: Some stones contain Silica, which is the main component of sands, so those are referring as Siliceous Stones.
- Calcareous Stone: Some stones have Calcites or Calcium Carbonate as chief mineral, so known as Calcareous Stones.
Tip 1 – Know Siliceous Stones
Granite has tough and durable surfaces. It is less porous, so it is stain and waterproof/resistant. Granite is weak heat conductor so it can withstand against normal wears and tears taking place in decks of swimming pools on countertops designed in patios. Granite also is an excellent choice for exterior locations. Its maintenance is easy.
Slate is a sturdy natural stone with substantial heat and water-resistant properties. So, it proves an ideal option for roofing material. It is equally applicable for exterior paving with proper treatment. When it is broken, it turns into thin sheets. It requires simple cleaning and maintenance treatments.
Sandstone has a range of colors and natural patterns those make it beautiful. Thus, it is the best choice for patios and terrace applications in outer places. Due to these all, it has a lot of demands in the market. Being a siliceous stone type, it demands substantially low care.
Quartzite has the best of both worlds, the durability of granite and beauty of marble. It is hard and resistance to stains. Thus, you can pay less attention to the maintenance program.
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Tip 2 – Know Calcareous Stones
Limestone contains calcites, so it is porous and prone to get stains easily. It has look-n-feel of marbles, so it gives a cheaper option to marble. Due to soft and non-slip nature, it is ideal for paving applications under the roof of your exterior as well. Thanks to its delicacy, it requires more attention in maintenance and cleaning practices.
Marble is a kind of Limestone, but have tons of options for color, styles, and patterns occur in nature. So, it has stunning beauty and tempts us to lay as floors and cladding on walls. It is highly sensitive material to stains, spills, humidity, and scratching. Thus, marble is the most expensive material regarding care and maintenance too.
Travertine is durable and thermally resistant material for exterior applications. It is luxurious material with all beauty attributes of marble, but sturdier than marbles. Finishing treatments determine its maintenance & cares. So, polished travertine, thanks to its properties, is easy to care and maintain.
Onyx is softer than granite. It has bands of different silicon oxide minerals, which are adding beauty to it. Being calcites, it is porous and absorbs stains easily. Therefore, onyx requires more care than other natural stones. It believes that it has healing properties, so the use of Onyx is high in affluent homes& religious places.
If you are not able to recognize your natural stones, please look for the help of professionals such as stone installers, building contractors, stone maintenance services providers or your stone suppliers like World of Stones.
Cleaning & Maintenance Tips
Regular cleaning by dusting/sweeping & wiping is the first step to maintain lustrous look-n-feel of natural stones. It extends the life of stones and its beauty as well. Let’s see some general tips for 2019 to clean and apply maintenance practices first.
Tip 3 – General Cleaning & Maintenance Tips
- Dust is containing settled particles in the air. Sand and dirt enter through footwears and dirty feet. So, most of home and office interior flooring demand regular sweeping and wiping using warm/cold Prepare a schedule for it.
- Exteriors require 3 to 5 times cleaning depending on foot traffic, foliage shredding, and dusting intensity by external vehicles. Public places need daily cleaning with machines and manual applications.
- Use a fluffy mop or brush with soft bristles. Natural material is a good choice, but it has a shorter lifespan. So, select manufactured options checking the smoothness of bristles. Hand dusters are also useful in particular use cases. Countertops like places require cleaning with soft and dry clothes only due to the limited areas they cover.
- Cold or warm water is good for cleaning all kinds of stones. Always try to use soft mop or rag for cleaning the stone surfaces with water. Apply circular motions by going left and right while sweeping large areas.
- Machine vacuums and sweepers are suitable for public and large spaces but be careful with the status of their parts touching the stone surfaces. They should not damage or leave any scratch on the surface due to wear and tear of old machines.
- Avoid acid solutions available in the market as well as vinegar, lemon juice, and other natural acid containing solutions to apply on calcareous stone types. Acids used to react with calcium-based minerals/chemicals and damage the surfaces severely.
- For silicates, apply branded acid containing solutions only under the supervision of expert cleaning service providers or on the advice of stone professionals. The market offers neutral pH-based solutions for cleaning like detergent powders, liquids, and sprays. Use those as per the instructions are given by manufacturers.
Tip 4 –Area/space Specific Cleaning & Maintenance Tips
For Exterior Floor Surfaces:
- Apply cleaning practices described in general cleaning section regularly.
- Take precautionary steps to stop entry of dust and dirt. You can place a piece of mat or rug at the entrances of Exterior Spaces to wipe off dirt attached with shoe soles and open legs. Commercial products are available for dry and wet cleanings.
- For large commercial and public places, the long mat is advisable because complete cleaning of dirt attached at bottoms or leg/palms of shoes demands eight steps of walking to complete removal.
- Try to keep water draining slopes at scientific angles prescribed by civil engineers or architects so water will not retain for a more extended period on the same surfaces and create issues.
- Try to remove rainwater, ice deposits, and storm dusts immediately or as quick as possible.
- Don’t leave stone surfaces wet, use hot/cold air dryer or pieces of dry clothes.
- If stones are sucking water from the beneath of surfaces and pass to the top of the surfaces, take help of stone professionals to prevent seepages to capillaries existing or developing within the stone mass using proper sealants or remove the cause of moisture.
- Otherwise, after evaporation of water molecules, salts or minerals will remain on the surfaces and damage it permanently.
For Exterior Countertop Surfaces:
Barbeque and exterior tables/desks countertops are the most used areas where chances are high for staining, spilling, heat damaging, and scratching due to complicated activities of food preparations.
- Therefore, countertops are demanding frequent cleaning after each food preparation period or at least once in a day for exterior basins like areas in your patios.
- Use soft duster, cloth, or brush to remove dry dirt. Apply soft clothes by wetting with warm/fresh water for minor staining or spills.
- Use mild liquids for washing including detergents with neutral pH for most of limestone, marbles, and other calcareous as well as siliceous stones and round stepping stones.
- Avoid anything containing abrasive materials including powders, creams, and cloths in the cleaning of natural stones.
- Try to protect cooking/oven loaded countertops in your patios from direct touch of hot pots, dishes, or pans to the stone surfaces. You can use trivets, heating pads, or mats under the hot utensils placing right off the stoves on the countertops.
- Use coasters under all utensils or packs made up of glasses, particularly, storing alcohols and citrus juices. It is because there may be spilling of the stuff out during frequent usages.
For Wet Areas:
For patios and other open spaces, water logging is the main issue in rainy or snowy days. Use squeegee just after each pouring to clean clogs. You can apply soap scum removers or a solution of ammonia and water to remove mineral depositions on the surfaces of stones in wet areas. Regular or frequent cleaning of such areas is essential.
For External Dwarf Wall Tops:
If you have designed your exterior landscapes with dwarf walls and pillars using natural stones, please try to apply regular dusting and wet cleaning techniques described in general cleaning sections in order to protect sealants and finishes/coverings. Marble wax or similar material application annually or periodic manner can help you to keep the dazzling looks of your natural stones.
For Other Surfaces:
Exterior walls, open stairsteps, window sills, and myriads of other large to small surfaces laid or cladded with natural stones are demanding regular attention of cleaners. Dry dust removal and wet/water washing are useful to avoid rapid wear and tear.
For Outdoor Pools and Patio Spaces:
Regular cleaning is a must due to weathering effects and frequent wetting on swimming pool decks. Try to keep surfaces of decks dry and use mild bleaching solutions to remove water-based salt deposits during wet cleaning.
Identify & Fix Maintenance Requirements
Accessing the current condition of stones in your places provides perfect clues to apply proper maintenance. If you prepare a checklist including the following points, you can access the current conditions of your stones easily.
- Sign of lippage means flat and evenness of your stone tiles
- Cracks in your stones
- Status of finishing and sealing layer
- Types of coating applied and their manufacturers
- The existence of the stains & types of stains
- Existence of etches on the stone surfaces
- Sign of wears & tears due to weathering
Once you recognize the issues with your stones, you can work on it to fix it. For instance,
- Lippage, serious cracks& etching demand reinstallations and replacements of damaged stones.
- Minor cracks can be filled with proper treatments of filling.
- Damage in finishing layer needs refinishing.
- Damages or deterioration of the coating layer requires recoating.
Let’s see each possible treatment to maintain natural stones in details for 2019 in the next tips.
Tip 5 – Identifying Stains
There are varying types of staining takes place on stone surfaces due to different causes. Let’s identify causes of stains first so we can take precautionary steps in advance.
- Various food & drink items initiate/trigger stain development on the stone surfaces due to spills or droppings in exterior areas where kids and parties are norms. In patios, tea, coffee, and soft drinks are the major ingredients causing stains.
- For open exterior places like gardens and pathways or open patios, urine & fecal/droppings from pet or wild animals & birds as well as decompositions of foliage/leaves and barks are solid reasons to leave mild to deep stains.
Often various metallic components are come into touch to stone surfaces and leave stains directly or indirectly on it. Iron, copper, bronze, and rust based things like nails, nuts & bolts, screws, flower pots, and cans are ideal candidates.
Spills or droppings of oily materials including cooking oil, lubricating oil, grease, and cosmetic oils are a prime source of stains in the exterior spaces.
Biological Flora-based Stains:
Algae, mildew, lichens, mosses, and fungus are significant bioagents to spoil the entire texture and looks of natural stones particularly on open exterior surfaces in wet and humid regions of the world.
Use of ink pens, permanent markers, colored highlighters, magic markers, and drawing paint colors for children are frequent sources of temporary to permanent stains on floors and walls clad with natural stones.
Others Causes for Stains:
Fire & smoke damages, water spots & rings, etch marks, efflorescence, scratches, and nicks are some significant causes for staining on the exterior stone surfaces.
Tip 6 –General Stain Removal Techniques
- When a spill occurs, try to blot it immediately so it will prohibit further spreading.
- Remove loose debris to save stones from scratching.
- Try to wash the area with water if possible.
- You should clean stained area by flushing with pure water and mild soap or powder.
- Try to dry the wet areas with a soft and dry cloth
- Don’t mix bleaching and ammonia solutions to apply at a time. It generates hazardous gases. So, use anyone only.
Tip 7 – By Type Stain Removal Techniques
- Washing detergents and mineral spirits or acetone are best solutions to remove oil-based stains.
- On siliceous stones, you can apply diluted hydrogen peroxide solutions directly on the organic stains.
- For calcareous stones, you have to apply only a mild detergent/soap solution or warm water to remove the stone, not any acid-based mixture at all.
- For ink-based stain removals, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, or acetone/lacquer thinner are best solutions.
- For scuff marker removals, neat essential oil drops or vinegar are advisable applications.
- For stains on grout, cleaning with hard brushes like toothbrush and scrub brushes are ideal.
Tip 8 – Stain Removal Poultice Technique
Often general stain removal techniques and solutions prove inadequate on tough stains. A poultice is a technique to pull and suck the stain molecules from inner mass or beneath the surfaces of stones. It is good you use ready to apply solutions or pastes of poultice available in the market for 2019, instead of indulging into cumbersome home preparations.
Applications of poultice follow some essential steps, such as
- Mixing of powder form with water to form a paste needs disposable container and care to keep the consistency of paste up to toothpaste like density.
- It is pouring of paste on washed & wetted stain areas to create half-inch thick layer.
- Covering the glob of paste with plastic wrap and tap it with plastic/painter’s tape.
- Leave it to process on stains up to a day or two based on the intensity of stains.
- After removal, rinse the area and check for any remaining of stains. If it is so, try to repeat the process until it completely goes off the surfaces.
Tip 9 – Sealing Natural Stones
Today we have long-lasting stone sealants available in the market for 2019 and retaining against most of the types of damages including staining, weathering, and other natural wear & tears due to prolonged or heavy usages.
Typically, two types of stone sealants available under various brand names. Those are topical sealants and impregnator sealants.
- As its name suggests, it creates a coating layer on the top of the surfaces, instead of penetrating inside the mass of stones.
- Acrylic and plastic compound chemicals, as well as wax, are ingredients of topical sealants.
- When you apply a drop of water on a stone surface, it turns into droplets instead of absorbing into the stone surfaces. It indicates deterioration of previously applied sealants.
- You need to strip and apply sealants again using professional services only.
- Take care to buy sealants only from known brands.
- The topical sealant is not useful for honed or flamed stone polished surfaces because it turns into glossy surfaces and may prove slippery in wet areas or seasons.
You must take care of topical sealants while cleaning, and maintenance applications. Try to avoid solid components and strong chemicals during dry or wet cleaning.
As its name suggests, impregnator sealants are penetrating/impregnating into the stone mass, below the external surfaces and alter the chemistry of stones too. However, it leaves natural capillaries, pores, and cavities within stone mass intact and leaves it breathable to pass water and vapors/moisture.
Thus, most of the wet prone exterior areas are best candidates for impregnator types of sealant applications. Most of the siliceous stones are good to apply impregnator types of sealants, mainly when exterior spaces are in question.
These kinds of sealants are safe when we apply standard types of cleaning applications. However, some sealants have strong reactions against strong acids or alkaline washing solutions.
So, try to refer instructions given by manufacturers or contact the experienced stone professionals for a maintenance program.
Tip 10 – Polishing Natural Stones
- Regular maintenance programs also include polishing of natural stone surfaces when experts confirm it.
- You can use a soft micro cloth along with polishing powders provided by reliable brands or supplier.
- Compound or diamond abrasive solutions also useful for some natural stone polishing.
- You can apply scouring pad or hand-held machines with slow speed after spreading appropriate polishing power.
- For larger areas, take help of professional polishing agencies and their machines instead of doing it yourself.
Wrapping It Up:
Now, you have nearly complete guide for 2019 to clean and maintain natural stones in your exterior spaces to keep the natural beauty intact for longer. High-quality natural stones for external applications from reliable suppliers like World of Stones is an excellent and cost-effective option. World of Stones provides only quality stone products, which last for longer and need a fewer maintenance expenditure. Would you like to try it once?