Whether it is used on floors, or as countertops or in showers, natural stone adds elegance and durability to many different areas of the home. With a variety of colors and textures, this option is timeless, beautiful and a great addition to home building and dÃ©cor.
However, unlike many other home building products, natural stone is a porous material. This means that spilled liquids will seep into the tiny holes covering its surface, creating a stain that can be very difficult to remove. In fact, as time goes by, stains to natural stone will only get worse in appearance and more difficult to clean. For these reasons, natural stone must be treated as soon as possible to keep it looking its best.
Minimize Stains on Contact
When a spill occurs, it is imperative that the spilled substance is cleaned up as quickly as possible with a paper towel, sponge or other cloth. This should be done in a blotting motion rather than wiping to help prevent the spread of the spill and its tendency to soak into the surface pores.
In addition, the affected area should be flushed first with clean water, followed by a mild soap. Another round of rinsing with water will remove bubbles and soap residue from the surface. Finally, using a soft cloth to blot the area dry will finish the process, although all steps can be repeated as necessary to thoroughly clean the natural stone. If these actions fail to prevent the onset of stains, it is time to begin attempting stain removal.
Types of Natural Stone Stains
The first step to properly cleaning natural stone is understanding the type of stain that has affected the surface. These are the most common stains to natural stone:
1. oil-based stains - Often caused by grease, cooking oil and food, this type of stain makes the stone appear darker.
2. organic stains - Common household items like coffee, tea and tobacco, as well as outdoor products such as animal urine, leaves and bird droppings, can leave pinkish-brown stains on natural stone.
3. metal stains - Orange or brown stains are caused by iron and rust issues near stone, while green or muddy-brown stains can appear from contact with copper or bronze. Some rust stains are too deep in the pores of natural stone to be completely removed.
4. biological stains - Found almost exclusively on outdoor natural stone, these stains originate from algae, mildew and fungi.
5. ink stains - Accidental marks from pens or magic markers can create these stains on light and dark stones.
Using a Poultice
In its most basic terms, reversing the absorption of the substance that caused the stain cleans natural stone pores. In order to do this, the staining substance must be re-absorbed by a secondary material, more commonly known as a poultice.
A poultice is comprised of a liquid cleaner mixed with an absorbent powder to create a thicker paste that will be used to absorb the staining substance from the natural stone. After the stone is wet with distilled water, this concoction is spread in a Â¼ to Â½ thickness over the stained area of the stone and left in place for one or two days, or until the mixture has thoroughly dried. A plastic covering, with the edges taped down as a sealant, will help the drying process.
Plain water should be used to rinse the poultice away, and a soft cloth will blot away the excess water. The proposed result is that the poultice material will pull the stain out of the stone, leaving behind clean and new-looking stone pores.
Because of the strong results of the poultice, non-stained areas should be carefully avoided. If the stain is not removed with the first application of the poultice, the entire process can be repeated several more times to loosen the stain and completely wipe it away from the natural stone.
In addition, sometimes an extra chemical cleaner needs to be added to the poultice to make it more effective. It is necessary to know what type of stain has affected the tone to know what type of chemical will work best. If it is impossible to determine the cause of the stain, doing a test run on a small, hidden area will show whether or not the chosen chemical will be effective.
1. oil-based stains - A basic poultice made with baking soda and water will work for most of these types of stains.
2. organic stains - The addition of hydrogen peroxide or acetone to the poultice will yield the best results for organic stains.
3. metal stains - Some rust stains will be mildly affected by rust remover poultices, but many may require the work of a professional. Copper stains are also difficult to remove, but some success can be achieved using an ammonia poultice.
4. biological stains - Most biological stains can be affected with the addition of either ammonia or bleach or hydrogen peroxide, but each should be attempted separately.
5. ink stains - Light-colored stone can handle bleach or hydrogen peroxide poultices, while darker stone should utilize acetone.
Although natural stone offers a beautiful option for many areas of the home, that appearance can be hindered by stains. Using these simple methods for stain removal, natural stone can often be returned to its natural beauty.
Contributed by www.granitegold.com