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You may try to restore your natural stone floor yourself. Or you may ignore the problem, in the hope that your family, guests and visitors will not see it.
However, it is unlikely that you will have any lasting success.
This is because when a stone floor problem becomes visible, it is often way past a do it yourself solution.
This is because we look at our floors when we are standing.
So when a floor looks dirty it is absolutely packed with dirt, because the dirt has become ingrained in the surface.
When a stone floor starts to look dull it will be full of scratches and soils that mopping will not solve.
Over the years, stone floor tiles can lose their lustre, requiring a deep clean and reseal, generally referred to as natural stone restoration. You have made a significant investment in your stone floors, so the last thing you want to do is change them when they get dirty.
Daily cleaning and maintenance are critical to maintaining a beautiful, clean surface. But cleaning alone is not enough. A well organised, consistent cleaning schedule will not prevent stains and scratches making the floor dull and difficult to clean.
To make sure your floor is always looking at its best, you will need to hire a professional natural stone restoration company to help bring back the original finish.
Abbey Floor Care offers a range of cleaning and sealing solutions for your stone floors at reasonable costs. Floor cleaning and sealing costs depend on the type of floor and the level of cleaning you want.
When thinking about natural stone restoration, it is easier to split it into two broad categories, calcium and non-calcium stones.
Popular calcuim stones are Limestone, Marble, Travertine and Terrazzo.
Calcite Stones started their life as the shells and skeletons of sea creatures. Over time the shells and skeletons accumulated on the seabed. Eventually, with pressure and time, the calcium carbonate sediment hardens into limestone.
Limestone is mostly used in flooring with a natural, matte, or honed, mid to high sheen finish.
When water passes through limestone; it dissolves the calcium into the water. Eventually, the water deposits the dissolved calcium along with other minerals, forming a stone called Travertine. The presence of water causes with calcium to give off gases that give Travertine its honeycombed structure
The other mineral deposits contribute to travertine’s colouring. So, travertine is available in a variety of shades, from the lightest ivory and darker walnut shades to dark browns and deep reds.
Travertine is mostly used in flooring with a natural, matte, or honed mid to high sheen finish. The honeycomb structure means that the stone is filled to allow a smooth uniform finish. However, over time, the filler can come loose, leaving holes to fill with soil.
Marble is a recrystallized form of limestone, transformed by heat or pressure deep inside the earth. The dense crystalline structure means that you can polish Marble to a lustrous, beautiful shine.
Mineral impurities in Marble allow it to come in a variety of colours including but not limited to, white, cream, pink, green, brown, grey and black.
The metamorphosis from limestone does not make it harder. So, compared to granite, marble is a relatively soft stone, so it has little resistance to scratched and damage.
Terrazzo is a composite flooring made from mixing Portland stone or epoxy with marble chips. The presence of marble means that the terrazzo must be cleaned and maintained as if it were marble.
Most people consider Limestone, Marble, Travertine and Terrazzo as wearing and durable. But the properties that make them attractive contribute to their vulnerability.
Strong acids and alkalis will dissolve calcium, so they will damage these surface of these stones Vinegar, wine, lemon juice, tea and coffee will etch the surface and remove the polish. Repeated exposure to acid spills will erode the surface still further.
While some types of limestone such as Staffordshire Limestone can be considered as hard, in general limestone, marble, travertine and terrazzo are relatively soft compared to a hard stone like Granite.
This means that they are easily damaged by abrasion from foot traffic and scratching from dragging furniture across a floor.
Professional natural stone restoration of limestone, marble, travertine and granite usually starts with grinding or honing the surface of the floor to remove scratches and deep soiling.
Limestone, terrazzo and travertine can be honed to light or high sheen finish.
Marble is generally honed and polished to a deep lustrous shine.
Finally the floor is sealed with an appropriate sealer.
Considerable experience and specialised equipment are needed for this kind of natural stone restoraiton. So you should take care to hire the services of a company you can trust.
All other types of stone come under the classification of Non-Calcilus Stones
Granite is an igneous rock, which means that it is formed from molten lava as it cools.
Granite is hard enough to resist most abrasion, strong enough to bear significant weight, inert enough to withstand chemical attack and it can be polished to a deep shine. Granite is also one of the more expensive stones.
These characteristics make it a highly desirable stone counter tops and luxurious floors.
If you are considering granite, make sure you know which stone you are considering. Commercial granite is used to cover a range of igneous rocks including gabbro, basalt, pegmatite, schist, gneiss, syenite, monzonite, anorthosite, granodiorite, diabase, diorite.
These stones may not have the wear characteristics you expect from a traditional granite.
In most cases, granite can be repolished with fine abrasives and polishing equipment. In rare cases, the surface may be badly scratched or damaged. In this case, the damage will need to be ground away before the floor can be re-polished.
Sandstone is formed from the grains of weathered stone. Clay or silt acts as a cement binding the sand grains together.
Sandstone is generally used for flooring in its natural state. This means that the surface of the stone is left rough.
The surface finish means that it is not easy to mop sandstone without leaving some of the dirty water on the surface or in the grout. Over time the soil builds up, hiding the natural colours.
Professional sandstone cleaning usually starts with scrubbing a high alkali cleaner into the surface of the floor. The cleaner will emulsify the soil and lift it away from the stone. Hot water pressurised rinsing removes the dirty slurry, leaving a pristine clean floor.
Once the floor has dried, it should be sealed. An impregnating sealer will leave the original surface. A surface sealer will leave an easier to clean smoother surface.
Slate, Quarry Tile, Victorian Minton Tile
While slate is a natural stone and quarry tile and minton tile are man made, they all have similar characteristics regarding cleaning, because they are all formed from clay.
Historically, linseed oil and waxes were used to finish these floors after installation.
Professional cleaning starts with removing any existing finish residues. However, we have come across a variety of finish residues, that we could only remove with the most powerful paint removers.
Experience is essential to make sure that the cleaning does not damage the tiles. Clay is a soft material that can be damaged by aggressive cleaning and over-wetting.
Very often the issue with old floors is not the flooring itself, but the sub-floor.
Quarry tiles, Victorian clay tiles, as well as flagstones, were often laid on nothing more than earth, ash or sand. While this in itself is not a huge problem, the lack of any insulation makes for a cold floor underfoot.
These floors were designed to be ‘breathable’. Covering them with non-breathable coverings like vinyl or heavy rugs will cause problems. The cover will stop the floor breathing, causing cement like deposits on the surface of the tiles and the surface breaking away on some tiles.
We can restore the majority of "breathable" floors to a beautiful finish. Once finished they can be sealed with impregnating sealers that enhance the natural colour of the tiles, while still allowing the floor to breathe.
If the floor tiles on an insulating base, they can be finished with a natural wax or acrylic surface finish.