Polishing Marble Shower Wall
A residential client in Austin, Texas called us explaining that their dark marble shower was left cloudy and discolored from over-the-counter cleaning products. When we arrived at their house, the marble shower was dull and lifeless with chalky drip marks throughout the surface. We concluded that the type of cleaning product that was used was acidic and was not formulated to be used on stone. We have seen this situation many times, and we were confident that we could restore the polish to this marble shower.
Our Marble restoration process
We used both flexible resin diamond pads and diamond-embedded honing pads to hone away a thin layer of the marble surface. We repeated this process several times with finer grit diamonds until the marble surface was once again smooth and ready to take on a shine. Using polishing powders, we were able to achieve highly reflective shower walls for the client to enjoy. As a final step, we applied a water-based impregnating sealer to help protect the stone from future staining.
Tire stained limestone driveway
This limestone was part of an Austin Texas residential driveway. The home owner mentioned that she had never been able to get it cleaned. Upon further inspection we saw that the stone had become darkened by vehicle traffic down the driveway in addition to typical soiling. The limestone also was green from a bacterial growth in the pores of the stone.
Our cleaning process
First, we vacuumed the area to remove the loose soil from the surface. Then we applied an alkaline cleaner to emulsify the soil. The next step was to agitate the surface to further emulsify the soil. Upon inspection, we could see that the soil was only partially suspended, so we used an acidic cleaner to finish the job. Once all the soil was loosened, we rinsed the limestone with our truck-mounted water extraction system. After the surface dried, we were able to see a drastic change to the limestone. To keep the appearance looking good for as long as possible, we applied a heavy-duty exterior stone sealer.
Typical Maintenance of Travertine
Approximately 80% of the residential stone floors here in Austin Texas are travertine. From time to time they will need professional maintenance due to wear and tear or improper use of cleaners, etc. In this case, the home owner was using a high alkaline multipurpose cleaner. If the cleaner is not rinsed off 100% it will leave a residue, and attract additional soil as seen in these pictures. Notice the darkness of the grout lines in the before picture.
- dry vacuum floor removing any loose soil.
- apply our cleaner which emulsifies the soil.
- agitate the grout lines with stiff brushes, then agitate the tiles with floor machine, further emulsifying soil.
- rinse with truck mounted hot water extraction.
- dry the floor.
- seal with impregnating sealer.
Educating the Home Owner
Educating the home owner in regard to day to day maintenance is the most important aspect of our whole process, to insure that our work is not undone. We typically recommend a cleaner, where to get it, and how to use it.
These floors were about to be replaced.
We were asked to look at an older terrazzo floor in central Austin that had gotten worn and dark over years of traffic and improper cleaning agents. The homeowner hoped to bring back the brighter white and polished look that the floor had decades earlier. One of the main concerns was a very noticeable outline where a rug laid on the floor. Years of soiling made the traffic areas gray while the area under the rug remained nearly white.
We opted to use a process we often use for residential projects, one that limits the number of honing passes, the amount of time spent, and the cost of doing so – still yielding beautiful results.
Using a combination of rigid diamond abrasives and flexible diamond impregnated pads, the floor’s original brightness returned. Polishing brought back a striking shine that the floor hadn’t been seen in 50 years.
The homeowner was extremely happy with the results! With proper maintenance guidelines that we explained, this floor should remain beautiful for many more years.
Limestone pool stained black and green.
This Lakeway, Texas homeowner called us in desperate need of cleaning of her limestone patio and pool surround. When we came out to inspect the area we noticed it was stained black in several spots and also had a green algae growing on the surface. The homeowner was extremely frustrated and explained to me that after paying a little over 3000 dollars to have the patio power-washed and cleaned, the black stains were still embedded in the stone. Using a high powered washer can be extremely damaging to limestone because it can actually open up holes in the surface which become havens for bacterial growth. After taking measurements and providing a price quote we lined out a step-by-step process for how we planned to attack this job for the homeowner.
Our cleaning process.
First we saturated all the stained areas with an antimicrobial mixture which reacts with the stubborn stains in the limestone. After preparing the rest of our process, the stains were already looking a bit lighter. We then used a stone-friendly alkaline solution along with our soft-bristled electric spinning brush to agitate and emulsify the surface soils and bacterial growth. The emulsified soils were extracted and the stone was rinsed with our truck-mounted hot water extraction machine. The stone was looking really good at this point and after doing some detail work the homeowner thanked us profusely and commented that it looked almost as good as the day it was installed 10 years ago. For a final step we saturated the limestone pool surround with an industrial grade penetrating stone sealer.
The clients were extremely pleased with the results and before we left, we educated them on how to properly care for the stone and maintain its beautiful natural look
Highly etched marble countertop
This Westlake, Texas homeowner called our office wondering what to do with stubborn etch marks that were making her counter top look blotchy and dull. When we came out to look at the counter top she explained that it was only a year old and the problem started to occur almost immediately. She also explained to me that she has 3 kids and that she loves to cook and entertain. Unfortunately, marble is very sensitive to many cooking products that are acidic in nature. It was clear that the homeowner wanted a long-term solution to her problem, so we suggested that we refinish the counter top from a highly reflective finish to a low honed or matte finish. This way when future etching inevitably occurs, the damage will not be as pronounced and will maintain a fairly even look.
The first thing we did was to mask off all the surrounding areas with protective plastic so that there would be very little cleanup. Then we performed a dust-free, wet honing process using our industrial diamond resin pads along with our electric planetary grinder (These tools are highly specialized and are designed specifically for stone countertops) This process was performed several times in order to effectively remove the polish from the countertop. After all the polish was removed, we performed a final honing pass with a soft, low grit diamond pad that leaves a smooth, low-reflective finish on the marble surface. As a final step, we saturated the stone with a high quality stone sealer.
Before we leave the clients home we like to take a few minutes to educate them on how to properly care for their countertops as well as what types of cleaners to use.
This Austin Texas home located in the hills of West Lake was a fun little challenge for us. The owners were new to the area and recently moved in to the upscale home with Travertine floors. It was clear from the get go that there was an immense amount of soil left over from the previous owner. It was especially evident where a rug once covered part of the dining room floor.
The challenge was to remove the soil from the tiles so that the travertine would not show an obvious transition from clean to dirty tiles all while preserving the natural look of a high hone finish. Luckily for us we came well equipped with the right tools. First we cleaned the outer tiles as well as the outer perimeter of the of where the rug once laid with a circular stiff brush along with a stone safe alkaline solution. next we repeated the process in the entire room but this time we cleaned the floor with a circular diamond embedded honing pad which helped keep the finish consistent throughout the room. The next step in our process is to seal the floors using a water based impregnating stone sealer and then buff out any remaining water marks.
[This article was originally published in October of 2018]
Kitchen countertops, bathroom vanity tops, bar tops, and the like can be prone to staining because they are exposed to oily or dye-containing substances on a daily, or sometimes, even an hourly basis. Consequently, a sealer should be applied to help prevent staining. Choosing the correct type of sealer can be very important for how the sealer performs. An experienced, professional stone restoration contractor will know which sealer is best, taking into consideration the characteristics of the particular type of stone to which it will be applied and the location where the stone is installed.
Impregnating sealers, also known as penetrating sealers, are the most commonly used sealers. They are applied to natural stone to inhibit staining. Impregnating sealers penetrate below the surface and protect the stone from within. They are formulated with water-repellent and oil-repellent substances. Topical sealers are available, but can be problematic, and are very seldom recommended.
Misconceptions About Sealers
There are many misconceptions about what a sealer does and doesn’t do. It is important to note that sealers do not prevent traffic patterns or etching. The surface of the stone is still vulnerable to acidic substances, scratches, dullness, and other damage. In addition, natural stone, even when it is properly sealed, is not stain-proof, it is merely stain-resistant. In other words, it buys some time so that spills can be cleaned before they penetrate into the stone and become stains. After natural stone is sealed, it still needs to be regularly cleaned with pH-neutral stone care products and periodically refinished or resealed.
Ask us about how we can help protect your natural stone.
This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PRO Partners.