Natural stone flooring is a significant investment that can add value to your home or property. Although stone is naturally resistant to the elements compared to other flooring products, like concrete pavers, they still need to be sealed and maintained to reduce degradation and maintain their natural appearance.
So, if stone flooring is a natural product, why does it need protection and maintenance? Read on to find out more.
Natural stone flooring explained
Stone flooring is an attractive option that provides homes and properties with unique, earthy flooring patterns; no two natural stone tiles or slabs are the same.
The natural beauty of stone compliments garden beds and properties with lots of tree growth and shrubbery, allowing your flooring to blend in naturally, and compliment the surrounding landscape.
The common types of natural stone used for flooring include, but are not limited to:
Granite and more
Although stone is a robust natural element, once it is cut and shaped, it loses its hard outer shell, meaning the beautiful coloured inner surfaces of the stone are left bare on the surface of your floor.
Rock and stone are porous, meaning moisture, contaminants, and pollutants can work their way into the stone through the open pores on the surface of your tiles or slabs. These contaminants get washed in by the wind and rain, leaving your natural stone surfaces open to premature degradation.
So what are these nasties, and why are they so dangerous for your natural stone flooring?
Natural stone flooring hazards
The porous surface of an unsealed natural stone floor is like a sponge that you can’t wring out. The multitude of micro-holes permeates each slab or tile.
During weather events, like heavy winds and rain, water and a range of other contaminants can find their way into the sub-structure of your stone flooring.
Some of the common pollutants your unsealed natural stone tiles are at risk of include, but are not limited to:
Even excess water in an unsealed stone tile can create an expansion, risking cracks, spalling and warping.
Trapped moisture makes the perfect environment for biological contaminants like moulds and fungi to thrive. These pollutants can slowly degrade the surface and inner layers of the stone, compromising colour tone, structural integrity, and potential premature wear and tear.
Using professional natural stone sealing services, like the one here at Enviro Clean and Capture, ensures your stone surfaces maintain their vibrant natural tones and textures while keeping these potentially harmful pollutants and contaminants out of your investment.
So what is natural stone sealing, and why is it best to use a professional service for your cleaning and resealing?
Natural stone sealing
A natural stone sealant acts as a protective barrier for your stone flooring, allowing the contaminants and pollutants to wash away from the surface, minimising or avoiding absorption by the tile or slab itself.
Although this sounds like a simple concept, the type of stone used for your flooring will have varying degrees of porosity. This has led to sealant manufacturers creating different types of sealants, varying in performance and viscosity.
Different types of natural stone sealant
Although there are many different types of sealants available on the market, there are two main categories that these products fall into; penetrating or surface sealants. All natural stone sealants will most likely be alcohol, solvent, silicone or water-based.
As the name suggests, a penetrating sealant works by entering the pores of your natural stone flooring.
Rather than just covering the pores on the stone’s surface, the penetrating sealant seeps deep into the stone, protecting the tiles inner structure, limiting the adverse reactions of water and other contaminants.
This type of sealant also allows the natural stone to breathe, minimising the growth of biohazards like mildew, mould and fungus. Penetrating sealers are the least likely to affect the appearance of your stone surfaces, leaving a matte finish, which generally makes penetrating sealants the most popular option.
Most penetrating or impregnating sealants are environmentally friendly and have a long life expectancy, making them a more cost-effective option for you and safer for the planet.
A solvent-based penetrating stone sealant offers the deepest bond with your stone flooring and is recommended for low-porosity stones like granite, marble and porcelain.
To summarise, penetrating, or impregnating sealants:
Provide optimal protection to your natural stone flooring
Have a longer life expectancy than other sealants
Allow the natural stone to breathe
Offers protection without altering the stones natural aesthetic
Surface sealants, also known as topical sealants, are a cost-effective method for sealing stone flooring. This type of sealant creates a film over the floor’s surface, creating a barrier between the stone and the surrounding environment.
This type of sealant can leave a gloss or “wet” look to your stone flooring, highlighting the natural lines in some stonework. Like timber varnish, the more coats applied, the higher the gloss.
However, a surface sealer can diminish other stone finishes and can flake or discolour if not correctly cleaned and maintained between scheduled resealing treatments. Surface sealants can also be more susceptible to scratches or scuff marks from pushbikes, heavy traffic, furniture and other factors.
In summary, surface or topical sealants:
Are generally cheaper
Effectively seal and protect the top surface of your stone flooring
Offer a high-gloss finish
Prevents corrosion, degradation and staining of your flooring
Has a shorter life expectancy than penetrative sealants
Susceptible to scuffing, marking and flaking
Due to gloss sealants producing potentially slippery surfaces, non-slip solutions can be applied.
While there are DIY sealant kits on the market, failing to correctly apply a sealant can result in a poor quality finish, or worse, completely alter the aesthetic of your expensive stone flooring.
Like the team here at Enviro Clean and Capture, stone sealant professionals can assess your stone flooring and provide you with the best option for your natural stone surfaces.
How is a natural stone sealant applied?
Natural stone sealant is typically applied with a pressurised spray gun to ensure an accurate and even coat.
Many people who attempt DIY natural stone sealing make the mistake of using a roller, like a paint roller, to apply their sealant solution. Although this practice can provide a seal for your tiles, it will often leave a disappointing, ineffective and inconsistent finish and is not recommended by sealing professionals.
Experts like the technicians here at Enviro Clean and Capture use industry-leading cleaning and sealant application equipment to ensure the best possible results for your natural stone sealing.
Sealant life expectancy
We briefly discussed that penetrating sealants have a longer life expectancy than surface sealants. While this is true, the life expectancy of both sealant types can vary significantly.
Due to different manufacture specifications and varying qualities of chemical compounds, the life expectancy of any given sealant can range from six months to ten years or more. This is another reason for utilising a natural stone sealing professional.
It is best to receive professional advice and understand all your options when selecting a sealant, so you can estimate how long your investment will perform.
Surface sealant life-expectancy
On the cheaper end of the surface sealant scale, you could expect six months to a year of protection out of your solution.
However, a high-quality surface sealant could last from one to two years. Although often a cheaper option, the shorter life expectancy of a surface sealant may not be the most cost-effective option, especially for large surface areas.
Penetrating sealant life-expectancy
Because a penetrating or impregnating sealant enters and coats the inner structure of the stonework, it offers more protection than a topical surface sealant of the same quality.
A quality penetrating stone sealant can expect to have a life span of five to seven years; however, some high-quality sealants can expect to last up to 10-years or more.
Caring for your sealed natural stone
A sealed stone surface is easier to clean than an unsealed natural porous surface.
Even though a quality sealant provides robust protection for your stone floors and surfaces, some simple maintenance is still required to ensure even wear and optimise its life expectancy.
To effectively maintain your sealed natural stone surfaces, it is essential to:
Ensure you sweep or vacuum regularly and remove excess dirt, grime and loose organic material
Not allow wet organic material to decay on your stonework
Remove oil and salts as soon as possible after spills
Clean with a stiff brush and mild soapy water, especially after get-togethers or significant weather events.
Suppose your natural stone surfaces look like they require a deeper clean between resealing.
In that case, it is advised to contact a professional natural stone cleaning service like the expert team here at Enviro Clean and Capture to ensure harmful substances are removed with professional equipment and chemical solutions.
Natural stone resealing
Once a sealant’s lifespan is up, your natural stone surfaces will require a deep clean and a reseal. Not only is this needed to offer ongoing protection for your stone flooring, but it will also negate the chance of discolouration and flaking of your previous application.
As previously mentioned, surface sealants are at most risk of flaking and scuffing, especially when at the end of their effectiveness. High traffic areas are at most risk of these issues and can lead to uneven wear and colour fading, permanently impacting the aesthetic of your natural stonework.
You can negate this problem by ensuring you have your next natural stone cleaning and resealing scheduled with your natural stone care professional.
A natural stone cleaning and resealing professional can ensure your tiles are pressure cleaned back to their original finish and that your stonework is effectively and evenly resealed and protected.
Natural stone cleaning
Although cleaning your natural stone flooring may sound simple enough, some harmful contaminants, pollutants and other compounds, like tree sap and natural oils, may need some professional attention.
While a pressure cleaner is easy enough to hire for a deep DIY clean, many commercial pressure cleaners are too harsh for some types of stone and sealants. If the pressure is too high, it can remove the existing sealant prematurely, or more concerning, eat away at the stonework itself.
Professional natural stone cleaning services, like the one we offer at Enviro Clean and Capture, utilise state of the art pressure cleaning technology to ensure your stonework receives the ideal pressure and safe cleaning solutions.
Our expert natural stone cleaning technicians use environmentally friendly cleaning solutions, which are also safe for your surrounding flora and garden beds.
The importance of professional natural stone tile sealing and cleaning
Natural stone is a beautiful product that adds a stunning aesthetic to your property and the surrounding landscape.
Because the quality of your external and internal stone flooring can add noticeable value to your home, it makes sense to provide your investment with optimal protection.
An experienced team of natural stone sealing and cleaning professionals can make sure your stonework provides you with a lifetime of use and helps you avoid expensive repair treatments or having to invest in new stone flooring prematurely.
In summary, by hiring a reputable, trained natural stone sealing expert, you can ensure that:
You have been presented with all sealant options and been given a selection of cost-effective solutions to choose from
The best sealant is selected for your type of stone
The right kind of sealant is selected for the intended use and surrounding environment
The selected sealant has been correctly and evenly applied
That you get the best possible clean to maintain your natural stone’s colour and texture
That you receive reliable advice on cleaning, sealing, maintaining and resealing your valuable investment
If you require expert advice and services for natural stone sealing and cleaning in Sydney, Newcastle and surrounding communities, contact the experienced team at Enviro Clean and Capture today to arrange a consultation.
The Enviro Clean and Capture team is dedicated to providing our clients with world-class service, utilising environmentally friendly products and techniques, and providing the highest quality results for our clients.
Phone 1300 415 213 to speak to one of our knowledgeable technicians, or fill in one of our online contact forms, and one of our representatives can contact you at a prefered time.