Our use of natural stone for construction dates back to the neolithic period, approximately 9000-years ago, making natural stone one of the oldest building materials used by humankind.
We have used natural stones to construct much of our civilisation, including:
Gardens-scapes and more.
Natural stone has been a great ally, and we still use it in today’s modern buildings and construction for reliability, strength and aesthetics in architecture and landscaping.
Modern use of natural stone
Our modern homes still celebrate natural stone for its strength and beauty and are still used across most properties, including in:
Gardens and more
Crushed natural stone is also found in our concrete floors and foundations, driveways and other compressed or concrete structures.
While natural stone is incredibly hard-wearing and reliable, it is not immune to degradation and will suffer wear and tear as time passes.
However, there are ways to protect our homes’ natural stone structures and utilities, like adding a protective coating. Read on to learn more about natural stone and the benefits of applying stone sealant.
Different types of stone
Different types of natural stone are best used for various applications. For example, while one kind of stone may be best suited for flooring and outdoor pathways, another stone variant may be better used for benchtops or retaining walls.
While there is an enormous amount of different natural stone compounds that are used in building and construction, some of the more common types used in modern residential and commercial buildings include:
Slate and more
All these different stone types feature varying characteristics, such as:
Malleability and more
All stone has varying degrees of porosity. Although most natural stones may look and feel solid, they are filled with tiny holes known as pores at a microscopic level.
The level of porosity will depend on natural occurrences that have affected how the stone was formed, including:
The slow or fast compaction of the sediments and elements above and below the stone
The heat and pressure applied
The natural conditions to which the stone was subjected to overtime
These pores are the stone’s secret weakness, as they can allow a range of pollutants and contaminants inside the structure of the stone, degrading it from the inside.
Why do stone tiles need sealing?
We’ve all heard the story of the Trojan horse. If you are unfamiliar, the ancient Greeks were at war with the Trojans and made a giant wooden horse as a peace offering.
However, secretly, the Greek soldiers hid within the horse, and once the gift had entered the city walls, the soldiers opened the gates. The Greeks entered their fortress, bringing about the fall of Troy and conquering the Trojan people.
This story is the perfect metaphor for how contaminants and pollutants create premature degradation to your natural stone flooring, structures and utilities.
Some of these natural pollutants and contaminants are as old as the stone itself and include:
Fungus and moulds
Botanical oils and saps
Dirt and grime
UV radiation and more
Water and mycotoxins like fungus, moulds and mildews can wreak havoc on natural stone structures, as the trapped moisture and biological growths can continue to multiply inside the stones structure.
Other contaminants and pollutants are the result of modern living and industry and include compounds such as:
Motor and machine oils
Food and beverage spillages
Mains water chemicals and more
All these natural, manufactured, and chemical compounds can build up over time, amplifying the problem and further degrading the natural stone structures.
While all things succumb to natural wear and tear over time, there is one easy and affordable thing you can do to protect your natural stone surfaces and structures, and that is by applying a sealant.
What is a sealant?
A sealant is a chemical solution applied to your stone surfaces to prevent premature degradation.
There are many sealants available on the market, some offering DIY natural stone sealing solutions. However, many home and property owners prefer to hire professional natural stone sealing services to ensure an expert application.
Due to the varying characteristics of the stone and the various applications of each kind, a specific type of sealant may be more suitable for a particular stone.
Applying the right kind of sealant is essential, as the wrong type may offer insufficient levels of protection or even negatively affect the stone’s aesthetic, sometimes permanently.
Professional natural stone sealing services can ensure the correct type of sealant is used on your natural stone floors and structures, guaranteeing that the sealant is correctly applied and optimising your stone’s protection.
So, what are the various sub-types of sealant, and what makes them different? Read on to learn more about natural stone sealants.
Different sealant types
There are a variety of natural stone sealants, each varying in chemical makeup, consistency, and performance, and intended for specific stone characteristics. Sandstone, for example, has a much higher porosity than bluestone and may require a different type of sealant viscosity and coverage.
Often, a sealant is categorised by its base compound. Common types of sealant bases could include:
Natural rubber and more
To the untrained and inexperienced, it would be hard to decide what type of sealant base best suits a specific kind of stone, which is why hiring a professional stone sealing service is a popular option.
While the list of sealant bases may seem daunting, most sealants will fall within two categories; topical and penetrative sealants.
A topical sealant, also known as a surface sealant, is applied to the surface of a natural stone product, like stone flooring. The topical sealant coats the top layer of the stone surface, creating a protective seal over the top of the pores, allowing water and contaminants to wash over the top of the stone.
Although topical sealants are often cheaper than penetrative solutions, their life expectancy and performance are often inferior. Depending on product quality and proficiency of application, an average topical sealant could last six to twelve months, although a high-quality surface sealant may last several years.
Topical sealants are known to bubble and alter your stonework’s aesthetic and can present a slip hazard with some finishes. Non-slip agents are available; however, they often compromise your stone’s natural finish.
If any excess moisture is trapped within the stone structure at the time of application, a tropical sealant may create a breeding ground for harmful mycotoxins like fungi and mould. Though often costing more, a penetrating sealant offers better protection, has less potential to affect your stoneware’s natural aesthetic, and has a significantly longer life expectancy.
A penetrating sealant, also known as an impregnating sealant, works by permeating the surface of your tiles and penetrating deep into the pores, offering an internal and external protective layer that optimises protection while still allowing your stone to breathe.
Because a penetrative sealer amalgamates with the stone’s structure, it does not affect its natural aesthetic, offering a superior finish to topical sealers.
A quality impregnating sealant has a life expectancy exceeding ten years, which could save you significantly in the long run compared to a topical sealant that may need cleaning and reapplication annually.
How is a sealant applied?
Some sealants, especially generic DIY topical solutions, suggest that you brush or roll a sealant onto your stone flooring or surfaces. However, while this is an established means of application, it is notorious for uneven coverage, inconsistent finishes, and potential bubbling.
Spraying sealant is a tried and tested application method and is the number one choice by professional natural stone sealing services.
Some of the many benefits of spraying sealant include:
Less product wasted and more
Generally, professional natural stone sealing services will ensure the surface has been carefully pressure cleaned to ensure that the sealant provides optimal protection to the stone flooring or structure.
Cleaning and resealing
Depending on which type of sealant you decide to use on your natural stonework, there will come a time when you need to provide your natural stone with a deep clean and a sealant reapplication.
Natural stone cleaning Sydney
Although routine maintenance is minimised after sealing natural stone, your stone flooring and other surfaces will require a deeper clean to ensure the previous sealant application has been removed as much as possible to provide the correct preparation for the new application.
The best way to achieve this is by using a pressure cleaner to provide enough force to remove the legacy sealant. The problem with most commercial pressure cleaners is that they can be too powerful and risk damaging the stone itself.
A professional natural stone cleaning service uses custom technology that applies the perfect water pressure without damaging the stonework.
Natural stone resealing Sydney
After the natural stone surface has been cleaned and sufficiently dried, a new topical or impregnating sealant is sprayed on the same as the first application.
Cleaning and resealing can be arduous and time-consuming without the proper tools and skills. By maintaining a relationship with a reputable natural stone sealing and cleaning provider, you can ensure your natural stone flooring, utilities and surfaces are always protected and looking their best.
Natural stone maintenance
One of the most significant benefits of having your natural stone sealed is that cleaning becomes effortless. The protective layer allows spills, stains and dirt to wash off with nothing more than a brush and some mild soapy water, followed by a quick rinse off with a bucket or hose.
This should be all that’s required between scheduled deep cleaning and resealing of your natural stonework. However, if you happen to have a spill of oil, food, or chemicals, ensure that you clean it immediately to reduce the potential for absorption.
The same goes for biomatter, like branches and leaves after a heavy wind or storm. Acids, salts and oils from plants can break down sealant prematurely if left to decay. Cleaning as you go is the next best way to protect your valuable investment.
If you are unsure if your natural stonework is due for resealing, a natural stone sealing professional can assess your natural stone surfaces and provide an expert opinion.
However, a simple test you can perform yourself can provide you with a good indication:
Get a cup of water, and pick a test spot in a high traffic area
Drizzle a little water on the test surface, and let it sit for a minute
If the water continues to bead on the surface of your natural stone, it is an indication that your sealant is still effective
If the water absorbs and the stone darkens, you should consider getting a professional opinion or book a natural stone sealing service to clean and reseal.
If in doubt, don’t risk allowing your natural stone to degrade prematurely and seek the assistance of a natural stone professional.
In summary, all unsealed natural stone products are porous and are at risk of contamination and premature degradation if left without a protective layer.
Natural stonework is expensive and can add significant value to your property. When viewed as an investment as much as a utility, you may notice that utilising professional natural stone sealing services is the best way to ensure your stoneware is well protected and always looking its best.
Hiring natural stone cleaning services also frees up your time and resources to focus on more important things.
Natural stone sealing services Sydney
If you are looking for experienced natural stone sealings services in Sydney, New Castle and surrounding areas, call our natural stone care experts at Enviro Clean and Capture.
We use state of the art cleaning and sealing technologies and industry-leading, eco-friendly natural stone cleaning solutions.
Our natural stone sealing specialists have decades of combined experience and provide nothing less than superior natural stone cleaning and sealing services. For more information, or to book a free, no-obligation quote, call 1300 415 123, or send your enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.