September 8th, 2021 by
Stone floors are beautiful, both inside the home and outdoors. They are robust and hard-wearing but they have different properties from other types of flooring and therefore require different care. Our floors only stay in good condition if they are cleaned regularly but equally, you don’t want to risk the process of cleaning causing damage either.
Looked after well, your stone floor, whether it be natural stone, marble, sandstone, slate, or granite (or others) will last many years and be a real feature in your home.
A few things to understand about stone
When cleaning any kind of surface, it’s really important to understand the properties of the material. For example, you would care for a porous surface differently from a very smooth one, or a synthetic one differently from a natural one. There are, therefore, a few things you need to know about your stone floor:
- It’s softer than you think. While stone is hard-wearing, we all know that stone can be broken, carved, and chipped. It can be damaged if you drop something heavy on it but even dirt, gravel, and tiny stones can grind over the surface on shoes and cause damage; a bit like rubbing with sandpaper. Over time, these tiny scrapes add up to a big effect.
- It’s porous, which means it has tiny holes across the surface. Holes present an opportunity for dirt and spills to accumulate and that’s why stone floors are protected by a sealant. An impregnating sealer essentially soaks into these holes, filling them with a waterproof barrier that prevents further damage.
- Grout lines between tiles or flags are prime areas for dirt and bacteria to accumulate, so these will need special attention when cleaning.
- Cleaning products that are very acidic or alkaline are too harsh on many types of stone and can damage the sealant or leave behind residue
One of the best things that you can do for your stone floor is to keep on top of dirt and spills every day. This means cleaning up spills as soon as they happen, sweeping or vacuuming dirt up, not wearing outdoor shoes when walking on your floor, and protecting high traffic areas with rugs and mats.
Cleaning a stone floor
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The first step for cleaning your stone floor is to get rid of any loose dirt and debris by sweeping or vacuuming. This will save you from moving it over the surface of your floor which only spreads it around and could even potentially damage it.
Use a cleaning product that states it is neutral or appropriate to use on your type of stone floor. This Pro-Kleen detergent is suitable for marble, granite, and tiled floors. Dilute according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
All stone floors can be cleaned with a mop, and some can be cleaned with a steam cleaner. Double-check with the manufacturer but steam cleaning is usually appropriate for a less porous stone, like granite or marble, but not for those with a more open texture, such as natural stone.
Don’t use anything too abrasive like a scrubbing brush as you could risk scratching the surface or damaging the sealant.
For particularly dirty floors, allow the detergent mix to work on the surface for up to 15 minutes and then rinse with clean water. For regular cleans, simply work over the surface and then rinse. When using a mop, keep changing the water whenever it starts to look dirty as moving grubby water over the surface won’t clean it.
Pay particular attention to areas where dirt can accumulate such as natural dips and crevices in the stone and grout lines.
It is really important that you don’t leave excess water sitting on the stone once you have finished. A steam clean will leave little moisture but a mopped floor needs to be dried off as much as possible. This not only helps prevent it from penetrating the stone but avoids residue being left behind. Also, don’t replace rugs until the floor is completely dry as mould can develop when moisture is trapped.
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The sealant doesn’t last forever so stone floors will need to be re-sealed every few years. How regularly depends on the type of stone as well as foot traffic. Test yours by dropping some water onto the stone. It should sit on the surface. If it absorbs into the stone, then it’s time to re-seal. An outdoor patio seal product, such as this one, can be used on stones such as Indian sandstone, or choose one specific to your floor type.
Always give it a thorough clean first and allow it to dry completely before re-sealing.
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