2017 Guide for Limestone sealers, maintenance and cleaning
Limestone is a sedimentary rock consisting primarily of the calcite and aragonite (crystallites of Calcium Carbonate ‘CaCo3’) with a small quantity of other materials, such as quartz, feldspar, clay minerals, pyrite, siderite, and other minerals. It usually forms in warm, clear, shallow marine water by the accumulation of shells, mud, and organic marine debris so it also contains small amounts of skeletal fragments of corals and forams. As well as, chemically formed as a build-up of precipitation of calcium carbonate from bodies of water and the way it is formed creates different varieties of known Limestone with varying patterns on the rock.
It is formed when minerals are dissolved in ground waters and then later deposited on the earth’s surface by, nature, springs, geysers and largely rivers. They come in various colors such as beige, brown, gray and gold. There can be slight undertones of green, rust and red depending upon its geology. These colors result from the organic impurities and the iron compounds.
This sedimentary porous non-slip rock is classified into three grades; premium, standard and commercial. Premium grade, also called the first grade, is a tile that has been perfectly filled (double) to avoid all kinds of holes and flawlessly cut having a uniform thickness throughout. Standard grade, called second grade, will also be perfectly cut with a uniform thickness, but there will be a bit more filler in the stone as well as holes left unfilled. Commercial grade, also known as third grade, may not be perfectly cut on all sides as well as uneven thickness and complete porosity.
Types of limestone products
- Limestone tiles: this type is used primarily for indoors such as floors and walls, shower walls, wall cladding on buildings, wall coverings as well as counter tiles.
- Limestone Pavers: It is an expensive, valuable product that is used as ideal pool pavers, patio and pool tiles also pool deck particularly due to heat, slip resisting ability and the apparent beauty.
- Limestone slabs: Also known as limestone bullnose or pool copings, these stone slabs are rounded from one end or at times both the ends. They serve as an excellent choice for swimming pool borders as well as caps on stair treads.
Maintenance of limestone
To make sure limestone material sustains its beauty and original condition thus enhancing durability and resilience. It is an extensively porous material, thus any liquids that spills onto the surface can leech into the body of the Limestone. Impregnator also called a sealer can make sure that any material in contact remain only on its surface, until it is wiped off, of course. They prevent acid from leeching into the surface. Granite sealers are the most commonly widely used against acidic substances. The color can fade overtime so sealers prevent the color of the pavers from fading. Limestone needs to be sealed during its installation, once before and once after grouting to ensure its sealing as well.
Sealers can in varying qualities, longevity and forms:
- Penetrating sealers: (Natural appearance)
- Standard quality: used against cold drinks, dirt and beverages
- Premium quality: used for commercial kitchen and food areas to provide additional protection against oily agents.
- Enhancing sealers: protection against both sorts of contaminants.
- Topical sealers (Glossy and shiny appearance)
Wipe all the stains STAT as it is sensitive to things like tomato sauce and certain carbonated drinks. It is best to clean up immediately using hot water and a stone product. Do not use citric cleaning agents, bleach, ammonia due to acidic and alkali content. You can use dry mop but avoid vacuum cleaners because they can cause cracks and chipping of the stone. Protect by covering with door mats and carpets to help avoid the foot traffic from bringing dirt and contaminants inside. For countertops, coasters can be used for all drinks and decorative trays to protect the stone slab. For bathrooms, a tray can be used to avoid damage from toiletries. Prevention is the best cure for maintenance.
Various other ways of maintenance:
Another widely accepted protective treatment is waxing. Traditional polishing wax with a cloth or polisher is used for shine especially where foot traffic is common, metalized wax is used, which is self-shining. It can be done anytime.
The stone has to be maintained with a neutral detergent avoiding damage to the surface, luster or protection. It can be done manually normally in a 3 to 5% dilution, for traditional maintenance over a small area. However, alternatively it can be applied with a scrubber-drier machine for larger areas, in which case the dilution will normally be 1 to 2%. For tough stains, final rinse is required after using 5-10% concentrated solution. On waxed floors, 200-300ml of water is poured into the solution. Normal procedure is carried out with normal wax.
To avoid waxing or re-polishing limestone as surface can get damaged.
How to ensure its cleanliness?
Any sort of acidic contact to limestone can cause drastic damage so all measures should be taken to ensure its cleanliness.
They can be done in two ways efficiently:
- Wet Cleaning: Taking a bucked with warm water with soap in it. Mop the limestone floor with the mixture. Take your time while gently cleaning the contaminants off it.
- Use poultice for stains: This is for acid which causes deep stains. Poultice can be made by taking three fourth cup of flour and add hydrogen peroxide and make a paste out of it. Apply the paste on the stain and let it dry for 24 to 48 hours. Remove with a scraper after drying.
This material is applied to a lime stone tile to remove a stain. To make this you have to combine an absorbent material with a chemical, or mixture of chemicals, to form a thick paste. It is then spread over the affected area in a thickness of between ¼ ” to ½ ” with either a plastic or wooden implement and allowed to stand for between 24 and 48 hours. During the time, the chemical will draw the stain into the absorbent material and away from the stone. This process can be repeated many times in order to remove the stain. However, it is possible that the stain may not be removed completely still after.
Absorbent materials you can use for the poultice include whiting, powdered chalk, talk, and white molding plaster fuller’s earth or kaolin. Around 1 pound of your chosen material will be needed for each square foot of tile that must be cleaned. Whiting and iron based clays such as fuller’s earth must not be used with acidic chemicals, as the reaction will prevent the poultice from working. Highly reactive solvents such as mineral spirits or acetone can be combined with other absorbent substances such as white paper towels, white cotton balls, or gauze pads. Commercially available premixed poultices which require only the addition of water may can also be used.
The type of stains it can remove:
- Oil Based Paint Stains– we need to create a poultice with mineral spirits and one of the absorbent materials. If the stain is deep within the stone, it may require methylene chloride. If you must use a highly reactive solvent in your poultice, pour it directly on a paper towel and then place the paper towel on the damaged area.
- Ink Stains– Create a poultice with mineral spirits and one of the absorbent materials. If the stain is pressed deeply within the stone it may be necessary to use methylene chloride. If you do use a highly volatile solvent, you need to pour it directly on a paper towel later placing it directly on the affected area.
- Biological Stains– Create a poultice with ammonia and one of the absorbent materials. Instead of ammonia you can use bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Only use one of the chemicals, you must not mix as they combine to create a toxic gas.
- Organic Stains – Create a poultice with one of the powdered absorbent materials and a 12% hydrogen peroxide or acetone to remove the stain
- Iron Stains– by creating a poultice with a commercial rust remover and diatomaceous earth. But be careful as many rust removers will etch stone. A professional is required to do this certain task.
- Copper Stains– Creating a mixture with ammonia and then one of absorbent materials. None the less , these stains are very difficult to remove and may require the services of a professional company.
- Water Based Paint Stains– Create a poultice with a commercial paint remover and one of the absorbent materials.
Cleaning and sealing strategies:
Small section can be tested before applying to ensure that the cleaning method produces required results and is not damaging the stone. Ideally, the section should be in the least visible place possible in case any adverse reaction takes place.
Not all grouts require to be sealed. To determine the need, it has to be sealed by applying a small amount of water to the grout. If it darkens, a sealer is required. The two types of grout sealers are a topical sealer and a penetrating sealer. The topical sealer creates a wet look and a penetrating sealer provides a natural look, not affecting the appearance of the grout.
Another method of sealing is to apply the sealer directly to the grout joints and buff off any adherence to the tile. Another one is to apply the sealer over the entire surface of the tile and grout joints and then buff the sealer off the tile with a terry cloth or soft rag.
Soap-less detergents and pH consistent cleaners need be used for routine cleanings. Loosen dirt in grout joints with a soft bristled brush then wash with water and allow it to dry.
To clean a stain, a pH cleaner and soft bristled brush is still recommended. Apply the cleaner and leave it for a few minutes and then use the brush to check if the cleaner is thoroughly worked into the grout. If this is not adequate, it may be necessary to utilize one of the alkaline cleaners that are often labeled as providing a “deep clean.”
The use of commercial cleaning machines or buffers is also an option. These are especially useful for big areas of tile and grout that need a deep cleaning. There are many cleaning solution options for these machines available.
A final option is the use of acidic cleaners, although this is the least desirable due to the problems mentioned earlier. The two most safest, and most effective options are cleaners with sulfamic acid and phosphoric acid. it is critical that you follow the directions exactly in order to harm your flooring and tile the least as possible. No matter what you choose, you need to thoroughly wash, dry, and polish the area you have cleaned or maintained.
Cleaning Grout Haze
Grout haze is the material left over by the application of the grout on the face of the tile. This can often be taken off by using just water and a scouring pad. If that does not produce satisfactory results a scouring cleanser can also be used or a poultice and a pad or another option includes a commercially available grout haze removal cleaning solution or an acidic cleaning solution.
No matter which type of limestone tile you choose or where you install it, taking proper care of it is essential for lasting quality. Following these tips along with your manufacturer’s recommendations will help keep your space in tip top shape and your stone in like-new condition.
Criteria while selecting good limestone tile:
- The shipping crates should be strong wooden pallets particularly for forklifts.
- The face of the tile should be visible from both sides of the shipping crates.
- Styrofoam should be used on the bottom and sides of the tiles for protection.
- The filling should consist of a hard resin that will not chip; cement is unacceptable.
- The side cuts should be perfectly perpendicular; a slope is unacceptable.
- All four corners of the tile should be cut at 90 degrees.
- The color of the stone should not be reflecting rust markings on either side.
- Stone should not be porous.
- Color consistency with limited variations in it
- The thickness of the tile should be measured in inches and should be 18” x 18”.