As natural stone continues to grow in popularity for several applications in and around the house, consumers are also beginning to notice some of the common problems that can occur. Understanding what these issues are is the first step to helping to prevent them.
Loss of shine on a polished stone is one of the biggest complaints by homeowners. This loss of shine can be due to etching, or the removal of some of the fine particles of stone on its surface. Etching can occur when acids such as vinegar or lemon juice come in contact with the stone. Homeowners that clean their counters with Windex or vinegar may notice a distinct loss of shine.
Loss of shine can also occur over time in high traffic areas as the stone is continuously scratched by shoes, sand, salt, and other particulates. To restore the shine, the stone needs to be reground and buffed by a stone refinisher.
Staining is one of the other most common problems noted with natural stone floors and counters. Because many stones are porous, they can absorb oils and liquids which can stain the stone. Regular use of impregnating sealers can help to impede staining, as can wiping up spills as soon as they are seen. Once a stain has occurred, it may be removed or partially removed with the use of a poultice.
Spalling is a condition that often occurs with slate, quartzite, and green marbles containing serpentine. With slate and quartzite, this condition is temporary and consists of small pieces of the stone flaking off the surface. The stones may be very dust or sandy for up to three months after installation.
Spalling in green marble is caused by exposure to water or moisture. All green stones should be installed with an epoxy-based mortar and sealed with a silicone-based impregnating sealer to help prevent spall, which looks a lot like a snake skin in pattern.
These and other common problems related to natural stone can be prevented or minimized with the right care and use of the stone.