Located to the southwest of the Vatican, the Baths of Caracalla are home to some of the most impressive masonry work from Roman times. This ancient structure contains more than 220,000 cubic feet of marble ornamentation that required about 600 skilled masons to install over many years. When you visit the Terme di Caracalla these days, you’ll notice many of the marble panels and blocks have the unmistakable dark spotting of ancient water stains, and this is despite constant restoration treatments performed by Italian archeologists.
If Roman builders had access to the chemical solvents and compounds used today, they would have certainly used them to protect their elaborate natural-stone creations. These days, entire shower stalls can be decorated with marble tiles, and here are the steps you can take to prevent water stains.
1. Keep Stone Surfaces Sealed
Sealing is the best protection against water stains, and you can accomplish it by means of frequent applications of granite sealer. Make sure to allow the sealant to dry for at least 2 hours before exposing the tiles, slabs, or panel to fluids.
2. Test the Strength of the Seal
You normally shouldn’t let water rest on natural-stone surfaces, but this is how you can test the quality of the seal. In a few different spots on the stone, pour enough drops of water to form small puddles that are about 3 inches in diameter, then let them rest for about 30 minutes and check the reaction. A weak seal will result in a dark spot that lets you know it’s time to apply a fresh coat of sealant.
3. Keep Tiles and Slabs Dry
Marble installers will double-check with homeowners who request tiles in the shower stall not only to determine the finishing and initial sealing but also because this decision requires a certain level of maintenance. If the bathroom doesn’t air dry easily, the surfaces will need to be kept dry with squeegees and microfiber cloth. This isn’t as much of a concern for bathrooms and kitchens with windows that enable air circulation. In these cases, wiping surfaces dry may be enough.
4. Polish the Surfaces
The permeability of natural stone can be decreased if the finish is honed or glossy because homeowners can apply granite polish, which provides an additional layer of protection against water stains. However, don’t polish natural-stone floors because it will dangerously reduce their grip and create a risk of slipping.
5. Choose Your Stone Wisely
The permeability of stone is determined by its porosity. Marble is known to be more porous than granite but not as much as limestone, travertine, and soapstone. With this in mind, granite may be a better choice for shower stalls or tub surrounds. A garden path made of slate, a stone that isn’t very prone to water stains, would make more sense than marble or soapstone.
Cleaning is one of the most essential steps in caring for natural-stone surfaces. If you’d like to learn how to clean granite countertops, marble floors, and other types of natural stone, reach out to Granite Gold® at 1-800-475-STONE (7866).
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