An often-overlooked fact in ancient Greek history is that the classic marble sculptures were actually vibrantly painted, and not left plain white as an aesthetic choice as once thought. This trend continued through the renaissance period that was in tribute to this era, becoming an art form all in its own.
One interesting fact of this, however, is that the compounds that the Greek sculptors used to prepare the stone for painting had the effect of protecting and sealing the stone. While the paint itself didn’t survive, the seal on the stone protected the sculptures to survive thousands of years to the present day.
In the modern day, we make use of sealing compounds to make sure the stone in and out of our homes stays looking its best and is applied upon installation in your home. This seal, however, isn’t permanent and needs to be reapplied and maintained in order to prevent staining and etching. Here are some tips and extra information that we thought would be helpful in protecting your stone in the future.
Why You Need to Seal Your Stone
While it may not seem like it, granite, marble and other natural stone are relatively porous materials. That means that liquids and other substances can seep beneath the surface and leave a stain just below the gleaming smooth surface. With that comes the Achilles heel of natural stone is that they are susceptible to surface etching from acidic chemicals, such as vinegar, coffee, wine, fruit juice and tomato sauce.
The result of this can first appear to just be a stain but is actually physical damage to the surface of the stone. For spills or rings from cups, this can look like just a harmless hard water mark, or it can manifest as a general hazing on the surface. Either way, this is permanent damage and may require expensive help from a stone restoration specialist in order to fix.
Tips for Sealing Your Stone:
Make Sealing Part of Your Cleaning Schedule:
The porosity of your stone can vary by type and even shade, as lighter shades of granite and marble tend to be more porous than darker examples. Stone like marble and limestone also tend to be more susceptible to etching and staining more than granite, meaning they require a little more attention to keep protected than others.
In general experts recommend sealing your stone every 6-12 months, but that greatly depends on the kind of use your stone sees in any given area. Spots that see a lot of use, anywhere that has received any sort of deep cleaning or if a stain appears, then it’s time to reseal.
Testing Your Seal:
It’s a good idea to test your stone in various areas to see if it’s time to seal. Pour water in 3″ diameter spots around the surface and let them sit for 20-30 minutes. If the water remains beaded on the surface, the seal is holding up. If you notice a ring or dark mark forming under the puddle, that means the water is penetrating the stone and it’s time to reseal.
The good news is that you can’t really over-seal your stone, so this is definitely a case of being safe rather than sorry. Granite Gold Sealer Wipes® are a great way to touch up small spots just to be safe.
Always Clean Before Sealing:
In order to ensure a strong seal, the surface of your stone needs to be completely clean and clear of any soil or stain. We recommend using a stone-safe cleaner that is formulated specifically for use on natural stone, as ordinary household cleaning agents often contain either acidic active ingredients or can otherwise further damage the seal.
How to Apply Your Seal:
A high quality stone sealer will penetrate those open pores in the stone and form a protective layer to keep stains and damaging chemicals from damaging the surface, as well as making your stone easier to clean in the future.
Spray your sealant evenly over 3-foot sections at a time, and immediately buff it into the stone. It’s important not to let the sealer build-up or dry on the surface, as this can leave a hazy film on the surface. The seal should be worked into the stone with a lint-free microfiber cloth until dry. For areas that see high traffic, this can be done 2-3 times to ensure a solid seal, just wait 20 minutes between applications. Allow the seal to cure for 24 hours before polishing.
Maintain a Strong Seal With These Tips:
To preserve the integrity of your seal, it’s a good idea to wipe down and soak up spills as they happen. This not only saves you the hassle of trying to get up a stain later, but in a worst-case scenario this can save you an expensive stone restoration bill.
On top of avoiding acidic chemicals and common household cleaners, it’s also a good idea to stay away from abrasive cleaning tools such as steel wool and scouring pads. Granite, marble and other stones are tough materials, but that glassy, polished surface is susceptible to scratches and dulling if improperly treated.
It’s also not a bad idea to keep liquid containers off the counter where possible. Things like glasses, bottles of cooking oil and soap dispensers can leave rings beneath them. These chemicals and soap scum can be difficult to scrub away or can possibly stain or etch the surface depending on their ingredients. Even something as innocuous as cooking oil can leave a difficult to remove stain.
Have more questions or concerns on how to care for your natural stone? Consider reaching out to our team of stone care experts with more than 50 years of stone-care experience at 1-800-475-STONE. Be sure to check out our full line stone care products to make sure you’re doing that beautiful stone justice.