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Home tip: Issues with stone flooring

Stone tiles add depth and warmth to home interiors, but as with all natural materials they do require some maintenance. Here's how you can tell when your stone floors need maintenance.

 

1. Efflorescence

(Image courtesy of Safeenvironments.com.au)

 

In bathrooms with stone tiles and various other types of masonry (particularly on shower floors), look out for hard white spots, known as efflorescence.

What is it? Efflorescence is a coagulation of materials that were once present inside the stone tiles or masonry used in a home. As water penetrates the tiles, the efflorescence comes out. These spots can indicate the presence of water damage as well as mould and mildew.

However, trying to wash away efflorescence can lead to further damage, and removing the grout only treats the surface symptoms.

The real problem lies with the broken seal on the stone, tile or grout. It’s a job best left to stone cleaning and sealing professionals.

 

2. Scratches

(Image courtesy of Bostonstonerestoration.)

 

Scratches in stone surfaces can be caused by leaving heavy objects on the stone, using cleaning supplies that are too abrasive or having rough particles repeatedly rubbed against the stone.

As these items scratch away at the stone’s surface, they can cause it to lose its lustre and finish. Some light scratches can be removed by buffing. But if the scratch in the stone is deeper, you’ll need professional help to have the area repaired and polished.

 

3. Etching

(Image courtesy of Life In Grace.)

 

When acidic (pH <7) substances come into contact with a stone surface, they respond by corroding the stone, called etching.

Red wine, coffee, oranges, perfume, lemons, vinegar, grapefruits and acidic cleaning products are all substances that can result in etching, which can dull the lustre on stone surfaces and change their texture. (Note: Etch marks often get confused as stains, but etch marks are always a lighter colour than the stone, while stains are darker.

For stain removal, try a pH Neutral Soap-less Tile and Maintenance Cleaner. As for etching, it can be reversed, but it requires re-polishing, which can be expensive.

 

Pro tip: Not sure if your tile surfaces need to be sealed?

Try this test: Sprinkle a few drops of water into the grout. If the grout absorbs the water, it is too porous and ready for a reseal. The good news? Grout recolouring and sealing is a fast, affordable alternative to replacing grout entirely. 

 

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Article by Candy Lim, originally appeared in The Finder

 

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