Marble, limestone, travertine, sandstone and slate floor tiles are often used in homes, office building and hotels as they create a stylish, high-end look. Correct maintenance will ensure that these stones remain looking magnificent and retain their character and appeal, however they must be sealed after installation, polishing or professional cleaning, to ensure that they are resistant to staining.
Granite and basalt floors are not as porous as the softer stones however they can still stain with constant exposure to foot traffic, dirt and grime and will also benefit from sealing.
A sealer is a solution applied to the surface of natural, porous stone floor tiles to protect them from staining. If not protected, natural stone floor tiles can stain from constant exposure to dirt on shoes, damp pot plant bases, food and drink spills and oils and over time can become permanently damaged.
The most effective type of sealer to use on marble, limestone, travertine and slate floor tiles to protect them from staining is a penetrating sealer rather than a surface coating. Professional sealing is recommended to ensure even coverage as floor areas can be quite large, and that the best quality and most appropriate products are used to seal the floors.
The use of a natural or enhancing penetrating sealer is a personal preference as one will not change the look of the tile and the other will enhance the colour and characteristics.
Penetrating Floor Sealers
A penetrating sealer will soak deep into natural marble, limestone, travertine and slate floor tiles and provide long-lasting protection from staining. This type of natural stone sealer is recommended over a surface coating which can over time flake, yellow and scratch and make the floor look dull.
A penetrating sealer works by filling gaps in the pores of the stone floor tiles. Molecules in the sealer also bond with the minerals in the stone to form a barrier. There are two types of sealer recommended by the Marble Man for different purposes:
Natural Look Sealer
A natural look stone floor sealer will produce effective protection from staining and will not change the colour of the stone. It will not alter the surface finish in an way.
An enhancing stone floor sealer will provide long-term protection and will also deepen the colour of the stone floor tiles, making lighter coloured tiles look more rich and highlighting the unique characteristics of the stone floor.
Penetrating sealers are either water based or solvent based. Both offer the same protection however solvent based sealers work more effectively on high gloss polished stone floors, as this type of surface does not easily absorb water based liquids. A water based sealer will soak in more readily to porous marble, limestone and travertine floor tiles if they have a matt or low sheen finish.
Floor Sealing Process
A technician from The Marble Man will assess the type of stone, finish and location of the floor tiles prior to application, to determine whether a water or solvent based sealer should be used, and whether the tiles need stain removal, polishing or honing prior to sealing. If the stone floor has a high gloss finish, it may require use of a solvent based sealer to enhance saturation. If the finish is matt or satin a water based sealer may be used as these surfaces do not repel water like a high gloss surface.
Prior to the natural stone floor tiles being sealed, the stone will be cleaned with special detergents, a solvent and an anti-bacterial treatment to remove grease, oil, dirt and contaminants
If necessary stains will be removed with a poultice, grout repairs or the stone floor polished or honed to reveal a clean fresh surface
Stone floor sealing will take place the day after cleaning, restoration or repair to allow the floor adequate time to dry. Two thick coats of penetrating sealer will be applied with 10 minutes in between applications. Before the first coat of sealer dries completely the second coat will be applied
Once the sealer has settled into the stone the residue will be buffed off with a towel. The stone floor can be used immediately, however water must not touch the sealed tiles for at least 6 hours for a water based sealer or 12 hours for a solvent based sealer
Floor Sealing Benefits
Whether your marble, limestone, travertine or slate floors are new or old, the benefits of having them sealed will far out way the cost. Professional sealing by The Marble Man will ensure that the best quality and most appropriate sealers are used and that application is correct. There are many reasons why a natural stone floor must be sealed:
- The pristine look of a new stone tile floor will be extended if it is sealed before use
- An older stone floor that has been cleaned, had stains removed or been repolished will maintain it’s fresh appearance for longer
- In high traffic areas, stone floors exposed to daily foot traffic, dirt, from shoes, animals, pot plants ring marks, spills from food, dark coloured liquids and oils will be less likely to develop into permanent stains
- The stone floor surface will be easier to clean as liquids will be less likely to penetrate the protective barrier of the sealer
- The penetrating sealers used by The Marble Man carry a 15 year warranty if the stone floors are maintained according to directions
Note that sealing does not prevent etching. This will still occur when natural stone floors, especially marble, limestone and travertine are exposed to acidic liquids such as wine, lemon juice or some supermarket cleaners.
Engineered stone tiles are promoted as not requiring additional sealing as they come with a factory seal. If staining occurs contact the manufacturer for directions. The Marble Man can then assist with stain removal and can assess whether sealing for future use will be beneficial.