We often hear, “I want granite because it’s stain resistant.” While granite is a strong material and holds up really well, it’s not your only option if you are worried about scratching, staining, or etching. Recent technological advances in natural stone sealers have exponentially expanded sealing options. There are many possibilities to keep natural stones such as marble, onyx, and even limestone to look as beautiful as the day they were installed. Read along to learn which sealer is best for your project and what you can do at home to protect your natural stone from scratches, stains, and etches.
There are two types of natural stone sealers: topical and impregnator.
- Topical. A topical sealer is a coating or a film designed to protect the surface of the stone against water, oil, and other contaminants. Oftentimes, you have to strip and re-apply topical sealers, making them a less appealing choice for homeowners.
- Impregnator. An impregnating sealer is typically a water based solution that penetrates below the surface and repels oil and water. Impregnating sealers are “breathable”; meaning, they keep water and oil out, but do not stop the interior moisture from escaping.
What type of natural stone sealer should I use?
At Aria Stone Gallery, we typically suggest that our clients use impregnating nano sealers. Nano sealers are a new breed of impregnating sealers that consist of tiny particles. The smaller particles are able to penetrate and fill in more pores in the stone, creating a stone that is more impenetrable to stains. However, speak with your fabricator and check all fine print and warranties before deciding which sealer is best for you.
Will using a sealer change the color of my natural stone?
Not all sealers will change the color of your stone. If you do not want to change the color of the stone, there are impregnating sealers available that will only block moisture from penetrating the stone.
However, there are certain color enhancing sealers that can protect your stone and also bring out all of the beautiful, vibrant hues. Many people chose to use color enhancing sealers on their marble or onyx to create a more vibrant color. You can keep the color enhancing sealer at home for a quick fix against scratches and etches. For example, if you scratch the stone you can put the color enhancing sealer on the scratch – sometimes the scratch goes away completely – sometimes the scratch goes away mostly – it all depends on the material.
How do you seal limestone?
Limestone is different in that it needs to breathe more than other stones. It is important to seal limestone with a specific sealer that helps protect, but also allows for extra breathability.
How do you prevent scratching and etching in natural stone at home?
The best way to prevent scratching and etching is to use trivets for heavy pots and pans. Also, be sure to blot up any acidic liquids spills quickly with a clean cloth. Otherwise, a fabricator can come to your home with a machine that can buff the etch out of the stone. Looking for something you can do at home to prevent etching? Fabricator, Chris Wynn, from Statement Furniture, suggests using a high grade car or furniture wax. The wax will also help to prevent the stone from etching in the future. Both options are very similar. It is just a matter of doing it yourself or paying a fabricator to do it for you.
Here are the steps you can take to prevent your natural stone from scratching and etching at home:
- Blot up any acidic liquid spills with a clean cloth
- Flush the area with plain water and mild soap and rinse several times
- Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth
- Use a high grade car of furniture wax and spread over your natural stone
- Leave the wax on overnight
- Buff the wax off in the morning with a clean, soft cloth until it shines.
How often do you need to reseal your natural stone?
First, consult the brand of sealer that your fabricator initially used, as some sealers have warranties. All stones have different porosities and different finishes can lend to higher stain resistance as well. Learn more about the porosity of your stone and use your best judgement. If you see water spots or anything out of the ordinary, then call your fabricator to refinish. The maintenance could be every year or every 5 years, it depends on the stone and the type of finish.
What is Clearstone?
Clearstone is new type of topical sealer that was created in Australia over 18 years ago and recently brought to the United States. First the fabricator will paint on a primer that impregnates the stone. Then the fabricator will coat the surface with a resin solution that binds with the primer creating another layer of protection. The fabricator puts the Clearstone resin on the stone after installation and fabrication. The result is a sealer that lays over top of your stone that prevents etching and staining for 10 years, also covered by a 10 year warranty.
Does Clearstone change the color of natural stone?
Clearstone is completely (water clear) transparent and won’t change the natural color of the stone and doesn’t yellow.
Is Clearstone heat resistant?
Fabricators suggest that you treat stone sealed with Clearstone the way you would treat engineered stone (like quartz or porcelain). Meaning, Clearstone is not completely heat resistant and you should use trivets to protect from heat.
What is TuffSkin?
TuffSkin is a proprietary stone laminate, made from high-tech polyester that is chemical free and odorless. Its hard coat technology prevents your stone from etching, scratching, is removable/replaceable. It is also heat resistant and holds up to hot pans, boiling water, blow dryers and curling irons (withstands a max 400 degrees). Although your stone will not be harmed with this layer of protection, the TuffSkin laminate itself does have the potential to scratch. That is why TuffSkin calls it “long term maintenance”. When the laminate becomes too scratched for the customer’s liking, TuffSkin can easily be removed and replaced.
TuffSkin adhesive is designed specifically to work with natural stone, and is another great option for sealing. You can choose your TuffSkin adhesive in either a polished or honed (satin) finish. Surfaces coated with TuffSkin should be cleaned with any non-abrasive cleaner using a soft cloth, paper towel or squeegee.
If your natural stone is in an outdoor application, never fear! TuffSkin lasts for about 2 years outdoors (in direct sunlight). TuffSkin can also provide a special cleaner with UV protection, that if used properly will add another year to the laminate’s lifespan.
Can you apply a sealer after installing natural stone?
Yes, speak to your fabricator for traditional options to seal your stone after installation. Also, Clearstone offers an installation that creates zero dust particles to minimize the disturbance in your home.