When a customer walks into the showroom we often hear them say, “I should probably get a granite because it’s stain resistant.” While granite is a strong material and holds up really well, it’s not your only option when searching for a stone. Recent technological advances have exponentially expanded sealing options.
There are two types of sealers: topical and impregnator.
- Topical sealers are coatings (film formers) designed to protect the surface of the stone against water, oil, and other contaminants. Topical sealers are formulated from natural wax, acrylic, and other plastic compounds. When a topical sealer is applied, the maintenance program often shifts from a program focused on stone care to a program focused on the maintenance of the sealer (i.e. stripping and reapplication).
- Impregnator sealers are water or solvent-based solutions that penetrate below the surface and become repellents. They are generally hydrophobic (water-repelling), but are also oliophobic (oil-repelling). Impregnator sealers keep contaminants out, but do not stop the interior moisture from escaping. These products are considered “breathable,” meaning they have vapor transmission.
There is a new breed of impregnators on the market called nano sealers. This new formula is designed with smaller particles that are able to close more pores in the stone, creating a stone that is more impenetrable to stains. This doesn’t however, keep the stone from etching or scratching.
We spoke to Choice Fabricated Stone about traditional sealing options, as well as Clearstone representative, Ken Cochran to learn more about the available options in stone protection. It is important to note that you should speak with your fabricator and check all fine print and warranties before deciding which sealer is best for you.
Q. When should you use a topical sealer and when should you use an impregnator?
Choice Fabricated Stone: We always use an impregnator, it penetrates deep into any pores in any type of stone you might choose. The only time we use a topical sealer is when we use a product like Clearstone.
Q. What is Clearstone?
Ken Cochran, Clearstone: Clearstone is a catalyzed polyester protective coating that was created in Australia over 18 years ago. It was only 3 years ago that it actually made its way to the United States. Clearstone is a sealer that lays over top of your stone that prevents etching and staining for 10 years.
Q. How often should you reseal your natural stone that was sealed with an impregnator?
Choice Fabricated 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 feel like you are seeing 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 just depends on the stone and the type of finish.
Q. Is there any traditional sealer that prevents etching and scratching?
Choice Fabricated Stone: The short answer is no. Even granite can etch if you leave acidic liquids such as a Coca-Cola spill long enough. All natural stones, and some engineered stone, are prone to etching. The best way to prevent scratching and etching is to use trivets for heavy pots and pans and blot up any acidic liquids spills quickly with a clean cloth.
Q. How is a Clearstone sealer applied?
Ken Cochran, Clearstone: First we paint on a primer that impregnates the stone. Then we coat the surface with a resin solution that binds with the primer creating another layer of protection. The resin is typically put on the stone after the installation and fabrication process.
Q. Does Clearstone change the natural color of the stone and what types of finishes does Clearstone support?
Ken Cochran, Clearstone: Clearstone is completely (water clear) transparent and won’t change the natural color of the stone at all and doesn’t yellow. At this time it only comes in either a polished or honed finish.
Q. Is Clearstone heat resistant?
Ken Cochran, Clearstone: The company suggests that you treat it the way you would treat an engineered stone. So that means not putting anything on it that is too hot or using trivets.
Q. Can Clearstone be applied once the stone has been installed?
Ken Cochran, Clearstone: Yes, and we actually have special installation tools that create zero dust particles to minimize the disturbance in your home.