Each type of natural stone has different characteristics and composition, which is what draws so many designers to incorporate these earthy and unique elements into their designs. The composition and inherent properties of each stone is different, which is what gives us the colorful quartzite, timeless marble, and opaque onyx. There are varying degrees of porosity and hardness between materials because each type of stone is created differently. Meaning, some stones require more care than others and there is not one blanket way to care for natural stone. However, there are certainly ways that you can preserve and prevent your natural stone through regular maintenance.
Use Sealers on Your Natural Stone to Avoid Staining
We recommend that all natural stone is sealed to help protect your natural work of art from any spills or messes that life throws your way. And while some sealers create a stronger barrier than others, nothing is 100% stain or scratch proof. Note that sealers also require some type of regular maintenance. Whether that maintenance is every few months or every few years is greatly dependent on your type of stone, your sealer, and what you are using your natural stone for.
One general rule to avoiding stains can be universally applied to most instances, whether you spilled spaghetti sauce on your favorite blouse or on your marble counter: The longer a liquid sits on the material, the likelihood of a stain increases. This is why it is important to act quickly to help decrease the amount of liquid that can be absorbed.
Steps you can take to prevent stains on your marble or other natural stone after a spill:
- Remove any loose debris.
- Blot spills with a soft cloth that is clean and dry. It is important to blot instead of wiping away, as wiping will only spread the spill.
- Flush the area with plain water and mild soap and rinse several times.
- Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth.
- Repeat as necessary.
If the stain persists or for problems that appear too difficult to treat, call your stone care professional, installer, or restoration specialist. Your stone fabricator will be able to come out and asses the best way to get rid of the stain.
How to Prevent Etching and Scratching on Natural Stone
A material’s likelihood of etching and scratching varies greatly between natural stones as well. The likelihood of scratching depends on how dense the natural stone is. Softer stones, such as onyx and marble are more likely to be affected by etching and scratching, whereas a true quartzite is incredibly dense and will not scratch or etch from common household occurrences. Etching occurs when a highly acidic material, such as red wine or vinegar, comes in contact with natural stone and causes a chemical reaction that can leave a spot carved on the surface. For softer stones especially, clean up spills to avoid etching in the same way you would clean up a spill to avoid a stain as above. The reasoning is similar, the longer the acid is in contact with the stone, the more time the acid has to be absorbed by the stone.
Luckily, there are many things that you probably already do to avoid scratches and etches from occurring.
Steps you can take to maintain your freshly installed stone from scratching and etching:
- Clean all spills right away to avoid staining and etching
- Place coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices.
- Put trivets under hot items right off the stove or directly out of an oven.
- Use place mats under china, ceramics, silver, or other objects that can scratch the stone.
What should I use to clean my natural stone?
- For best results, clean your surfaces with warm water and a few drops of mild detergent or stone soap, available at most hardware stores.
- Test your surface in a small, unnoticeable area with any new cleanser to ensure that staining and etching will not occur.
- Be careful not to overdo it with cleaners and soaps, as too much may leave a film or cause streaks.
- Never use products that contain lemon, vinegar, or other acids on marble, onyx, travertine, or limestone.
- Never use scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface.
- Avoid bathroom cleaners, grout cleaners, or tub & tile cleaners as they often contain acids.
- Never mix chemicals together unless directions specifically instruct you to do so.