Natural stone is an exceptional way to accent your interior design. When you seal natural stone you protect it. You’re looking to create a one-of-a-kind look for your Madison WI home with custom tile work, so it makes sense to protect your investment every way you can, right? Once you’ve selected the perfect stone tile for your backsplash, shower walls, floors or fireplace surround, finding the appropriate sealant is the next step.
The very same elements that make stone distinctive and unique make it susceptible to influences that cause discoloration and lead to excess wear and aging.
All stone is porous to some extent. The type of stone and how you plan to use it dictates the best sealant to extend its life and enhance the natural appeal of the stone itself.
Seal Natural Stone From Threats
Tiles and countertops of natural stone make long-lasting statements of distinction wherever they appear. Common uses for stone creations and tiles are:
- Kitchens – floors, backsplash, walls and countertops
- Bathrooms – floors, tub surrounds, shower walls and floors, countertops
- Entry way, foyer floors
- Living room, family room – floors and fireplace surrounds.
Unfortunately, there are natural threats to stones, including:
- Stains – liquids, especially oils, when allowed to penetrate the surface leave a stain. Unattended the stain goes deep and the stain lasts. Not only do liquids discolor the stone, when they penetrate deep enough they erode it from inside. A stain is the first sign of serious trouble.
- Household Salts – just as road salt eats away at your car’s paint and body, salts around the home destroy natural stone surfaces. Dissolved in water salts attack decorative stone. Even simple kitchen salt is damaging if allowed to penetrate. Salty water evaporating or seeping into the surface leaves a white, gritty deposit. That means the minerals in the stone have reacted with the salt water. The same chemical reaction impacts the mortar holding stones in place. Washing with clean water helps, but sealing the stone is the only way to really protect it.
- Household Acids – stones like marble, limestone and travertine are common as design elements. Unfortunately, these and others plus many mortars react badly to acid solutions. If the acid is concentrated enough it produces enough gas to pollute the air in the room. There’s more acid in your home than you imagine, too. Mild household acids that have long-term impact include colas, wine, vinegar, lemon juice and milk. The milder the acid the longer it takes to do serious damage but repeated contact begins the process. Acids “etch” the surface and widen cracks weakening the overall piece.
Ins And Outs Of Stone Sealants
Natural stone accents work for design impact and a “wow” look in almost any room. Stone provides strength and durability. It is also an excellent insulator. It can be cut, sculpted and shaped. In short, natural stone is an ideal addition with many admirable features. Features worth the effort to keep at their very best, right?
It makes sense to keep surfaces clean, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms. That’s one way to help keep your investment in natural stone looking good. It helps extend its life, too. But, simple cleaning is not enough. To protect the character and integrity of stone surfaces you must apply the right sealant; and apply it at at the right time.
How do you know when or if you have a stone product that needs sealing? If you’re using stone or stone tiles on walls as décor accents, they may not need sealing for years – or ever. If and when a stone product needs sealing depends upon how and where you use it. A wall safe from spills and splatters needs less attention than a backsplash or tub surround.
Stone Surfaces Require Maintenance
As you select stone materials for your Madison home, consider these sealant-related questions:
- How often does stone need sealing? Traffic, stress, the kind of stone and the kind of sealant all make a difference. In most cases when installed by professionals like the tile pros at Molony Tile they will complete the first sealing treatment. After that some materials go 3-5 years without resealing. However, on floor where there’s a lot of traffic tracking in water, grit and corrosives you might have to do it every year.
- What kind of sealant works best? With sealing products you “get what you pay for.” Low-cost sealants are usually good for two or three years. Premium sealants last up to 10 years. Be warned, premium sealants cost upwards of $200, not including professional installation.
- What am I sealing out? Stains are the most serious threat. There are two kinds: oil-based and water-based stains. Soda drinks or a glass of orange juice are examples of water-based stains. Cooking oils and peanut butter are oil-based. Both types seep into stone surfaces and damage the basic elements. Consult a tile professional when you select stone so you get the most appropriate for your location.
- How do I tell if the stone surface needs sealing? Different stones show their age in different ways. Just as some wear longer between sealing than others. When you put a drop of clean water on the stone surface does it bead up (like on the surface of a waxed car)? If it does it is sealed and needs nothing done to it for now. If the stone floors or countertops look darker than normal – looking wet even when they aren’t – it’s a sign sealing or resealing is appropriate.
Consult A Pro To Seal Natural Stone
While sealing stone products can be a Do-It-Yourself project there’s more to it than you think. Even if you want to tackle it, consult a professional first. Unless you have the right tools and are sure you have the right sealant, leave it to experienced professionals. Molony Tile has been providing guidance, advice and high-end products for natural stone installation for decades – more than 70 years! We have everything you need and that includes experience in selecting the right sealants for your job.
Molony Tile has a selection of sealant products for every application and is Madison’s top source for specialty and traditional tiles. We support our products and customers with sound advice as well as top-notch products. Call or email Molony Tile, 608-268-8453, with all your questions on how or when to seal natural stone in your Madison WI home.