Have you been naughty or nice to your stone this year?
It's not enough to install a granite countertop, a slate patio or a limestone floor, then sit back and enjoy your beautiful new item. Being the owner of a natural stone feature is not a passive existence – you have to treat your stone with all the care and attention that you would reserve for a family pet.
This is especially important during Christmas. We all know the familiar story of what Santa gets up to in the lead up to December 25 – he makes a list, checks it twice, works out who's been naughty or nice, and so on. While those who have been good get what they wished for, those who have been bad get only a lump of coal.
Even if you're a little old to be still believing in Santa, this parable is a useful lesson to keep in mind – namely, that those who do good, receive good in return. And for those who do the opposite – you can guess.
This applies to natural stone as much as anything else. If you're nice to your stone, it will last for a long time and serve as a vibrant, beautiful element of your property. If you're naughty, you will end up having to pay more in the long run for repairs, or may even need to replace parts of your stone feature if they're beyond fixing.
So, where do you stand in the lead up to these holidays?
Nice: You've sealed your stone
The first thing you should look at is whether or not you've sealed your stone. Stone is a porous material after all, and while different types of stone are more resistant to stain than others, they are all vulnerable to being penetrated by various substances, ruining their beautiful appearance.
A property owner who's been good will have sealed their stone with an impregnating sealer like Dry-Treat's META CRÈME™ or STAIN-PROOF Original™. Impregnating sealers repel water and oil, and while they may not entirely eliminate the potential for stains, they significantly minimise the risk.
Naughty: You've been using acid-based cleaners
There are a variety of cleaners out there, including what is probably a wide variety in a shed or cupboard on your property. While you know you should really use a cleaner that's specially tailored to stone, it's tempting to just take a shortcut and use what you've already got lying around. After all, it worked for your ceramic tiles, right?
This kind of behaviour can have a disastrous effect on your stone. Using an acid-based cleaner to remove a stain can easily cause acid etching, leaving you watching as your once-beautiful stone is eaten away. In our opinion, this is a much worse punishment than getting a lump of coal.
Nice: You've been diligent about footwear and coasters
Taking good care of your stone isn't just about cleaning up the stains when they happen. It's about preventing those stains from getting there in the first place. And some of the most common stains can come simply from your footwear or carelessly leaving drinks on countertops.
Running around with leather or rubber shoes can leave scuff marks on your marble floor, and shoe polish can also come off and stain a stone's surface. Luckily, if you've sealed it, the sealer should hold the contaminant close to the surface, so you can clean it off relatively easily. The best bet is to regulate the wearing of footwear inside the house.
Same goes with coasters. To prevent alcohol or citrus juices from causing etching in your countertops, always have ample coasters lying around for your drinks.
Naughty: You procrastinate around stain removal
Often, the surest bet you have of getting rid of a stain before it penetrates to deeply and settles into your stone is to clean it immediately. Whether you're looking at oil, paint or nail polish that's fallen on the surface, getting a clean cloth and and blotting the spill immediately before it dries can help you avoid more frustrating headaches down the line.
The last thing you want to do is put it off for later, reasoning that if it's already stained, how much worse could it get? Avoid procrastinating and use some elbow grease now.