The hazards of using natural stone in backyards
Many home and business owners love to bring a rustic aesthetic inside their properties by incorporating natural stone, but this building material is just as visually pleasing and functional outside.
From patio tiles to pool surrounds, there is no shortage of ways to use natural stone in backyards.
Unfortunately, being open to the elements brings about many dangers to outdoor stone, making surface protection essential.
Natural stone exposed to nature runs the risk of picking up many different types of stains.
For instance, organic stains from things such as leaves, bark and bird droppings can leave a pinkish-brown discoloration on natural stone. The good news is organic stains are among the easiest to remove.
Sometimes these stains may disappear after the source of the stain is removed, meaning a little surface cleaning is all that is required. Additionally, between the sun and rain, stains can be naturally bleached out.
However, being outside also means natural stone is vulnerable to biological stains from algae, mildew, lichens, moss and fungi. To remove these stains, it is recommended to use a mixture of water and either ammonia, bleach or hydrogen peroxide.
Or better yet, make use of products like Oxy-Klenza™ and Sola-Kleena™, which are specifically designed to be used in outdoors environments to help remove mold stains and soiling.
It’s important to keep in mind that the harsh chemicals included in substances like ammonia and peroxide can harm natural stone, particularly calcareous stones, such as marble and limestone, which are more vulnerable to acidic materials.
Also, it’s vital to remember that bleach and ammonia should never be combined, as this creates a toxic gas that can be lethal.
Backyards are often used to store tools, building materials and metal furniture, which makes stone vulnerable to iron and rust stains. These stains are typically orange, brown or green in color and generally in the shape of whatever object caused them, be it a nail, tool or piece of furniture.
A special poultice containing kaolin, fuller’s earth, whiting, diatomaceous earth, powdered chalk, white molding plaster and talc is recommended for removing iron and rust stains. Unfortunately, if the stains are particularly deep, they become permanent, making surface protection and prevention especially important in these cases.
Swimming pools and rainstorms leave natural stone used in backyards especially exposed to efflorescence and freeze-thaw damage. Once water penetrates into stone, it can cause mineral salts to rise to the surface as the water evaporates. In cold temperatures, if the water freezes, it could lead to cracking and peeling damage.
Surface protection in backyards
There are typically less options for protecting natural stone used in backyards, as it is more exposed to nature. Overhangs, awnings and carefully placed mats can help protect stone, but these only go so far.
The best way to ensure surface protection is to invest in a high-quality impregnating sealer, such as STAIN-PROOF Original™. This will not only make surface cleaning easier, it will help to prevent efflorescence and freeze-thaw damage.
Impregnating sealers penetrate deep into natural stone and bond with the pores, helping to create a barrier intended to repel water and oil. Also, since impregnating sealers are breathable, they allow water to escape instead of becoming trapped inside and causing freeze-thaw damage.