Everything You Need to Know About Winter Natural Stone Cleaning in the Midwest

People love natural stone because it looks great and requires little maintenance. But in cold weather states like Illinois and Wisconsin, natural stone might require a little more maintenance than you realize.

To be clear, natural stone is a great option regardless of climate. Taking a few steps before, during and after winter, however, will keep your natural stone looking and performing like new longer.

Making Sure Natural Stone Surfaces Are Prepared for Winter

The Midwest’s freeze and thaw cycles can present problems for exterior natural stone. Water can seeps into cracks and joints when snow and ice melts. Then, when the temperature drops, the water freezes and causes cracks and fissures in natural stone.

Cracks in natural stone are a problem for a number of reasons. They let more water in, creating water stains and more freeze-thaw cracking. Also, cracks can trap dirt and debris.

Here are a few steps to help prevent and address common issues:

  • Survey natural stone to identify and replace cracked tiles before larger problems occur, call a natural stone restoration specialist for help.
  • Make sure that natural stone is properly sealed, It’s a good idea to call a professional natural stone cleaning service before sealing. Also, topical sealers aren’t recommended for exterior use because they can trap moisture inside, leading to discoloration.
  • Natural stone can be very slippery, especially in the winter. Protect against slips by placing area mats or rugs in high-traffic areas, by keeping these areas moisture-free and by applying a non-slip sealer

Also, when selecting natural stone

It’s important to remember that certain types are more susceptible to freeze-thaw cracks. Sandstone, travertine and other porous varieties can be more susceptible, at least when not properly sealed. Less porous varieties like marble and granite will hold up better.

Choose the Right Deicer, Natural Stone Cleaners

It’s important to consider what type of dicer you use. When salt and chemical deicers come into contact with exterior natural stone surfaces, or get tracked inside onto natural stone floors, stains called “efflorescence” can get left behind. And, even worse, salt breaks down natural stone over time and shrinks its lifespan.

Deicers that contain calcium magnesium acetate are best for natural stone surfaces, and their environmentally safe. But if you’ve already used a salt-based deicer, here are a few tips:

  • Wipe away the salt film before it hardens on natural stone with an over-the-counter cleaner.
  • When salt stains harden, it’s probably best to call in a professional natural stone cleaner rather than risk causing further damage with an harsher chemical.
  • Sweep rocks salt, gravel and sand away on a regular basis to prevent etching.

And, regardless of what natural stone surface you’re cleaning

Always avoid acidic cleaners. Vinegar, lemon juice, bathroom cleaners, grout cleaners, or products used for cleaning tubs and tiles. They’re harmful to natural stone surfaces like marble, limestone, travertine and onyx.