Natural stone is a wonderful element in a home and is often the choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Granite, marble and travertine are popular and durable so they are great for counter tops, showers and floors. However, they can get stained, worn, or damaged over time. It is unfortunate that many homeowners ignore the problems. This is partly because they feel that repairing natural stone or replacing is expensive and partly because they so not know where to begin to fix the problem. If your natural stone has taken the brunt of use over the holidays, you should consider restoration over replacing. Restoration by a professional will cost around 30 percent of replacing your natural stone and many of the common problems are not difficult to solve. Below are some easy steps to fix some of natural stone’s most common problems.
Change the Finish to Disguise Etching
Etching, or light surface scratches, happen in soft stones over time. You can tweak the overall look of the stone from a shiny surface to a matte or honed finish. This lower-cost method makes the scratches less noticeable.
Get Rid of Stains
Some natural stones absorb liquids more than others and oil is the main culprit in causing stains. That is particularly true in kitchens. Counter tops and backsplashes will get stained from grease over the years. This is not something you can do yourself. A professional in stone repair will use a poultice to draw out the oil. After that, the surface must be resealed to protect it in the future. Hiring a professional is a very important factor in repairing natural stone.
Get Rid of Scum
Water spots, residue and soap scum make a bathroom look terrible. All it takes to restore your counter tops, shower and tubs to their natural beauty is a few hours to a day of a professional cleaning, polishing and resealing. Polishing will also get rid of any etching as well. This type of service will restore the stone’s shine and original color.
Do’s and Don’ts
There are some do’s and don’ts of repairing stone that is chipped or damaged. Douglas Kent, an expert on stone and research and technical director of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, said sometimes people unwittingly do too much in an attempt to repair stone and end up causing more damage. He said flaws and imperfections shouldn’t be repaired unless they are dangerous to those using the home. Flaws in old floors add interest, so do the minimal required to keep them safe. That can include rebedding, regrouting, or using simple matting. You should repair deep holes or chipped edges and that can be done with a hydraulic lime mortar. The most important thing you can do is maintain your natural stone so it doesn’t suffer in the future.
Those in historic homes sometimes want to lift the floors. Kent said that should be avoided. Laying a plastic membrane to correct dampness beneath the stones will hurt them because it prevents them from breathing, which is moisture passing through the stones. He also said to be careful about the grout you use because some waterproof variations also prevent breathability. He said homeowners should always opt to use matching new material to fix damaged stone rather than replacing the stone. That is not only less expensive, but better for your entire floor or counter as removing and replacing stone tends to damage other stones or parts of the project.
Professional stone restoration companies can do things like replace grout, use epoxy to mend chips and seams, and reseal your natural stone. A simple cleaning, polishing and replacing grout can make you feel like you have completely renovated your space. Yet, it takes less time and money so it is truly a win, win solution!