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Cleaning & General Maintenance of Stonework


All stonework is generally best cleaned of normal dust build-up using warm water and a mild detergent on a regular basis.

Cleaning frequency and methods are best trialed, and set to suit individual situations depending on surface finish, volume of traffic and intensity of residue build up.

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Test Cleaning


In all instances a test area should be cleaned away from main traffic areas to ensure no unexpected results or side effects are encountered.

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Paving


For internal polished and honed surface finishes, our suggestion is to clean the paving surface with a damp mop and mild detergent which does not require excessive rinsing. The use of this type of detergent will help to inhibit any build up and help avoid surface yellowing over time.

The same principles apply for internal exfoliated paving although the frequency of mopping should be less frequent. The rougher surface texture will also require the use of a vacuum using a soft pliable brush fitting to ensure the maximum amount of grime and deleterious surface soiling is removed from the paving face.

External paving should be cleaned using the same principles as above and also on a regular basis. Due to the more harsh external effects that are prevalent in these external areas you will be required to use a higher than normal water pressure along with a mild detergent. Frequency of cleaning will ultimately be determined over time and will be affected by such things as traffic volume and other outdoor influences. External paving can also benefit from a mild acid wash to remove any excessive dirt build up.

We recommend that you use a qualified cleaning contractor with relevant experience when attempting any acid washing of natural stone. This process can be very harsh and can have a negative effect on the finished stone surface if not completed correctly. Care should also be taken to avoid damage to glass, aluminum or other surrounding fittings in the vicinity of the pavement from the acid solution as well as following proper ventilation and standard safety procedures when using any acid solutions.

NOTE: Acid washing should not be completed where silicon jointing exists as it will cause degradation to the joints over time.


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Wall Cladding


Internal vertical wall cladding, irrespective of finish, should only need dusting to remove any surface atmospheric build-up.

External cladding should only require dusting off or in the case of grime build up on exfoliated surfaces a wash down using high pressure water.

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Sealing


If soiling of a floor becomes excessive, then consideration should be given to sealing the area in question. Care should be taken in this regard as many sealants can alter surface texture, colour and slip resistance, and may also cause "tracking" (heavy traffic paths can become obvious over time). In this instance prospective sealants should be tested by application on a thoroughly cleaned floor in a high traffic area and not throughout the building (i.e. at main entrance). Full coverage sealant should only be applied once a satisfactory result has been obtained.

NOTE: We recommend the use of a suitably qualified professional cleaning and sealing company when considering sealing any natural stone. The use of incorrect sealing products or application methods may compromise the stability of natural stone.

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Stain Removal


Should the paving become stained there are various methods that may be used to assist in their removal.

Attached is a guide on stain removal which has been compiled to assist in the removal of particular types of stains. This should be referred to first. However, if a stain is not easily removed please consult your stone supplier or cleaning professional for advice or assistance.

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Guideline to Removing Stains


Marble and natural stone are porous materials. The most successful way to remove staining is to endeavour to reverse the original staining process. The easiest method for attempting this is to try to absorb the staining material into another material. This other material is referred to as a ‘poultice’. A poultice can be made from many varied products but is most often a powdered whiting and hydrogen peroxide mix or a chemical reducing agent - depending on the nature of the stain. Whiting is available in most paint stores. The poultice should be made and applied as described for removal of each particular stain.

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Poulticing


Some of the more common poulticing materials and powders are:

Poulticing Material

  • Cotton Balls
  • Paper Towels
  • Gauze Pads

Poulticing Powders

  • Clays (Attapulgite, Kaolin, Fullers Earth)
  • Talc
  • Chalk
  • Sepiolite (Hydrous Magnesium Silicate)
  • Diatomaceous Earth
  • Methyl Cellulose

Clays and diatomaceous earth are usually the best. Do not use whiting or iron type clays such as Fullers Earth with acidic chemicals. A chemical reaction will occur, canceling the effect of the poultice. Many stains are so deeply imbedded that the poultice alone will not be completely effective. A chemical solution will need to be added to the poultice to dilute and/or react with the stain. When the poultice and chemical is absorbed into the stone, the chemical reacts with the stain and is re-absorbed into the poultice powder material.

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Stain-Removing Chemicals


How to select the correct chemical for a given stain?

Firstly, you will need to identify the stain type. Once it is known you should refer to the stain removal guide for the appropriate chemical to apply. If the origin of the stain is unknown, you will need to begin some sample testing. The color of the stain may help to identify the cause. (i.e Dark brown stains may have been caused by iron (rust) stains). The shape or pattern of the stain may also be helpful.

If, after thorough investigation you are unable to identify the stain origin, you will need to perform some on site patch tests.

Most common stains may be classified into one of the following categories

  • OIL BASED STAINS - Grease, tar, cooking oil and food stains
  • ORGANIC STAINS - Coffee, tea fruit, tobacco, cosmetics, bark or leaf litter
  • METAL STAINS - Iron (rust) copper, bronze etc.
  • BIOLOGICAL STAINS - Algae, mildew, etc
  • INK STAINS- Magic marker, pen, ink etc.

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Applying the Poultice


Once the stain is identified, please follow the steps shown below.

  • Wet the stained area with distilled water. Pre-wetting fills the pores of the stone with water - isolating the stain and accelerating the removal by the chemical.
  • Prepare the poultice. If powder is to be used, pre-mix the powder and the chemical of choice into a thick paste.

    If a paper poultice is to be used - soak the paper in the chemical. Lift the paper out of the chemical and allow it to drain until it stops dripping.
  • Apply the poultice to the stain - being careful not to spill any on the non stained areas. Apply approximately 3mm thick overlapping the stain area by about 10mm all round.
  • Cover the poultice with a plastic film. Tape the plastic down to seal the edges.

Allow the poultice to dry thoroughly. The drying of the poultice is what draws the stain from the stone into the poultice material. If the poultice is not allowed to dry, the stain may not be removed effectively. Drying should normally take from 24 to 48 hours.

Remove the poultice from the stain. Rinse with distilled water and buff dry with a soft cloth. If the stain is not removed, apply the poultice again. It may take several applications for difficult stains.

Be aware that some chemicals may etch marble surfaces. If this occurs, apply polishing powder and buff with a piece of burlap to restore the shine.

NOTE: If the problem is serious in nature or too large in size, please consult a professional cleaning contractor or your stone supplier.

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Troubleshooting


All suggestions listed below are in order, with the gentlest remedy listed first and the most severe last. All the chemical solutions mentioned, can be purchased at most hardware stores or from larger marble supply distributors.

Problem Solution
Iron Stains (rust) Poultice with one of the following:
  • Sodium Citrate and Glycerin
  • Ammonium Oxalate
  • Oxalic Acid
  • Orthophosphoric Acid and Sodium Salt of EDTA in water
  • Dilute Hydrofluoric Acid
  • Cannot be removed, is part of the stone
Ink Poultice with one of the following:
  • Light colored marbles only use Bleach or Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Dark marbles use Lacquer Thinner or Acetone.
  • Methyl Chloride
Oil-based stains
(grease, cooking oil
tar, food stains etc.)
Clean with:
  • Scouring powder with bleach
  • Household detergent
  • Ammonia
  • Mineral spirits
  • Methyl Chloride
Organic Stains
(paper, tea, coffee,
fruit, bark and leaf litter etc.)
  • Pour Hydrogen Peroxide 35% directly on stain and add a few drops of ammonia. Leave until bubbling stops.
  • Repeat above add poultice
  • Acetone or Toluene or Xylene
Efflorescence Polutice with:
Distilled water
Copper Stains Poultice with
Ammonium Chloride or Ammonium Hydroxide
Biological Stains
(algae, moss fungi, mildew)
Clean with:
  • Dilute ammonia or Bleach
  • Hydrogen Peroxide or Sodium Hypochlorite
Wax
(acrylic yellowing coatings)
Clean with:
  • Alkaline Stripper
Urethane Coatings
  • Methyl Chloride or Grinding
Crystallization Coatings
  • Strip with Oxalic Acid Based Stripper
  • Grind off
Paint
  • Alkaline Paint Remover
  • Methyl Chloride
Grout and Thin Set Residue
  • Scrub with neutral cleaner and red pad
  • Re-hone
Scratches
  • Re-polish
  • Re-hone
Streaking
  • Buff with felt pad- dry
  • Steel wool-dry or Re polish
Water spots and rings
  • Buff with dry Steel wool
  • Re-polish or re-hone

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