Information & Care
Ventura Stone imports the finest natural stone from around the world and creates stunning home and office spaces. Follow these tips to maximize the beauty and lifespan of your natural stone.
Common Description And Uses Of Natural Stone
It is a fundamental position of the Marble Institute of America that there exists no such thing as a “bad stone”. There do exist however, in appropriate selection of stone for a given application, and also unrealistic expectations of a given stone type in a specific application. The informed selection of natural stone products is also influenced by the tastes of the end user. To some, natural wear,etching, or weathering bring about a hidden charm, or natural “patina” as the stone displays signs of its yielding to the forces encountered in its service. To others, the only acceptable performance is for the stone to maintain its pristine, “as new” look for the entire duration of its service life. Selections of natural stone types are available to satisfy both users, but the proper research must be completed to assure that the selected stone will perform in service with the desired behavior. The key is performance. If a rock is sold within the granite group, the rock should be expected to have performance in that application that is similar, or in some cases superior, to that of a true granite.
An excellent choice for kitchen countertops, floors, and other heavily used surfaces
For centuries Granite Being one of the hardest stone types, has been one of the top picks as an exterior use material due to its inherent strength, abrasion resistance and superior durability in harsh weather, the use of granite has skyrocketed in residential interior applications and are likely to keep it one of the preeminent material selections available to today’s consumer.
Some synthetic surfaces scratch easily, while the hardness of the minerals comprising most granites surpasses that of the utensils that are used on them, resulting in excellent scratch resistance. Granite is typically heat resistant up to temperatures of 250C (480F), although direct application of localized heat sources is not recommended, since strong thermal gradients within the stone can initiate cracking. Studies of bacteria retention on common countertop surfaces have proven granite to be superior to the majority of surfaces employed for that purpose.
Available in an endless array of colors, granite’s durability, longevity, make it ideal for kitchen countertops and other heavily used surfaces, including table tops and floors.
Ideal for foyers, bathrooms, floors and hearths
Marble for its beauty and elegance is a popular choice for countertops, floors, foyers, fireplace facings and hearths, walls, and windowsills.
Marble with its inherent warmth, adds a sophisticated element to the area in which it is installed. Its naturally random appearance, engineering characteristics, and ease of maintenance makes it a premium choice for floors, wall claddings, table tops, wainscot, floors, and vanity tops. Many marbles are well suited for wet area application, which extends the versatility of this material to include tub decks and showers.
Marble is vulnerable to attack by acids, including those commonly found in kitchen and bar settings. The user selecting marble for these applications should be aware of, and accepting of the maintenance and patina that is to be anticipated with this combination. Weathe elements can also affect exterior marble installations, and exterior applications are generally limited to white marbles, with some exceptions.
A good choice for kitchen countertops Ideal for foyers, bathrooms, floors and hearths
Serpentine is often mistaken for marble, serpentine which is actually magnesium-silicate based as opposed to marble which is calcite based. As a result of the different mineralogy and whole rock chemistry of serpentine, it exhibits greater acid resistance and abrasion resistance than marble. These properties make serpentine a common choice for both kitchen counter and exterior application.
Onyx is often confused with marbles, yet it is a significantly different rock type. Onyx is a sedimentary rock, formed as stalactites and stalagmites in cave interiors. While vulnerable to chemical and abrasive attack, the decorative appeal of onyx is perhaps unsurpassed by any other material.
Sandstone are used in cubic sections as sills, coping and other exterior applications. This stone variety is typically used in thicker sections than other stone types due to lower bending strengths. While sandstone has been used in both countertop and shower lining applications, the varieties that are suitable for these installations are limited.
Quartzite is a metamorphic rock that is formed from sandstone. Quartzite can be of exceptional strength, density, and hardness. The strength, abrasion resistance, and weather durability of this rock type expand its application possibilities to include most any of the common uses for natural, dimension stone.
Versatile, Chemically Resistant Materials
A traditional use of Soapstone was the laboratory table top in chemistry labs. That application alone should serve as a great testimonial to the chemical resistance of the materials. Being one of the softer stone types, abrasion or scratch resistance is not high, yet soapstone is used for flooring and countertop products. Soapstone is highly heat resistant, and has been used in fireplace surrounds frequently to take advantage of this property.
Travertine and Limestone
Limestone deposits exist in all continents of the earth. Despite the common and traditional reference to “travertine marble”, travertine is really a type of limestone. It is actually the land formed version of limestone, as opposed to the marine based formations of many other limestone varieties. Featuring their soft earth tones, decorators integrating these stones into their design have great flexibility in selecting complimentary colors for other interior elements.
Many varieties of both materials have enjoyed a successful history of exterior application, since these stones are some of the softer varieties of natural stone materials, they have been also a popular choice for intricately carved features and moldings, as well as statuary.
Limestone and travertine, like marble, are of a calcium carbonate base, and as such, are vulnerable to alteration by exposure to mild acids. The combination of acid sensitivity and absorption, limit the number of varieties that are suitable for countertop applications, and the user of limestone countertops should be well educated in its properties to accurately anticipate its behavior in service.
Cleaning Procedures and Recommendations
General Care and Precautions
Use coasters, cutting boards while cooking and under all glasses, particularly while using citrus juices and alcohol. Many drinks and foods contain acids that might etch or dull the surface of your stone. Although you can we recommend that you do not place hot items directly on the counter top. Use cutting board, trivets or mats under hot pot and pans.
Cleaning Procedures and Recommendations
Cleaning stone surfaces is easy, all you need is a few drops of neutral cleaner, stone soap (available at most hardware stores) or a mild liquid dish-washing detergent and warm water. Do not use scouring powders, creams, products that contain lemon, vinegar, bleach or other acids on stone surfaces these products are abrasive or contain abrasives that may scratch the surface! Use a clean rag mop on floors and a soft cloth for other surfaces for best results. Using too much soap may leave streaks and marks. Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft cloth. Change the rinse water frequently.
Food Preparation Areas
Food preparation areas will need wiping after each use, we recommend applying a penetrating sealer every 3 to 6 months, according to type of stone and our recommendation. When a sealer is applied, be sure that it is non-toxic and safe for use on food preparation surfaces. If there are questions, check with the sealer manufacturer.
Bath and Other Wet Areas
In the bath or other wet areas, soap scum can be minimized by wiping the surface after each use. To remove soap scum, use a non-acidic soap scum remover or a solution of ammonia and water (about 1/2 cup ammonia to a gallon of water). Frequent or over-use of an ammonia solution may eventually dull the surface of the stone.
Vanity Top Surfaces
Vanity tops will need wiping the surface after use to minimize soap scum, we recommend applying a penetrating sealer every 3 to 6 months, according to type of stone and our recommendation. A good quality marble wax can be applied to minimize water spotting.
Outdoor Pool & Patio Areas
In outdoor pool, patio or hot tub areas, flush with clear water and use a mild solution to remove algae or moss.
Dust mop interior floors frequently using a clean non-treated dry dust mop. Sand, dirt and grit do the most damage to natural stone surfaces due to their abrasiveness.remove algae or moss.
Stone Identification. Know Your Stone
Natural stone can be classified into two general categories according to its composition: siliceous stone or calcareous stone. Knowing the difference is critical when selecting cleaning products. Siliceous stone is composed mainly of silica or quartz-like particles. It tends to be very durable and relatively easy to clean with mild acidic cleaning solutions. Types of siliceous stone include granite, slate, sandstone, quartzite, brownstone and bluestone.
Calcareous stone is composed mainly of calcium carbonate. It is sensitive to acidic cleaning products and frequently requires different cleaning procedures than siliceous stone. Types of calcareous stone include marble, travertine, limestone and onyx. What may work on siliceous stone may not be suitable on calcareous surfaces.
How to Tell the Difference
A simple acid sensitivity test can be performed to determine whether a stone is calcareous or siliceous. You will need about 4 oz. of a 10%solution of muriatic acid and an eye-dropper. Or you can use household vinegar and an eyedropper. Because this test may permanently etch the stone, select an out of the way area(a corner or closet) and several inches away from the mortar joint. Apply a few drops of the acid solution to the stone surface on an area about the size of a quarter. If the stone is calcareous, the acid drops will begin to bubble or fizz vigorously. If little or no reaction occurs, the stone can be considered siliceous. Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water and wipe dry. This test may not be effective if surface sealers or liquid polishes have been applied. If an old sealer is present, chip a small piece of stone away and apply the acid solution to the fractured surface. CAUTION: Muriatic acid is corrosive and is considered to be a hazardous substance. Proper head and body protection is necessary when acid is used.
A polished finish on the stone has a glossy surface that reflects light and emphasizes the color and marking of the material. This type of finish is used on walls, furniture tops and other items, as well as floor tiles.
A honed finish is a satin smooth surface with relatively little light reflection. Generally, a honed finish is preferred for floors, stair treads, thresholds and other locations where heavy traffic will wear off the polished finish. A honed finish may also be used on furniture tops and other surfaces.
A flamed finish is a rough textured surface used frequently on granite floor tiles.
Stone Colors and Appearance
Granites and marbles are quarried throughout the world in a variety of colors with varying mineral compositions. In most cases, marbles and granites can be identified by visible particles at the surface of the stone. Marble will normally show “veins” or high concentrations. The minerals in granite will typically appear as small flecks distributed uniformly in the stone. Each type of stone is unique and will vary in color, texture and marking.
Sandstones vary widely in color due to different minerals and clays found in the stone. Sandstone is light gray to yellow or red. A dark reddish brown sandstone, also called brownstone, has commonly been used in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Bluestone is a dense, hard, fine-grained sandstone of greenish-gray or bluish-gray color and is quarried in the eastern United States.
Limestone is a widely used building stone with colors typically light gray, tan or buff. A distinguishing characteristic of many limestones is the presence of fossils that are frequently visible in the stone surface. Slate is dark green, black, gray, dark red or multi-colored. It is most commonly used as a flooring material and for roof tiles and is often distinguished by its distinct cleft texture.
Spills and Stains
Identifying the type of stain on the stone surface is the key to removing it. If you don’t know what caused the stain, play detective. Where is the stain located? Is it near a plant, a food service area, an area where cosmetics are used? What color is it? What is the shape or pattern? What goes on in the area around the stain? Surface stains can often be removed by cleaning with an appropriate cleaning product or household chemical. Deep-seated or stubborn stains may require using a poultice or calling in a professional.The following sections describe the types of stains that you may have to deal with and appropriate household chemicals to use and how to prepare and apply a poultice to remove the stain.
Types of Stains and First Step Cleaning Actions:
WE RECOMMEND USING OF-THE-SHELF PRODUCTS FIRST, THERE ARE MANY GREAT PRODUCTS THAT ARE SAFER TO USE BEFORE USING HOUSE HOLD CHEMICHALS!
(grease, tar, cooking oil, milk, cosmetics)An oil-based stain will darken the stone and normally must be chemically dissolved so the source of the stain can be flushed or rinsed away. Clean gently with a soft, liquid cleanser with bleach OR household detergent OR ammonia OR mineral spirits OR acetone.
(coffee, tea, fruit, tobacco, paper, food, urine, leaves, bark, bird droppings)May cause a pinkish-brown stain and may disappear after the source of the stain has been removed. Outdoors, with the sources removed, normal sun and rain action will generally bleach out the stains. Indoors, clean with12% hydrogen peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia.
(iron, rust, copper, bronze)Iron or rust stains are orange to brown in color and follow the shape of the staining object such as nails, bolts, screws, cans, flower pots, metal furniture. Copper and bronze stains appear as green or muddy-brown and result from the action of moisture on nearby or embedded bronze, copper or brass items. Metal stains must be removed with a poultice.(See section on Making & Using a Poultice) Deep-seated, rusty stains are extremely difficult to remove and the stone may be permanently stained.
(algae, mildew, lichens, moss, fungi)Clean with diluted (1/2 cup in a gallon of water) ammonia OR bleach OR hydrogen peroxide.DO NOT MIX BLEACH AND AMMONIA! THIS COMBINATION CREATES A TOXIC AND LETHAL GAS!
(magic marker, pen, ink)Clean with bleach or hydrogen peroxide (light colored stone only!) or lacquer thinner or acetone (dark stones only!)
Small amounts can be removed with lacquer thinner or scraped off carefully with a razorblade. Heavy paint coverage should be removed only with a commercial “heavy liquid” paint stripper available from hardware stores and paint centers. These strippers normally contain caustic soda or lye. Do not use acids or flame tools to strip paint from stone. Paint strippers can etch the surface of the stone; re-polishing may be necessary. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for use of these products, taking care to flush the area thoroughly with clean water. Protect yourself with rubber gloves and eye protection, and work in a well-ventilated area. Use only wood or plastic scrapers for removing the sludge and curdled paint. Normally, latex and acrylic paints will not cause staining. Oil-based paints, linseed oil, putty, caulks and sealants may cause oily stains. Refer to the section on oil-based stains.
WATER SPOTS AND RINGS
(surface accumulation of hard water)Buff with dry 0000 steel wool.
FIRE AND SMOKE DAMAGE
Older stones and smoke or fire stained fireplaces may require a thorough cleaning to restore their original appearance. Commercially available “smoke removers” may save time and effort.
Etch marks are caused by acids left on the surface of the stone. Some materials will etch the finish but not leave a stain. Others will both etch and stain. Once the stain has been removed, wet the surface with clear water and sprinkle on marble polishing powder, available from a hardware or lapidary store, or your local stone dealer. Rub the powder onto the stone with a damp cloth or by using a buffing pad with a low-speed power drill. Continue buffing until the etch mark disappears and the marble surface shines. Contact your stone dealer or call a professional stone restorer for refinishing or re-polishing etched areas that you cannot remove.WE RECOMMEND CALLING A PROFFESIONAL FIRST BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT BUFFING STONE SURFACES, DIFFERENT SURFACES NEED DIFFERENT ATTENTION!
Efflorescence is a white powder that may appear on the surface of the stone. It is caused by water carrying mineral salts from below the surface of the stone rising through the stone and evaporating. When the water evaporates, it leaves the powdery substance. If the installation is new, dust mop or vacuum the powder. You may have to do this several times as the stone dries out. Do not use water to remove the powder; it will only temporarily disappear. If the problem persists, contact your installer to help identify and remove the cause of the moisture.
SCRATCHES AND NICKS
Slight surface scratches may be buffed with dry 0000 steel wool. Deeper scratches and nicks in the surface of the stone should be repaired and re-polished by a professional.
WE RECOMMEND USING OF-THE-SHELF PRODUCTS FIRST, THERE ARE MANY GREAT PRODUCTS THAT ARE SAFER TO USE BEFORE USING HOUSE HOLD CHEMICHALS!
Making and Using a Poultice
A poultice is a liquid cleaner or chemical mixed with a white absorbent material to form a paste about the consistency of peanut butter. The poultice is spread over the stained area to a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch with a wood or plastic spatula, covered with plastic and left to work for 24 to 48 hours. The liquid cleaner or chemical will draw out the stain into the absorbent material. Poultice procedures may have to be repeated to thoroughly remove a stain, but some stains may never be completely removed.
Poultice materials include kaolin, fuller’s earth, whiting, diatomaceous earth, powdered chalk, white molding plaster or talc. Approximately one pound of prepared poultice material will cover one square foot. Do not use whiting or iron-type clays such as fuller’s earth with acid chemicals. The reaction will cancel the effect of the poultice. A poultice can also be prepared using white cotton balls, whitepaper towels or gauze pads.
Cleaning Agents or Chemicals:
Poultice with baking soda and water OR one of the powdered poultice materials and mineral spirits.
ORGANIC STAINSPoultice with one of the powdered poultice materials and 12% hydrogen peroxide solution (hair bleaching strength) OR use acetone instead of the hydrogen peroxide.
Poultice with diatomaceous earth and a commercially available rust remover. Rust stains are particularly difficult to remove. You may need to call a professional.
Poultice with one of the powdered poultice materials and ammonia. These stains are difficult to remove. You may need to call a professional.
Poultice with dilute ammonia OR bleach OR hydrogen peroxide.DO NOT MIX BLEACH AND AMMONIA! THIS COMBINATION CREATES A TOXIC AND LETHAL GAS!
Applying the Poultice
Prepare the poultice. If using powder, mix the cleaning agent or chemical to a thick paste the consistency of peanut butter. If using paper, soak in the chemical and let drain. Don’t let the liquid drip.
Wet the stained area with distilled water.
Apply the poultice to the stained area about1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and extend the poultice beyond the stained area by about one inch. Use a wood or plastic scraper to spread the poultice evenly.
Cover the poultice with plastic and tape the edges to seal it.
Allow the poultice to dry thoroughly, usually about 24 to 48 hours. The drying process is what pulls the stain out of the stone and into the poultice material. After about 24 hours, remove the plastic and allow the poultice to dry.
Remove the poultice from the stain. Rinse with distilled water and buff dry with a soft cloth. Use the wood or plastic scraper if necessary.
Repeat the poultice application if the stain is not removed. It may take up to five applications for difficult stains.
If the surface is etched by the chemical, apply polishing powder and buff with burlap or felt buffing pad to restore the surface.
Dos and Don’ts
DO Dust mop floors frequentlyDO Clean surfaces with mild detergent or stone soapDO Thoroughly rinse and dry the surface after washingDO Blot up spills immediatelyDO Protect floor surfaces with non-slip mats or area rugs and countertop surfaces with coasters, trivets or placematsDON’T Use vinegar, lemon juice or other cleaners containing acids on marble, limestone, travertine or onyx surfacesDON’T Use cleaners that contain acid such as bathroom cleaners, grout cleaners or tub & tile cleanersDON’T Use abrasive cleaners such as dry cleansers or soft cleansersDON’T Mix bleach and ammonia; this combination creates a toxic and lethal gasDON’T Ever mix chemicals together unless directions specifically instruct you to do so Call your professional stone supplier, installer or a restoration specialist for problems that persist.
Granite ranked #1 in cleanability when compared to six other countertop surfaces including stainless steel (based on a 1999 study by the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management).
Marble and granite have the same level of cleanability as engineered stone (based on a 2006 study by the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management).
Natural stone is competitively priced with quartz surface products and often priced lower.
Natural stone is low maintenance often only requiring warm water, mild dishwashing liquid and a soft cloth to maintain its beauty.
Many varieties of natural stone do not need to be sealed, although many are for customer peace of mind.
Granite does not emit dangerous levels of radon (based on technical paper by Dr. Donald Langmiur, PhD, Colorado School for Mines in 1995, confirming that consumers do not have to worry about radon exposure stemming from natural stone in their home).
Stone is a product of nature and has its own unique qualities that distinguish it from quartz surface materials. The wonderful character that is offered by vein patterns, color variations, and other design characteristics of stone should be taken into consideration when selecting the perfect stone for your project. Discuss these characteristics with your natural stone supplier.