Maintenance or Restoration?
The purpose of maintenance is to maintain a current surface appearance of a stone, while restoration is to improve the stone surface to a better condition. In other words, maintenance is to keep the present condition, and restoration is to bring back the surface appearance to a former or factory-like condition. For example: If a highly polished soft marble floor is installed in a department store, the maintenance will be nearly impossible. Due to the amount of traffic which the floor receives, the desired highly polished finish is very difficult to maintain with only regular maintenance procedures. In this case, it may be time to consider performing restoration.
1. Daily Maintenance
The most damaging materials to a polished stone surface are dirt, sand, and/ or other abrasive grits. These substances will wear down the stone surface and cause scratches by way of foot/shoe friction. In order to eliminate these substances, high traffic areas should be cleaned with a vacuum and/or an untreated dust mop at least two or three times per day (less often in lower traffic areas). A polished stone floor also needs to be cleaned daily with a cotton mop and clean water, with the addition of neutral cleaner in high traffic areas and less often in lower traffic areas. Read the instructions of the cleaner very carefully. Never use acidic cleaner on your stone. Following the directions, add an accurate amount of cleaner into the clean water. Be careful, since too much cleaner will leave a sticky film on the stone's surface. Immediately change the mopping water when it becomes dirty, in order to prevent streaking. Often times we can see the janitors mop the floor with very dirty water. I would not say they are mopping or cleaning the floor. In fact, they are staining the floor--evenly!
2. Periodic Maintenance
The polishing process is used to repair minor scratches and/or worn areas. The frequency of polishing will depend on how good of a daily cleaning job you are doing, the stone type, and the amount of traffic received. A residential floor may only require polishing once a year, while the high traffic areas of a department store may require daily polishing. This procedure will keep the original “factory shine” of a stone without a harmful coating and is inexpensive. Only skilled craftsman should perform the polishing process.
The crystallization process may change the surface character of a stone. It is also used to repair minor scratches and/or worn areas. But, this procedure may only be applied to marble or limestone, and should be applied by well- trained craftsmen. It will not react with granite. I would not recommend the crystallization procedure as a residential maintenance process, because it will block the ability of a stone to breathe and trap the moisture in/under the stone.
Waxing is not recommended, because it is a kind of coating that will block the stone's ability to breathe. Besides, it may make a floor more difficult to maintain (due to becoming sticky, yellowing, footprints, etc…).
d. Impregnator/Penetrating Sealer
Impregnator can prevent the stone from becoming stained. This may be applied to residential floors once every 2-5 years. A homeowner may perform this procedure if they carefully follow the directions.
It is necessary to perform restoration process, when the stone appears dull, has a deeply scratched look, and/or is etched by acidic materials. This process may include grinding (if necessary), re-honing, and then followed by polishing. Restoration sometimes involves poulticing, crack repair, holes/pits repair, and/or heavy duty cleaning.