Maintenance

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Maintenance
Maintenance of natural stone is not much more difficult than any other material you're familiar with. The difference is mostly in the cleaning agents. Natural stones - especially calcite-based stones such as marble, travertine, limestone, etc. - have a delicate chemical composition that may interact in "strange" (damaging) ways with the chemistry of cleaning solutions that were not specifically formulated for the task. Once you know WHAT to use, all you have to do is follow the basic DOs 'n' DON'Ts listed here:



1.GENERAL
Spills can be very different in nature from one another. Most of them will turn out to be detrimental to stone if unattended. Orange juice, lemonade, wine, vinegar, liquors, tomato sauce, yogurt, salad dressing, perfume, after shave, wrong cleaning products and so on, through a long list, most likely won't damage "granite" and "green marble" surfaces, but will ETCH polished marble, travertine, limestone, onyx and alabaster. Therefore,

DO pick up any spill as quickly as you can get to it. DON'T rub the spill, only blot it.

DON'T use any generic cleaning product on your natural stone, or nearby it (i.e.: a liquid toilet bowl cleaner when the toilet is set on a marble floor), unless the label specifies that it's safe on natural marble (cultured marble is manmade, and it's basically a plastic material).


2.FLOORS

(1)The means:
A cleaning chore - any cleaning chore - is seldom a matter of a cleaning product only. Other factors are involved, such as a cleaning rag, a sheet of paper towel, a scrubbing pad, a squeegee, and so on. Without this additional means, the cleaner alone won't do much good! What's more, many a time the type and quality of the means is just as important as the quality of the cleaning product. If one uses some sub-par means, the cleaning product will not work at its best. This fact is never been truer than in the case of a glossy floor. I often noticed households using what I define as pathetic mops, many a time not so clean, either, teamed with tiny buckets on which to prepare the solution! A good-quality mop and the proper mopping bucket are key to obtaining the best results at mopping your highly polished stone or porcelain floor. In all my experience I reached the conclusion that sponge mops are not the best types of mop for a highly polished floor. My very favorites are good sized, closed-loop cotton string mops. It's always best to buy at least a couple of mop-heads, so that, when one is dirty, all you have to do is throw it into the washing machine and use another one in the meantime. The mop bucket is very important too. Small buckets only hold little water (which, of course, will get dirty real quick), plus they don't have any provisional means to wring the mop properly. Professional-type mop buckets with a wringer, that hold a good 4 GL of cleaning solution are highly recommended. Excellent mop handles and heads, as well as a terrific bucket with wringer on wheels (by "Rubbermaid") are available in the cleaning isle of The Home Depot. They are relatively inexpensive, too. It's a well worth investment if you have a lot of hard floors in your house!

(2)The care:
NEWLY INSTALLED FLOORS. The best thing to have done to a brand-new polished stone floor is a detailing job by a properly trained janitor, or a professional stone refinisher. Detailing means deep-cleaning the floor virtually square inch by square inch, removing all possible grout residue or film and adhesive, taking care of possible small damages left behind by workers, or a possible few factory flaws, and open the pores of the stone by using some special cleaning agent, so that the stone can "breathe" and dry properly. Should you decide not to have your floor detailed.

DO damp-mop your floor regularly. Don't use just water: it won't cut through soil and will leave streaks. We recommend using a solution of water and "Mb-1", Marble, Granite and More Floor Cleaner, in the proportion indicated in the bottle's back-label.
If your floor is in a foyer, or any other room with direct access to the outside
DO use proper floor mats. The leather or rubber of your shoes won't damage your floor: dirt WILL. Don't look for "pretty" mats, look for good ones! "ASTROTURF" mats by the Monsanto Co., (heavy-duty outside the door and finer inside) are among the best, in my professional opinion. They come in colors, too! A good Janitorial Supply Company should carry them and even custom cut them for you. Look in the Yellow Pages and call around. Most Janitorial Supply Companies do retail, and gladly so!
DO clean your floor mats often. When they get saturated with dirt and sand they won't work anymore.

DON'T damp-mop your floor immediately after installation and grouting. While you wouldn't cause any real damage, the fine powder most likely left on the floor will be trapped in the water and may leave ugly and hard-to-remove streaks all over its surface. For the first week or so, just vacuum and dust mop (NON treated dust mop!) your floor as often as you can. You will know it's ready to be washed when your hands remains clean (no whitish powder) after rubbing it on the floor. After that, or in the case of a NEWLY RESTORED (REFINISHED) FLOOR.
DON'T use more than that. While no damage would occur, a visible film would be left on the floor surface that will require rinsing, thus wasting time and, what's more, a very important feature of the product.
DON'T rinse. The formulation of Mb-1 includes specially selected inorganic salts that are meant to be left on the surface of the stone and act as moisturizers, as well as optical brighteners. When used in the right proportion and with the right means, Mb-1 will leave your floor totally streak-free and it will actually enhance the shine of your floor! Should you decide not to use Mb-1.
DON'T damp-mop your floor using a solution of water and stone soap. Like any other soap, stone soap WILL leave a hard-to-remove deposit on the surface of the stone. Stone soaps have very limited applications and, most importantly, quite different than cleaning a highly polished stone floor, no matter what the label on the bottle says (salesmanship has nothing to do with proper stone care!). Even so-called "rinse-free" stone soaps are a marketing scam. In fact, by reading the back label on their bottle, one will learn that every so often (when you can't stand to look at your streaky and smeary floor any longer, that is!) you should be using a heavy duty stripper/degreaser (made by the same company, of course!) to remove all the "precious" scum that has been accumulating on your otherwise beautiful floor by not rinsing it after damp-mopping it. Always use a pH neutral floor detergent, opposed to a soap.
DON'T damp-mop your floor using a solution of water with a commercially available cleaner, unless its label specifically indicates that its use is safe on natural marble (cultured marble is not marble: it's manmade plastic material). Worse yet.
DON'T damp-mop your floor using a solution of water and vinegar. That would be literally devastating to the finish of marble, travertine, limestone, etc.! Vinegar is not a real cleaning agent to begin with, and it's highly acidic (Acetic Acid). Use vinegar in your salad bowl, or for any other cooking purposes it was meant for.

(3)The preservation
Many customers ask me what should they do to PRESERVE the factory finish (or the finish of a newly restored floor). No matter how elaborate the answer could be, at the end it only spells: W-O-R-K. No work = no shine. There is no exception to such basic equation! If one's willing to work in order to protect the "showroom finish" of his or her car by regularly waxing it, the same principle should apply to a polished stone floor (actually, even more so. After all, you don't walk on your car!). "Mb-7" Marble, Granite and More Polish Preserver is an excellent performer. Don't expect miracles, though! For starters, the product should be applies as soon after installation, or restoration as possible. It is meant to preserve the polish of the stone surface, not to make it! If you think to apply it when the floor is beginning to show damages (wear and tear patterns), Mb-7 will do a terrific job at preserving the damages! What's more, by the same principle that a good-quality car wax will not preserve the original "showroom finish" of your car for ever, so will Mb-7 with your polished stone floor. Absolute protection is impossible, but if used regularly as directed, Mb-7 will make your floor age gracefully and it will never represent a real eyesore. Mb-7 must be applied with either a professional, or a small residential floor buffer (available at Sears and other appliance stores).


3.KITCHEN COUNTER TOPS
I want to assume that your kitchen counter-top is made either out of "granite" or green marble. While any spray cleaner off the shelves of your local supermarket could prove itself too harsh - therefore damaging - for the delicate makeup of calcite-based stones like marble, travertine, limestone, etc., theoretically it could be safely used to clean "granite" and green marbles (at least most of them). However, all true granites and many other "granites" (stone that are traded as granite, but granite are not) and all green marbles need to be sealed with a good-quality impregnator-type penetrating sealer (Mb-4 is an excellent impregnator and, to the best of my knowledge, the only one that comes with a 20-year warranty), and these sealers - although invisible - must be dealt with from a maintenance point of view. In other words, while generic spray cleaners wouldn't (maybe) damage the stone itself, they could turn out to be detrimental to the impregnator-sealer, which will eventually lead to staining of your unprotected counter top. In order not to take chances.

DO clean regularly you kitchen counter top with "Mb-5" Marble, Granite and More Spray Cleaner, full strength, especially in proximity of the cooking and eating areas.

DON'T let any spill sit too long on the surface of your counter top. Clean spills up (preferably by blotting) as soon as you can.


4.VANITY TOPS

DO clean it regularly by using "Mb-5" Marble, Granite and More Spray Cleaner. Considering the typical light-duty cleaning necessary on a vanity top, Mb-5 can be diluted in a proportion of 2 : 1 with tap water (2 of water and 1 of Mb-5) and still perform flawlessly (you can buy an extra spray-bottle at any hardware store). As far as the mirror over your vanity top is concerned, DON'T take chances with a regular glass cleaner: possible over-spray could spill on the marble surface and may damage it. Therefore,
DO clean your mirror with the same solution of water and Mb-5. even if you over-spray it, nothing bad is going to happen to your marble.
DON'T use any powder cleanser, or - worse yet - any cream cleanser, such as "Soft Scrub".
DON'T do your nails on your marble vanity top, or your perm nearby it.
DON'T put any wet bottle onto it (perfume, after-shave, etc.). Keep your cosmetic and fragrances in one of those pretty mirror trays, and make sure that the legs of the tray has felts tips.


5.SHOWER STALL
Tiled shower stalls - whether ceramic or natural stone - represent a very delicate and demanding environment, because of the heavy-duty nature of their use. There is quite a difference in use between the walls of the bathroom outside the stall, and the same walls inside it! because of that, the first real and utmost concern is that the installation is done properly, because a poor executed installation will inevitably lead to an expensive failure. besides all the plumbing work (which also includes the shower pan) and the proper sheeting with the right material (no green-boards, there!), it is important that a provision of 1/16" gap (the thickness of a round toothpick) in between tiles is made, to grant for proper grouting. While in the walls outside the shower stall an installation "butt-jointed" (that is without any gap in between tiles) is acceptable and, I concede it, prettier too, the same type of installation inside the stall will mean a virtually sure installation failure. In fact, the grout would only bridge the bevel where the tiles meet, but won't have any "root". As a consequence, with the hot water hitting those grout lines day in and day out, plus the heavy-duty cleaning that's typically necessary inside a shower enclosure, that "ornamental" grout will first soften, then come out. The consequence of that is that the water will start finding its way in between tiles and, by gravity, accumulate under the tiles of the shower floor creating all sorts of problems that, eventually, will call for a total remaking of the shower stall.

Assuming that your shower stall was installed properly (please, every so often, do monitor your grout and caulk lines, and address any problem immediately!),
DON'T use any cleanser, either in a powdery or creamy form.
DON'T use any generic soap film remover, such as 'TILEX SOAP SCUM", or "X-14 SOAP SCUM", or the likes on your polished stone shower stall.
DON'T use any generic mildew stain remover, such as "TILEX MILDEW STAIN REMOVER", or 'X-14 MILDEW STAIN REMOVER" or the likes on your polished stone shower stall.
DON'T use any magic self-cleaner, such as "SCRUb-FREE" and the likes, or any harsh disinfectant, such as "LYSOL".
DO clean your shower stall daily. The easiest way is to use one of those windshield-cleaning tools (the one with a scrubbing net on one side and a squeegee blade on the other side). After everybody has taken a shower, spray the walls and floor of the stall with a diluted solution of water and Mb-5, scrub swiftly, then squeegee. When eventually you will notice an accumulation of soap film (especially on the lower part of the walls and on the floor pan) that looks and feel like wax, use "Mb-3" Soap Film Remover. To clean it off, Mb-3 was specifically formulated to be effective at doing the job of cleaning soap scum and hard mineral deposits, while not interacting with the chemistry of natural stone.
If, over time, some mildew will appear on the grout lines of your shower enclosure,
DO clean the mildew stain with "Mb-9" Mildew Stain Remover. This product, too, has been formulated to be safe on natural stone, while very effective at removing mildew and other biological stains.