Showing posts sorted by relevance for query stain. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query stain. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Stain Removal Procedure for Stone Surfaces


Stain Removal Procedure for Stone Surfaces
By Frederick M. Hueston , www.stoneforensics.com

If you find that there are some stains on your stone flooring the following stain removal information should help you remove them. A video on this procedure can also be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh0_tUphEco

Poulticing Materials:
I have found that most stains can 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, etc.
Metal Stains: Iron (rust), copper, bronze, etc.
Biological Stains: Algae, mildew, lichens, etc.
Ink Stains: Magic marker, pen, ink, etc.
There are, of course, other materials that will cause staining. These five categories are the most common.
Applying the Poultice
Once the stain is identified, the following steps can be followed:
1. 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.

2. Prepare the poultice. If a powder is to be used, pre mix the powder and the chemical of choice into a thick paste, the consistency of peanut butter. In other words, wet it enough so that it does not run. If a paper poultice is to be used, soak the paper in the chemical. Lift the paper out of the chemical until it stops dripping.

3, Apply the poultice to the stain being careful not to spill any on the non stained areas. Apply approximately 1/4-inch thick over-lapping the stain area by about one inch.

4. Cover the poultice with plastic (food wrap works great). Tape the plastic down to seal the edges. It also helps to poke several small holes in the plastic so that the powder will dry out. Failure to do this may result in the poultice staying wet.

5. Allow the poultice to dry thoroughly. This is a very important step. The drying of the poultice is what pulls the stain from the stone into the poultice material. If the poultice is not allowed to dry, the stain may not be removed. Drying usually takes from 24 to 48 hours.

6. 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 up to five applications for difficult stains.

Some chemicals may etch marble and limestone surfaces. If this occurs, then apply polishing powder and buff with a piece of burlap to restore the shine.

Poulticing Powders:
Clays (Attapulgite, Kaolin, Fullers earth)  DO NOT USE OF RUST STAINS
Talc
Chalk (whiting)
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. They will react with the material, canceling the effect of the poultice.
Many stains are so deeply imbedded that the poultice alone will not be completely effective. Some type of chemical solution will need to be added to the poultice. When the poultice and chemical are applied, the chemical is absorbed into the stone. The chemical reacts with the stain and is re-absorbed into the powder/material.
Stain Removing Chemicals
How do you choose the proper chemical for a given stain?
First, you need to identify the stain. This is the most important step in stain removal. If you know what caused the stain, you can easily look at a stain removal chart for the proper chemical to apply. If the stain is unknown, then you need to play detective. Try what caused the stain. If the stain is near a plant container, it might be that the plant was over watered and the soil has leached iron onto the stone. The color of the stain may help to identify the cause. Brownish color stains may be iron (rust) stains. The shape or the pattern of the stain may be helpful. Small droplet size spots leading from the coffeepot to someone's desk are a sure giveaway. Do some investigating and use your powers of observation. This will almost always lead to the identification of the cause of the stain.
If, after thorough investigation, you still have no idea what the stain is, then you will need to perform a patch test. A patch test simply means applying several chemical poultices to determine which will remove the stain.
There are also pre-prepared poultice mixes that have the chemicals already added. All you have to do is add water.
One way to reduce the amount of staining on any stone surface is to make sure it is sealed with a good penetrating sealer or impregnator.
Stain Removal Guide

Iron (rust) - Poultice with Iron Out + Powder + Water.  (Iron Out is available at hardware stores). Both mixtures may etch polished marble, so re polishing will be necessary.
Ink - Poultice with Mineral Spirits or Methylene Chloride +Powder.
Oil - Poultice with Ammonia+ Powder Methylene Chloride can also be used on tough oil stains.
Coffee, Tea & Food - Poultice with 20 percent Hydrogen Peroxide + Powder.
Copper - Poultice with Ammonium Chloride + Powder
Paint (water-based) - poultice with a commercial paint remover + Powder
Paint (oil) Poultice with Mineral Spirits + Powder. Deep stains may require Methylene Chloride.
Please use extra caution when handling all chemicals listed above. Thoroughly read Material Safety Data Sheets for each chemical before use.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Removing Urine Stains and Odors from Stone Surfaces

Removing Urine Stains and Odors from Stone Surfaces

Frederick M. Hueston, Stoneforensics.com

 

Your new puppy made a mess on your new marble floor. The granite floor in front of the urinals in the men’s room is stained and smells of urine. These are just a few of the issues with odors emitting from your stone surfaces.  Weather it’s your puppy or your husbands poor aim the following should remove the stain and the odor.

The Chemistry of Urine

Urine is unique in that it is a substance that comes our of the body as an acid and when it starts to dry becomes an alkaline crystal. For you amateur chemist it starts at a pH of 5-6 and converts to a pH of 10-12. These alkaline crystals are hydrophilic which simply means they absorb moisture. As these crystals absorb surrounding moisture the stain can grow in size. If the stone is a polished marble or limestone it can become dull due to the initial acid reaction but can also dull from the strong alkali. If this is the case the stone may need to be repolished.

Removing the Stain

Removing urine stains can be tricky and timing is everything. The quicker you can get to the stain the easier it will be to remove.

As soon as you can blot the urine up with some dry paper towels. Do Not wipe since this will only spread the stain.  Clean the stain with some dish soap and water. Mix about one teaspoon of dish soap in a gallon of water. Apply this solution on the wet area and allow it to sit for a minute or two. Blot the solution up and rinse with clean water. If there is still a stain, then you will need to apply a poultice.

 

The following is a basic procedure for stain removal More detailed stain removal instructions can be found here. http://stoneforensics.blogspot.com/ or www.SurPHaces.com

 

What you’ll need:

1.     Flour(use only white flour)

2.     Hydrogen Peroxide 20 Volume(You can purchase 20 volume peroxide at most beauty supply stores)

3.     Plastic wrap (saran wrap or equivalent)

4.     Plastic putty knife

5.     Low contact painters’ tape

6.     Mixing bowl or cup

7.     Plastic or wooden spoon

 

 

1. 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.


2. Prepare the poultice.  Take a small amount of flour and pour the peroxide into the flour and stir until you reach a creamy consistency.


3, Apply the poultice to the stain being careful not to spill any on the non stained areas. Apply approximately 1/4-inch thick over-lapping the stain area by about one inch.


4. Cover the poultice with plastic (food wrap works great). Tape the plastic down to seal the edges. It also helps to poke several small holes in the plastic so that the powder will dry out. Failure to do this may result in the poultice staying wet.


5. Allow the poultice to dry thoroughly. This is a very important step. The drying of the poultice is what pulls the stain from the stone into the poultice material. If the poultice is not allowed to dry, the stain may not be removed. Drying usually takes from 24 to 48 hours.


6. Remove the poultice with a plastic putty knife. Rinse with distilled water and buff dry with a soft cloth. If the stain is not removed, apply the poultice again. It may take up to five applications for difficult stains.


Step 2 Odor removal

 

Once the stain is removed the urine smell may still be present. The following is how to neutralize the odor:

The nasty smell you experience is the result of bacteria using the urine as a food source. So, in order to eliminate the odor we need to kill the bacteria. There are numerous products out there that are designed for eliminating the odor in carpets. These same chemicals can be used for stone.  If you use these products make sure they are enzymatic. Many products are only mask the odor, you want to eliminate it, so an enzymatic product is necessary.

 

Instructions for applying an enzymatic cleaner

 

  • Spray the affected surface liberally with the cleaner using a pump sprayer or spray bottle.
  • Cover with plastic  for 1 to 2 hours to slow the evaporation rate and allow time for the first application to soak deeply into the stone.
  • Note that as the first application of cleaner goes to work, the urine odor may intensify at first. This is typical with old or heavy urine deposits and indicates that the urine being loosened and is rising to the surface.
  • Remove the plastic and blot the floor dry with paper towels or cloths. Expect the blotting towels or cloths to be colored yellow and smell heavily of urine. Dispose of the soiled towels or cloths.
  • Reapply the cleaner. Allow to dry 1 to 2 hours. (In humid climates lacking AC, drying may take longer.)
  • Reapply as needed, with 1 to 2 hours drying time between applications, until odor is removed.

 

The above processes are time consuming but will be well worth the effort if done properly.

 



 

 

 


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Why You Should Consider Staining Your Concrete Floor

 

Why You Should Consider Staining Your Concrete Floor

Frederick M Hueston, Stoneforensics.com

 

Acid staining can make a common concrete floor into look like expensive natural stone flooring. Not only is it a fraction of the price, but for people allergic to carpeting materials its a godsend. Another great application is in houses with radiant floor heating. Radiant heating is at its most efficient when insulating floor coverings like tile or carpet are minimized.

The process of staining a concrete floor, while not overly complex, can be tough to get the results you want from. Most folks are probably better off hiring a professional contractor. Its a risky project for the do-it-yourselfer.

If youre not familiar with it, concrete stain isnt a paint or finish coat. It involves a chemical reaction on cement materials. Typically a water-based solution of hydrochloric acid and inorganic salts, the stain reacts with minerals and lime in the concrete aggregate, and the result of the reaction is coloring. It works on new or old concrete, and is fairly durable if you maintain it with sealer or wax, since it wont stain or chip. It can also be applied to both interiors and exterior floors. Walkways, bathrooms, entrances, driveways, living rooms and patios are all fair game.

When its finished, stained concrete looks a little like marble, but more dappled and less uniform. The concrete will mostly be earthy brown tones, with hints of red and green. Its possible to make your own tint stain by mixing colors, or applying at dissimilar rates. When you stain a concrete floor, though, don’t expect the stain to be uniform or have an even tone. Plan your room decor and color scheme accordingly, because you’ll get dissimilar reactions from different areas of the concrete, and even a seasoned pro will be hard pressed to predict what the final result will be.

Surface prep for acid staining concrete depends on what condition your slab is in. Newly poured concrete only needs is be allowed time for curing- three weeks after pouring- then some rinsing and scrubbing. Older concrete is a different story. Thorough cleaning is required because any dirt, grease, paint, sealer or even curing agent will keep the stain from penetrating and reacting as it should. Do a little test area to make sure its ready.

Newer poured concrete will require less stain than older floors, but in general, a gallon of water added to one gallon of stain will cover around 400 square feet. Apply the stain with a non-metallic brush or broom, working in the cooler morning or evening hours, rather than in the heat of the day. Be careful to protect yourself from spillage, drips and fumes from the acid stain, and follow the manufacturers precautions.

After application, you need to cleanup by sweeping away any leftover stain and residue with a broom. When the floor is thoroughly dry, it is a good idea to apply a sealer agent and then wax it.

If you are in the market for natural stone flooring, a new look for your basement or patio, or just looking for new remodeling ideas, stained concrete is something you should look into.

 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Graffiti Removal

Graffiti Removal Procedure for Stone, Masonry, and Tile Surfaces

By Frederick M. Hueston, www.stoneforensics.com

 

If your beautiful building, wall, or other surface has just become the unintended canvas for graffiti, your first reaction might be to call your maintenance staff to pressure wash the spray paint away. Unfortunately, pressure washing can leave stains behind or shadowing caused by the high-pressured water. If you are dealing with paint, markers, or other water-soluble types of graffiti, as well as post-cleanup stains or shadowing on stone, tile, brick, or masonry, this article offers some guidance on what to do next. 

Graffiti Types

 

There are many kinds of paints, markers, or other mediums that are used for graffiti. The most common types are aerosol paints and felt tip markers because they are easy to acquire and relatively inexpensive. Other graffiti mediums include chalk, charcoal, foods such as ketchup and mustard, red clay, and more. Any graffiti created with water-soluble material will be easy to remove with a mild washing.

Scribing is a type of graffiti that often causes permanent damage since a knife, screwdriver, rock, or other sharp object is used to scrape away the surface.

 

Graffiti Removal Rules

 

When it comes to graffiti removal, here are some very important considerations.

Time
The longer graffiti remains on a surface, the more likely it is to soak into the surface. The deeper it penetrates into the surface, the more difficult it will be to remove. For this reason, you will want to attempt removal as soon as possible.

Temperature
During summer months and in areas with warm climates, graffiti will dry faster and will have a tendency to penetrate deeper than in colder climates.

Abrasives
High pressure washing, and abrasive brushes should be avoided, especially on soft stone, brick, and masonry surfaces. These methods may remove the graffiti but could leave a deep mark or what is called shadowing which is nearly impossible to correct.

Cleaners
Be careful choosing the proper cleaners or stain removers. Certain chemicals will emulsify the paint and drive it deeper into the surface making removal even more difficult.

Removing Graffiti

 

Step 1 
Attempt to identify the graffiti type. Identification is key, since it will help you chose the proper chemical. Paint or marker are water-based or solvent-based mediums. Water-based paints can generally be removed with mild detergents, whereas solvent-based paints will require mineral spirits, paint stripper, or other solvent-based cleaning agents.  The best way to find out what type of medium you are dealing with is to test a small area as follows. Once you know the medium, proceed to Step 2.

CAUTION: Make sure to do the water-based test first, since water-based paints can give false-positive test results with the solvent-based test.

Water-Based Test
Mix some mild detergent, such as a pH-neutral cleaner or dish soap and water in a spray bottle. Saturate a small area and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Wipe it off with a soft, white cloth. You may also agitate the area with a soft nylon bristle brush. If the graffiti comes off easily, then you are dealing with a water-based paint.

Solvent-Based Test
Moisten a clean, white rag with a small amount of mineral spirits. Gently blot the graffiti. If the graffiti is easily removed, then you are dealing with a solvent-based paint. 

Step 2

  1. Prepare a solution, per the manufacturer's dilution instructions, of a pH-neutral cleaner or dish soap and water in a bucket or sprayer.
  2. Rinse the surface with plain, clean water. This step is important, because it removes any potentially abrasive material such as dust, dirt, or grit from the surface.
  3. Apply the cleaning solution with a soft nylon scrub brush. Work from the bottom of the wall to the top. Do not let the solution dry. If necessary, work in small sections. Lightly scrub the surface with the nylon brush and rinse with clean water.
  4. If the above technique does not remove the graffiti, proceed to Step 3.

Step 3

  1. Make sure the surface is dry before proceeding further.
  2. Put some paint stripper, such as mineral spirits, in a chemical-resistant spray bottle.
  3. Apply a mist to the graffiti and scrub with a dry nylon brush. 
  4. Rinse the area with paint stripper.
  5. Repeat this process, working in small areas at a time, from the bottom of the wall up. Be sure to rinse any streaks as you work.
  6. If the graffiti is not totally removed, this means it is a stain. To remove a stain, proceed to Step 4.

Step 4
To remove a stain, apply a poultice, that is, a paste made of an absorbent powder mixed with a chemical. As the poultice dries, it wicks or lifts the stain out of the pores in the surface. First, select the appropriate ingredients.

Poultice Ingredients
Following are some types of poultice powders to mix with your cleaning agent:

  • Clays (Attapulgite, Kaolin, Fullers earth) WARNING: DO NOT USE ON RUST STAINS
  •  Talc
  •  Chalk (whiting) 
  •  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. They will react with the material, canceling the effect of the poultice.

Many stains are so deeply imbedded that the poultice alone will not be completely effective. Some type of chemical solution will need to be added to the poultice. When the poultice and chemical are applied, the chemical is absorbed into the stone or masonry. The chemical reacts with the stain and is re-absorbed into the powder/material. 

Following are suggested poultice ingredients. Please use extra caution when handling the chemicals listed below. Thoroughly read the Safety Data Sheets for each chemical before use.

  • Iron (rust) - Poultice with Iron Out + powder + water. Iron Out is available at hardware stores. This may etch polished marble. If so, re-polishing will be necessary.
  •  Ink - Poultice with mineral spirits or methylene chloride + powder.
  •  Oil - Poultice with ammonia + powder. Methylene chloride can also be used on tough oil stains.
  •  Coffee, Tea & Food - Poultice with 20 percent hydrogen peroxide + powder.
  •  Copper - Poultice with ammonium chloride + powder.
  •  Water-Based Paint - Poultice with a commercial paint remover + powder.
  •  Oil-Based Paint - Poultice with mineral spirits + powder. Deep stains may require methylene chloride.

 

Applying the Poultice

  1. Wet the stained area with distilled water. Pre-wetting fills the pores of the stone with water, which will help isolate the stain and accelerate the removal by the chemical.
  2. Prepare the poultice. Mix the powder and the chemical of choice into a thick paste, about the consistency of peanut butter or thick enough that it will not run. 
  3. Apply the poultice to the stain. Apply the paste approximately 1/4-inch thick, extending beyond the stained area by about one inch. Be careful not to spill any on the surrounding area.
  4. Cover the poultice with plastic (food wrap works great). Tape the plastic down to seal the edges. It also helps to poke several small holes in the plastic, so that the powder will dry out. Failure to do this may result in the poultice staying wet. The idea is to allow the moisture to slowly evaporate from the poultice.
  5. Allow the poultice to dry thoroughly. This is a very important step. The drying of the poultice is what pulls the stain from the stone into the poultice material. If the poultice is not allowed to dry, the stain may not be removed. Drying usually takes from 24 to 48 hours.
  6. Use a flat, plastic scraper to carefully remove the poultice from the stain. Rinse with distilled water and buff dry with a soft cloth. If the stain is not removed, reapply the poultice. It may take up to five poultice applications to remove very difficult stains.

Some chemicals may leave etch damage on honed or polished marble and limestone surfaces. If etching occurs on a polished surface, apply polishing powder and buff with a piece of burlap to restore the shine. If etching occurs on a honed surface, do not use polishing powder, because this will leave a polished area that does not match with the surrounding finish. Contact a professional stone restoration contractor to remove the etch and restore your honed finish.


Saturday, February 6, 2021

Countertops 101 Deciding on Your Kitchen Countertop Materials

 

Countertops 101 Deciding on Your Kitchen Countertop Materials

By Frederick M. Hueston, StoneForensics.com

 

For many, their kitchen is the most important room in their house. And most real estate experts agree that the best way to improve or raise the property value of a house is to remodel the kitchen. The four major components of a kitchen remodel usually involve replacing the major appliances, installing new floors, replacing or re-facing the kitchen cabinets, and installing a new countertop. Let’s focus on that final component replacing your current kitchen countertop material with a new one.

Naturally, it involves more than just running off to the store to pick out a new countertop for your kitchen. You will first need to consider how much you want to spend. You also need to think about how much time and effort you’ll need to spend to maintain your new countertop. Finally, you’ll want to seriously consider the style and look you want in your kitchen. Whatever type of countertop you install, it will be the focal point of the entire room.

The very first type of countertop that pops into the mind of every anxious kitchen renovator is granite. However, there are many countertop materials to choose from and granite is only one of them. These days, a kitchen remodeling hopeful can select tile, stone, acrylic, concrete, stainless steel, and laminate, even wood!

GRANITE
Let’s start with the most popular: granite. Granite countertops are the most popular but also the most expensive. Why? Besides the beautiful surface, granite is extremely heat and scratch resistant. A granite countertop is exceptionally durable and will last a long time. A granite countertop will never go out of style and granite slab installation will greatly increase the value of the house. The drawbacks? Other than the expense, granite is a natural stone and it is porous. A sealer will be required to prevent staining. One alternative is to use granite tiles in place of a massive slab. The cost savings on the tiles is high. It is important to not use the granite surface as a cutting board as it will dull the finish (and ruin a knife or two.)

OTHER NATURAL STONES
Besides granite, there are other various stone surfaces that can be used on kitchen counters. Quartzite, marble, limestone, soapstone, and slate surfaces are very popular today. Marble is smooth and cool, perfect for food preparations directly on the surface. Its not as durable as granite and requires more sealing maintenance to protect from staining. Slate is very durable and has such a unique surface that it can really stand out in a kitchen. As slate has been used as a roofing material, it doesn’t require as much sealing protection, but some upkeep is still needed. Limestone is very porous, and spills must be treated quickly to prevent staining. It has a natural, weathered look that can deepen and darken over time. Natural quartzite has a look similar to slate but does not stain or scratch as easily. Engineered quartz has been gaining popularity as well, but the costs are considerably more (engineered materials are a quartz composite product mixed with epoxy, polymers, and small stones or pebbles for a unique look and feel.)

TILE
Glazed ceramic and porcelain tile has been popular in kitchens for decades. It comes in a huge variety of colors, shapes, and designs. The tiles can be a small as a square inch and as large as six square inches. The tiles are durable and also have some of the same heat and scratch resistance qualities as granite. The porcelain tiles are usually more expensive than the ceramic tiles, but the porcelain tiles are more durable and the hardest fired type of tiles. Drawbacks of tile? It can chip easily, more expensive than laminate alternatives, and the grout can be an issue. When putting the tiles together, there are grout lines between each of them and grout can stain very easily. It will require a lot more maintenance to keep it looking good. Because of the grout issues, the ability for the tiles to break and chip easily, and the overall cost, it is best to leave the installation work to a professional.

CONCRETE
Concrete is not only for sidewalks or driveways. A concrete countertop is pigmented and can be polished into a smooth and shiny surface that can resemble any natural stone. The counters can be molded in a factory or cast on site. Concrete is rather porous and needs to be regularly sealed, similar to granite, to resist stains. It can be made into any shape and have any thickness. Concrete is also heat and scratch resistant. The counters can be made in a variety of colors and textures. Drawbacks on concrete? The sealer that is required is not the only protection needed. The sealer needs to be waxed every one to three months to prevent stain and water damage, so maintenance can be extensive. You cannot cut on the concrete surface without leaving marks. Concrete is also very expensive.

STAINLESS STEEL
A restaurant would probably be the first thing one would think of when it comes to a stainless-steel kitchen counter. But there is a reason most restaurants use this material. Durability, stain and water resistance, low maintenance, a myriad of size and shape choices are just a few of those reasons. It’s also very easy to clean and you can put a hot plate or pan on the surface without worry of damaging it. Drawback many don’t like the industrial look of it. It can be rather expensive to have made. Cutting on it can leave marks and it can be easy to dent. It’s important to make sure the surface is at least 18 gauge and has eight to ten percent nickel in it.

WOOD
Sometimes called Butcher Block Countertops, a wood counter is usually made from strips of maple or oak that has been glued together. But just about any hardwood can be made into countertops. Bamboo countertops are the latest trend! Wood counter material has a warm, beautiful look that can come in a variety of shades and textures. It’s perfect for people who want to cut directly on the surface of their counter. It can be sanded and resealed in the event of any deep cuts, scratches or stains. It can be easy to install and the prices are reasonable. Drawbacks? Wood is not very hard and can easily burn, scratch, or dent. The wood can warp or turn black near sinks from regular water contact. And it requires regular sealing.

LAMINATE
Formica is the most common name for laminate counters. Its made of a thin layer of plastic glued to particleboard or wood. Plastic laminate counters are very inexpensive, lightweight, and available in an endless supply of colors and patterns. It is very stain-resistant and, as a plastic material, it is easy to clean. Because it comes pre-formed, it can be easy for a do-it-yourselfer to install. Drawbacks to Formica? While these counters are somewhat durable, they do not last forever. Laminates are not heat or scratch resistant, but they are stain resistant. Abrasive cleaners can dull and scratch the surface. Warping or water spots occur with excessive exposure to moisture. The color or pattern can fade with time.

ACRYLLIC/SOLID SURFACE
Solid surface counters are manufactured tops that are custom-made for any application. Popular companies include Corian, Avonite, and Swanstone. These surfaces are durable, water resistant, easy to clean, non-porous, and are even resistant to mold and bacteria. And nicks or scratches can be sanded away. Drawbacks include problems handling hot pans on the surface, high expense, and the excessive weight requires a good strong cabinet base (similar to natural stone.) Some do not like the plastic or fake look of the material, but the material does have a wide range of colors to choose from.

Replacing the kitchen countertops is only one step in your goal to renovate the kitchen, but it is considered the biggest step by many. You can really make a statement about your kitchen and your home with the right selection of countertop material. Of course, once you take care of those worn out counters that came with the home, it will really make those old cabinets, flooring, and appliances stand out! Its all just part of the process of increasing the value of your property.

 

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Use of Limestone in your Shower

 

Limestone Use in Wet Areas

By Frederick M. Hueston

 

Over the past 30 years I have inspected hundreds if not thousands of shower installation that have use limestone.  The amount of deterioration I have observed in nearly all these installations ranged from staining to complete disintegration of the stone. Most will attempt to blame the installation method, but I can assure you these issues occur in installations that are installed within industry guidelines.

In a nutshell I would not recommend using limestone in wet areas. The following is why I would not recommend it

 

1.      Limestone is a sedimentary stone. It naturally contains minerals such as iron. When iron is exposed to continued wetting the iron will begin to oxidize causing a large stain. At first the stain may appear light brown but over time it will darken and continue to oxidize to a deep brown to reddish stain.  Removing the iron from the stone is nearly impossible since it is part of the mineral makeup of the stone.

2.      Limestone, even when sealed is typically very porous.  Water will enter the pores of the stone and react with the setting bed. The setting bed contains salts which become dissolved in the water. The water carries the salts into the pores of the stone. When the stone dries, the salts recrystallize causing pressure in the pores resulting in the stone blowing out(spalling).

3.      Limestone is an organic sedimentary rock that forms from the accumulation of shell, coral, algal, and fecal debris. It is formed by sediment settling to the bottom of a water basin. The main mineral is calcium carbonate.  Calcium carbonate can be soluble in water. This is yet another reason to avoid using limestone in a wet environment. Since it often contains organic matter, this too is soluble in water.

4.      Steam showers are even a bigger concern with limestone installation due to the fact the vapors produced by the steam can enter very tiny pores that liquid water cannot. The steam than condense in the pores causing the stone to deteriorate.

5.      The Natural Stone Institute, who is the leading trade association in the industry, recommends that only class A & B stones be used in interior wet areas. Limestone fall into a C class at best, Many fall into the D classification. For more info on this classification system go to The Natural Stone Institutes website at https://www.naturalstoneinstitute.org/

 

One may question the fact that limestone is used on building exteriors with no issues. This is true but there is a big difference. The average shower produces on average of over 8000 inches of water per year. To put this in perspective the rainiest area of earth is in China which has 321 inches of rain a year.. The average shower has over 26 times that amount. That’s a lot of water.

I have been in the stone business for over 35 years and have numerous colleges who agree that using limestone in a shower is not recommended.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

MOISTURE-STONE ENEMY NUMBER ONE

           MOISTURE-STONE ENEMY NUMBER ONE

 

Most of the problems associated with stone tile installation can be traced to moisture or water intrusion of some kind. Many stains are caused by the presents of water. Water is an essential ingredient for the setting cleaning and restoration of stone but it can also be its number one enemy.

 What problems are associated with moisture and water.  The following is a brief description of the problems, there prevention and remedies:

 

 Efflorescence

 Efflorescence appears as a white powdery residue on the surface of the stone.  It is a common condition on new stone installations or when the stone is exposed to a large quantity of water, such as flooding.  This powder is a mineral salt from the setting bed.  To remove efflorescence do not use water, buff the stone with a clean polishing pad or #0000 steel wool pad.  The stone will continue to effloresce until it is completely dry.  This drying process can take several days to as long as one year.

 Subflorescene

Subflorescene is what happens when the mineral salts migrate and do not make it all the way to the surface. In the efflorescence condition above, the slats are deposited on the surface of the stone. In subflorescene the salts crystallize just below the surface, causing stress within the pores of the stone. The result is a condition known as spalling which appears as pits in the surface of the stone.  subflorescence is very common on green marbles and is very common on almost all stone surfaces where de-icing salts are used.

Iron Staining

 Many light colored stone contain naturally occurring deposits of iron.  Iron is a mineral  found in stone and can occur randomly throughout the stone.  If iron is present, it will begin to oxidize when exposed to water or other oxidizers such as acids and household bleach.  Stone can remain  for years without yellowing then over time may slowly turn yellow and in severe causes may turn completely brown.  This oxidation process is accelerated when the stone is saturated with water.  This process of oxidation is similar to the rusting of metal.  If you expose a brand new nail to water and air it will turn brown and rust.  The same process is occurring with the iron in the stone. If water and/ or air is eliminated the iron will not oxidize.  This is the reason certain white marble suddenly turn yellow.   The process is difficult to reverse and replacement of the stone may be necessary.  The following stain removal technique has proved successful in several cases.  Before testing this procedure it is important to first determine if iron is the cause.

  Testing for Iron:

1.  Before assuming the marble is yellowed due to iron be sure to attempt cleaning and stripping with a good alkaline based stripper.  If these procedures fail then testing for iron will be necessary.

 2.  If a flood has occurred or excessive water was used first check the water for iron.  There are several inexpensive test kits available that can be used to check the iron content in water.  Check with your local plumbing supply store or store carrying water softening supplies.  If any amount of iron is detected then it is possible iron has entered the stone through the water supply.  To eliminate the iron there are chelating chemicals that can be added to the water to prevent the iron from staining.  This is very important if the stone is cleaned with this water.

 3.  If the water contains no iron and even if it does the stone should be checked for iron content.  Remove a small sample of the stone  and contact a testing lab and have them analyzed it for total iron.  If there are spare tiles that have never been installed also have them tested for total iron.  If iron is present naturally in this stone, it will probably be detected in the spare tile.    If the results return with iron present then the following procedure should be tested.

 4.  Check the stone for moisture.  A moisture meter is a useful instrument that can be employed to check the stone for moisture.  If the stone contains water, it is very possible that iron is beginning to oxidize.

 Removing Iron Staining:

 1.  Prepare a solution of water and the following chemical: Sodium Hydro sulfite and Sodium Metabisulfite.  These chemicals are available in a product called Iron-Out(TM) from your plumbing supply or home center.  Mix a solution in water and apply to the effected area.  Allow solution to soak in and keep wet for several hours. Do not allow solution to dry.  After several hours pick up excess solution with a wet vacuum and rinse throughly with water and a chelating agent such as EDTA.  Be prepared to repolish any marble since these chemicals can cause etching.

 2.  If the above procedure fails than prepare a poultice with diatomaceous earth and the Iron Out(TM).  Mix the poultice into a thick paste and apply to a small area.  Cover the poultice with plastic and allow it to sit covered for 24 hours.  After 24 hours remove the poultice paste and rinse the area with water and a chelating agent.  If the stain is removed, the entire surface can be treated. If the stain still remains then replacement is the only solution.

 Before the above procedure can be performed, it is important that the effected area be dry.  If water or moisture are still present, oxidation of iron may continue

 The yellowing of stone is a common problem.  New installations should be sealed with a good quality penetrating sealer(impregnator) Which will help prevent oxidation of the iron by eliminating moisture.

 The above procedure has proven successful in some cases of iron staining however if the following test does not produce the desired results I would recommend replacement of the effected areas.

  Warping

 several type of thin stone tiles are very susceptible to warping. Many of the green marbles and a few agglomerate marbles are notorious for this warping condition.  Many of an installer have had the surprise to find that there tile installation has become warped overnight. Why does this a happen and can it be prevented.  Warping is caused by water. Green marble set with any water based material will have a tendency to warp.  The mechanism of why the tile warps is somewhat a mystery.  Some believe that the water fills the pores of the stone and when the water evaporates the orientation of the stones crystal change and cause it to warp.  Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure, green marble can warp when set with water based materials.

 Cure: Once a green marble tile warps it is difficult to repair. Attempts have been made to grind the tile flat , but this usually fails since additional water is introduced during the grinding process. The green simply warps again.

 Prevention; The only way to prevent warping is to install it properly with a non-water based material such as epoxy. Some installers have also ben successful in sealing the back of the tile with epoxy and installing it in a water based system(see July Stone & tile Report).  Do not attempt to seal the back of the tile with a silicone sealer.  The silicone acts as a water repellant and will cause the setting material to fail resulting in a bond loss.

 Erosion

 Erosion is a condition found when stone is exposed to constant amounts of water. This is especially true with marble that is used in water fountains.  While marble is a very decorative material, it is one of the worst materials to use in or around water.  Marble is composed of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is a water soluble mineral. Quite simply this means it will dissolve in water. Want proof, visit the Grand Canyon.  Erosion can be recognized by a slow deterioration of the stone surface. With polished stone the polish will be worn off. In older installations, the stone may become very soft, brittle and in extreme conditions, it will powder.

If any architects or designers are reading this article I beg you no to use marble for water fountains.  If you do, plan on very high maintenance costs and plan on replacement in about five to ten years if not sooner.

 Stabilizing erosion:

 If your faced with trying to stabilize a marble fountain that is already deteriorated there are some treatment that can be applied that will extend the life of the marble. These treatments are general called consolidants and serve to replace the natural binders that are lost through erosion. Consolidants can be tricky and quite often will cause discoloration of the surface. Be sure to test the consolidant carefully before use.

 Mineral crusts or Lime Putty

 Mineral crusts or lime putty can be recognized by its white crust like formation on stone surfaces. These crusts are often found on outdoor stone stair, water fountains and other areas where stone is exposed to water. The crusts are a deposit of hard mineral salts consisting of calcium, magnesium. These minerals ordinate form the soil, setting bed or from the water itself. These salts are similar to efflorescence in that they are a mineral. They differ in that they form a hard crust that can be difficult to remove.

 Crust Removal

 there are only two ways to remove these mineral crusts. Abrasion or chemical.  The mineral salts should be remove with an abrasive. I have found that a stiff non-ferrous wire brush can work well.  Brushes can also be purchased that attach to an electric drill. Be careful and do not get to aggressive. Avoid damaging the stone surface.

Quite often abrasion alone will not remove all salt deposited. Strong Acidic chemicals will be required. These chemicals can be purchased from most chemical companies that supply stone cleaning products.  Be careful when using these products around calcium based stone since the acid can also damage the stone itself.

 Prevention.

 The best prevention from mineral salts is to prevent moisture form entering the stone.  On steps and fountains make sure all grout joints are caulked with a water proof material. When installing steps outdoors make sure a water proofing barrier is used. It is also a good idea to use a good stone impregnator on all surfaces to prevent water from entering the stone.  Caution; Stone inpregnators will not waterproof stone. Do Not use them where hydrostatic pressure is a concern.

 TESTING FOR MOISTURE

 To properly test for moisture a protimeter is necessary. A protimeter is an instrument that reads moisture. The common protimeter has been designed for use with wood, drywall and other similar substances.  The protimeter contains two sharp probes that are inserted into the wood or drywall to give a direct moisture reading in percent.  Unfortunilty you can not push these probes into the stone, but the protimeter can give you important data oon stone moisture.  By placing the pins so that the just touch the stone a relative reading can be obtained.  For example, A reading of 0-6% is considerely relativly dry. A reading between 7-20% is wet. A reading of of 20% is very wet.  These readings only tell you that the stone is wet, a little wet or dry. A direct percent reading can not be obtain with these instruments, but can provide useful information.

 Another simple technique for determining moisture in stone is to take a piece of plastic about 12 inches square and place it on the suspected stone. Tape all four edges and allow it to stay overnight or 12 hours.  After 12 hours, if there is any moisture present , you will see condensation collecting under the plastic.

 TESTING FOR SALT

 A protimeter can also be used to check for the presents of soluble salts.  The following procedure will only tell you that salts are present. It will not tell you how much or what type. But in many cases the simple presents of salts can indicate potential spalling and/or pitting.

 For this test you will need the following materials:

 

A rubber block

filter paper

distilled water

a protimeter

forceps

 

Any type of rubber will do as long as it is clean and does not contain any salts. A piece of hard plastic can also be used.  Filter paper can be purchased from a scientific supply store and sometimes from the supplier who sells protimeters.  Distilled water can be purchased from the grocery store.

The forceps are used to pick up the filter paper.

To check for soluble salts pick up a filter paper with the forceps. DO NOT touch the filter paper with your fingers. The human skin contains soluble salts which could be transferred to the paper giving a false reading.  Place the filter paper on the rubber block. Add a drop of two of distilled water to the filter paper. Place the probes of the protimeter to the filter paper and record the reading.  Next, take a new filter paper and place it on the stone to be tested. Add several drops of distilled water and take a reading. Record the reading on a piece of paper.

 If the reading obtained on the filter paper from the stone is higher, then there are slats present. If it is the same or lower, salts are absent.  The protimeter works by reading ionic changes. When salts are dissolved in water, the ionic changes are higher, which gives a higher reading.

  www.stoneforensics.com


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

OXIDATION OF ELEMENTAL IRON WITHIN STONE SURFACES(YELLOWING OF STONE SURFACES)


OXIDATION OF ELEMENTAL IRON WITHIN STONE
SURFACES(YELLOWING OF STONE SURFACES)
Frederick M. Hueston 

Sitting in my office one morning I received a call from a very upset homebuilder. He told me he was building a
two million-dollar home on the west coast of Florida. They installed nearly 3500 square feet of a white statuary
marble tile. Over the weekend one of the water pipes broke in a bathroom and completely flooded the home.
They managed to vacuum all the water and started to access the damages. Beside warped wood, soaked drywall
and an irate homeowner the marble tile seemed fine except for some minor water spotting. After several weeks
the replacement of warped wood and drywall began and then he noticed the white marble tile turning yellow. At
first he thought it might be some type of residue so they tried cleaning the marble with some bleach and waterthe
yellowing was still there. The homeowner was getting more and more irate and was threatening a lawsuit.
He asked if I could get down there right away and take a look at the marble and suggest what to do.
The above story is not uncommon and is a frequent occurrence on white marble tiles exposed to flooding. Can
the yellowing be removed or does it need to be replaced? What causes the yellowing and will it get worse. The
following is an explanation of yellowing in white marble and some techniques that may help.
Why Does White Marble Turn Yellow?
The problem of yellowed white marble is not uncommon. All over the United States I have encountered yellow
to brown marble. Although flooding is a common cause there are several other reasons this color change will
occur.
1. Improper Maintenance- As marble wears the highly polished surface begins to disappear. The wearing of
this polish causes the surface to become rough and is a magnet for dirt. If improper cleaners are used, this dirt
begins to accumulate in the pores of the stone and will turn yellow. It is surprising how often I have seen this
condition on marble. Upon investigation in these cases I have found dirty mops being used. Mops used to
clean the restrooms and/or kitchens were also used to clean the marble floors. Floors are mopped with strong
cleaners or wax cleaner combinations or with no cleaners at all.
Cure: If you suspect yellowing due to improper maintenance the marble tile will have to be cleaned with an
alkaline marble cleaner. I would suggest a heavy duty stone cleaner. Be sure the stone cleaner you buy is
alkaline and not an acid since acid cleaners will dull the polish. Apply the cleaner to the marble and scrub with
a soft brush. Be sure to rinse the floor throughly. It may be necessary to repeat this procedure several times to
remove all the imbedded dirt. If after cleaning the marble is dull I would suggest re-polishing and an
application of a good quality penetrating sealer(impregnator). If after several cleaning’s the yellowing is not
removed than proceed to the next cause.

2. Wax Build-up or Coatings- Many marble floors are coated with waxes, acrylics, urethane and other coatings.
Many of these coatings are not specifically designed for use on marble floors. Some of these coatings are of
poor quality and will begin to yellow. It is not uncommon for coating to be applied in multiple coats. As the
coating builds up it becomes soft and dirt is easily embedded in the soft layer. These coatings require frequent
stripping which is often neglected.
Another process used for polishing marble floors is a process known as recrystallazation. If this process is
applied to a white marble floor that contains moisture it will turn the marble yellow. If this process is to be
used, it is important that the marble be dry.
CURE: To remove yellowing due to a wax or coating buildup the marble will need to stripped with a
commercial wax stripper. I would strongly suggest using a stripper manufactured by the same company as the
floor wax or coating. This will help avoid incompatibility problems. Follow the directions on the stripper’s
label and be sure to rinse the floor throughly. These strippers often require the use of abrasive pads which can
scratch and damage the marble surface. Before undertaking the entire project perform a small test to determine
results.
If the marble tile has been recrystallized, it will be necessary to remove the recrystallized layer. This layer can
often be removed by polishing the tile with a powder marble polish containing oxalic acid. Apply the powder to
the tile, added water and work into a slurry with a hog hair pad and a standard buffing machine. Continue to
work until yellowing has disappeared. If this technique fails then the tile will have to be re-honed. It is strongly
suggested that the polishing and honing procedure be performed by trained individuals. If these techniques fail
to remove the yellowing then proceed to the next cause.
3. Iron Staining- Many white marble tiles contain naturally occurring deposits of iron. Iron is a mineral found
in stone and can occur randomly throughout the stone. If iron is present in the marble tile, it will begin to
oxidize when exposed to water or other oxidizers such as acids and household bleach. White marble tiles can
remain on a floor for years without yellowing then over time may slowly turn yellow and in severe causes may
turn completely brown. This oxidation process is accelerated when the tile is saturated as in the flood in the
above example. This process of oxidation is similar to the rusting of metal. If you expose a brand new nail to
water and air it will turn brown and rust. The same process is occurring with the iron in the marble. If water
and/ or air is eliminated the iron will not oxidize. This is the reason certain white marble suddenly turn yellow.
The process is difficult to reverse and replacement of the tile may be necessary. The following stain removal
technique has proved successful in several cases. Before testing this procedure it is important to first determine
if iron is the cause.
Testing for Iron:
1. Before assuming the marble is yellowed due to iron be sure to attempt cleaning and stripping as outlined in
#1 & 2 cause above. If these procedures fail then testing for iron will be necessary.
2. If a flood has occurred or excessive water was used first check the water for iron. There are several
inexpensive test kits available that can be used to check the iron content in water. Check with your local
plumbing supply store or store carrying water softening supplies. If any amount of iron is detected then it is
possible iron has entered the stone through the water supply. To eliminate the iron there are chelating chemicals
that can be added to the water to prevent the iron from staining. This is very important if the tile is cleaned withthis water.
3. If the water contains no iron and even if it does the tile should be checked for iron content. Remove one tile
and contact a testing lab and have them analyzed the tile for total iron. If there are spare tiles that have never
been installed also have them tested for total iron. If iron is present naturally in this stone, it will probably be
detected in the spare tile. If the results return with iron present then the following procedure should be tested.
4. Check the tile for moisture. A moisture meter is a useful instrument that can be employed to check the tile
for moisture. If the tile contains water, it is very possible that iron is beginning to oxidize.
Removing Iron Staining:
1. Prepare a solution of water and the following chemical: Sodium Hydro sulfite and Sodium Metabisulfite.
These chemicals are available in a product called Iron-Out(TM) from your plumbing supply or home center.
Mix a solution in water and apply to the effected tile. Allow solution to soak into tile and keep wet for several
hours. Do not allow solution to dry. After several hours pick up excess solution with a wet vacuum and rinse
throughly with water and a chelating agent such as EDTA. Be prepared to repolish the marble since these
chemicals can cause etching.
2. If the above procedure fails than prepare a poultice with diatomaceous earth and the Iron Out(TM). Mix the
poultice into a thick paste and apply to a small area. Cover the poultice with plastic and allow it to sit covered
for 24 hours. After 24 hours remove the poultice paste and rinse the area with water and a chelating agent. If
the stain is removed, the entire floor can be treated. If the stain still remains then replacement is the only
solution.
3. There are also some new chemicals that are available which contain Ammonium Thioglycolate which look
promising for removing iron oxidation. Check with several stone maintenance supply companies.
Before the above procedure can be performed, it is important that the effected tiles be dry. If water or moisture
are still present, oxidation of iron may continue
The yellowing of white marble is a common problem. New installations should be sealed with a good quality
penetrating sealer(impregnator) Which will help prevent oxidation of the iron by eliminating moisture.
The above procedure has proven successful in some cases of iron staining however if the outlined test does not
produce the desired results I would recommend replacement of the effected tiles.

Written by:
Frederick M. Hueston
Stone Forensics
www.stoneforensics.com

Natural Stone Tiles the Confusion Surrounding Sealing

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