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March 20, 2022

Natural Stone Restoration: All You Need To Know

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Natural stone restoration is the process of restoring damaged or worn-out stone back to a condition resembling its original aesthetic. Columbus and Cincinnati homeowners and commercial building managers with outdoor areas consisting of natural stone turn to us to help maintain and restore it to its natural state.

It’s completely normal for stone to wear and tear over time. This blog explains common types of stone damage, what to expect during stone cleaning and restoration, as well as how to hire reputable stone refinishers.

​​What Kinds of Damage Can Natural Stone Suffer From?

Stains

Oil, rust, and water can leave stains that cannot be cleaned. Certain foods and cleaning acids will also stain the natural stone, although this is less common in outdoor areas. Water stains are the result of deposits in the liquid that builds up over time, whereas the most common culprit of rust stains is metallic objects (nails, bolts, cans, and metal furniture).

Hit Marks

Also called stun marks, these occur when natural stone experiences a sudden, sharp impact that produces a white discoloration. Essentially, it produces weak links that rupture through the rock, causing it to fracture. Hit marks can be surface-deep or run through the entire slab of stone, depending on the weight of the impact.

Extreme Temperature Damage

Extreme heat may cause thermal shock that cracks stone. Natural stone can also chip or crack when water from melting snow becomes trapped in cracks or joints and then freezes again. This depends on stone porosity and water level absorption. For example, granite’s porosity is around 1%, whereas sandstone’s is more than 20%.

Etching

Etching occurs when an acidic chemical eats away and dissolves the surface of natural stone, leaving a dull mark. In mild scenarios, it looks like a clear liquid stain; however, the longer the stone is exposed to chemicals, the worse the damage. The best and only real way to get rid of these marks is through polishing.

Scratch Marks

Foot traffic can scratch natural stone when dirt, sand, and other abrasive debris get stuck under shoes. This usually occurs when materials harder than stone rub up against it. For example, dragging heavy furniture across stone paving can create unsightly marks, spoiling the stones’ natural surface.

Cracks

Provided pavers are of a good grade before laying; cracks can be avoided by proper handling during installation and good design planning. Otherwise, besides extreme weather fluctuations, cracking can generally be attributed to a substandard paving base, poor jointing, or even tree roots growing underneath the stone.

Hazing

Efflorescence is a white, chalky substance that may appear on the surface of natural stone. This occurs when salts found in soil and water are dissolved by rain and groundwater. When the moisture evaporates, the salt is left behind. It’s a natural process, and won’t damage the stone, but it should be cleaned away.

Natural Stone Restoration Process

restoring stone floors
Restoring Natural Stone

Nine times out of ten, a natural stone restoration company is required to get the stone back to pristine condition. Because stone restoration techniques are labor-intensive, a natural stone restoration services company will likely send an estimator to your home to determine whether you need light maintenance, restoration, or repair.

Depending on the damage, the entire process can take a day or two. During stone cleaning and restoration, you will not be able to use the area. Part of the process may involve some or all of the following:

  • Grinding: A diamond grinder is used to remove uneven surface imperfections and render flat surfaces. This allows for better bonding between adhesive products used on cracks or chips.
  • Rehoning: During this phase, a fine abrasive powder is mixed with water and applied to the damaged area. The power helps smooth the surface and removes surface scratches, marks, and stains.
  • Polishing: This restores natural stone to its original shine, luster, and color. It can also enhance natural patterning and accents, which may have faded or been worn away by heavy foot traffic.
  • Sealing: Impregnators or sealers are used to provide natural stone surfaces with unsurpassed resistance after restoration is complete.

Note: If you’re restoring a floor, you’ll need to move the furniture, as many contractors don’t risk this potential liability.

Follow-Up Maintenance Measures

It’s not always possible to clean large expanses of natural stone on a frequent basis. However, they should be given periodic overall cleaning to remove accumulated pollutants. Accessible stone surfaces like walkways, steps, fountains, etc., should be kept free of debris by periodically sweeping and washing with water.

Outdoor pool and patio areas should be flushed with clean water and a mild bleach solution to remove algae or moss. Always check with professionals to find which is most suited. Other than that, normal maintenance should include periodic inspection of stone surfaces for structural defects, movement, deterioration, or staining and the scheduling of regular sealing if necessary.

How to Choose Your Natural Stone Restoration Company?

Whether you’re restoring stone floors or need general stone refinishers for fireplace surrounds or cladding, you’ll want to hire the very best for the job. Consider the following to help vet a suitable natural stone maintenance and restoration company.

  • Read online reviews to get a feel for how others rate their service and professionalism.
  • Always ask for quotes from more than one contractor, so you have an accurate idea of the cost.
  • A qualified professional will ask questions about the damage, be able to educate you about the solutions, and clarify expectations.
  • Most good stone restoration companies will advocate repair as much as possible, and replacement as a last resort.
  • Make sure the contractor you select has experience with your type of stone. Restoring granite is more difficult than marble, for instance, and requires specific expertise.
  • Always make sure the contractor has a certificate of insurance, including liability and workers’ compensation insurance.

Conclusion

Even when sealed, natural stone experiences wear and tear that requires sporadic attention. As trusted natural stone suppliers and restorers, we believe there’s no need to replace stone when it can be returned to the best possible condition.

Stone Center has mastered the art of natural stone restoration, which renews, repairs, refurbishes, refinishes, and preserves natural stone to its former glory. Along with attention to detail, our restoration experts provide a service second to none. Whether it's stone tile restoration, cladding, or landscaping, we can help. Contact us to get your stone looking good as new!