There is often a misconception that stone flooring is a permanent material that does not need maintenance or care. That is hardly the case, says Bill Allen, territory manager for Fagan Sanitary Supply in West Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. If stone is neglected or abused, the product’s natural beauty will not be preserved.

Dirt and dust will scratch the surface of stone. Therefore, stone floors should be dust mopped several times a day to remove abrasive agents from the stone surface, says Allen.

In order to preserve the natural beauty of stone surfaces, it is vital to implement a daily maintenance program specifically designed for these surfaces.

Natural stone products are porous by nature and require different chemicals and cleaning processes than synthetic floors. Since natural stone is a chemical in a solid form, it can react to improper cleaning chemicals that are not specifically designed to clean surfaces such as marble, granite, limestone, slate, terrazzo and terra cotta. Using chemicals that are not made for natural stone can cause fading, discoloration or dulling of the surface.

Natural stone should be cleaned with neutral cleaners and should never contain acid or bleach. Acids, even a light solution of vinegar and water, will etch and eventually damage natural stone.

“If people use the wrong chemicals, they can do damage real quickly,” Griffin says. “If you use a harsh alkaline chemical, you’ll end up with dips and chips in the floor because the alkalinity sinks into the floor and creates pop-outs where the dirt starts to stick and the dirty water starts to show up. Then it won’t look clean for a long time.”

Cleaning personnel should also be aware that stone is quite sensitive. In fact, many chemicals intended for cleaning other surfaces can react with the calcium in stone, causing pitting. Inadvertently splashing chemicals such as those used to clean porcelain in hotel restrooms, can damage stone surfaces, as well.

Even if a facility keeps a rigid schedule for maintaining stone floors, there is still a need to restore the floor’s surface.

Keeping stone floors sparkling is achieved with diamond floor pads. These pads are designed to polish the floor and remove scratches without damaging the floor — and without the use of chemicals. The pads are designed to remove slight scratches and transform a dull, worn floor into a bright polished one.

As more facilities continue to install natural stone floors, facility cleaning managers should be prepared to have a game plan in place in order to meet the expectations that building owners have. Training personnel on proper maintenance and preventative measures are the keys to a floor’s longevity, appearance and cost savings. 

NICK BRAGG is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee.