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Home Cleaning & Maintenance Guide – Internal – Stone

Cleaning & Maintenance – Internal - Stone

Stone wall and floors tile provide a hardwearing surface finish that’s really easy to keep clean. Like all natural materials, it’s important to use the correct protection and maintenance products and methods. In this guide, you will find general information on the protection and maintenance of natural stone tiles.

Protecting stone tiles from stains

All stone is naturally porous and application of a sealer will protect the surface from staining and make ongoing maintenance easier. We recommend one coat of sealer before grouting – to protect the tiles from any fixing residue – and one coat after fixing. Some stones will also benefit from a coat of wax over the sealant at installation stage. This can also be carried out as part of periodic maintenance further down the line – at 3-5 around years – where the grout line and tiles are thoroughly cleaned and sealant is re-applied, along with a top coat of wax.

Top Tip! Before you seal a tile, it’s really important that the surface is thoroughly cleaned. This allows the treatment to be properly absorbed into the stone’s porosity. If any dirt and residue is left in place, it will become sandwiched between the stone and sealer. This will stop the sealer from penetrating and will compromise the protection. It will also make the surface look patchy and ongoing cleaning more difficult.

Different types of sealer

There are lots of different types of sealer and they generally fall into two categories – spirit-based sealers, often described as ‘solvents’, and water-based sealers. Some solutions are coating-type treatments which bond onto the stone surface, whilst impregnating sealers penetrate into the stone. Most have a natural appearance but some are designed to enhance or restore the colour of existing tiles. We recommend water-based treatments from LTP’s ECOPROTEC range.

Applying the sealer

We have based the details below on application of the treatment that we recommend – ECOPROTEC Natural Finish Stone Sealer. If you’re using a different product, please refer to the instructions. NB. On vertical surfaces apply from the bottom up.

1. Make sure that your tiles are completely clean, dry and free from dirt, grime, cement and grout. If necessary, clean with a dilute solution of ECOPROTEC Stone & Tile Intensive Cleaner 1:10 and white pad. Rinse well to remove residues and leave to dry (24hrs).

2. For rough cut, tumbled, textured or riven surfaces: Shake bottle before use. Apply generously and evenly using foam roller or paint brush. On more absorbent surfaces, apply further coats at hourly intervals until the surface is fully saturated.

For honed, smooth and polished surfaces: Shake bottle before use. Apply liberally and evenly using a sealant applicator pad, lint-free cloth, lamb’s wool applicator or sponge. Leave surfaces to dry. Remove any residual sealer if still visible after one hour.

Topping up protection

Stone tiles will begin to show signs of wear and patches of ingrained dirt after around 3-5 years, depending on where your tiles are laid. To top up protection, give the tiles a thorough deep clean, allow them to dry and then apply a coat of ECOPROTEC Natural Finish Stone Sealer. Some stones will also benefit from a coat of wax over the sealant at this stage. We recommend ECOPROTEC Satin Finish Surface Wax.

Ongoing maintenance

Stone is an acid sensitive material and should always be cleaned with a gentle pH-neutral detergent, regardless of the colour or finish of the stone. General household cleaners tend to be quite acidic and will etch the stone and the grout joint, and will damage the sealer. They will also dull a polished surface. Other cleaning products and methods to avoid include:

• General cleaning eco-brands, which are often not suitable for natural stone surfaces; always check the small print.
• Homemade cleaning solutions made using vinegar, lemon and baking soda; these ingredients, whilst natural, are too harsh for natural stone.
• Steam cleaning – super-heated steam can damage any sealer applied and compromise the protection. In some cases, it can cause ‘spalling’ or flaking of the stone too.

Establishing a regular routine

A regular ‘routine’ cleaning regime will make ongoing maintenance easier and will retain the stone’s aesthetic and, in case of textured floor tiles, slip resistance. Most stone surfaces will benefit from a wet clean around once a week.

A periodic deep clean may be necessary in high traffic areas. Sometimes, the same detergent can be used for routine and deep cleaning, but the dilution and method will be different in each case. We recommend ECOPROTEC Stone & Tile Intensive Cleaner. When you deep clean using a lower dilution, you will generally need to rinse the surface to remove residue – if the residue isn’t removed, it will create a film which will attract dirt, making future cleaning more difficult.

Routine cleaning

1. For floors, sweep or vacuum to remove dust and loose dirt.
2. Dilute your cleaning product in warm water, according to instructions. Use a clean bucket or bowl and a well wrung cloth or mop.
3. At a high ‘routine cleaning’ dilution, most surfaces will not need to be rinsed.

Deep cleaning

1. For floors, sweep or vacuum the floor to remove dust and loose dirt.
2. Dilute your cleaning product in warm water, according to instructions.
3. Carefully follow the application instructions. Generally, detergent is applied with a mop and left to work for 5 – 10 minutes, whilst keeping floor damp with further solution. It’s then agitated with a pad, dirty residue is removed and the surface is rinsed thoroughly. You may need to repeat the treatment if tiles are very dirty. NB. Stone tiles may need to be resealed after a deep clean, if the surface has been stripped.

Stain removal

A good quality sealer should provide protection against everyday stains – but specialist treatments can also be used to safely remove specific marks, like grout residue and rust. Always seek advice before using these products, to ensure that they are suitable for your stone tile and that they will provide the best results. We recommend treatments from the ECOPROTEC range.

For advice on the protection and maintenance on other types of wall tiles and flooring, please see our full library of Maintenance Guides.