tone is undeniably beautiful. Every stone floor is unique, making your floor exquisitely special. Over the years we have met lots of customers who love the idea of their very own stone floor, however they are unaware that stone does need a little more tender loving care. Often our customers meet with us for the first time, and they are surprised to hear that there is a different cleaning and maintenance regime for a stone tile compared to a man-made porcelain/ceramic tile. So, we thought it was about time to de-mystify how to clean and maintain a stone floor! We have listed out our top 6 pieces of advice in this blog – so sit back, relax, grab a coffee and hopefully after reading this blog you will be fully equipped on how to look after your stone floor.
1. The Importance of sealing your stone
All stone is naturally porous to varying degrees. It is important that your stone tiles are sealed correctly (following the manufacturer’s directions of use, stated on the tin) upon installation for the following reasons:
- Preservation – Sealing your stone will help maintain the appearance of your floor.
- Protection – Sealing your stone will cause liquids spilled on your floor to bead on the surface instead of absorbing into the stone. When left unattended and without a stain protective coat, these spills can leave surface stains.
- Easier Cleaning – Sealing your stone will make cleaning up messes easier overall. Dirt, liquids, and grease can be wiped away easily, cutting down on the “elbow grease” needed and overall cleaning time.
Over the years you may find that you need to reseal your stone tiles. We would recommend that your floor undergoes a deep clean first (refer to point 5, ‘How do I deep clean my stone floor?’), and then you follow the directions of use stated on the back of the sealant tin. If in doubt, please seek advice from an expert.
Time to stock up the cupboard with the correct cleaning equipment! We have listed out our recommended equipment check list below:
- Micro-Fibre Mop
For smooth surface floor washing. We would recommend you have a dedicated Micro-Fibre mop for your stone floor cleaning to avoid cross contamination.
- Nylon Bristle Scrubbing Brush/Deck Brush
For textured stone and grout line washing.
Stand Bucket. We would recommend you have a dedicated stone floor bucket to avoid cross contamination.
- Micro-Fibre Mop Heads/or Micro-Fibre cloths
To dry the floor.
- Lithofin MN Easy Care Cleaner
For gentle cleaning.
- Lithofin MN Power Clean
For deep cleaning. Also used as final cleaning of newly installed floors on building sites prior to sealing.
- Lithofin Sealant
There are several different Lithofin sealants available. In general, we use Lithofin MN Stain-Stop to seal our natural stone floors.
We would recommend you purchase the same branded cleaning products as your chosen sealant as the matching cleaning products are designed to work with the sealant. There are many other sealants on the market, so it is important to find out from your tiler the type of sealant used on your stone floor so you can buy the correct cleaning products.
3. How to clean your stone tiles
* Please note the following instructions are relevant if you are cleaning your floor with Lithofin products. If you are using a different brand of natural stone cleaner, please refer to its recommended cleaning method.
STEP ONE – Prepare Floor
Cleaning a stone floor – Remove dust/loose grit and dirt. Vacuum the entire area thoroughly using the hard floor surface setting or sweep using a soft bristle brush, paying attention to the grout lines.
STEP TWO – Prepare Solution
Make up a dilute solution of Lithofin Easy Care Cleaner and warm water, in a bucket. For directions of use for Lithofin Easy Care Cleaner click here.
STEP THREE – Wash Floors
You should change the dilute water solution regularly. The aim is always to wash the floors with clean water as much as possible.
Textured Stone Floor
Work methodically from one tile to the next, cleaning the grout lines as required. Use a Nylon Bristle scrubbing brush for both the tile and the grout line.
Smooth Stone Floor
Work methodically from one tile to the next. Clean the grout lines with a Nylon Bristle scrubbing brush, as required. Use a Micro-Fibre mop to clean the surface of the tile, by soaking your Micro-Fibre mop in the bucket for 5-10 seconds and wring it out.
STEP FOUR – Dry Floors
As you work across the floor, dry each tile and grout lines with clean Micro-Fibre cloths. This will ensure that the stone tile remains clean as any dirty surface water will be removed.
STEP FIVE – And…relax
Avoid walking on the mopped area until completely dry. Put your feet up and admire your beautifully clean floor!
N.b These steps are relevant for general everyday cleaning and with the use of Lithofin Easy Care. The use of Lithofin Power Clean should only be used occasionally on very dirty floors. Click here for the directions of use for Lithofin Power Clean.
How often should I clean my floor?
The frequency depends on the demands placed on the stone floor. For private households, once a week is normally enough, for high traffic areas (e.g. hallways and kitchens) or commercial properties, you should clean the floors twice a week or daily as required. You normally do not need to clean your grout lines as frequently.
4. The low down on marks and stains – how they happen and how to repair them
Stains will inevitably happen over the years. Whilst your stone floor is sealed and its surface is protected, your stone floor will still be susceptible to staining. Stains and marks can appear on stone floors for a few reasons, however we thought we would mention the main ones below:
- Some foodstuffs and liquids are naturally acidic – such as lemon or lime juice, fruit juice/lollies, tomato sauce, etc. Depending on how acidic the food/liquid is and on how long spills are left on the floor, then the limestone will mark to a different degree.
- Some oils or oily food spills can penetrate the sealant and leave slightly oily or darker looking patches on the flooring.
- If a natural stone floor is washed too often with a stone floor cleaner that contains wax (such as Lithofin Easy Care), then it is possible to get a build-up of wax on the surface. This wax film may show up marks such as footprints and may show smearing on the surface too.
One trick to try when tackling light staining, e.g. watermarks and grease marks, is applying Power Clean undiluted onto the stain, and wet a small piece of cloth or a paper towel with the solution, and place on the stain. Leave it for a few minutes but do not leave it to dry. Remove the cloth and wipe the area with a clean damp Micro-Fibre cloth and leave it to dry. Once dried the stain should have disappeared.
For tougher stains, e.g. engrained oil stains, tar, acidic etching* etc. seek specialist advice and/or professional treatment. It may be possible to remove these types of stains with specialist polishing pads. Please contact us for advice and further information regarding this kind of repair.
*Acidic Etching – Etching occurs on natural stone when acidic foods are spilled on the floor and not cleaned up immediately. When the acid reacts with the calcium carbonate in your natural stone surfaces, it literally eats away at the surface and creates dull spots known as etches. This can occur from spills such as a splash of lemon juice or drips of tomato sauce. These subtle marks are not stains, they are actually changes to the stone’s surface itself – similar to a scratch on a stone floor.
5. Refreshing your stone floor
Over time, you may feel like your floor needs a deep clean and a freshen up. How often is a deep clean required, you ask? This depends on how dirty the floor is and whether it is in a high traffic area. Generally, once or twice a year is sufficient.
How do I deep clean my stone floor?
Dilute Lithofin MN Power Clean up to 1:3 with warm water. Begin by working methodically across the floor, one tile at a time or small area at a time. Apply the dilute solution with a scrubbing brush or Micro-Fibre cloth/mop head and allow to work for 5 to 10 minutes. Brush well with a scrubbing brush and wait for another 5 minutes. Once the 5 minutes is up, continue to scrub while adding clean water. Remove from the surface with a Micro-Fibre cloth. Wipe the floor with clean water using a clean Micro-Fibre cloth in order to remove all product residue from the stone floor surface. Finally, dry the area you have cleaned with clean Micro-Fibre cloths. And onto the next section you go…!
6. The Essential Do’s & Don’t when it comes to living with a Stone Floor
|Be cautious when moving heavy objects. Use a sheet of hard board and always use a dolly – never slide or roll heavy objects over hard wood floors.||Don’t use all-purpose cleaning products that may contain bleach, chlorine, ammonia or any type of abrasive cleaners. These will strip the sealant from the surface of the tile, and could mark the stone.|
|Be quick to wipe up water, wine, coffee and other spillages when accidents happen.||Don’t steam clean the floor because the moisture may strip the protective sealant from the surface of the stone overtime.|
|Keep your mop head clean. Micro-Fibre mop heads should be washed on a 30-40 degrees c wash, and dried on a low heat or air dried.||Don’t place potted plants directly onto stone, as water may leek and cause surface marking.|
* For more ‘Do’s and Don’ts, please refer to our ‘Stone Care Guide’, which can be found on our website.
We hope you have come away from reading this blog feeling a little more empowered about how to look after a stone floor. We are currently working on a ‘Stone Care Guide’ (so watch this space!), which will be found on our website, and all our customers will receive a digital copy and/or a printed copy. Also, please do not hesitate to contact our expert team with any questions you may have, we would be more than happy to help.