There are few flooring options as regal and elegant looking as natural stone. Think of vintage houses, luxury bathrooms, garden pathways, or modern patios; a gorgeous natural stone flooring is a key feature in most. However, it is only the well-maintained, thoroughly-cleaned stone floors that shine the brightest.
Despite being strong and hard, natural stone floors can lose their service life if not offered proper care. They are highly porous, and if left in water for too long, will absorb moisture. This moisture not only weakens the tile causing it to crack and break but also seeps down to the bottom of the floor and loosens the layout of the tiles. Moreover, natural stone can also get easily stained, bleached, or marred if the wrong cleaners are used on it. Therefore, a cautious cleaning routine is required to keep the floor in its best shape for the years to come.
If you are also planning to adorn your house with a natural stone floor, or are looking to somehow revive one, continue reading to get all your answers.
Types of Natural Stone Flooring
The market offers a wide range of natural stone flooring options, and each one is very different from the other. To provide the best care to your floor, you must first understand what type you are dealing with. There are multiple factors that natural stone floor categories are based on; however, the factor most relevant to cleaning and maintenance is ‘absorption.’
The absorption rating of a natural stone indicates the porosity of the material:
1. Impervious Stone Flooring
These materials are the most resistant to water, and therefore the least absorbent of all available natural stone variants. Examples include marble, granite, and polished stone floors. Due to their low-absorbency, these floors can be easily cleaned with water. However, moisture seeping into the floor’s bottom might still damage it, so ensure that the water is dried out.
2. Vitreous Stone Flooring
Many floors used in residential and commercial settings are vitreous in nature. They have medium absorbency and are best used in areas with low to medium traffic. The more exposure to moisture they have, the more likely they are to get stained or cracked. We recommend using dry cleaning methods on these floors. Limestone, travertine, and slate are examples of medium-absorbency materials.
3. Semi-Vitreous Stone Flooring
These tiles are somewhat absorbent. Although they are not entirely intolerant of moisture, the longer they are exposed the more rigorous cleaning and care they will require. For this reason, we suggest using relatively dry methods of cleaning on such tiles.
4. Non-Vitreous Stone Flooring
With the highest absorption rating, this material lets in and retains the most moisture. Such tiles are not to be steamed, washed, or even placed in a damp or humid setting.
Now that you are aware of the different types of natural stone floors and their properties, follow the manufacturer’s notes to determine which one you are dealing with. Only then would you be able to clean your floor the way it requires to be cleaned. Watch this video to learn more:
Types of Natural Stone Finish
To establish a proper cleaning routine for natural stone floors, you need to know two things: the type of stone you are dealing with, and the type of finish it comes in. We have dealt with the types of stone. Next, there are two main types of finishes:
1. Polished Stone Finish
Polished surfaces are glossy and reflective of light. These are not to be cleaned with any pointed or sharp objects, or abrasive materials. If done, the polish will be scratched off, and the floor will lose its luster.
2. Honed Stone Finish
These surfaces barely reflect light and are often textured. Honed stone floors deal well with heavy traffic and can also withstand more rigorous methods of cleaning like the use of stiff brooms.
Cleaning Method for Stone Flooring
The first step in any cleaning routine is to remove all rugs, objects, and furniture from the floor. Make sure to lift the furniture instead of dragging it across the floor, because dragging leaves scratches and marks on the floor.
Once the floor is prepped, it is time to sweep. Sweeping will remove all dirt, debris, and lint from the floor. If it is a honed floor, you can use a regular mop or broom; however, if the floor is polished, use only a damp microfiber mop. Linked ahead is one of our favorite mops for polished stone floors:
Regardless of the type of the floor and type of mop used, the method of sweeping remains the same. Start at the far end and move towards the exit in gentle circular motions. Make sure to move over the ridged and grooves of the floor with the grain, so as to pull out any dirt trapped within them.
After sweeping, move on to taking out the stains. Take any manufacturer-approved commercial cleaner, a mixture of a tablespoon of regular dishwashing soap in a tub of hot water, or a homemade cleaner using 1-part white vinegar and 2 parts hot water. Soak a clean microfiber mop in this cleaner, and sweep it over the floor – enjoy seeing the stains disappear! Watch this quick tutorial for a visual demonstration and summary of the cleaning method:
As soon as you are done cleaning, turn on a dehumidifier or a fan if you are indoors, so the moisture quickly dries up. If you are outdoors, simply let the floor air-dry. Until the floor is completely dry, prevent any traffic on the floor: this is crucial because footprints left on a damp floor are not only unsightly but also tedious to take out.
Cleaning natural stone floors is no big deal if you just stay on top of it. Dust daily, sweep daily, and wipe off stains as soon as you spot them. This is an ideal cleaning routine, and if you follow it over the years, you will enjoy your floor look good as new day after day.