How To Avoid & Solve Them

Marble, granite, limestone and other decorative stone are durable materials that will last a lifetime.   However, if not installed correctly, or properly cared for, will experience problems that will shorten its life. The following are the top ten problems most common in dealing with stone tile.

1.   Loss of shine

The loss of the high polish on certain marble and granite can be attributed to wear. This is especially true of marble, since it is much softer than granite. The bottoms of our shoes act like sandpaper on a stone floor surface, and over time, will wear the polish off.   To prevent excessive wear, it is important to keep the floor dust mopped, and place walk-off mats at all entrances. To repair a worn, or dulled, stone surface, it will be necessary to re-hone and re-polish.

2.   Etching

The dull spot created, when liquids containing acids are spilled on marble, is called etching.   Marble and limestone etch very easily. Granite is more acid-resistance, and will rarely etch. To prevent etching, avoid using cleaners and chemicals that contain acids. Bathroom cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and lemon cleaners commonly contain acids.   Certain drinks and foods contain acids that will also cause etching.   Light etching can be removed with a little marble polishing powder. Deep etching will require resurfacing of the stone.

3.   Staining

All stone surfaces can become very easily stained. Most foods, drinks, ink, oil and rust will stain marble. Once a stone becomes stained, it can be very difficult to remove. To prevent staining, clean the spilled material as soon as possible. Blot the spill with a clean paper towel or cloth. If this does not remove the stain, a process called “poulticing” may be needed. For more information on poulticing, please refer to our brochure, “Removing Stains from Marble, Stone & Other Porous Surfaces.” It is important to seal stone with a good quality penetrating sealer to prevent staining.

4.   Efflorescence

Efflorescence appears as a white powdery residue on the surface of the stone. It is a common condition on new stone installations, or when the stone is exposed to a large quantity of water, such as flooding. This powder is a mineral salt deposited from the setting bed.   Do not use water to remove efflorescence.   Instead, buff the stone with a clean polishing pad, or a #0000 steel wool pad. The stone will continue to effloresce until it is completely dry. This drying process can take from several days to as long as one year.

5.   Spalling, Flaking & Pitting

Spalling is the development of small pits, or small pieces of stone are popping off the surface.   This condition is common on stone exposed to large amounts of water, when deicing salts are used for ice removal. Like efflorescence, mineral salts are the cause for spalling and pitting. Instead of the salts depositing on the surface (efflorescence), they deposit below the surface of the stone.   This causes pressure within the stone; therefore, the stone spalls, flakes, or pits. Unfortunately, once a stone begins to spall, it is almost impossible to repair.   Replacement of the stone is recommended.

6.   Yellowing

There are several reasons why a stone will turn yellow: embedded dirt, and grime, can give the stone a yellow, dingy look; waxes, and other coatings, can yellow with age; certain stones will naturally yellow with age. This is caused by oxidation of iron within the stone, and is especially problematic with white marbles.   If the yellowing is caused by dirt, or build up, clean the stone with an alkaline cleaner, or wax stripper.   If the yellowing is the result of aged stone, or iron oxidation, it is not coming out.

7.   Uneven Tile-Lippage

Lippage is the term given to tiles that are set unevenly. In other words, the edge of one tile is higher than the next. Lippage is the result of a poor installation. If the lippage is higher than the thickness of a nickel (1/32″), it is considered excessive.   The tile will have to be ground to flatten the floor. This requires the services of a professional stone-refinishing contractor.

8.   Cracks

Settling, poor installation, and excessive vibration are the causes for cracks in stone tiles.   This is especially true in California. Sometimes, cracks can be repaired, by using a color-matched polyester or epoxy filler.   Before a crack is repaired, it is wise to find out how, and why, the cracked occurred in the first place. Otherwise, it may recur.

9.   White Stun Marks

Stun marks appear as white marks on the surface of the stone, and are common in certain types of marble. These stuns are the result of tiny explosions inside the crystal of the stone. Pinpoint pressures placed on the marble cause these marks. Women’s high heels, or blunt pointed instruments, are common reasons for stun marks. Stun marks can be difficult to remove. Grinding and/or honing can reduce the number of stuns, but some travel through the entire thickness of the stone; therefore, are impossible to remove.

10.   Water Rings/Spots

Water rings and spots are very common on marble tabletops. These spots are hard water minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals are left behind, when the water evaporates, leaving a ring or a spot. To remove these spots, use a marble polishing powder. Deep spots may require honing. To prevent spots on counters and tabletops, frequently apply a good stone paste wax.

Hopefully this helps, If you have any furthur questions, don’t hesitate to call.