The use of natural stone in houses, and even outdoors has been gaining great popularity of late, but it’s a practice that has been handed down through the generations. One only needs to look at the pyramids, the Roman columns, or the Greek carvings to realize that our ancestors had a keen understanding of the true value of natural stone.
Over the years, people used stone because of their natural beauty, strength, and durability. The rules are simple with natural stone surfaces: if you care for and maintain your stone surfaces well, you will have them looking beautiful for a lifetime. You need to be able to invest your time and energy into protecting your natural stone, and a key part of this process it to seal the surfaces.
Why is it Important to Seal Natural Stone?
There are several reasons why some igneous and metamorphic stone surfaces are vulnerable, and stones like marble, granite, travertine, sandstone, limestone, slate, flagstone and basalt are affected because of several different reasons.
Natural rocks are porous by nature, which means that they absorb liquids that are on them, albeit at different rates. This means that they can stain and get discolored unless proper care is taken the seal and to wipe off liquids that are on them daily.
Salt spalling is also another result of liquids being absorbed into the stone. As the salts dissolved in the liquids also get into the capillary channels of the stone, they sometimes crystallize close to the surface of the stone. Salt crystals have the tendency to build up and expand, thus weakening the stone and causing the spalling and weathering of the surface. The only way to prevent this is by sealing the surface of the stone.
Corrosion is another enemy of natural stone and can spread and destroy the quality of your stone forever. This is one of the ways stone can be permanently destroyed, so sealing your stone against rust is a definite must.
Things You Should Consider Before Sealing Your Stone
How, and how often you seal your stone depends on a few factors like stone type, what it is used for, its location, its finish and its porosity. Looking at these factors will not only help you realize how often you should seal your surfaces but also what you should be using to seal them.
Natural stone sealers are of three types:
- Topical sealers: these sealants have either have acrylic, wax or plastic compounds in them to form a film over the surfaces in order to protect them from stains. They come in 2 forms: strippable and permanent sealers. Strippable sealer wears out relatively quickly, so more maintenance is needed, and is thus not recommended for floors as the coating will not be so effective. Permanent sealers are made to last and are difficult to remove once applied.
- Stone enhancer sealer: this is a highly recommended sealant, especially for surfaces that need to look extra beautiful. It enhances the colors and brightens up the countertops it is applied to. They last for different periods of time, but it is recommended that you reseal surfaces on an annual basis to experience the best results.
- Impregnating sealers: they are the best sealants to use if you don’t want the natural beauty of the stone to be compromised. They are breathable sealers that are made to be either water or solvent based. They can be bought for varying lifespans, and some of the most expensive sealers have several add-on benefits.
Proper Application Procedure
- Make sure the stone surface is clean before applying the sealer (you can use a mild detergent and warm water to remove any dirt and residue). Also, run a dry cloth over the surface to remove any moisture.
- Methodically apply the selected sealer with a soft cloth.
- Check manufacturer’s instructions about how long you need to let the sealer saturate (it usually takes a few hours). Some surfaces may require a second coating.
- Make sure that you do a final cleaning after the waiting period is over with warm water.
Natural rock is an investment, and if the sealing procedure is done well and regularly, you are sure to have the best-looking stone surfaces around. When in doubt, follow manufacturers instructions, but never neglect to seal surfaces that need them. People are sure to notice if you don’t. Always remember that prevention is better than cure!