The first step in developing a floor maintenance program is to learn what has or is currently being done to the stone.
– Has a coating such as wax, acrylic or urethane been used?
– Has the stone been maintained with diamond abrasives, crystallization or polishing powders? Is there any damage?
– Are there problems, such as cracks, lippage, stains, heavy etching or stun marks? Is the grout sanded or non-sanded?
If a coating is present, it may mask other problems such as heavy etching, cracks, pits, holes and deep scratches. A sample area should be chemically stripped to evaluate the condition. A badly damaged floor may suggest the need for refinishing at a higher cost then just stripping and polishing.
If diamond abrasives have been used, more than likely, a simple deep cleaning and continued program of polishing can be resumed. Many polishing powders contain oxalic acid that can etch or “blister” marble if not used by a highly skilled person. If continuous crystallization was used, the floor must be stripped of the wax that is part of the chemical makeup of crystallizer, which can cause yellowing and/or window paning. Also the crystallizer will act as a resistance barrier to powders or compound.
– Cracks can collect dirt and require more labor intensive hand work to clean out and maintain.
– Lippage can damage steel wool pads, fiber pads and fine grit polishing diamonds and therefore create a higher maintenance cost.
– Heavy etching and stun marks may require deep grinding to repair them.
Sanded grout may accumulate dirt more readily than non-sanded. It will cause particles of steel wool to be “shaved” off and may darken the grout or, if not cleaned out, rust in the grout line. If refinishing is done, the sand may come out and cause more scratching of the stone. These problems and correction techniques will be discussed in more detail in the section on “Common Problems.”
After a complete evaluation the owner should be made aware of the condition(s) and given the options, associated costs and alternatives. Ultimately, the owner’s expectations will determine the final course of action.