Washing DC stone floors are extremely popular, and they have been for many years.
The vast range of colors and shades, the durability, practicality and relative ease of maintenance, plus their abundance in nature has made them a perennial choice of flooring material down the centuries.
But they are not indestructible, they are easy to look after and maintain but there are some pitfalls to avoid. Below are the most common mistakes people make when caring for their floors.
1. Lack of Dust Mats
The number 1 enemy of all floors, not just stone, is grit. Every flooring material will wear, it is just a matter of time. If I were to take two diamonds (the hardest known natural material) and rub them against each other, guess what, they will both wear.
Every-day grit, carried in on shoes can contain all kinds of minerals such as quartz. alking this onto your floor will quickly dull and scratch its surface. The answer is to eliminate grit, any way you can and one of the best ways is to put a dust-collecting mat outside the door.
If you add another just inside you are giving your floor a much better chance of avoiding harmful grit.
2. Walking on your Stone Floor with Out-Door Shoes
This is related to the first point of course. If you have a fancy polished wood floor, or an expensive carpet, I bet you take your shoes off right? We all tend to instinctively know how to be careful on other flooring materials and treat them with the respect they deserve.
Well stone is no different, it needs love and respect too. So take off your shoes and put your slippers on, that way you cannot carry harmful grit onto the floor.
3. Not attending to Spills and Accidents right away
Somehow, we tend to treat hard stone floors differently to say carpet or wood. If, for example, we have a very expensive carpet and we spill something on it, like a glass of wine for instance, would we sit and watch it become a stain? I don’t think so.
Even if that carpet has some kind of stain protection on it, we know that it will only buy us some ‘time to react’, so we rush off to the kitchen for the towels.
Well guess what, providing ‘reaction time’ is all sealers do for stone. Just like the carpet, if we spill something we should absorb it up straight away, especially if it is something like wine or some other acidic liquid. We don’t spill ‘stains’ we spill contaminants, it is when we leave the contaminant for a length of time to penetrate the stone, that they become stains.
If the floor is sealed with a good sealer, we just get a bit more reaction time. Many stains would be prevented by taking care of spills and accidents as the happen.
4. Not Rinsing the floor after washing
This is one of the most important, yet most overlooked aspects of floor cleaning. It does not matter how much effort we put into cleaning, nor how powerful the cleaning-chemical, if we leave dirty water lying on the floor, when it dries, we will have residues.
Think about what we have just done: we put a strong chemical on the floor; we let it sit (dwell time) so it has started to break down the ingrained dirt; we scrubbed – to loosen more dirt and allow the cleaner to penetrate deeper.
Then what tends to happen is we push all this around with a mop, occasionally rinse the mop in water that by now has long since ceased being fresh or clean, and we put the only partially cleaned mop, back on the floor to spread more grungy water around. Sure, some of the dirt is transferred into the mop bucket, but plenty gets left behind.
In addition to the dirt (some of which is now broken down and finer, so it can get deeper into the floor, especially the grout joints) we also leave behind detergent residue. This combination of residue and partially emulsified grime quickly builds up to leave a dull patina on the stone and is one of the main reasons grout lines go dark and grubby so quickly.
The remedy is easy, after washing the floor, go change the dirty water that contains the detergent, rinse out the bucket and the mop and fill the bucket with fresh, clean water.
Now, go over the floor again with just that clean water. If it is a big floor, you may need to change the rinse water again, perhaps more than once – but do it as it will save you time in the long run.
5. Leaving the floor wet
Have you noticed what happens to glass windows after washing if they are just left to dry naturally? Streaks and smears. Many Washing DC stone floors are smooth or even polished and as a result they can behave in the exact same way as glass. So, after rinsing the floor, it is good practice to dry the floor down with an absorbent cotton towel or a micro-fiber cloth.
Buffing floors dry like this (either by hand or with a machine, depending on the size of your floor) will remove the remaining moisture (and any stray smudges that may have been missed).
6. Ignoring Little Stains
If we do not react fast enough to spills (mistake #4) we can end up with a stain. If we continually ignore that stain, and the next one and so on, pretty soon the floor can look deeply ingrained and generally grubby. For isolated small stains try a localized poultice stain remover.
7. Using Home Remedies and Natural Acids
We have all heard family elders, and TV experts rave about old home made remedies for cleaning. Please, don’t listen to them, period. The reason I take such a strong stance on this is that I have seen the results.
The wonderful, versatile powers of household products like vinegar and lemon juice are forever being suggested for all manor of cleaning, and yes they can work. They work by virtue of being acidic and will break down a number of minerals (lime scale on tiles for example).
The problem is they kill the surface of calcium-based and other acid sensitive stones (marble, limestone, travertine to name but a few). Not only have I seen entire floors ruined, the surface completely etched, but they also stain the floor.
After doing such as great job of removing the polish, they then add their own colour or hue to the now much more porous floor.
Lemon juice and vinegar belong in the larder or pantry, not the cleaning cupboard.
The mistakes mentioned here are pretty easy to avoid. With a bit of care and attention, maintaining a Washing DC stone floor should be very easy indeed.
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