natural stone wall

How do you polish natural stone?

There are almost as many uses for stone in and around the home as there are stone varieties. Smooth granite makes durable countertops, sandstone fireplaces look rustic and cozy, and a slate floor can last for generations. Most stone isn’t naturally glossy without special grinding and polishing techniques. However, you can add shine to a stone surface with minimal fuss, and keep it looking fresh with regular maintenance. If the stone is used for food preparation, only use materials that the manufacturer states are food safe.

After natural-stone blocks are extracted from quarries, they go through a masonry process that involves cutting, forming, and finishing prior to installation. Depending on the methodology and style of work followed by the stonemasons, the tiles and slabs produced can be finished in many ways. Flamed and brushed finishing is ideal for the outdoors and rustic interior décor, while the tumbled and aged styles of surface finishing are better for antique styles. The most popular natural-stone finish is the polished look because it appears classic and modern at the same time.

If you prefer a refined, shiny natural stone floor to a raw and rustic one, polished tiles are an excellent choice.

To get your floor shining, you’ll need a good natural stone polish, such as Lithofin’s Polish Cream. Then, you can follow the steps below to give your tiles the shine they deserve.

Natural stones like marble, granite, limestone, slate, and travertine are known for their hard surfaces, long life, and easy to clean surfaces. They are perfectly suited for warm and hot climates as they tend to keep cool and do not harbour any allergens in the house.

As hard and heavy as they can be, they are also not completely invulnerable to damage. They can get dull over time because of the usual wear and tear. Contact StoneShine today and get a free estimate as to the extent of damage and what can be done to restore the stone surfaces. Depending on where you have used stone, be it walls, floors, or even countertops, you need different types of treatment. The best way to go about redoing your polish is to get the professionals to do it for you.

If you’re looking for a place to purchase quality supplies, check out Stonemason supplies.

Before You Begin

When applying any treatment to natural stone tiles, it’s essential that you clean them first.

Before using natural stone polish, sweep away any dirt and debris with a soft-bristled broom. Then, use a dust mop to sweep away anything you might have missed. Removing debris from your floor at the very beginning prevents scratches.

Once you’re satisfied you’ve removed the grime from your tiles, you can clean them thoroughly with a natural stone cleaner. Some cleaners can be applied directly while others are from concentrate and must be diluted in warm water. Read the packaging on your stone cleaner and follow the instructions.

After mopping, allow your tiles to air dry for a day or, if you’re feeling impatient, dry them by hand using a soft microfiber cloth.


natural stone wall

Preparing Your Floor

If your natural stone tiles are already honed, or smooth, you can skip this step. Otherwise, continue.

Typically, natural stone tiles have a rough surface that’s not suitable for polishing. However, if you fancy a change of scenery, you can transform your tiles and create a smooth finish.

To prepare textured stone tiles for polishing, you must grind them down, which flattens the floor. Grinding is also an excellent way to remove deep scratches and stains.

Once you have ground down your tiles, you can hone them using a diamond pad; this will give you an entirely smooth surface.

Polishing is a great way to add a brilliant shine to marble, granite, and other types of natural stone. Polishing even prevents fingerprints, water spots, and soap scum. These easy tips can help you get the best effect when using a natural-stone granite polish.

Always Clean the Stone Before Polishing

Don’t try to polish natural stone before it’s been thoroughly cleaned. Start by cleaning the surface with a stone-safe granite cleaner like Granite Gold Daily Cleaner® and a lint-free cloth to remove buildup, crumbs, and soap film on the surface. Next, dry your countertops completely with a clean, soft cloth.

Be sure to have these stonemason polishing tools for your next work.

Seal the Stone After Cleaning

You don’t necessarily need to seal your natural stone before polishing, but it’s a good idea to make sure the stone has a strong seal against liquids and stains before you polish the surface. If you do decide to seal the stone, make sure the sealer has at least 24 hours to cure before you follow up with a polish fully. Sealing stone isn’t difficult to do yourself. After cleaning the surface, spray Granite Gold Sealer® directly onto the surface. Working in three-foot sections, immediately wipe the sealer into the stone without allowing it to dry on the surface, then buff the stone with a lint-free cloth.

Polish Shower Walls to Resist Soap Scum

Natural-stone showers are beautiful and elegant, but they can develop a film of soap scum just like ceramic tile. Polish doesn’t just bring out the natural lustre and beauty in stone. It’s also effective at preventing soap scum and water spots. Polishing stone shower walls, especially when combined with a sealer, creates a slicker surface that makes it harder for soap scum to grip the textured surface of the stone.

Never Polish Stone Floors

To keep your natural-stone floors looking their best, sweep and dry mop regularly. You can use a stone-safe cleaner on stone tile floors followed with a sealer to help your floors resist stains, but make sure your stone floor maintenance stops there. Polish should not be used on floors, including shower floors, because it can make the floors very slippery and increase the risk of slips and falls. Polish is best for countertops, backsplashes, shower walls, and tub surrounds.

Polish Natural Stone Weekly

To maintain the lustre and shine of your natural stone, use a stone-safe polish about once a week. To polish the stone, spray the polish directly onto the surface, then buff the surface until it’s dry with a lint-free cloth or dry paper towel. Granite Gold Polish® is safe to use on food preparation surfaces, so you don’t need to worry about using your countertops after you’ve polished them.

Over time, the polished finish can lose some of its sheens, but homeowners who don’t know how to polish granite and other types of natural stone can restore the gloss by taking the following steps.

Choose the Right Product

With natural-stone polish formulated for household use such as Granite Gold Polish®, homeowners can easily maintain the lustre of their countertops themselves. The best granite polish is the kind that can be sprayed on, wiped down, and buffed by hand with a paper towel or lint-free cloth.

Check out our range of stone cutting tools for all of your working needs.

Clean Before Polishing

A stone surface that hasn’t been cleaned for a while may develop a patina that can hide its lustre. Before polishing, apply a granite daily cleaner and wipe it dry to make sure the patina dissipates. Applying polish on soiled stone may end up creating an unsightly patina that needs to be scrubbed away.

Seal Before Polishing

Proper stone care starts with cleaning and should be followed by sealing, then polishing. Applying polish on unsealed stone could make the surface shine unevenly. Allow the sealant to settle and cure for 24 hours before applying polish.

Divide Polishing Work in Sections

Countertops and panels can be divided into three or four sections when polishing. The idea is to polish the surface evenly using a lint-free cloth.

Use the Right Buffing Technique

Once the polish has been spread evenly over the surface, the final step involves buffing, which should be done with a dry, lint-free cloth, preferably made with microfiber material. The timeless circular buffing technique works better when it starts in wide circles and continues with smaller circles as the polish dries out completely and the surface starts to shine. For the brightest sheen, pressure should be applied to the cloth.

Reduce the Risk of Slipping

Marble and granite countertops can be buffed to a high gloss, but this isn’t recommended for the floors in living spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms, lanais, and foyers. Natural stone can become very slippery when polished, so it should be avoided unless done by a professional stone restoration specialist.

Natural Stone Cleaning Process

Pre-Inspection

All Natural Stone cleaning and restoration as well as sealing jobs, must be preceded by a thorough pre-inspection. Here we determine a customized care plan to meet your specific needs for your specific stone.

Area Preparation

Because your home is important to you, it is important to us; we will take the necessary precautions to protect all areas surrounding your stones with plastic sheets and blue tape.

Cleaning

Cleaning Processes vary from floor to floor, and many variables include make-up, maintenance, soiling conditions, traffic, use, etc.… When cleaning any stones, we use the most scientifically advanced cleaning products, and the stone is then machine or hand scrubbed and brushed. Finally, we will rinse the stone with a rinsing tool, connected to a truck-mounted hot water extraction system is used, achieving maximum soil removal and best overall cleaning results.

Diamond Grinding

The stone that is etched, scuffed, and scratched can be restored only by the use of mechanical abrasives underneath a rotary machine. Diamond abrasives resurface/remove a slight amount of stone (just enough to get below the etch marks and scratches). All diamond grinding is performed with the use of water to contain dust. The surfacing procedures that follow will determine the desired surface sheen.

Honing

Stone is mechanically resurfaced using diamond abrasives and water to achieve a uniformly honed surface sheen. In some cases, polished marble, granite, travertine or limestone can be mechanically honed to remove pre-existing surface polish.

Polishing

Stone is mechanically finished to produce a high gloss shine. Very light etches, scuffs and scratches may be removed with the polishing process, but diamond grinding is needed if the stone surface has a medium deep etches scuffs and scratches.

Sealing

This will be the last step in the stone cleaning process. Depending on the sealer chosen, we will use a heavy-duty professional grade sealer to protect your stones.

Post Inspection

We will do a walk-through inspection of the areas before we leave home and give you some tips on how to maintain your stones.

Why shouldn’t you DIY for a natural stone polishing job?

If you go online and check for DIY methods to polish stone, you will get a ton of advice. The problem with all of them is that they don’t work as well. You can never get the same finish from using just your hands and a few pads as you would get from a full-fledged rotary polishing machine operated by a professional. Getting the right grit and working your way up, using the right polish and sealant, and sanding the surface the right amount; can all be very difficult to do correctly.

Before Polishing

According to the MIA (Marble Institute of America), there are a few terms used in the industry that will help when deciding to polish your natural stone floors, countertops, or walls.

Finishes: 

There are several types of finishes you can have on any stone surface. They are measured by their sheen(how much they shine). The more sheen a stone has, the more reflective it is.

  • Flamed/Matte Finish– Close to 0% sheen.
  • A rough, stone-like look. (can still be “polished” and sealed)
  • Honed Finish– Around 33% sheen.
  • Smoothed out, almost matte finish look that is perfect for floors and areas with heavy traffic like stairs and walkways.
  • Satin Finish– Around 66% sheen.
  • Is often referred to as a semi-polished finish, and looks marvellous on any floor, counter, or shower stall.
  • Polished Finish– Close to 100% sheen. With a high gloss, mirror-like appearance, polished finishes show off the stones markings and natural designs.

Refinishing

Refinishing is the process by which natural stone surfaces are brought back to their original sheen and look. It can mean a honing or polishing done to the surface to make it look and feel better. It can also include repairs to cracks, scratches, and other minor damages.

Restoration

It is a large scale option that works on entire homes, offices, or historical buildings. Restoration work is normally done when the surfaces have been neglected for many years, and a simple refinishing might not work anymore.

Polishing your stone surfaces is a detail-oriented project. Before the work begins, all other surfaces adjacent to it will be thoroughly sealed off and taped over. The process might take more than a day or two depending on the size and extent to which the work has to be carried out. Shining powders and a lot of water will be used to buff out the minor scratches and other blemishes, so it is advised you stay away from the work area unless you are adequately protected.

Why Polish Your Stone Floors?

Polishing stone floors is the only way to repair and restore damage to the stone’s crystals, which reflect light and give the natural stone its shiny surface. Over time, these crystals become dulled, crushed and even broken as a result of the wear caused by foot traffic as it grinds dirt and debris into the surface. By polishing dulled and damaged stone floors, homeowners not only restore the beauty of their room and enhance the light in the space, but they also add value to their home when this luxury addition regains its place as a focal point of a home.

When and how often stone floors need polishing, however, isn’t easy to predict. A number of factors, but most specifically, the location of the room and the habits and lifestyle of the homeowners, play a role in the wear of a stone floor over time. For example, a stone floor in a high-traffic entryway needs polishing far more often than a stone floor in an out-of-the-way bathroom. Likewise, a home with a “no shoes” policy and a weekly cleaning ritual is more likely to have debris-free floors than one with two kids running in and out in muddy boots with busy parents who only clean floors periodically. It’s all relative.

Cleaning Stone Floors

Unlike polishing, which is a long, deliberate process done as needed, cleaning stone floors is an important weekly ritual that helps prevent the type of damage that necessitates full polishing. Depending on the location and traffic of your floor, bi-weekly or daily cleaning might be a better option.

To clean a natural stone floor, use a soft cotton mop and warm water. For especially dirty surfaces, add a cleaning solution with a neutral pH, such as mild dish soap or a specialized natural stone cleaner.

Maintaining Stone Floors

In addition to regular cleaning, there are a number of additional steps that homeowners can take to maintain their natural stone floors and thus increase the time period length between shining services. This includes:

  • Dust mopping frequently, daily if needed
  • Avoiding abrasive cleaners and any cleaner with an acidic pH, such as lemon juice or vinegar
  • Blotting up and cleaning stains as soon as possible
  • Using non-slip mats and rugs to protect the floor surface
  • Periodically resealing the floor to harden the surface 

Natural stone floors are a major home investment that can last for decades if properly cared for and maintained. For many homeowners, that means using the services of a flooring professional when it comes to polishing and repair. If you need this level of help, get in contact with a pro in your area.

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