Cleaning & Maintenance

How to Clean and Maintain Limestone Floors, Countertops

Of every area in a home, the kitchen must be the one place maintenance needs are stacks, on queues, on stacks... second only to the bathroom of course, or is it?

The stacks and queues don't get any shorter with limestone countertops and floors. This right here is the bogeyman, whisks away the little peace left after a proper kitchen mess.

How to Clean and Maintain Limestone Floors, Countertops

But unlike your conventional bogeyman limestone doesn't come with a masked face and never panics children (wayward or otherwise). This is a seasoned cleaner's nightmare.

So don't be duped by the creamy- buttery grinning sprawls of your limestone countertop and floors, underneath all that charm is a realm of high maintenance needs.

Below are cleaning and maintenance solutions that should make sure you keep enjoying "sparkly" limestone tiling.

What is in the Barn?

Understanding limestone could be the much-needed break to cracking the limestone maintenance codes. Like marble, granite, quartzite, and slate limestones is a natural stone.

Limestone is sedimentary rock consisting primarily of calcite and aragonite (crystalline Calcium Carbonate). It usually forms in warm clear shallow water by the accumulation of shells, mud & organic marine debris such as skeletal fragments of coral, forams, and mollusks.

There are other varieties of limestone depending on the formation. An example is travertine marble which is a terrestrial type of limestone.

About 10% of sedimentary rocks are limestone and they fabricate roughly the same way as granite, expect a little faster. I guess you are wondering why do fabricators shy away from doing limestone for kitchen and baths.

That has little to do with production and everything to do with clients expectations. The initial cost might be reasonable but the sustenance cost prohibitive.

Limestone countertops are porous, like most softer natural stones it absorbs liquids including acids. Due to this porosity and chemical sensitivity contacts with coffee, vinegar, lemon or orange juices risks etching the surface.

How to Clean to Clean Your Limestone Countertops & Floors

Cleaning limestone can be at best a daunting task. Most of the time it depends on the type, size, and depth of stain. Periodic deep cleaning using nonacidic highly effective cleaners help reduce the strain each subsequent wash.

The washing process is:

  1. After clearing the floor or countertops do a clean water mop of the floor to remove soil or food chips.
  2. Apply specially formulated alkaline based degreaser for countertops and natural stone cleaners on the floors. Brush the gel or liquid and leave it to soak.
  3. After 25 Mins rinse off the gel with clean water and dry the floor and counter with a wet vacuum.
  4. To restore the natural appearance of the stone polish using a set of diamond encrusted handheld burnishing block. Start with a coarse 50 grit and rub with added water. Repeat the process progressively with fine grits (100,200 & 400).
  5. Give the stone a final rinse with clean water and remove excess water with a wet vacuum.
  6. Seal the tile with impregnating sealer for a natural look and tropical sealer for a shiny look.

Specific Daily Cleaning Procedure

Countertops

Clean countertop with a few drops of neutral cleaner, stone soap, or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water. Use a clean soft cloth for best results. Too much cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks.

Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar, or other acids on limestone.

Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft cloth. Do not use scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface.

Floors

Dust mop interior floors frequently using a clean, nontreated dry dust mop to remove sand, dirt, and grit.

Wash with clean water and neutral (pH 7) cleaners. Soapless cleaners are preferred because they minimize streaks and film. Mild, phosphate-free, liquid dishwashing soaps or powders or stone soaps are acceptable.

Wet the floor with clean water and cleaning solution. Wash in small, overlapping sweeps. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove all traces of soap or cleaner solution.

Stain Removal

Organic Stains

These are pinkish-brown stains caused by organic substances such as coffee, tea, fruit juices and food residue. For mild stains on the floor or countertops pour 35% hydrogen peroxide directly and then add a few drops of ammonia.

Alternatively, mix equal amounts of plain water and 35% hydrogen peroxide. Spray on the stained area lightly. Rinse with plain water and wipe the area dry.

For old tea and coffee stains that cant be removed with regular cleaning, make a poultice with a slightly thickened mix of baking soda and water. Spread the limestone with water then spread the paste and cover with a plastic wrap.

Unwrap after two days, bet you will love the outcome. If you are curious to know Hydrogen peroxide removes stains by reverse absorption (redox reaction).

Oil-based stains

These are stains from oily items like cooking oil, grease, and cosmetics. These oily stains darken you stone, use ammonia and household detergent to de-grease

Clean the area gently with a soft gently by wiping it with ammonia, household detergent acetone or mineral spirit.

Try not to pour the cleaner directly on the stains. This will ensure the agent doesn't thin and sip into the stone.

Ammonia dissolves oily stains and substances which no amount of water could. Ammonia is a gas and evaporates quickly hence should not remain dump for long after an oil stain cleaning.

Water spots and rings

Water spots and rings are caused by the accumulation of minerals in hard water. These are white stubborn stains with no specific chemical cleaners remedy. Use dry steel wools to gently buff your stone evenly.

Hard water contains high amounts of calcium and magnesium but frequently traces of iron ore especially with rusty pipes.

Metal stains

Iron rust stains are brown in color and leave shapes of staining objects such as nails and screws.

Bronze and copper stains are green or muddy brown and appear from moisture on nearby or embedded bronze. Metal stains are tough and must be removed with a poultice.

You can choose to use ammonia for copper stains.

Ink and colored stains

Clean light colored stones with hydrogen peroxide and acetone for dark stones.

Biological Stains

Clean with 1/2 cup of ammonia in a gallon of water. Alternatively, use hydrogen peroxide.

Efflorescence

Efflorescence is a white powder that appears on the surface of the stone. It is caused by water carrying mineral salts from below the surface of the stone rising through the stone and evaporating.

Efflorescence is easy to remove using dry mopes and vacuum. Generally, the white powder should evaporate from the limestone on its own.

Create Magic With a Poultice

According to the Natural stone institute, a poultice is a liquid cleaner or chemical mixed with a white absorbent material to form a paste about the consistency of peanut butter.

The poultice is spread over the stained area to a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch with a wood or plastic spatula, covered with plastic and left to work for 24 to 48 hours.

The liquid cleaner or chemical will draw out the stain into the absorbent material. Poultice procedures may have to be repeated to thoroughly remove a stain, but some stains may never be completely removed.

Applying Poultice

  1. Set up the poultice. In the case you are using powder, blend the cleaning compound to a thick glue the consistency of butter paste. When using paper, absorb the concoction and let spread.
  2. Wet the stained part with clean water.
  3. Apply the poultice on the stain about1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and expand the poultice past the stained part by around one inch. Use a wood or plastic scrubber to spread the poultice equitably.
  4. Cover the poultice with plastic wrap and seal the edges with tape
  5. Allow the poultice to dry completely, for the most part, 24 to 48 hours. The drying process what pulls the stain out of the stone and into the poultice material. After around 24 hours, remove the plastic wrap and let the poultice dry.
  6. Remove the poultice from the stain. Flush with clean water and dry with a soft rug.
  7. Repeat the poultice application if the stain remains. It might take up to five applications for deep stains.
  8. In case the surface is etched by the chemical, apply polishing powder and buff with burlap or felt buffing cushion to restore the surface.

How to Take Care of Your Limestone Countertops & Flooring

A Reseal a Year Keeps Patches at Bay

Limestone is an extensively porous material where each liquid spill on the surface percolates into the depths of the stone. To make sure limestone sustain its beauty and authentic condition its imperative to reseal every once a while.

Pre-Sealing Limestone

This involves sealing limestone before installation. Solvent salts on the limestone facade prior to installation can cause a reaction which could lead to permanent staining.

Expert recommends consulting your stone dealer to see if your stone requires treatment. Ensure you seal limestone on all sides to form an efflorescence migration resistant coat.

Pre-grout Sealing Limestone

According to one stone cleaners maker, when the limestone doesn't need pre-sealing, it recommended applying a coat of sealer prior to grouting. This acts as grout release and assists in the grout clean up process. Pre-grout sealing is handy when acid cleaners cannot be used to remove grout residue.

Resealing Polished Limestone

  1. Start with a deep grout clean. Run a dilution of tile cleaner along the grout lines and let it dwell for five minutes. Clean the grout with a hard nylon brush and then extract the residue solution using a wet vacuum.
  2. Remove existing sealer and dirt with a course 400 grit pad on a wet lubricated floor. Repeat the process with a medium 800 grit pad and a fine 1500 grit pad which will gradually polish the stone. Rinse the floor between each pad to remove residue generated from burnishing.
  3. Leave the stone to dry overnight ensuring no spills on the unsealed tiles
  4. After 24hours inspect the floor to make sure its dry and everything is perfect. Apply a coat of natural look impregnating sealer that will soak into the pore of the limestone protecting it from within.
  5. After letting the countertops or floor to settle for half an hour apply the second sealer coat
  6. Allow enough time for the second coat to settle before applying the final polish.

Do you need to seal the grout?

Sealing grout serves to prevent moisture from sipping into the grout and under the tile. Moisture creates a perfect environment for mold and bacteria to thrive.

Seal porous sanded grout, epoxy grout naturally shed water hence no need to use any grout sealer.

Seal grout on heavily trafficked floor tiles which frequently use sanded grout since epoxy grout crack under too much pressure. On limestone countertops, because kitchens are places with a lot of liquid that can easily sip into the grout.

Use a brush to spread grout sealer on the grout and let it sit for two hours. Use a few drops of water to test if the sealer prevents the grout from absorbing water.

If not apply more sealer until the water stop sipping into the grout. Use water-based impregnating grout sealer. When the sealer water mix gets to the stone grout, later water evaporates leaving your grout sealed for a long time.

Choosing the Correct Sealer

Penetrating or Impregnating sealer

Penetrating sealers are microporous, they sip into the surface of the limestone and protect the walls of each individual pore within the stone's structure.

Generally impregnating sealer gives a natural matt or color enhanced finish. These sealers don't require constant reapplication.

Premium quality penetrating sealer is recommended for food areas that need protection against oily agents. Use a standard impregnating sealer against drinks, dirt, and beverages.

Tropical Sealer

These regular sealers will protect your stone from external elements and leave it with a glossy shine.

Depending on the circumstances they can be used on their own or with an impregnating sealer

You should seal limestone countertops and floors at least once a year. Also, you can use specific cleaning sprays which contain sealing properties in a month for more protection.

Tropical sealers are however not as efficient, they need to be removed then replaced frequently.

To Give Your Stone a Polish or Hone it

Limestone gradually wears and could need polish once a while. Limestone comes in neutral shades of brown, cream and white which are not too glaring hence polishing is a little less tasking than marble.

Honing means the surface gets a smooth consistent finish. For stones with natural shine such as granite, the shine is removed leaving a matte surface with no bumps or ridges. Natural color stones (limestone) will be visibly lighter but not as much as with polished exteriors.

When you need to polish, first research your stone to know how it responds to polish. Generally, uneven limestone doesn't require a polish. Try to feel the surface with your hand and only polish smooth limestone countertops and floors.

Polishing limestone is not feasible, especially when the stake is natural creamy aesthetics. Consult a stone expert before deciding whether to HONE or POLISH your countertops or floors. Honing is perfect for high foot traffic areas.

Polishing limestone either with diamond pads or polishing powder will give a semi-gloss or gloss finish. Hone your stone when you desire natural feels as opposed to shiny and reflective aspects.

How to Polish Your Limestone

Alternative One

  1. Apply neutral (natural stone) polish on the limestone surface following the manufacturer's application instructions.
  2. Polish the limestone surface by rubbing the polishing powder or liquid into the surface in circular motion.
  3. Continue polishing until you get the desired look over the whole countertop.
  4. When done pour water over the surface & use a wet vacuum to suck up the water and residue.

Altenative Two

  1. Wash your stone with cleaner using a sponge then rinse the surface with clean water.
  2. Polish the surface with hand polisher set at low speed using a 1500 grit diamond pad then a 3000 grit pad. Polish in anticlockwise circular motions with overlapping sections of 4 to 6 inches.
  3. Check if you have achieved the desired result after 15-30 seconds, if not repeat step 2 until you are satisfied with the outcome.
  4. Remove the 3000 diamond grit pad and replace with an 11000 grit pad to complete the polishing process. Always keep the floor wet throughout the polishing process.
  5. Rinse then suck up the water and residue with a wet vacuum.

Protecting Your Stone From Etching

Etching is when natural stones including limestone have been eaten away by acidic substances. Unlike stains, an etched stone is uneven with pits and ridges across the surface. Acids erode the stone, leaving marks on polished surfaces.

Even with sealed countertops spills should be cleaned immediately considering its very difficult to shield limestone against acidic etching. If you cant feel the etching with your figure, look out for white-ish dull marks that look like water glass rings on your countertop.

Mostly the etch removing is similar to polishing or honing, what differs is the grit pads used. For mild etching on polished limestone, scrap using etch remover paste. Rub the countertop with etching remover paste using a soft towel in circular motions.

For larger and harsher etching you will need

  1. Low RPM handheld buffer (600-100 RPM) (Always protect the area from splatter when using a handheld buffer)
  2. 7 Inch hog hair pad
  3. Etch remover paste
  4. Daily stone cleaner or clean water & towel

Using the handheld buffer and the hair pad apply the etch powder paste on the surface and polish across the countertop.

After getting the desired result use daily stone cleaner or clean water to remove the residue. Then rinse with clean water. If the results are not satisfying, repeat the process.

For severe etching or etching on honed (non-reflective) surfaces its recommended you call a stone restoration professional.