- THE MAGAZINE
For many cleaning techs who have successfully mastered carpet, rugs, tile and grout and other flooring materials, natural stone has remained taboo, a surface they don’t feel qualified to clean.
Watching new construction and remodels over the past 5-10 years, it has become obvious, especially in the residential sector, that stone is solidly established as a surface of choice. Today, “feeling qualified” to maintain stone surfaces is changing with the advent of a number of tools, accessories and other gadgets.
It is important to begin with both the tech and the client having realistic expectations about what can be done. A gloss meter is a great help with this. Often, the area close to the wall or under a toe-kick has so little traffic that the gloss level will be similar to the original “from the factory” gloss level. This gives you an idea of the desired look when the floor was installed and probably what your client is expecting when you are done.
If the gloss reading in the traffic lanes is close to the readings you get near the wall, the homeowners have done a good job maintaining stone and protecting against abrasion. It is likely they use entryway matting and a proper neutral cleaner suitable for stone floors. A thorough cleaning and perhaps sealing may be all that is required.
Originally designed for grout and tile cleaning, a tool using water pressure from rotating jets is great for open areas of flooring. This tool is the easiest to use for an efficient cleaning of some natural stone tiles and heavily grout. It is not the tool, however, for tight areas, or areas next to walls or baseboard trim.
Flip off the squeegee when working and replace it with the 4-jet brush attachment. This bad boy gives us the same pressure cleaning ability as the others, but is the correct tool for softer natural stone tiles. The soft bristles of the brush will not scratch softer natural stone, and gives us the great pressure to which we are accustomed. A small single jet wand is used for direct spray of a soiled grout channel. This jet hovers directly over the grout channel and gives it a heavy shower of pressurized cleaning. Note: make sure the grout can handle this intense activity.
If your gloss meter indicates some abrasion and minor restoration is needed or your customer simply wants more shine, it is time to break out the new diamond embedded floor pads that can provide a honed look – typically to limestone or travertine- or achieve a higher than factory finish gloss on marble flooring. Placed under a weighted rotary floor machine, these pads simplify light restoration of stone. It is now something that a carpet cleaner will feel comfortable accomplishing after only limited training and practice.
To prevent your client from calling another service provider, a cleaning company should be prepared to clean all the flooring surfaces in the home. If you have been hesitant to dip your toe into the warm waters of stone maintenance, maybe its time to drop by your local distributor to learn about the innovations and products that can ease your entry into this lucrative field.