Maintaining Granite Flooring
May 14, 2007
Natural stone flooring has been around for millennia and is not likely to disappear as a flooring material for millennia more. Stone is formed by natural geological processes, and there are literally thousands of different types available.
The most common classifications within the natural stone category used for flooring are granite; serpentine; quartzite; slate; limestone; marble; travertine and sandstone. The hardness and durability of granite contributes to its resistance to abrasion, which is why we see extensive use of it as a flooring material in commercial and public environments. Although this extremely hard stone is a perfect choice for high-traffic areas, it still requires maintenance.
Granite IdentificationGranite is an igneous type rock formed from liquid magma that has cooled slowly through the eons. The most compelling identifying feature of granite is that it has a fine to coarse crystalline grain, which gives it a granular or speckled appearance. The word granite is derived from the Latin “granum,” which literally means grain or seed.
All natural stones contain minerals; they contribute to the different properties and characteristics of the stone. Feldspar, which measures a 6 on the Moh’s Scale, and quartz, which measures 7, are the primary minerals found in granite. The combination of these is why granites are so hard and durable. Not all granites are the same; the primary minerals may be the same, but the proportions will differ and additional minerals may be present. It is the combination that provides the many variations of granite. There are some stones sold as granite that are not true granites, but which possess some of the same characteristics.
Granite flooring may be thermal or flame cut, honed, or polished to a high gloss. The surface texture of the granite will have a significant impact on the hard floor maintenance program development. The rough thermal or flame cut texture will have low areas in which dirt may accumulate making it difficult to clean. A honed finish will have a dull matte look and although it has a smooth appearance it is still somewhat porous and will collect soil in the low areas. A polished finish is very smooth and does well repelling dirt because there are no low areas for dirt to collect, but will readily show traffic patterns and all the imperfections of poor mopping techniques.
Initial MaintenanceThe final surface texture of most granite is achieved at the quarry during fabrication, so the tiles are ready for installation on delivery. After the tiles are installed, dust mopping and wet mopping with a neutral cleaner to clean up the installation soiling may be all that is necessary. Even if grinding, honing or polishing is done on-site, initial maintenance will still be the same. Like all floor surfaces, initial maintenance focuses on detailing. Making sure that all installation soiling and grout residue is removed is essential to the appearance of the flooring.
After the initial cleaning maintenance has been performed, a penetrating seal or impregnator may be applied to the floor surface to reduce penetration of water, oil and other liquid spills. Granite does not normally have acrylic or polymeric floor finish applied to them. Diamond abrasive polishing or powder polishing may also be incorporated during the initial maintenance phase of maintenance. It is all predicated by installation and the condition of the stone after it has been installed and the objective of the customer.
Daily/Routine MaintenanceThe secret to maintaining any floor surface is to protect it from the harmful effects of erosion. Removing harmful grit and soil as frequently as possible will help to ensure a long life cycle. Dry particulate soil can be removed by sweeping, dust mopping, microfiber cloth systems or vacuums and should be performed at least once per day.
Wet mopping may follow to remove any remaining soil that was not removed in the dry service procedure. A final damp mop of the area can be done to remove any excess solution that may be left on the floor. Excess solution can carry soils into the low spots of a thermal cut or into the pores of a honed floor, which will ultimately end up in soil build-up. On a polished surface, residue left on the surface will cause it to haze, which can be buffed out with a white pad.
Periodic MaintenanceMachine scrubbing with a neutral cleaner and appropriate scrubbing pad, followed by a freshwater rinse, will remove most heavy and embedded soils that may accumulate. Thermal- and honed-surface textures generally require machine scrubbing more frequently than polished stone because of the low areas and porosity of the surface.
Polished granite may require powder polishing from time to time to eliminate the traffic patterns that will appear. Education and training is required for performing these services. There are also cleaning and enhancing chemicals to help augment and improve the look of the stone that are relatively easy to find and use.
Restorative MaintenanceRestorative maintenance for granite flooring may require grinding, honing and polishing. These service procedures should not be performed by amateurs; instead, hire a reputable floor maintenance company that has credentials and experience in this area. If you are a technician looking to get into granite restoration, training is a must.
Granite is the hardest and most durable flooring material in the industry. It has excellent chemical and scratch resistance and a very popular appearance. Maintenance for granite is not difficult, but a program must be incorporated if you want to keep it looking like new.