The definition of a floor is "the inside bottom surface of any room." If you are in a room, you will be on a floor. Gravity will take care of the rest as, ultimately, everything ends up on the floor.
The definition of a floor is “the inside bottom surface of
any room.” If you are in a room, you will be on a floor. Gravity will take care
of the rest, as everything ultimately ends up on the floor.
Microscopic minerals and soils, in conjunction with moisture
and foot traffic, will slowly and methodically scratch the flooring surface. It
will start off as traffic patterns, and ultimately end up as erosion.
Given the fact that mountains are worn away by erosion, what
chance does a floor have?
We are seeing more stone floors now than we ever, both in
the commercial and residential sectors. This gives the floor maintenance
technician an opportunity to expand their offering to include natural-stone
Many technicians shy away from this type of floor
maintenance, believing the liability is too high and that a mistake would cost
them dearly. True, there is the potential of liability, but that is possible
with any floor that a technician may be working on.
The reality of natural stone flooring? It’s a collection of
rocks, and as such, they have been weathering the elements for millions of
When we put a stone floor in and polish it, what we are
doing in essence is speeding up the erosion process by abrading the surface
with diamonds. We start with course diamonds and end with fine diamonds.
By controlling the scratches the diamonds make, we smooth
the surface to a point of reflectivity: the finer the diamonds, the higher the
gloss. Initially, this process may be done at the quarry, the fabrication site
or the job site.
Regardless of where the polishing process takes place, the
end result is a honed or highly reflective floor. The question becomes, how do
we keep it that way?
Once the flooring is down, it will be subjected to the
erosive effects of foot traffic. The amount of erosion will be predicated by
the environmental soiling conditions and the amount of traffic the floor is
To reduce the potential of the floor being scratched by
microscopic grit that will cause traffic patterns, a floor maintenance program
Initial maintenance may be nothing more than mopping the
floor after installation. Many stone floors are polished at the quarry or
fabrication site and require only a little clean up after installation.
In heavy-traffic environments, such as hotel lobbies and
casinos, a powder-polishing program may be set up as initial maintenance to set
the floor right off the bat. Most, though, will just be installed, and
maintenance will start off with the normal routine.
Daily or routine maintenance starts with a good walk-off-mat
program. Keeping the soil outside is a good method of reducing erosion inside
Walk-off-mat programs should really include three types of
matting. Scrapping mats are placed outside and scrape large debris from shoes.
Grass or absorbent mats help remove moisture, and fiber mats collect fine soil
and finish drying the shoe.
The length of mats will also help in reducing the amount of
soil allowed into the facility; the longer the mat, the higher percentage of
Removing soil that has gotten by the matting program can be
accomplished with brooms, dust mops, microfiber systems or vacuums. The
objective is to remove dry soils before they can cause damage. Frequency will
be dictated by the amount of traffic entering the facility.
Some superficial, light and moderate soil may be picked up
with one of the mopping procedures: spot, damp, or wet mopping. Using clean
water and changing it frequently for large areas will remove even more soil
from the surface.
Over a period of time, even with the best matting program
and daily/routine maintenance, the floor will begin to lose its gloss and
deteriorate. When traffic patterns begin to appear, periodic maintenance will
Periodic maintenance for stone floors may incorporate
crystallization methods, powder-polishing methods, diamond-encrusted pads,
diamond-maintenance pads or by diamond-abrasive discs. Some stone floor
manufacturers suggest floor finish programs that treat the floor pretty much
the same as a resilient floor.
Crystallization methods are used on calcium carbonate
(limestone, marble and travertine) flooring, and consist of using a
fluorosilicate polishing chemical on the floor surface.
The combination of the fluorosilicate with the calcium
carbonate causes the calcium carbonate to change into calcium fluorite, which
hardens the surface of the stone and gives it some reflectivity.
Powder polishing consists of using hot or cold powders in
combination with other ingredients to restore gloss to the floor. Hot powders
are chemicals such as oxalic acid that influence the stone to have a chemical
reaction and cause the surface to “flow.”
The combination of chemicals will crystallize and smooth the
surface and increase reflectivity. Cold-powder polishes, which might be used
for harder stones such as granite and serpentine, combine diamond-abrasive
material in the polish and actually abrade the surface without a chemical
Periodic maintenance methods have changed over the years,
and include some methods that are relatively easy and simple to use.
Diamond-abrasive pads are becoming more available. Small 3-inch pads have been
available for some time, and there are newer, diamond-encrusted full-size pad
Each system has different-size abrasives that go from coarse
grits to fine grits, and allow the technician to restore the gloss level to
light-to-moderate traffic wear patterns. Stone flooring technicians use the
same diamond discs that they use for restoration.
When the technician specializes in stone flooring, he or she
will usually have the more expensive diamond discs available anyway.
The periodic maintenance is now much easier for the floor
maintenance technician to accomplish due to the options available, leading more
and more professionals to look into this lucrative category.