ICS Magazine

Stone Polishing: An Add-on Opportunity Awaits

November 5, 2009
Diversification, within reason, has always been a good idea. In today’s economic climate it is a necessity. Unless you are willing to live with less during this protracted recession, you need to find ways to bring in new business from existing customers and find new customers.



Diversification, within reason, has always been a good idea.

In today’s economic climate it is a necessity. Unless you are willing to live with less during this protracted recession, you need to find ways to bring in new business from existing customers and find new customers.

The trick is to find the right approach. The ideal diversification is one with the following characteristics: low initial investment; high profitability; easy training and low risk. By those standards, here’s something for you to consider: stone polishing.

I know, it sounds ridiculous. Stone polishing has always been fraught with risk and difficulty. Anyone moving into the field had to be blessed with a high level of patience, a good insurance policy and had to be trained to the artisan level.

With the introduction of new types of polishing pads, stone polishing now fits the above criteria. It is now inexpensive, low risk, highly profitable and a great way to bring in new business.


Diamond-encrusted pads have been around for quite a while, but, until recently, they have not been able to produce the same kind of results as the more complex procedures, such as acids, powders, pastes and crystallization.

Recent developments in pad technology, though, have made it possible to deliver any level of appearance that the customer may desire, without the mess and risk involved in the other polishing methods.

These new pads come in several different grit sizes, from 200 up to 11,000. The higher the grit size number, the higher the level of polish it produces. The method is simply to move from one pad to another, each pad producing a higher level of shine.

Polishing is performed with pads and tap water, reducing the mess and dropping the risk; it is almost impossible to cause damage with this system.

Let’s walk through the process. First, identify the stone that you are working on. While effective on marble, travertine, terrazzo and other limestone-based products, the pads are not effective on harder stones such as granite.

Next, be sure that the surface is clean and free of any debris that may scratch the surface during the procedure. This will require some standard hard-surface cleaning equipment and standard stone-cleaning chemicals.

Place a pad under a rotary floor machine. For best results the machine should be able to handle about 50 pounds of additional weight. The weight can be in the form of a weighed drive block or unicorn-style weights added to the top of the machine.

Begin with a pad of sufficiently low grit to grind the floor down to a uniform appearance, matching any etching or damage present. Simply spray the floor with plain water and work the floor with the pad until it comes to an evenly dull appearance. You will need to rinse the floor between procedures to remove the slurry produced by the polishing. This will allow you to see how you are progressing, and get the surface clean for the next pad level.

If the floor has that even appearance, move to the next pad. Repeat the process through as many pads as necessary to get the desired appearance.

With this system it is possible to bring the floor to an almost mirror-like shine, but keep in mind that not all customers want that look. You must consult with the customer prior to beginning the job to determine the desired appearance.

Once the right look is achieved, the stone should be sealed with a protective sealant. Some stone is very sensitive to acids; even something as mild as a soda can etch the floor, dulling the appearance and requiring a polishing procedure to bring it back. The sealers are typically easy to apply and are a great source of revenue for you.

An added benefit of this add-on is, the polishing process itself is environmentally friendly. The pads themselves are made of hog’s hair and are biodegradable, and tap water is, well, just about as “green” as it gets.

Diversification is an economic necessity, and add-on opportunities must be seriously evaluated. Stone polishing is a great way to add revenue from your existing customers and to attract new customers in residential and commercial cleaning.