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Get to Know Your Stone

The first step in proper stone care and maintenance is to understand your stone’s geological classification and composition. this information will help you to identify what cleaning products to use and how best to care for your natural stone.

Natural stone is categorized into three basic geological classifications by their respective formation processes: Sedimentary, Metamorphic and igneous. Additionally, stones in each category can be either Calcareous or Siliceous.

Calcareous stone is composed mainly of calcium carbonate, a chemical compound commonly found in natural stone, shells and pearls. Calcium Carbonate is sensitive to acidic solutions so mild, non-acidic cleaners are recommended.

Siliceous stone, as the term implies, is one composed primarily of silicates, such as quartz, feldspar, mica, etc. as such, a siliceous stone is generally resistant to most acids found in kitchen settings, although acidic cleaners are still not recommended, as these stones may contain trace levels of minerals that are acid sensitive.

The following chart will be a helpful guide:

Easy Care Tips

To get the longest life and preserve the beauty of your natural stone, follow these simple tips:

Coasters: Use coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices.

Trivets: While many stones can withstand heat, the use of trivets or mats is recommended.

Dust Mopping: Dust mop interior floors frequently using a clean non-treated dry dust mop. Sand, dirt and grit are abrasive and can damage natural stone.

Mats/rugs: Mats or area rugs inside and outside an entrance will help to minimize the sand, dirt and grit that may scratch the stone floor. Be sure that the underside of the mat or rug is a slip resistant surface.

Vacuum cleaners: If used, be sure the metal or plastic attachments or the wheels are not worn as they can scratch the surface of some stones.

Spills: Blot the spill with a paper towel immediately. Don’t wipe the area, it will spread the spill. Flush the area with water and mild soap and rinse several times. Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth. Repeat as necessary.

Cleaning:

  • Clean stone surfaces with a neutral cleaner, stone soap, or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water.
  • Similar to any item cleaned in your home, an excessive concentration of cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks. Follow manufacturer recommendations.
  • Use a clean rag mop on floors and a soft cloth for other surfaces for best results.
  • Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft cloth.
  • Change the rinse water frequently.
  • In the bath or other wet areas, soap scum can be minimized by using a squeegee after each use. To remove soap scum, use a non-acidic soap scum remover or a solution of ammonia and water (about 1/2 cup ammonia to a gallon of water). Frequent or over-use of an ammonia solution may eventually dull the surface of some stone types.
  • In outdoor pool, patio or hot tub areas, flush with clear water and use mild bleach solution to remove algae or moss.

Cleaning Products:

  • Many suppliers offer products used for stone cleaning.
  • Products containing lemon, vinegar or other acids may dull or etch calcareous stones.
  • Scouring powders or creams often contain abrasives that may scratch certain stones.
  • Many commercially available rust removers (laundry rust stain removers, toilet bowl cleaners) contain trace levels of hydrofluoric acid (HF). This acid attacks silicates in addition to other minerals. All stones, including granite and quartzite, will be attacked if exposed to HF.
  • Do not mix ammonia and bleach. This combination creates a toxic and lethal gas.

Sealing

Sealing is a common step taken on some stones as an extra precaution against staining. In fact, the sealing products used in the stone industry are ‘impregnators” which do not actually seal the stone, but more correctly act as a repellent rather than a sealer. Sealing does not make the stone stain proof, rather it makes the stone more stain resistant. When consulting with your stone supplier, you may find that many stones do not require sealing. However, applying an impregnating sealer is a common practice.

When considering sealing, remember that sealing the stone does not make the stone stain proof, it makes it more resistant to staining.

If a sealer is applied in a food preparation area, be sure that it is non-toxic and safe for use.

Consult with your supplier or sealing manufacturer specific to the type of sealer and frequency of use recommended.

Stain Identification Tips

Identifying the type of stain on the stone surface is the key to removing it. Stains can be oil based, organic, metallic, biological, ink based, paint based, acid based. If you don’t know what caused the stain, consider likely staining agents that may have been present. Here are some questions you consider:

Where is the Stain Located?

  • Is it near a plant, a food service area, an area where cosmetics are used?
  • What color is it?
  • What is the shape or pattern?
  • What occurs in the area around the stain?

Stain Removal Steps

Surface stains can often be removed by cleaning with an appropriate cleaning product or household chemical.

What Type of Stain is It?

The following sections describe the types of stains you may have to deal with and the appropriate household chemicals to use and how to prepare and apply a poultice to remove the stain.

Oil-based

(grease, plumbers’ putty, tar, cooking oil, milk, cosmetics)

An oil-based stain will darken the stone and normally must be chemically dissolved so the source of the stain can be flushed or rinsed away. Clean gently with a soft, liquid cleanser with one of the following: household detergent, mineral spirits, or acetone.

Organic

(coffee, tea, wine, fruit, tobacco, paper, food, urine, leaves, bark, bird droppings)

May cause a pinkish-brown stain and may disappear after the source of the stain has been removed. Outdoors, with the sources removed, sun and rain action will generally bleach out the stains. Indoors, clean with 12% hydrogen peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia.

Metal

(iron, rust, copper, bronze)

Iron or rust stains are orange to brown in color and follow the shape of the staining object such as nails, bolts, screws, cans, flower pots, metal furniture. Copper and bronze stains appear as green or muddy-brown and result from the action of moisture on nearby or embedded bronze, copper or brass items. Metal stains must be removed with a poultice. (See website on Using a Poultice –

www.marble-institute.com/consumers/poultices.cfm. Deep-seated, rustystains are extremely difficult to remove and the stone may be permanently stained.

Biological

(algae, mildew, lichens, moss, fungi)

Clean with diluted cleaning solution. Use a 1/2 cup of any of the following: ammonia, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide and a gallon of water. Reminder: do not mix bleach and ammonia.

Ink

(magic marker, pen, ink)

On light colored stones, clean with bleach or hydrogen peroxide. On dark colored stones, clean with lacquer thinner or acetone.

Paint

Small amounts can be removed with lacquer thinner or scraped off carefully with a razor blade. Heavy paint coverage should be removed only with a commercial “heavy liquid” paint stripper available from hardware stores and paint centers. These strippers normally contain caustic soda or lye. Do not use acids or flame tools to strip paint from stone. Paint strippers can etch the surface of the stone; repolishing may be necessary. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for use of these products, and flush the area thoroughly with clean water. Protect yourself with rubber gloves and eye protection, and work in a well-ventilated area. Use only wood or plastic scrapers for removing the sludge and curdled paint. Normally, latex and acrylic paints will not cause staining. Oil-based paints, linseed oil, putty, caulks and sealants may cause oily stains. Refer to the section on oil-based stains.

Water Spots and Rings

(surface accumulation of hard water)

Buff with dry 0000 steel wool.

Fire and Smoke Damage

Older stones and smoke or firestained fireplaces may require a thorough cleaning. When the smoke is removed, there may also be some etching (due to carbonic & other acids in smoke). Commercially available “smoke removers” may save time and effort.

Etch Marks

(caused by acids left on the surface of the stone)

Some materials will etch the finish but not leave a stain. Others will both etch and stain. Contact your stone dealer or call a professional stone restorer for refinishing or repolishing etched areas.

Efflorescence

(a white powder that may appear on the surface of the stone)

It is caused by the deposition of mineral salts carried by water from below the surface of the stone. When the water evaporates, it leaves the powdery substance. If the installation is new, dust mop or vacuum the powder. You may have to do this several times as the stone dries out. Do not use water to remove the powder; it will only temporarily disappear. If the problem persists, contact your installer to help identify and remove the cause of the moisture.

Scratches and Nicks

Slight surface scratches may be buffed with dry 0000 steel wool. Deeper scratches and nicks in the surface of the stone should be repaired and repolished by a professional.

Using a Poultice

Go to www.marble-institute.com/consumers/poultices.cfm for more information, or call a stone professional (recommended).

Natural Stone Easy to Clean and Maintain!

Call your professional stone supplier, installer or a restoration specialist for problems that appear too difficult to handle.

This article from MIA web site>

http://www.marble-institute.com/consumers/care.cfm

Like any major purchase, you should only spend what you can afford to spend. That means setting a budget and sticking to it. If you work with a professional kitchen designer, he'll help you make the most of it - and he'll respect the budget you've set.

As for payment, there are a number of options. Some homeowners tap into personal savings to get the kitchen of their dreams. Others take out home equity loans. And many times, professional kitchen/bath firms will work with lending institutions to offer financing options much like car dealers do. If you're buying a house and know you'll need to remodel the kitchen, you may be able to incorporate the costs in your mortgage.

The price for a new kitchen or bathroom will be affected by (1) where you buy it (2) what features it includes and (3) the brands/models you select.

For kitchens, pricing can range from $5,000 or so (if you do some work yourself) to as much as $150,000 and higher. On average, a kitchen will cost from $15,000 - $22,100, including design, products and installation.

Bathroom prices generally average between $6,500 and $9,300 when you're replacing everything. Again, the cost can be lower or considerably higher depending on what you're looking for.

Before any work begins on your kitchen or bathroom, get detailed, written estimates, project specifications and signed contracts from the professionals you hire. Make sure they're bonded and insured. (If you work with an NKBA member, he/she will likely coordinate all of your sub-contractors for you.) Check references carefully. Your designer should prepare project drawings including floor plans and renderings that clearly represent your project. If anything changes mid-project, you should be asked to sign a change order.

Most firms will require a percentage (usually 50% or so) when you sign the contract, additional payment (usually 40% or so) when cabinets are delivered or installation begins, and the balance (10% or so) when the job is complete. You may also be required to pay a design retainer at the start of the job.

How much you can or should attempt to do depends on your ability and knowledge of remodeling. You'll definitely be able to tear out old cabinets (be careful not to damage walls and beams), take up old vinyl flooring and handle trash removal. You may also want to paint or wallpaper on your own. You're better off letting the pros handle plumbing and appliance hook-ups -- if you try it on your own, you may violate building codes or invalidate manufacturer warranties. And let a professional installer put your new cabinets in so that they look their best.

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters. GFCI monitors the balance of electrical current moving through the circuit. If an imbalance occurs, GFCI cuts off the electricity. Its purpose is to prevent fatal electrical shocks. As you know, water and electricity are a deadly combination. Since both are necessary in kitchens and bathrooms, all switches, sockets, breakers and circuits for those rooms should be GFCI protected for your family's safety.
 
The "work triangle" is the kitchen area from the refrigerator to the main cooking area to the main sink. Connect the three and it should form a triangle (unless you have a 'one-wall' kitchen). It's important because at or immediately adjacent to the triangle's points all the key kitchen activities -- food preparation, cooking and clean up -- take place. The work triangle helps to ensure that your kitchen will be functional. It keeps cooking activities centered in one area, with all the necessities close at hand. See NKBA's Kitchen Planning Guidelines for more information.

No single element of a bathroom remodeling comprises a significantly larger portion of the costs than other elements. Cabinets are one of the biggest parts of the budget, accounting for 34% of costs, on average. So, the type and quality of cabinets you select will affect your total costs.

Not surprisingly, fixtures and fittings account for a high cost percentage in the bathroom. Expense for fixtures and fittings will vary depending on the brand, type of materials, and array of products you select.

In bathrooms, installation accounts for nearly a quarter of the total cost. This is because the installation work in a bathroom tends to be intricate (for example, tile setting). If you're looking to cut corners, this is probably not the place to do it.

Cabinets account for about half the total cost of the project and will have the greatest impact on your budget. They range in price considerably based on quality, the type of material they are made of, and whether they are stock (ready made in specific sizes) or custom (produced specifically for your kitchen in whatever sizes are needed).

The material you choose for surfaces including counters, backsplashes and floors can also account for variations in price.

Other key elements that factor in to the equation are talent and workmanship. In the remodeling business, you tend to get what you pay for. An accomplished designer, skilled sub-tradesmen and expert installation crew may cost more. But you'll appreciate their ability every time you use your kitchen.

You'll probably meet first at his office or showroom to share your ideas and basic needs. Then he'll come to your home to take careful measurements of the space, make note of plumbing and structural elements, and get a feel for your home's style. He'll also ask a lot of questions about your kitchen or bathroom, lifestyle and family. He'll be listening carefully so that the finished room you work to create reflects your personal taste and how you use the space. You'll choose products, colors and materials together, working within your budget. The relationship can go only as far as creating your design, or you may have the design professional act as a consultant, or he may manage the entire project for you -- including hiring sub-contractors and scheduling the work and supervising the installation.

Like most things about your new kitchen, it will depend on how you and your family use the appliance. From a safety and accessibility standpoint, the microwave should be positioned so that the bottom of the appliance is 24" to 48" above the floor. Consult with your designer for the best place to locate it. See NKBA's Kitchen Planning Guidelines for more information.

There are a lot of professionals out there - interior designers, architects, remodeling contractors, but your best bet is to pick a designer or firm that specializes in the kitchen and bath area. There are thousands of companies that offer kitchen/bath design and installation services - many of them belong to the National Kitchen & Bath Association. There are also thousands of individuals certified by NKBA as Certified Kitchen Designers and/or Certified Bathroom Designers. If you'd like a referral to some professionals in your area, go to Find A Design Professional.

ProfessionalDesigners Provide Best Results for Kitchen or Bathroom Projects.

 Planning a kitchen or bathroom project can be a fun andexciting endeavor to undertake, but it is also a very complex job. There are anumber of items to consider, including layout, style, materials and products,safety issues, and building codes. to ensure that the job is done right, seekthe assistance of a kitchen or bathroom professional. A professional can helpwith design, product selection and installation. Also, according to theNational Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), the use of quality productscombined with the services of a professional can yield an 85 percent to 120percent return on the initial investment.

 Why Choose AProfessional?

A professional designer has access to the kitchen andbathroom planning guidelines, as established by the NKBA. The guidelines play acrucial role in making your kitchen or bathroom both functional and safe. Theyoutline the required amounts of counter space, how and where appliances orfixtures should be positioned, how much cabinet space should be allotted,safety considerations, and other significant design elements.

Professional designers are trained to identify the specificneeds of the client and to provide design expertise and creative solutions thatwill enhance the aesthetic beauty of the room, as well as its function. Theirexperience has taught them to detect potential problems that might beoverlooked by someone who does not specialize in kitchen or bathroom design.

 For example:  The correct use and selection of theappliances is imperative to the success of a kitchen project.  A kitchen specialist would understand therequirements of the client and the limitations of the structure, preventing anyproblems with location or function.


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