The use of natural stone tiles in countertops, fireplaces, backsplashes, and flooring has increased in recent years due to their natural beauty and durability.
The market offers you a wide range of natural stones, and each has its attributes. Some of the standard options are granite, marble, travertine, limestone, and slate tiles.
However, these surfaces are porous and stain quickly which can encourage the growth of bacteria. Sealing these surfaces will enhance their performance and functionality.
Sealing these natural stone tiles is relatively inexpensive compared to replacing a stained slap or tiles: thus, you can reseal it once every year to extend the natural stone’s lifespan.
How Porous are Natural Stone Tiles?
Each natural stone has a different absorption rate. There is no natural stone that is entirely inaccessible. However, they have varying degrees of withstanding natural porosity.
Quartz can resist staining because it’s the least porous natural material, thus able to repel spills from juice, coffee, or tomatoes. Still, sealing it makes it a better countertop material because it doesn’t harbour germs and moulds.
Granite has a natural appearance, but it’s susceptible to staining because the material allows liquid to sink into it. A granite countertop with no seal is an excellent ground for bacteria, germs, and mould invasion. For that reason, you should seal the granite surface every year.
Marble is a smooth, cool, beautiful natural stone. However, it’s softer, porous, and less durable as compared to granite. It’s also susceptible to household acids and food-related products. Thus these elements cause etching when in contact with a marble surface. Sealing marble countertops with non-volatile organic compounds (VOCs) will increase its durability and make it stain resistant.
Limestone is attractive, heat resistant, but it’s the most porous natural stone. Therefore, you have to seal every year using a water-based sealer to help it fight porosity.
It’s essential to seal all-natural stone surfaces because they are defenceless against staining on their own. That is, they can’t fight their porous nature without sealing them.
Types of sealers
Today, most contractors install pre-sealed backsplashes and countertops, thus minimizing the need for the first coat after installation. Still, you have to seal the stone preferably once every year to preserve the look and prevent stains using any of the two types of sealers
- Surface Sealers
It’s a strippable coating that is applied on the stone surface and can be removed at any time. The water-based sealer has polymers like acrylic. There are several surface sealers available in the market, including those for tile floors. Therefore, it’s vital to confirm whether the sealer you are buying is appropriate for sealing natural stone.
Surface sealers are less reliable; thus, you have to reapply them regularly to help the stone remain non-porous, and get few stains. On the other hand, surface sealers cause tiles to shine, for they bond with the outer layer of the stone. They shouldn’t be used on very dense, smooth, natural stones like granite, marble, and limestone. The sealer performs well on surfaces that are textured or very porous so that the surface sealer can get a mechanical bond.
- Penetrating Sealers
It’s a permanent coating, thus difficult to remove. The impregnator sealers are produced as solvent-based polymers and meant to be absorbed in the stone. Unlike surface sealers, the penetrating type doesn’t give the stone a gloss or shine.
These sealers are ideal for dense, smooth surfaces, for they need slight stone porosity to enable penetration.
Important Attributes of Sealers
Irrespective of whether a sealer is solvent-based or water-based, the two types of sealers should exhibit certain qualities that enhance the natural stone tiles longevity and performance.
The core business of sealers is to offer protection against contaminants such as liquid spills that stain the surface of your granite, marble, limestone countertop, or backsplashes.
Many cleaning detergents in the market are used to clean stone tiles installed in your home. However, sealers should be resistant to alkaline and acid cleaners to make it live long and minimize frequent reapplication.
Most homeowners ignore this quality when sealing their stone surface. However, it’s vital to allow the moisture-vapour transmission or simply put, allow the stone to breathe. Sealers that inhibit breathing causes the stone to deteriorate or discolour. There are breathable sealers that allow air to pass but repel liquids. These materials are applied 48 hours after installation.
Environmental and Health Consideration
Water-based sealers should be used at homes, hospitals, schools, and workplaces because they are easy to apply. They also have no or less odour, unlike the solvent-based sealers. The latter contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are detrimental to the environment since they are ozone-depleting.
Penetrating sealers never improves the surface appearance of the stone tile. They can even lighten or darken the material. On the other hand, the surface sealers highlight the stone surface, thus enhancing the real colour or beauty that was not visible before sealing it. Therefore, you can consider a natural stone tiles-enhancer sealer when applying a new coat to improve the appearance of a faded or tumbled stone surface. These products will enhance and seal the stone tile at the same time.
Sealers shouldn’t adversely affect the slip of a natural stone tile. Penetrating sealers are designed to get absorbed, and you should wipe the residue. Therefore, this type of sealer doesn’t change the surface coefficient of friction. You should maintain the sealed stone surface properly to reduce slip-fall accidents. You can contact Bundaberg Tiling and Waterproofing for recommendations.
Easy of Reapplication
It’s always a good idea to stick to the same sealer when resealing the stone surface. Stripping off the existing sealer is arduous and difficult; thus, you should select the same or a sealer that can be reapplied again without the need to remove the older coat.
Selecting stone tiles sealers can be challenging because, as stated, there are different types, and they have specific attributes that shouldn’t be compromised. Contact Bundaberg Tiling and Waterproofing, who are experts in stone tiling and will help you choose and apply sealers that have better performance, minimal maintenance and don’t require frequent reapplication.