Why Backsplashes Are Essential

Backsplashes are the part of your countertop installation that hides gaps between the countertop and the wall, but more importantly, will protect your walls and cabinets from spills and cleaning products. It is not uncommon for clients to forget that a granite or other natural stone backsplash will factor into the square footage costs for a countertop installation. Sometimes budget-conscious clients will suggest going with a cheaper material for the backsplash or forgoing a backsplash altogether to save money. This article explains why it is best to have a granite or natural stone backsplash installed with a new countertop.

Why Caulk Isn’t Enough

Caulk is a poor substitute for a true granite or natural stone backsplash. There are numerous reasons why caulk alone is a bad idea. Caulk can break down and wear away over time, allowing moisture to seep into surrounding materials. Backsplashes are a more permanent and reliable solution. In addition, walls are not as straight as they seem to be. Granite or other types of natural stone are generally cut by a fabricator in a perfectly straight line. When you align a straight edge with an imperfect edge, there will inevitably be gaps. Caulk is an inadequate solution for this problem, whereas a backsplash will easily hide gaps, making a dramatic difference in the aesthetic appeal of your countertops.

Removing An Old Backsplash

Unless your new countertops are being installed in a new home, the old backsplash will need to be removed before the new countertops are installed. This will likely result in some cosmetic damage to the walls. If no new backsplash is installed, your walls will need to be repaired and repainted to cover the now-exposed space where the backsplash used to be. Having a granite or natural stone backsplash installed with your new countertop will eliminate this problem.

Cheaper Materials Can Be Costly

Sometimes budget-conscious clients will select a cheaper material, such as ceramic tile, for the backsplash. They will have it installed in leu of the more expensive granite or natural stone backsplash made of the same material as the countertop. This may end up costing as much or more in the long run. Just as fees for countertop design and installation are not based on square footage alone, the fees for tile installation are not based solely on the price of the tile. Additional costs for materials include grout and spacers, and unless you already know how to install tile, plan on factoring in labor costs, too. If a client who has had a granite or other natural stone countertop installed decides later on to have granite backsplashes added, there is no guarantee a matching lot will be available, no matter how much the client is willing to pay. Natural stone is unique, varying from one lot to the next.

Plan on including a granite or other natural stone backsplash with your new countertop installation. It is a valuable investment that really ought to be considered an essential part of your kitchen or bath design.

Top 10 Causes of Grout Turning Yellow

Top 10 Causes of Grout Turning Yellow

Home and business owners and property managers have a common complaint about the grout in their showers and floors turning yellow. Testing can help determine what is causing the problem. Solutions will vary, depending on the cause. Here are the details.

1. Toiletries

Shampoos, soaps, and other personal items used in showers contain chemicals that can cause discoloration, and hence, yellowing of grout. This is especially true of hair dyes and shampoos that contain coloring agents. Check the product labels to see whether products contain dyes, polymers, or other ingredients that may cause grout to turn yellow.

2. Body Oils

Skin and hair oils contain many contaminants that can cause discoloration of not only grout but also tile. These body oils are what cause the familiar yellow stain, ring-around-the-collar.

3. Sealers and Waxes

Sealers and various waxes can contain polymers that can discolor over time and cause yellowing.

4. Grout Type

Numerous grout types are prone to yellowing. For example, white epoxy grouts are notorious for turning yellow.

5. Cleaning Products

Certain cleaners, especially those that contain dyes, can cause discoloration of grout. Household bleach commonly discolors grout. Check the product labels to see whether products contain dyes, polymers, or other ingredients that may cause grout to turn yellow.

6. Iron

Certain water supplies contain iron. Water containing iron can deposit minerals on the grout that can oxidize and cause a yellow discoloration. If the water used to mix the grout during installation contained iron, this can also cause discoloration. Your professional stone and tile restoration technician can do a test to determine if your water supply and/or your grout contain iron. If your water supply contains iron, install a water filtration system.

7. Dirty Water

Water used to mop floors can rapidly get dirty. The dirt, oils, etc. will settle on the grout lines and cause a yellow cast. It is important to keep your mop head clean and change the mop water often.

8. Cigarette Smoke

Cigarette smoke can settle on grout lines, causing the grout to turn yellow. Obviously, smoking outdoors will eliminate further yellowing of grout, as well as walls, furniture, and household items.

9. Aerosol Sprays

Hairspray, air freshener, and other aerosol sprays can sometimes cause grout discoloration. Check the product labels to see whether products contain dyes, polymers, or other ingredients that may cause grout to turn yellow.

10. Bleed Over

Certain tile types, such as white marble, contain iron. Iron from the tile can bleed into the grout and oxidize, causing the grout to turn yellow.

As you can see, there are numerous reasons for your grout to turn yellow. An experienced stone and tile restoration professional will have the knowledge, skills, and equipment to accurately diagnose and resolve most grout yellowing problems.

Recolor or Replace Yellowed Grout?

A good professional cleaning can often remove contaminants that cause grout to turn yellow. Once your grout is completely clean, ask your professional stone and tile restoration technician to seal the grout with a good penetrating sealer. Be sure to take the necessary precautions, such as discontinuing the use of certain products, smoking outside, or installing a water filtration system, so that your grout will not turn yellow again.

Some grout stains will permanently set, especially those that have been on or in the grout for a long time. If so, your stone and tile restoration technician can apply a high-quality grout color sealer, for a fresh, clean look, as long as the grout is in good condition and not falling apart. Grout that is in poor condition should be removed and replaced.

4 Most Common Carpet Problems

Keeping carpets fresh, clean, and inviting does not need to be difficult. This article addresses the four most common carpet problems and how they can be resolved or avoided.

Common Carpet Problems

The true condition of carpeting goes much deeper than what you can see. Spots, odor, allergens, and dirt are the four most common carpet problems. Of these problems, spots are usually conspicuous and odor can alert home or business owners to a problem, whereas the other problems may not be as apparent. Allergens in carpet can go unnoticed until people with allergies have some sort of reaction. Many people do not realize that dirt and other abrasive contaminants cause premature wear. Once signs of wear become apparent, the damage is already done.

How to Remove Carpet Spots

It is hard to look past spots on carpet. These unsightly marks can have a way of making people question the overall cleanliness of your home, even if your home is perfectly clean. Basic spot removal procedures are as follows. First, remove any loose debris. Use a paper towel to grab and lift, or if necessary, use a spoon or plastic spatula to scrape the carpet. If the spot is dry, vacuum up any remaining loose stuff. If the spot is wet, use a clean white cloth to blot up the moisture, rotating to clean areas of the cloth as you progress. This can take a while. Be patient. For carpets with protective treatment, moistening a clean white cloth with plain water and dabbing the spot may be enough. Use a dry white cloth to remove any excess moisture once the spot is gone. For more challenging spots, refer to the spot removal tips starting on page 10 of our free, downloadable Carpet and Interior Textiles Care Guide.


Carpeting acts like a large filter. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the level of care your carpet receives. Indoor air quality improves with carpeting, because it traps all kinds of odors. However, odors, and especially pet odors, can be a big turn-off. With regular vacuuming and professional carpet cleaning your indoor air AND your carpet can smell clean and fresh.


For people with allergies or sensitivity to dust particles, removing dust, dirt, allergens, and other pollutants from your carpet is especially important. Sneezing and watery eyes are no fun. To resolve this problem, vacuum often. Use high quality HEPA filters in both your HVAC system and your vacuum cleaner. These filters can help trap small particles and prevent them from moving through the air or landing on your carpet.


Carpets that look brand new create a positive first impression. The best way to prevent premature wear of your carpeting is to vacuum often so that abrasive dirt and debris does not have a chance to break down the tiny fibers deep down in your carpet. Regular, professional deep cleaning will remove damage-causing grit that becomes embedded despite vacuuming. Professional cleaning will also help bring out the color and like-new beauty of your carpets.

Fresh, clean carpets enhance the quality of your living space. Actively resolving or avoiding the most common carpet problems can go a long way in not only making your space feel more inviting, but also in maximizing the life of your carpet.

Carpet and Interior Textiles Care Tips

Simple, Inexpensive Carpet and Interior Textiles Care Tips

If you are like most people, the more time you spend at home, the more you discover room for improvement in your living space. If you are planning home improvement projects and spring cleaning, be sure to add carpet and upholstery care to your to-do list. When it comes to carpeting, upholstery, and other interior textiles, cleanliness is a simple and inexpensive way to improve the appeal of your home. Here’s what you can do:

Treat Spots

It can be as difficult to overlook a spot on carpet or upholstery as it is to overlook a blob of mustard on someone’s white shirt. Like tending to a spot on clothing, time is of the essence. Hopefully, you are aware of a spot as soon as it happens, but even if you discover a spot after the fact, you may still be able to remove it.

First remove any solid debris. Press a clean white cloth into the spot if it is moist to soak up and lift the spill out of the surface. Repeat as needed until no more moisture transfer is taking place. Apply a mild detergent solution to a fresh white cloth. Dab and blot the surface in an inconspicuous area to test for possible discoloration. If all goes well, dab and blot the spot. Avoid rubbing the spot, because this will cause it to spread into the surrounding surface. Alternate moistened cloths and dry fresh cloths to repeat the process, as needed — dab and blot, then absorb moisture, dab and blot again, and so on. More often than not, professional cleaning and spot removal can remove particularly stubborn spots.

Get Rid of Dirt

Interior textiles that look brand new create a welcoming atmosphere. The best way to prevent premature wear on carpets and upholstery is to vacuum often. When dirt, grit, and other abrasive contaminants are left on the surface of carpets and upholstery, they act like sandpaper. Vacuuming removes most of these damaging particles. A professional deep cleaning will extract any debris and grime that gets trapped deep within the fibers.

Banish Odors and Allergens

Carpeting acts like a large filter that traps all kinds of odors and allergens, but especially pet odors. Upholstery, drapery, and other interior textiles can trap odors and allergens, as well. Eliminating dust, dirt, dander, allergens, and other pollutants from your home is especially important for people with allergies or sensitivity to dust particles. Vacuuming regularly can help keep your carpeting and interior textiles clean and fresh. Keep your vacuum in tip-top shape in order to prevent particles from escaping your vacuum, returning into the indoor air, and settling back onto carpets and upholstery. Use high quality vacuum bags, do not allow bags to become overly full, and never reuse bags.

Read Our Carpet and Interior Textiles Care Guide

For good, sound care information on treating spots, maintaining your vacuum cleaner, and more, read our free, downloadable Carpet and Interior Textiles Care Guide. Chances are you will find the answers to any questions you may have about caring for your carpet, upholstery, or other interior textiles in this valuable resource, and of course, you can always feel free to contact us with specific questions.

Carpet Cleaning

Immaculately Cleaned Carpets – Guaranteed

The cleanliness of your carpet or other flooring makes an impact on the health and overall appearance of your property. A Certified SurpHaces PRO Partner also understands that your carpeting is a significant investment. That’s why a PRO is delighted to offer high-quality carpet cleaning services with your satisfaction guaranteed. Their solutions are designed to help you maintain a quality first impression and protect your health and investment over the long haul.

Whether you only need a few rooms cleaned or are seeking services for an entire office complex, a cleaning and sanitizing professional is up to the job. PRO detail-oriented, highly skilled technicians stand ready to fully eliminate contaminants, stains and odors from your carpeting in a timely and effective manner.

Convenient Carpet Cleanings

As a valuable client, a PRO respects you, your time and your property and they are committed to clear, efficient communication in order to fully satisfy or exceed your expectations. For your convenience, a PRO offers flexible scheduling, free phone estimates, and a quick response to your call. They also offer emergency response services.

Our Cleaning Promise To You

A highly qualified carpet cleaning team is ready and waiting to provide the world-class cleaning and service that you deserve. They are so confident in their expertise that they offer this guarantee: If you are not completely satisfied with the cleaning they provided, they will return and clean it again at no charge. If you are still not completely satisfied, a PRO will cheerfully refund your money.

Commercial Carpet Cleaning Services

Your carpeting says a lot about the way you run your business. The cleaner your carpets look, the more appealing your place of business is likely to be. A clean, well-maintained office or storefront can entice clients and encourage productivity and job satisfaction in your employees. Conversely, dirty, dingy floors have a negative, off-putting impact on employees and customers alike. A certified SurpHaces Pro Partner wants to help you make the best impression the first time and all the time by providing the most thorough deep cleaning of your carpets you have ever experienced. Their team of professionals goes the extra mile to get your floors looking their best. They offer comprehensive commercial carpet cleaning services to businesses of all sizes.


As a general rule, your carpets should be professionally cleaned about every six months to a year. For extremely heavy traffic areas, cleaning may be required more often. Proper professional cleaning will not leave a sticky residue behind and can be done as many times per year as needed without damaging or reducing the lifespan of your carpet. PRO highly skilled technicians are thoroughly educated and trained in safely and effectively removing dust, dirt, allergens, and other pollutants from your carpet. Their cleaning process extracts debris and grime trapped deep within carpet fibers, leaving the texture and appearance beautiful and sanitary.

What You Can Do To Maximize Your Carpet’s Life

When it comes to maintaining your carpet, one of the most critical areas of focus is high traffic areas. If ground in soil is not removed on a regular basis, these traffic areas will begin to wear excessively. Weekly to daily vacuuming (depending on traffic volume) is a must. For the best results vacuum slowly and evenly.

Entry mats which are regularly taken out and shaken can also retard wear by helping to reduce the amount of grit and grime tracked through the rest of the property.

The second area of focus, of course, is spot removal. You must react to ‘danger’ spots immediately. Red wine, red beverages, urine, blood, etc. can cause a permanent stain if not treated immediately. Unless you are familiar with the chemistry involved and understand which detergents work best with the particular spill or spot you are dealing with, use only water to do this spot cleaning. Some detergents which are great on one particular type of spot could actually permanently set another. If spot treating doesn’t work, please reach out to a PRO so they can either advise you further or take care of the spot for you.

Be sure to visit our Carpet and Textiles Care page for helpful tips for cleaning spills, regular maintenance guidelines, and a free, downloadable Carpet and Interior Textiles Care Guide.

Let’s discuss your needs. Contact us today.

Upholstery Cleaning


Kids, pets, guests, and general usage all cause wear and tear on your furniture. Regularly scheduled cleaning restores the beauty and extends the life or your upholstery by removing dirt, dust, and allergens trapped deep within the fibers. A Certified SurpHaces PRO Partner’s highly effective cleaning process is safe and healthy, and leaves your furniture refreshed and inviting.

Professional Upholstery Cleaning

PRO expert technicians are trained in proper cleaning solutions and methods. Upholstered furniture comes in a variety of materials and manufacturing methods. One cleaning process will not necessarily work for all upholstered furniture. Special considerations such as color fastness and dimensional stability of the fabric must be taken into consideration. A Certified SurpHaces PRO Partner provides the cleaning process that is right for your specific furniture. As with all PRO services – your satisfaction is our goal.

Fine Upholstery Cleaning

A PRO has decades of experience cleaning and protecting fine upholstery. Kids, pets, guests, and general usage all take a toll on your furniture.  PRO expert technicians are thoroughly educated and trained in proper cleaning methods and solutions for your furniture, from removing dirt, dust, and allergens trapped deep within the upholstery fibers to applying protective treatments. The PRO highly effective cleaning process is safe and healthy, and leaves your furniture refreshed and inviting.

Certified SurpHaces PRO Partner services include:

  • Pre-inspection for soil, damage, or any potentially permanent stains
  • Service area preparation, such as moving furniture not being cleaned
  • Pre-vacuum
  • Pretreat stains and spills to emulsify problem areas
  • Soil extraction and rinse
  • Application of protective treatment (additional cost)
  • Speed drying time with blower
  • Post inspection with client to review the quality of service

Fabric Protection Treatment

Choosing to apply fabric protection is the best possible way to protect your new upholstered furniture and to keep it looking new. Treated upholstery will last longer, look better for longer, and clean easier. Manufacturer-applied stain protection doesn’t last forever. Without protection, spills, dirt, and grime can become permanent stains. PRO technicians apply a non-allergenic, odorless spray to all surfaces of the upholstered item. The application ‘wicks’ into the fibers of the fabric creating a protective barrier against soil and stains.

Fabric Protection Treatment Does NOT:

  • Change the look of the fabric
  • Change the feel of the fabric

Did you know?

Not only does a fabric protection treatment create a barrier against stains and spills, it has been shown to provide a barrier against the dirt and dust particles that cause excess abrasion and can cause premature fabric wear.

Contact us today to discuss your upholstery cleaning needs. Be sure to visit our Carpet and Textiles Care page for helpful tips for cleaning spills and regular maintenance and a free, downloadable Carpet and Textiles Care Guide.

Let’s discuss your needs. Contact us today.

Fine Rug Cleaning

Your Fine Rugs Safely and Expertly Cleaned

To prolong the beauty of your fine rugs, A Certified SurpHaces PRO Partner provides expert cleaning in their facility for all types of hand made rugs, including: wools, silks, dhurries, braided and needlepoint rugs. PRO technicians are educated and trained to know what cleaning procedures and solutions are appropriate for your specific type of rug, considering its fibers, dyes, and construction, as well as the age and level of soiling.

PRO services may include:

  • Pre-inspection for soil, damage, or any potentially permanent stains
  • Pre-vacuum
  • Pretreat stains and spills to emulsify problem areas
  • Soil extraction and rinse
  • Application of protective treatment (additional cost)
  • Climate controlled dry room
  • Final vacuum
  • Post inspection to review the quality of service

Oriental rugs

Oriental rugs should be professionally cleaned every two to four years. a PRO uses a process that includes hand washing the fine rugs with soap created specifically for wool. Automatic machines are not used. Cleaning detail is given to the fringe as well. Depending on the size of a rug, it is then either rinsed in a large extraction machine or rinsed by hand. After rugs are cleaned they are hung in a climate controlled dry room where low heat and dehumidified air allows them to dry slowly – without harming the natural lanolin in the wool. A final, thorough vacuuming and inspection to completes the process. All rugs are insured.

Let’s discuss your needs. Contact us today.

Draperies and Shades

Professional Cleaning for Draperies and Shades

It is commonly reported throughout the industry, and confirmed through our own years of experience in the drapery cleaning business, that draperies and sheers cleaned and properly maintained will last 40 – 50% longer. Ultimately, having your draperies and shades professionally cleaned will save you time and money, and help significantly delay the cost of replacement.

Certified SurpHaces PRO Partner services may include:

  • Pre-inspection for soil, damage, or any potentially permanent stains
  • Service area preparation, such as moving furniture out of the way
  • Pre-vacuum
  • Pretreat stains and spills to emulsify problem areas
  • Soil extraction and rinse
  • Application of protective treatment (additional cost)
  • Speed drying time with blower
  • Post inspection with client to review the quality of service

Let’s discuss your needs. Contact us today.

How To Prevent Etching When Disinfecting Stone

Disinfecting countertop surfaces, including natural stone countertops, is important to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases and harmful bacterias, and other contaminants. Unfortunately, not all disinfecting cleaners are safe for natural stone. This article offers sound advice on how to disinfect your tops without accidentally causing etch damage, as well as what to do if you already have etch damage.

Etch Damage

Etching is chemical damage on the uppermost layer, or finish, of natural stone. When acidic substances react with the calcium in stone, the texture and appearance of the stone changes. Many people refer to etch damage as “water marks” because it often resembles the little puddle left on a countertop when condensation drips down the sides of a glass. Plain water can be wiped away, of course. Etch damage, which cannot simply be wiped away, can have that same circular shape when acidic drink spills go unnoticed a little too long.

Use a Stone-Safe Disinfectant Cleaner

For specific product recommendations for disinfecting, the Environmental Protection Agency published List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2. Check the label of whatever product you plan to use to be sure that it specifically states that it is safe to use on natural stone. You may also use this DIY cleaner: Mix 50% isopropyl rubbing alcohol with 50% water. This will be an effective disinfecting agent, provided you allow the solutions to dwell on your countertop for 3-5 minutes.

How to Remove Etch Damage

If your countertop already has etch damage, you may be able to remove it yourself using a marble polishing compound, provided the etch damage is minor, limited to a small area, and your countertop has a polished finish. Run your finger along the etch mark. If it has a different texture than the surrounding stone, the etch is likely too deep to remove using DIY methods. If your top has a honed finish, removing the etch will also create a shiny spot on the finish that does not match the surrounding stone. Your stone restoration technician can hone and polish to remove etch damage and restore the factory finish of your countertop.

For more information, refer to our recent article, The Coronavirus and Your Stone Countertops and our free, downloadable Stone and Tile Care Guide. Feel free to contact us with specific questions.

Graffiti Removal

Graffiti Removal Procedure for Stone, Masonry, and Tile Surfaces

by Fred Hueston

If your beautiful building, wall, or other surface has just become the unintended canvas for graffiti, your first reaction might be to call your maintenance staff to pressure wash it away. Unfortunately, pressure washing can leave stains behind or shadowing caused by the high pressured water. If you are dealing with paint, markers, or other water-soluble types of graffiti, as well as post-cleanup stains or shadowing on stone, tile, brick, or masonry, this article offers some guidance on what to do next.

Graffiti Types

There are many kinds of paints, markers, or other mediums that are used for graffiti. The most common types are aerosol paints and felt tip markers because they are easy to acquire and relatively inexpensive. Other graffiti mediums include chalk, charcoal, foods such as ketchup and mustard, red clay, and more. Any graffiti created with water-soluble material will be easy to remove with a mild washing.

Scribing is a type of graffiti that often causes permanent damage since a knife, screwdriver, rock, or other sharp object is used to scrape away the surface.

Graffiti Removal Rules

When it comes to graffiti removal, here are some very important considerations.


The longer graffiti remains on a surface, the more likely it is to soak into the surface. The deeper it penetrates into the surface, the more difficult it will be to remove. For this reason, you will want to attempt removal as soon as possible.


During summer months and in areas with warm climates, graffiti will dry faster and will have a tendency to penetrate deeper than in colder climates.


High pressure washing and abrasive brushes should be avoided, especially on soft stone, brick, and masonry surfaces. These methods may remove the graffiti but could leave a deep mark or what is called shadowing which is nearly impossible to correct.


Be careful choosing the proper cleaners or stain removers. Certain chemicals will emulsify the paint and drive it deeper into the surface making removal even more difficult.

Removing Graffiti

Step 1

Attempt to identify the graffiti type. Identification is key, since it will help you choose the proper chemical. Paint or marker are water-based or solvent-based mediums. Water-based paints can generally be removed with mild detergents, whereas solvent-based paints will require mineral spirits, paint stripper, or other solvent-based cleaning agents. The best way to find out what type of medium you are dealing with is to test a small area as follows. Once you know the medium, proceed to Step 2.

CAUTION: Make sure to do the water-based test first, since water-based paints can give false-positive test results with the solvent-based test.

Water-Based Test
Mix some mild detergent, such as a pH-neutral cleaner or dish soap and water in a spray bottle. Saturate a small area and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Wipe it off with a soft, white cloth. You may also agitate the area with a soft nylon bristle brush. If the graffiti comes off easily, then you are dealing with a water-based paint.

Solvent-Based Test
Moisten a clean, white rag with a small amount of mineral spirits. Gently blot the graffiti. If the graffiti is easily removed, then you are dealing with a solvent-based paint.

Step 2

  1. Prepare a solution, per the manufacturer’s dilution instructions, of a pH-neutral cleaner or dish soap and water in a bucket or sprayer.
  2. Rinse the surface with plain, clean water. This step is important, because it removes any potentially abrasive material such as dust, dirt, or grit from the surface.
  3. Apply the cleaning solution with a soft nylon scrub brush. Work from the bottom of the wall to the top. Do not let the solution dry. If necessary, work in small sections. Lightly scrub the surface with the nylon brush and rinse with clean water.
  4. If the above technique does not remove the graffiti, proceed to step 3.

Step 3

  1. Make sure the surface is dry before proceeding further.
  2. Put some paint stripper, such as mineral spirits, in a chemical-resistant spray bottle.
  3. Apply a mist to the graffiti and scrub with a dry nylon brush.
  4. Rinse the area with paint stripper.
  5. Repeat this process, working in small areas at a time, from the bottom of the wall up. Be sure to rinse any streaks as you work.
  6. If the graffiti is not totally removed, this means it is a stain.

General Instructions for Removing Stains

To remove a stain, apply a poultice, that is, a paste made of an absorbent powder mixed with a chemical. As the poultice dries, it wicks or lifts the stain out of the pores in the surface. First, select the appropriate ingredients.

Poultice Ingredients

Following are some types of poultice powders to mix with your cleaning agent:

  • Clays (Attapulgite, Kaolin, Fullers Earth) WARNING: DO NOT USE ON RUST STAINS
  • Talc
  • Chalk (whiting)
  • Sepiolite (hydrous magnesium silicate)
  • Diatomaceous Earth
  • Methyl Cellulose

Clays and diatomaceous earth are usually the best. Do not use whiting or iron-type clays, such as Fullers Earth, with acidic chemicals. They will react with the material, canceling the effect of the poultice.

Many stains are so deeply embedded that the poultice alone will not be completely effective. Some type of chemical solution will need to be added to the poultice. When the poultice and chemical are applied, the chemical is absorbed into the stone or masonry. The chemical reacts with the stain and is re-absorbed into the powder/material.

Following are suggested poultice ingredients. Please use extra caution when handling the chemicals listed below. Thoroughly read the Safety Data Sheets for each chemical before use.

  • Iron (rust) – Poultice with Iron Out + powder + water. Iron Out is available at hardware stores. This may etch polished marble. If so, re-polishing will be necessary.
  • Ink – Poultice with mineral spirits or methylene chloride + powder.
  • Oil – Poultice with ammonia + powder. Methylene chloride can also be used on tough oil stains.
  • Coffee, Tea & Food – Poultice with 20 percent hydrogen peroxide + powder.
  • Copper – Poultice with ammonium chloride + powder.
  • Water-Based Paint – Poultice with a commercial paint remover + powder.
  • Oil-Based Paint – Poultice with mineral spirits + powder. Deep stains may require methylene chloride.

Applying the Poultice

  1. Wet the stained area with distilled water. Pre-wetting fills the pores of the stone with water, which will help isolate the stain and accelerate the removal by the chemical.
  2. Prepare the poultice. Mix the powder and the chemical of choice into a thick paste, about the consistency of peanut butter or thick enough that it will not run.
  3. Apply the poultice to the stain. Apply the paste approximately 1/4-inch thick, extending beyond the stained area by about one inch. Be careful not to spill any on the surrounding area.
  4. Cover the poultice with plastic (food wrap works great). Tape the plastic down to seal the edges. It also helps to poke several small holes in the plastic, so that the powder will dry out. Failure to do this may result in the poultice staying wet. The idea is to allow the moisture to slowly evaporate from the poultice.
  5. Allow the poultice to dry thoroughly. This is a very important step. The drying of the poultice is what pulls the stain from the stone into the poultice material. If the poultice is not allowed to dry, the stain may not be removed. Drying usually takes from 24 to 48 hours.
  6. Use a flat, plastic scraper to carefully remove the poultice from the stain. Rinse with distilled water and buff dry with a soft cloth. If the stain is not removed, reapply the poultice. It may take up to five poultice applications to remove very difficult stains.

Some chemicals may leave etch damage on honed or polished marble and limestone surfaces. If etching occurs on a polished surface, apply polishing powder and buff with a piece of burlap to restore the shine. If etching occurs on a honed surface, do not use polishing powder, because this will leave a polished area that does not match with the surrounding finish. Contact a professional stone restoration contractor to remove the etch and restore your honed finish.

This article, written by Fred Hueston, Chief Technical Director of SurpHaces, and president of Stone Forensics.