Refinishing Stone

The Appearance of Stone Can (and Can’t) Be Altered

Natural stone, a restorable surface material, is complex in comparison to restorable man-made materials, such as engineered stone, solid surfaces, and concrete. Unique as a snowflake or a fingerprint, natural stone requires customized restoration methods. It all depends on the composition of the stone, where it is installed, and how it is used. When homeowners want their stone restoration technician to change the appearance of their stone in some way, the task may or may not be possible to accomplish, and in some circumstances, it may be inadvisable. Let’s look at the various ways the appearance of stone can be altered.

But First… About DIY vs Professional Services

The appearance of stone can be altered subtly or in sweeping, dramatic ways. Subtle alterations can sometimes be successfully accomplished with DIY methods. For example, one might use a marble polishing compound to easily remove a minor etch mark on marble with a polished finish. More extensive changes should always be entrusted to your professional stone restoration technician.

Changing the Level of Shine or Finish

Professional stone refinishing entails using various methods to alter the reflectivity and texture of the surface of stone. If your stone is polished, but you would prefer that it have a soft, honed finish, or if your stone has a satin finish, but you would prefer a glossy, reflective surface, in most cases your professional stone restoration technician can make it happen.

There are a variety of natural stone finishes possible, including:
    • Honed / Satin / Matte – soft, velvety shine
    • Polished – glossy, mirror-like shine
  • Brushed / Antiqued – looks textured, but is smooth to the touch
  • Texture / Hammered / Tooled / Leathered – varying degrees of roughness, depending on the finishing technique
  • Custom – a personalized combination of other finishes
  • Coatings / Enhancers / Etch Protection Treatments or Films – alter the shine or finish
You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Your stone restoration technician may recommend against certain types of finishes in certain circumstances. For example, natural stone needs to “breathe” and for some applications, coatings could cause spalling, pitting, flaking, or other damage to the stone. Here’s another example. For sanitary reasons, textured finishes are not suitable for food preparation areas, because the unevenness of the surface can make cleaning difficult. The bottom line is that most of the time, you can get the finish you want, but sometimes the finish you want may not be appropriate.

Changing the Color or Darkness / Lightness

Are you unhappy with the color of your stone? Perhaps exposure to UV rays have made the stone fade or caused the resins in the stone to become discolored. If your stone is stained or dyed, and some of the color is inadvertently removed, then the untreated stone will show through, giving the stone a splotchy appearance. Your stone restoration technician may be able to reapply stains or dyes. Another option might be to hone the stone to remove the stains or dyes, revealing the brand new stone underneath and then refinish the stone to the finish of your choice.

Enhancers do not actually change the color of the stone, but they do intensify the color of stone.

Sometimes there are properties inherent in the stone that affect its apparent color in different lighting scenarios. For example, if granite contains a mineral called hackmanite, then certain spots will change color from pink to gray or another light color, depending on how much light exposure it gets. With some types of stone, a slab viewed from one end of a room will appear to be a different color than when it is viewed from the other end of the room. In cases like these, stone restoration contractors can’t really do anything to resolve the problem. You may, however, try experimenting with light fixtures and controlling the level of natural light exposure.

Removing Stains, Spots, or Discolorations

When it comes to stains, spots, and discolorations, things can get really confusing. A stain is a discoloration, but a discoloration may not be a stain. The easiest way to sort things out is to remember that a stain on natural stone will always be darker than the stone itself. Most stains can be removed. If the discoloration is lighter than the stone, then this is an indication that the it is a mark is corrosion (etching) caused by an acidic substance, or a caustic mark (bleaching) caused by a strong base (alkali). Stain removal methods will be ineffective on such stone damage.

The good news is that whether your stone is stained or damaged, in most cases the problem can be resolved. Your stone restoration contractor can instruct you on cost-effective DIY methods for stain removal or attempt to remove the stain for you. If your stone is damaged, it can likely be repaired and restored.

As mentioned previously, some spots or discolorations are inherent in the stone itself. One must either learn to appreciate the beautiful imperfection of natural stone or have it replaced.

Repairing Chips, Cracks, Holes, and Other Damage

Natural stone damage can happen in many ways, from scratches caused by dragging furniture or cracks caused by dropping a heavy object to signs of wear created by normal foot traffic or use. Your fully trained and qualified stone restoration technician can restore the finish and repair the damage, in most cases. They may grind, hone, polish, use color matched polyester or epoxy to fill in missing areas, replace tiles, and other methods, depending on what problem needs to be resolved.

Sometimes small imperfections or naturally occurring features in stone are mistaken for damage, even though they have no effect on the structural integrity of the stone. These include fissures or veins that look like cracks, angular fragments of stone, inconsistent veining, holes, pits, irregular shapes or inconsistencies in thickness, mineral deposits, and other features.

Moving Seams, Altering Edges, and Other Major Changes

After natural stone countertops have been installed, major changes are either difficult or impossible for a stone restoration technician to accomplish. Fabricators, that is, the ones who size and install countertops, use very specific equipment to do their work. Restoration contractors are not equipped to rearrange or re-profile countertops, and although fabricators are equipped, their work would entail removing the countertops completely, moving them back to the shop, and then reinstalling them. This labor-intensive effort would cost more than simply having the countertops replaced and could result in irreparable damage to the stone.

Contact us to discuss the appearance of your stone. We can take into consideration the look you have in mind, the composition of the stone, where it is installed, and how it is used, and then make the best recommendations.


This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

Why Stone Thicknesses Matter

Stone Thicknesses

If you are in the market for a new countertop installation, you may have noticed that countertops come in a variety of thicknesses. Perhaps you have questions. Why do countertop thicknesses vary? How thick is a typical countertop? Does countertop thickness even matter? The most common stone thicknesses for projects, in centimeters (cm) are 1 cm (3/8”), 2 cm (3/4”) and 3 cm (1 1/4”). Even though they may all be the same material, they are not all used in the same way. This article provides important details about countertop thickness that can help you make a more informed decision about your installation.

1 CM Stone

1cm (3/8”) stone really only has 2 practical uses. The first one is vertical projects. The second use for 1 cm stone is pre-made countertops with a laminated edge. Let’s take a look at each of these.

Vertical Stone Installations

Vertical project examples include fireplace surrounds, shower walls, backsplashes, and other vertical projects. 1 cm is much more fragile than 2 or 3 cm, but once the stone is properly attached to the right backing, such as drywall, plywood or other backing material, it becomes less fragile. The advantage to 1 cm stone is that it weighs much less than 2 or 3 cm, so it is easier to work with in some projects.

Pre-made Countertops With a Laminated Edge

A laminated edge is an edge that has had extra material glued onto it to make it appear thicker. Most of the time, this type of selection is used for vanity countertops precut with polished edges. 1 cm remnants are great for small shelves, furniture tops and other small projects.

There are a couple of drawbacks to using pre-made countertops with a laminated edge. If one of the edges needs to be cut for any reason, then the cut edge somehow has to be polished to the same shine as the surface of the stone, and the edge has to be made to match, as well. Another drawback has to do with sinks. Since the edges are laminated to show a thicker profile, if a hole is cut out for an under-mount sink, the actual, smaller, original thickness of the stone will show. It’s better to use the less popular drop-in sink on this case.

Pre-made countertops with a laminated edge are usually great for cookie cutter homes in a new subdivision where measurements tend to be the same and they can be ordered in bulk. If you want 1 cm stone for a special project, more than likely you will have to special order it. Most suppliers don’t carry it in stock, if they can get it at all.

2 CM Stone

2 cm (3/4”) stone is more flexible in its possible uses. Even though it weighs more than 1 cm, it can still be used for wall cladding, fireplace surrounds, and other vertical projects. Again, it should be attached properly to the correct backing. Since it is heavier than 1 cm, it is not quite as easy to work with in some situations. 2 cm remnants are also good for smaller projects like furniture tops, small shelves and other small projects. Let’s take a look at another possible use for 2cm stone, that is, countertops.

Kitchen Countertops and Bathroom Vanity Tops

With the proper support, 2 cm stone can be used for countertops in kitchens, bathrooms, break rooms, bar tops, table tops, and similar applications. Depending on the project, this thickness of stone may need the extra support of a plywood backer. If that becomes necessary, then be aware that the exposed edges will need to be laminated to hide the plywood. Also, like 1 cm, if the edges are laminated but a cutout is needed for an under-mount sink, the difference in the edge thicknesses will show. 2 cm overhangs should not exceed 6” without support. Your installer can recommend the proper overhang support for your project.

Supply is another consideration of 2 cm material. It is more common than 1 cm but is stocked in limited capacity by distributors.

3 CM Stone

These days 3 cm stone is the “mac daddy” of installation projects. You can do almost anything with it. With proper support it can be used for wall cladding, shower walls, fireplace surrounds, or other vertical applications. With the exception of a few geographical areas, 3 cm is also used for kitchen and bathroom countertops, bar tops, tabletops, windowsills, and a variety of other projects. It is the most commonly stocked thickness in distributors’ warehouses across the United States, again, with the exception of a few geographical areas.

The perks of using 3 cm stone include:
  • No need for extra support from plywood on 3 cm countertops
  • No need to laminate the edges for extra thickness
  • An under-mount sink cutout edge will match the front edge
  • The thickness will accept a wider variety of edge profiles
  • It is available in more colors and styles than we can count
  • Remnants are great for smaller projects

Other than the fact that 3 cm stone is heavy, there isn’t much you can’t do with 3 cm material.

Stone is very versatile and can be used for an endless variety of projects. We can help make sure you pick the right thickness of stone for your project.


This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

Top Three Reasons to Have Your Carpets Cleaned

People who love carpeting will attest to its cozy elegance. Although most carpet lovers understand that carpets need extra attention from time to time, many underestimate the value of periodic services from a professional carpet cleaner. Here are the top three reasons professional carpet cleaning should be a part of every homeowner’s regular deep cleaning list or building manager’s maintenance schedule.

1. Better Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air pollutants have been ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health, according to the EPA, and there has been an increase in the number of children with severe allergies and asthma. An EPA report to Congress on indoor air quality reports that the average American spends about 90 percent of their time inside. Carpets act like a giant air filter, collecting dust and dander, allergens, and germs. One might reason that having carpets is a bad idea. In reality, the bad idea is having dirty carpets. Carpets that are regularly vacuumed and professionally cleaned provide both better indoor air quality and clean, fresh, welcoming flooring.

TIPS: To maintain optimal air quality between professional carpet cleanings, vacuum regularly with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter to stop the spread of allergens. Change your HVAC filter regularly, as well.

2. Fresh, Clean, Welcoming Carpets

You want your family and guests or patrons and employees to feel comfortable in your home or business. Professional deep cleaning removes more deeply embedded contaminants than vacuuming ever will and leaves your carpets not only clean and fresh, but sanitized. To keep your carpet at its best through chips and dip, red wine and soda, and standard every-day traffic, you may also want to consider having a protective treatment applied. Some carpets will not require it, others may. Your carpet cleaning professional can advise you.

TIPS: Daily vacuuming is advisable in homes with pets or businesses with a lot of foot traffic. Otherwise vacuum twice or more per week. Treats spills and spots right away, and consult with your carpet cleaning professional for any spill or spot you are unable to remove.

3. Prevent Premature Wear

Having your carpets professionally cleaned on a regular basis can help prevent premature wear. Here’s why. Dirt, grit, and other substances get deeply embedded in the fibers and backing of your carpet where vacuums can’t reach. When people walk on the carpet, these contaminants act like tiny shards of glass cutting and damaging your carpet. You may not notice the damage right away. It happens little by little over the course of time. If you are diligent about keeping your carpet clean, you prevent the damage, and your carpet lasts as long as it was designed to last.

TIPS: Vacuum often. Do not wait until your carpet looks dirty to vacuum. Place high quality rugs and mats at all entryways to trap some of the grit and dirt before it ends up on your carpeting. If appropriate, ask visitors to remove their shoes before they enter.

If you have not already done so, create a schedule with your carpet cleaning professional to keep you on track with proper carpet care. Life is busy! We can send you reminders when it’s time. If you have questions about the carpeting in your home or business, contact us today.


This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

Ingestible Countertop Material?

THE SURPRISING USES OF MARBLE

Ingestible Countertop Material?

Most people are familiar with the idea that marble is used for countertops, floors, walls, statues, and decorative items. In the following article from Fred M. Hueston, Chief Technical Director for SurpHaces, you’ll discover that marble has many other uses, some of them ingestible! Sit back, relax, and grab some popcorn, because you’re not going to believe what people do with marble.

Garden Lime

Gardeners use lime to raise the pH level of acidic soil, which can help certain plants extract nutrients from the soil. Garden lime is processed from marble. The marble is heated in a kiln, which removes the carbon dioxide from the stone, producing a form of lime called calcium oxide, or quicklime.

Field Marking

In the past, lime was used to mark soccer, baseball, football, and other sports fields. Lime is very caustic, meaning it can cause discomfort or damage if the powder makes its way to a moist skin surface, such as the eyes or sweaty skin of athletes. These days, powdered marble is used as a safer alternative.

Calcium Supplements

Many farm animals require calcium for health reasons and to produce eggs, milk, etc. Farmers mix powdered calcium into animal feed as a supplement. These supplements are nothing more than pulverized marble.

Antacids

If you take an antacid to calm your stomach, you are basically just ingesting powdered marble!

Whiting

Whiting is a fine powder made of marble that is used as a brightener, filler, and even a pigment in many products. It can be used to clean glass after glazing and to shine copper, stainless steel, and other surfaces.

Cosmetics

One of the main ingredients for face powders and blush is pH-neutral calcium carbonate, i.e., marble dust.

Construction Aggregate

Concrete is used for road building and many other uses. Concrete mixtures require cement, water, and an aggregate, such as crushed bits of stone, gravel, or sand. Marble aggregate can be used in concrete.

Neutralizers

Here is a little chemistry lesson. If marble is dissolved in water, it becomes alkaline, which means it increases the pH level of the water. Acid, which is low pH, can be neutralized when marble is added. Marble can be used to increase pH, so it can serve as a neutralizer in swimming pools. It is also used by water treatment plants and other chemical industries.

Your Meds

Many prescription and over the counter drugs use powdered marble as a filler. So the next time you need to take a pill, chances are you will be ingesting some marble.

Paint and Craft Additives

Marble powders are popular in many types of paint, as well as acrylic modeling paste, glue base gesso, and all water and oil dispersed paints.

Carbonated Beverages

Have you ever wondered why there is a tiny explosion when you pop open a can of soda? During the manufacturing process, a can is filled with CO2 dissolved in water. When the can is sealed, the pressure causes a chemical reaction to take place, resulting in carbonic acid. The sound you hear when you open the can is caused by carbonic acid returning to the form of CO2 dissolved in water. The carbonic acid that is used in soda is derived from marble.

Chalk

Sidewalk and blackboard chalk used to be made of marble, but these days, most chalk manufacturers use gypsum.

Marcite and Plasters

Marcite, a sprayed-on coating that is applied to built-in swimming pools, contains marble dust. Many plasters also contain marble dust as their main ingredient.

Groceries

Products containing marble, such as baking powder, toothpaste, dry dessert mixes, dough, and wine, are for sale in your local grocery store. The next time you look at a list of ingredients and you see the word calcium, the product likely contains marble.

Carbon Capture Technology

A study by Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research reports that one of the most promising technologies to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) is called calcium looping. The process involves scrubbing CO2 from flue gases by using calcium-oxide-based sorbents. You can probably guess what those calcium-oxide-based sorbents are. That’s right. Waste marble powder.

If you ever visit a marble quarry, you will notice a large amount of waste. Thankfully, marble waste is used in many ways.


This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

How to Protect Carpet During Renovation

How to Protect Carpet During Renovation

There are many potential ways your carpet can get badly soiled or damaged during an interior renovation project. Contractors with steel-toed boots go in and out to retrieve supplies, tools, and equipment, remove demolished materials, and bring in new materials, which may include paint, adhesives, and chemicals. Although reputable contractors will protect the surfaces surrounding their work area, property owners should take extra precautions to avoid costly repair or replacement of carpeting. Here are some tips to safeguard your carpets during interior renovation projects.

Moving Furniture

Your renovation project may require moving furniture. Do not slide furniture across carpeting, because this can increase the odds of a snag, tear, friction damage, or other damage to your carpet. In many cases, you can move furniture with the help of a few able-bodied friends and the proper tools, such as furniture straps, stair rollers, moving blankets, a dolly, slides or ramps, and furniture glides. The easiest way to avoid injuring yourself or damaging your carpet, furniture, or other surfaces while moving very heavy or large furniture is to leave the job to professionals who are fully equipped to efficiently and effectively get your belongings from one room to another without incident. Just make sure your movers are properly licensed and insured.

Dust Containment

Airborne dust particles can create a health hazard, especially for people with respiratory issues. Dust particles can be abrasive, and if dust becomes embedded in carpeting, the particles can act like thousands of tiny shards of glass that tear and break carpet fibers every time someone takes a step. Hang plastic sheeting to contain dust within the work area and help maintain proper air quality throughout the rest of the home or building.

Carpet Coverings

The following protective products shield your carpeting against spills, construction dust, and soiling. Some products work better than others, depending on the design and quality of the product and what type of carpet and padding you are covering.

  • Carpet film is the most convenient and best option to protect against spills and soiling on synthetic carpeting. Spills will not penetrate, provided there are no holes in the material caused by foot traffic. Carpet film is designed to be tough and does not tear or puncture easily. DO NOT use carpet film on wool or other natural fibers.
  • Canvas painter’s drop cloths serve as a barrier between your carpet and soiling agents. They provide some protection against spills, but liquids can seep through if a large amount is spilled at once. Canvas will hold up well against foot traffic, because it doesn’t tear or puncture easily.
  • Plastic painter’s drop cloths also protect against soiling and provide better protection than canvas against spills. It does not hold up as well to tears or punctures as canvas. Plastic painter’s drop cloths should be properly secured with tape to avoid trip and fall accidents.
  • Protective floor coverings made with both absorbent fabric and plastic backing have all the combined benefits of canvas and plastic drop cloths.
  • Thick flooring paper may be appropriate to use on thin carpeting with limited padding. Do not use tinted flooring paper, because if it gets wet, the color can bleed onto your carpeting. Paper should be properly secured with tape to avoid trip and fall accidents. Paper can offer protection against soiling and splatters, but significant spills can seep through.

Remove and Reinstall Carpeting?

For major renovation projects involving walls or ceilings near carpeted areas, you might consider having a professional carpet installer remove your carpet and then reinstall it once the project is complete. Although this approach might seem extreme, there may be certain projects where this extra precautious approach to carpet protection might be worthwhile.

After Renovation

Thoroughly vacuuming carpets each time floor coverings are replaced and after the project is complete is highly recommended. However, even the most thorough vacuuming may not be enough to remove particles that have become lodged in the fibers and backing of your carpet, as well as residual odors left behind by chemicals and other construction products. Your best bet to protect against premature wear following a renovation project is to have your carpets professionally cleaned. Professional cleaning flushes out deeply embedded contaminants, leaving your carpets fresh, clean, and inviting.

Follow these tips to protect your carpets during interior renovation. You’ll worry less, possibly avoid costly repair or replacement, and increase the likelihood that you’ll get the full lifespan out of your carpeting.


This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

Why Countertop Overhangs Matter

Why Countertop Overhangs Matter

If you’re in the market for new countertops, you may be curious about countertop overhangs. There are standard, extended, or flush-mounted tops. Are overhangs essential? How far can an overhang extend without support? Let’s take a look at countertop overhangs.

Overhang vs Flush

A countertop overhang is exactly as it sounds. It is the portion of the countertop that extends beyond the cabinet underneath, usually by about 1.5 inches. If there is no overhang, the countertop is said to be flush with the cabinet. Although countertops can be installed flush, you may want to reconsider a flush install for the following reasons:

  • CLEANING SPILLS
    Spills are inevitable on kitchen countertops, where food and beverage preparation take place. Sometimes spills happen in bathrooms on vanity tops, too. Countertop overhangs keep spills from dribbling all over the cabinet faces and the edges of doors and drawers, as well as handles and pulls. With countertop overhangs, spills fall directly to the floor, where they can be easily wiped up.
  • HIDING IMPERFECTIONS
    Countertop overhangs can hide minor variations in cabinet alignment.
  • CABINET WARRANTY
    Check your cabinet warranty. It may require an overhang to protect cabinets against damage from liquids.
  • PROTRUDING HARDWARE
    With flush cabinets, the handles and pulls on your doors and drawers will protrude further than the countertop, which may result in pockets, belt loops, sleeves or other objects constantly getting caught.
  • CLEANING CRUMBS AND DEBRIS
    Although crumbs and loose debris likely won’t damage your cabinet face, wiping the little bits and pieces off of countertops with no overhang can be a challenge. Think about it. When people wipe crumbs from a top, they place an open hand to catch the crumbs just below the overhanging edge.

Extended Overhangs Need Support

Countertops can be extended beyond the supporting cabinet to create a space in the kitchen that can serve various purposes, from food prep to buffet-style serving to a seating or desk area. Since cabinets serve as the support for countertops and overhangs go beyond the cabinet edge, extended overhangs will need dependable support. Wall mounted tops, desks, shower benches, mantels, and shelves will also need support. This may be accomplished with legs, corbels, decorative brackets, or hidden brackets.

Decorative Support

Legs, corbels, and decorative brackets can visually enhance traditional style kitchens in addition to the support they provide for extended overhangs. If you are using an extended countertop overhang for seating, you’ll need about a foot of overhang to make space for feet and knees. For seating areas, decorative supports are referred to as knee-knockers because in cramped sitting areas, they sometimes get in the way.

Hidden Support Brackets

For sleek, modern kitchens or tighter spaces with less leg room, hidden support brackets are ideal. Your countertop can “float,” seemingly unsupported. The brackets are virtually invisible, because one would need to bend down and look at the countertop from underneath to see the supporting hardware. Hidden support brackets are also a great option for slabs installed on top of a pony wall (short wall, often used for standard height or bar height seating).

How far can a countertop overhang be extended without support?

People sometimes ask how far a countertop overhang can be extended without adding support, perhaps to save a few bucks. A common misconception is that natural stone and engineered stone are impervious to damage. Without proper support, even a very thick slab can break. Regardless of material type and thickness, all countertop materials will need support for extended overhangs. Reputable fabricators and installers will not take any chances and will follow the NSI (Natural Stone Institute) Standards for natural stone installations and manufacturer standards for engineered stone. Insufficient support will end up costing a lot more in the long run.


This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

How to Remove Ring-Shaped Marks on Marble

How to Remove Ring-Shaped Marks on Marble

Here is a question people commonly ask us: “What causes ring-shaped marks and white spots on marble?” Questions like these usually follow: “Is there a product I can use to get rid of this type of stain?” and “Is there a sealer I can apply to restore the shine and prevent this problem?” Sometimes people believe that when surface damage happens, it means they will need to replace their marble. Let’s unpack these concepts.

The Cause of Ring-Shaped Marks and White Spots on Marble

Some people refer to ring-shaped marks on marble as “water rings.” These marks and spots on marble are likely not stains, but acid etch damage. If the discoloration is lighter than the stone, it is an etch, not a stain. Marble contains calcium carbonate, a substance that chemically reacts with acids in certain types of food and drinks, and this is what causes acid etch damage on marble surfaces.

Product for DIY Etch Removal

A high quality marble polishing powder can be used to remove etch marks from polished marble, as long as the damage is not too severe. Run your finger over the area you intend to treat. If it feels smooth and has no rough texture compared to the surrounding finish, then you can use the polishing powder and a clean white cloth to remove the spots. Note: Marble polishing powder should not be used on marble with a honed / satin-matte finish. Although it will remove mild etch damage, it will also change that area to a polished finish that is inconsistent with the surrounding honed finish. If the etch damage is too severe to handle on your own or your marble has a honed finish, professional stone restoration services can give your marble a like-new finish.

What Sealers Can and Can’t Do

A common misconception is that the impregnating sealers commonly applied to marble countertops can prevents stains and etch damage and restore the shine. If sealing is recommended for your stone, it will simply buy some time to wipe up spills before they become stains, and it should only be applied by your professional stone restoration technician. When impregnating sealer is applied to marble, the appearance of the finish does not change at all. For complete stain and etch protection, as well as elegant finish options, etch protection treatments and protective films are ideal solutions. Unlike impregnating sealers that penetrate into the stone, protection treatments and films form a barrier between marble and acidic substances.

Don’t Replace Your Marble

Replacing etch damaged marble would be costly and completely unnecessary. Use a marble polishing powder to remove etch damage or have it professionally restored. For more information about marble care or stain management, download our free Stone and Tile Care Guide and use our Stain App under the Resources tab on this site. Contact us for specific product recommendations, answers to questions about your marble, or to schedule services.


This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

How to Treat Pet Urine Odor in Carpet

How to Treat Pet Urine Odor in Carpet

Have you ever visited the home of a friend or family member and noticed first thing as you walked through the front door the unmistakeable smell of cat or dog urine? Chances are your loved one is either unaware of the problem or already aware but unable to find a solution. This article explains the dangers of pet urine odor, as well as how to eliminate the problem.

Why People Don’t Notice Pet Urine Odor

There’s a reason people can become oblivious to the smell of pet urine in their homes. The human sense of smell adapts and loses sensitivity over time with consistent exposure to certain odors.

Pamela Dalton, a cognitive psychologist at Monell Chemical Senses Center, explains,

When our odor receptors are repeatedly exposed to the same smells, they stop responding. Spending so much time in the same environment means that we are constantly smelling the odors within our homes. Odor adaptation differs from such other senses as hearing. Most people can tune out a noisy street sound, but if they pay enough attention, they can bring those sounds back into their awareness. On the other hand, when we adapt to an odor, it smells much weaker or not at all, and we cannot will ourselves to smell it again. In fact, depending on how long we’re exposed to the odor, we may need days or weeks to recover our sensitivity to it.

People may be fully aware of a pet urine odor problem, but they do not have success in treating pet urine odors. Eliminating pet urine odor is easier said than done. A pet accident may look like a small spot on the surface of carpet, but the urine can spread out in the carpet padding underneath, and even the subfloor can get saturated. No amount of carpet cleaning can eliminate this problem, especially if this type of contamination is present in multiple areas throughout the home.

Dangers of Pet Urine Odor

All urine contains ammonia. Obviously, in an ideal situation, pet urine in a residential environment is prevented or eliminated before it becomes a problem. In homes with carpeting, pet accidents may be cleaned improperly or go unnoticed altogether. Whether one has cats, dogs, birds, rodents, or other animals, the presence of urine in a residential setting can cause the same irritation to humans as that of an open container of ammonia. Symptoms may include a burning sensation in the eyes, nose, and throat, along with coughing and allergy symptoms. In addition, pet urine odors can worsen the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory problems.

How to Eliminate Pet Urine Odor

In very extreme situations, carpets, carpet padding, upholstery may need to be replaced. In cases of animal hoarding or neglect, even the subfloor may need to be replaced. Most of the time, pet urine odor problems can be resolved with two basic steps. First, identify and eliminate the cause of the problem (while keeping the pet), and second, treat the affected areas. Let’s take a closer look at each step.

Identify and Eliminate the Cause of the Problem

Pets have accidents for various reasons, including improper training, urinary tract problems, and stress or excitement. Consult with your veterinarian or an animal behavior specialist, if needed. Once you are sure that the cause of the problem is resolved, you can then treat the affected areas.

If your pet continues to urinate on the carpet, then the only way to eliminate the pet urine odor problem will be to replace your flooring. Nonporous flooring will not hide or absorb pet accidents. As long as pet accidents are thoroughly cleaned as soon as they happen, then there should be no problem with lingering pet urine odor.

Treat the Affected Areas

Note: Do not use carpet powders and air fresheners that mask pet urine odor. Do not use baking soda, because although it may help neutralize odors and clean the carpet, it leaves an abrasive residue that can damage carpet fibers.

If you are treating the pet urine odor yourself, follow these steps.

  • Identify the contaminated areas. If trouble spots are not obvious, purchase a UV light, black out the windows or wait until evening, and then examine your carpet under the UV light. Urine-affected areas will glow yellow or green.
  • Thoroughly vacuum the carpet, if it is dry. When urine dries, moisture evaporates and salt crystals are left behind. Vacuuming will remove some of that solidified material from the carpet fibers.
  • Use a digestive enzyme on the spot. Digestive enzymes can be purchased at your local pet supply store. This will neutralize the odor using beneficial bacteria that break down organic matter.
    Clean the spot. Select a spot cleaner that is appropriate for your type of carpet by comparing details from the carpet manufacturers information with the spot cleaner product label. Follow the directions on the label precisely. Use the appropriate amount of cleaner, because too little can be ineffective and too much can leave a film that attracts and traps dirt and contaminants.
  • Use a clean, dry white towel to blot up any excess moisture. Let the carpet dry thoroughly and vacuum once more to fluff up the carpet fibers.

The easiest and best way to treat affected areas is to schedule services with us. Your professional carpet cleaning technicians have the knowledge, tools, and experience to locate and treat problem areas. When you contact us, be sure to mention the pet urine odor problem. Your technician can examine your carpeting and, if possible, resolve the problem. Be aware that replacing portions of carpet padding may be necessary, depending on the severity of the problem.


This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

The Scoop on Large-Format Porcelain Slabs

The Scoop on Large-Format Porcelain Slabs

The large-format porcelain slab market continues to gain popularity due to advances in technology, which are increasing their functional benefits, beauty, and broad application possibilities. You may have questions about this material. How big are large-format porcelain slabs? How much do they cost? Where can large-format porcelain slabs be installed? What are the design possibilities? Let’s take a closer look.

Large-Format Porcelain Slab Essentials

Large-format porcelain slabs, formerly known as gauged porcelain tile panels, are huge pieces of tile that are only 6-12mm in thickness and measure about 10′ x 5′ in size. Porcelain surfaces are low maintenance, stain resistant, and do not need to be sealed. Even though large-format porcelain slabs look remarkably like natural stone, the average price range, $5 – $18 per square foot, is less than most stone.

What You Need to Know About Through-Body Veining

Veining, or the beautifully organic lines that meander across and through natural stone, is a popular natural stone slab feature. Porcelain, unlike natural stone, is man-made. With most large-format porcelain slabs, the veining is printed on the surface. The problem is that when fabricators and installers cut the slabs, the unsightly, unfinished insides of the porcelain are revealed. If you were to ask a knowledgable fabricator or installer about this problem, they would tell you that it impacts the entire installation process, from sinks and edges to corners and seams. Another problem is that this material, if damaged, can be very difficult or even impossible to repair and restore. Fortunately, new technologies have produced porcelain with veining that is not just on the surface, but throughout the body of the material. This new development expands design possibilities, simplifies the installation process, and facilitates possibilities for repair and restoration. Unfortunately, porcelain with through-body veining is not yet widely available.

Design and Applications Possibilities

Unlike natural stone, where there can be variation in neighboring slabs, large-format porcelain slabs can be truly identical. When two pieces are placed next to each other in a design scheme called bookmatching, they form a symmetrical, mirror-like pattern that resembles an open book. Four slabs can be aligned in an X pattern called quadmatching or a diamond pattern called diamond matching.

Large-format porcelain slabs have fewer grout lines, making them ideal for food prep and especially appropriate for applications in wet areas, such as shower walls, bathroom vanities, walls surrounding baths or hot tubs, kitchen countertops, backsplashes, water features, seat walls, and more. The application possibilities for large-format porcelain slabs are nearly endless, including floors, walls, bar tops, table tops, and fireplace surrounds. Porcelain holds its own against the elements, making it ideal for outdoor kitchens and other exterior applications. As previously mentioned, new technologies open up previously impossible design opportunities. For example, through-body veining allows for more edge and sink options. Lightweight gauged materials and improvements in mortar technology mean large-format porcelain slabs can be used for building facades.

The Importance of Hiring Skilled Fabricators and Installers

Did you know that if an installer is off by just 3/8 of an inch that your entire slab could crack? The importance of working with highly skilled professionals cannot be understated.

In some ways, large-format porcelain slabs are easier to install than thick natural stone slabs. They are lightweight and easier to transport and handle, despite their size. Lippage (unevenly placed tiles) and misalignment are less likely to occur with thinner slabs. However, installation of this material requires incredible planning and precision. As surface materials advance in technology, so do the tools and methods used to install them.

We always use the most appropriate specialized equipment and the best installation techniques required for a safe and successful installation.

How to Remove Shower Calcium Deposits

How to Remove Shower Calcium Deposits

Do you have a white film or scaly buildup on your tile or stone shower? This is caused by calcium deposits, which can be difficult to remove. Here are some DIY solutions you can try yourself before you reach out for professional services.

Why Calcium Deposits Are Usually Found in Showers

Water with a high mineral content can deposit calcium carbonate on your natural stone or tile surfaces. Over time, these deposits build up.

Natural stone and tile applications that get no or minimal water exposure rarely ever get calcium deposits. Examples include entryway walls, fireplace surrounds, damp-mopped floors, and areas of countertops that get little use. However, surfaces that are constantly being wiped may slowly, over a long period of time, become cloudy looking with calcium deposits. Examples include high-use countertop areas (usually near sinks), commercial bar tops, and restaurant table tops.

Bathroom showers are the major problem area for calcium deposits. Every time someone showers, the surfaces are exposed to an average of two gallons of water per minute!

Be Careful

The challenge in removing calcium deposits is avoiding damage to the surface. If you have porcelain or ceramic tile, you can use harsher cleaners than those that can be used on natural stone. You might be able to get away with using mildly acidic cleaners on silicate-based stones, such as granite, sandstone, slate, and quartzite, but if you have calcium-based natural stone, your options are limited. Polished stone may be more likely to require professional refinishing after DIY calcium deposit removal methods than honed stone.

Solutions to Remove Calcium Deposits

The following are DIY suggestions for removing calcium deposits from your natural stone or tile surfaces. WARNING: As alluded to previously, some DIY methods can cause dullness or etch damage to natural stone. You may want to reach out to your stone restoration technician before proceeding.

  1. Use a plastic putty knife to scrape off the excess buildup. Be sure not to use a metal knife, as it can leave marks or scratches.
  2. Saturate the surface with the appropriate cleaner. Allow enough dwell time to soften the buildup. Clean using a white cloth or soft nylon brush.
  3. For tile or stone, rinse thoroughly to remove any cleaning residue. For stone, especially if you used sulfamic acid, follow up with a pH-neutral cleaner prior to the final rinse.

Porcelain or Ceramic Tile

The glazed finish on porcelain and ceramic tiles cannot be ruined with most acidic cleaners, such as lemon juice, white vinegar, soap film remover, and other acid-based cleaners. The exception is hydrofluoric acid. Avoid heavy duty acids, such as HCL and CLR, which pose numerous health risks. If necessary, you may also use a green scrubbing pad on porcelain or ceramic.

Marble and Other Calcium-Based Stone

Stone-safe, pH-neutral cleaners can be used on both polished and honed natural stone. Do not use a green scrubbing pad on polished stone. You might be able to get away with using it on stone with a honed finish, but do so at your own risk knowing that some honed finishes have a higher polish than others. If the desired results are not achieved, use a heavy-duty, non-acidic soap film remover.

Granite and Other Silicate-Based Stone

For granite and other silicate-based stone, use the same methods as mentioned above for marble and other calcium-based stone. If the desired results are not achieved, use sulfamic acid (not to be confused with sulfuric acid), available at home improvement centers.

Professional Cleaning and Restoration May Be Necessary

DIY methods are valuable for regular cleaning and in some cases, more intensive cleaning, but professional stone and tile services achieve dramatic results that cannot be achieved using DIY methods. If you choose to try DIY methods first, feel free to contact us for specific product recommendations. If DIY methods fail to produce the desired results or leave your stone looking dull, we are here for you. Perhaps reading this article makes you realize you have better things to do than spending hours cleaning your shower. Contact us if you would like to schedule professional calcium buildup removal services.