QUARTZITE. QUARTZ. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Pinterest, Houzz, magazines, and other kitchen and bath design resources recommend both quartzite and quartz for kitchen countertops, floors, walls, backsplashes, and more. Sometimes people confuse the two materials, given their similar names and appearances, but they are actually very different.

Quartzite

Quartzite is a natural stone. Sandstone that is subjected to heat and pressure forms quartzite. Quartzite’s appearance can be veined like marble, have more solid coloring, look like crushed crystals, or a combination of these features. On the Mohs scale of hardness, quartzite is usually around a seven or eight out of ten, which means it is harder than glass.

Quartzite is also very durable, but subject to staining or etching like most natural stones. Since quartzite is porous, sealing it can help inhibit staining, but sealers cannot prevent etching. There are new solutions now available on the market for quartzite countertop etch protection. Maintenance requirements include frequent cleaning with a stone-safe, pH-neutral cleaner and periodic professional restoration services, which may include honing, polishing, cleaning, and re-sealing.

Quartz

Quartz is a mineral, and in its powdered form, it is the main ingredient for the engineered stone also called quartz. With patterns mimicking marble and other natural stone, quartz requires less maintenance than natural stone. Quartz does not require sealer, because it is not porous, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it is impervious to damage. The good news is that quartz does not damage easily. The bad news is that although quartz is harder to damage than quartzite, once it is damaged, it is more problematic to restore because it is made with colored resin.

Feel free to contact us with specific questions about quartzite, quartz, or other materials.


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

Filtration Soiling

Filtration Soiling

Have you ever noticed dark, dirty areas along the edges of your carpet? This is a common problem known as filtration soiling.

What Causes Filtration Soiling?

The carpet in your residence or business acts as an air filtering mechanism, catching pollutants from the environment such as dirt, dust, smoke, pet fur, cooking residues, and ash from fireplaces. Filtration soiling occurs as a result of this debris collecting and settling along carpet edges.

In buildings that have convector systems instead of air ducts, the soil filtration is a result of air drafts. For example, elevators moving up and down, cause air drafts throughout the building. The same is true for windows or anywhere air is flowing.

So How Do I Prevent It?

Prevention is often better than the cure, so here are some tips to help minimize the problem.

Clean Air Ducts

For starters, if your residence or business has air ducts, keep them clear of dust and debris. Cleaning your air ducts at least once a year can minimize unwanted substances from being spread throughout the space.

Change Filters Regularly

The general rule is to clean or change your filter every two to three months, depending on how often you run your heat and air conditioner. Some filters are reusable; others need to be replaced.  It’s a good investment to buy a high quality filter and check the instruction manual on the longevity. The more regularly you clean or change the filters, the lower your chances of air pollutants escaping the filters and spreading through the air ducts.

Eliminate the Causes
  • Place doormats at every entrance to minimize any dirt tracking from outside.
  • For your residence, ask family members and guests to smoke outside. If you own a business or residential complex, consider investing in an air door or air curtain. This device prevents smoke and other contaminants from entering the building. In addition, installing double doors at entrances will minimize air drafts.
  • Vacuum and dust on a regular basis to keep your home as pollutant-free as possible.

We Can Help

If you are experiencing filtration soiling, we can help. Give us a call.

 

Candles, Incense, and Unsightly Carpets

Candles, Incense, and Unsightly Carpets

Candles and incense create a warm, inviting atmosphere and scents associated with pleasant memories and feelings, but some candles and incense can be a real problem in homes or businesses, especially those with carpeting. Harmful effects include diminished indoor air quality and an unsightly graphite film on carpeting that can be notoriously difficult to remove. Read on to learn more about these problems and discover healthier, cleaner ways to create the ambiance you want.

Harmful Effects of Candles and Incense

According to the Environmental Protection Agency,

The estimated total sales of candles in 1999 varied between $968 million and $2.3 billion, while imports were $486 million. The U.S. imports and exports of incense in 1999 were $12.4 and 4.6 million, respectively. The scientific literature review gathered information regarding the emission of various contaminants generated when burning candles and incense, as well as the potential health effects associated with exposure to these contaminants. Burning candles and incense can be sources of particulate matter. Burning candles with lead-core wicks may result in indoor air concentration of lead above EPA-recommended thresholds. Exposure to incense smoke has been linked with several illnesses, and certain brands of incense also contain chemicals suspected of causing skin irritation.

Heavily scented oil candles and ordinary incense create graphite pollution, a type of indoor air contamination that can be compared to cigarette smoke. These products may mask odor, but they contain cancer-causing chemicals associated with migraines and sinus problems. They can trigger symptoms in people with COPD and other breathing-related conditions.

Carpeting and upholstery are highly absorbent. The soot left behind by certain candles and incense can infiltrate the fibers of your carpets, rugs, and upholstered furniture. It can cause a carpet problem called filtration soiling, that is, a graphite film that creates dark, dirty areas along the edges of carpet and around HVAC vents. Once this problem develops, it can be difficult to resolve without damaging the carpet, even with professional carpet cleaning.

There’s a Better Way…

Your family, guests, employees, or patrons can enjoy soft, flickering candlelight and clean aromas without harmful health effects and negative consequences to your carpet and upholstery. Here’s how:

  • Do not use ordinary oil-coated incense with a bamboo core. This type of incense creates a lot of soot. Instead, use incense made with cosmetic-grade oil and no bamboo core.
  • Do not use paraffin-based candles. Paraffin is a harmful petroleum byproduct. Clean burning alternatives include candles made with soy wax, palm wax, or liquid wax. The best alternative, by far, is beeswax candles. They actually produce negative ions that, when burned, purify the air. Beeswax candles burn longer than other types of candles, too. You may also consider battery powered or rechargeable flameless candles.
  • Use candles without large wicks. Thick wicks produce heavy soot. Thin cotton or wood wicks produce the least amount of soot.
  • Use unscented or naturally scented candles. If you must use scented candles, look for brands that use 100% naturally-derived essential oils.
  • Vacuum often. This simple practice inhibits contaminants from settling and bonding into the fibers of interior textiles. The longer contaminants remain, the more likely they are to cause damage to carpet and upholstery dyes and fibers.
  • Clean air ducts once per year. This will minimize the spread of contaminants.
  • Change or clean air filters often. To lower chances of pollutants escaping your air filtration system, your air filters should be changed or cleaned every two to three months. Use high quality disposable or reusable air filters.
  • Clean and dust hard surfaces on a regular basis. This will help keep your space as pollutant free as possible, which can help prevent offputting odors.
  • Have your carpets and upholstery periodically professionally cleaned. As a general rule, your interior textiles should be cleaned once or twice per year. You may need to adjust the frequency depending on the level of traffic and use your fine surfaces get. Professional cleaning will help eliminate odors so you won’t feel the need to mask them.

With proper care and a few simple precautions, your space can remain fresh, clean, and inviting with or without candles and incense.

What Is the Hardest Stone Countertop Material?

What Is the Hardest Stone Countertop Material?

What is the hardest stone countertop material? This is a common question clients who are investing in countertops ask, because harder stones require less maintenance than softer stones. Read on to find out how stone hardness is measured, which stones are the hardest, and how to avoid damage that can happen regardless of hardness.

Mohs Scale

The simplest way to know the hardness of a countertop material is to reference the Mohs Scale, a scale of measurement that classifies mineral hardness and scratch resistance. This scale, which is rated from 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest, determines what mineral is hard enough to cut or scratch softer materials. The ten minerals in the scale, from softest to hardest, are: talc, gypsum, calcite, fluorite, apatite, feldspar, quartz, topaz, corundum and diamond.

Hardness of Stone Countertop Materials

The hardness of a stone countertop can vary from one slab to the next, depending on its mineral content. For example, a slab of marble with high calcite content might be a 3 on the Mohs Scale, but another slab of marble cut from a different quarry with a lower calcite content might be a 5. Here are some common stone countertops and their typical hardnesses:

  • Soapstone, which is softer than marble, ranges from 1 to 2. Although it scratches easily, scratches can easily be sanded out.
  • Slate, a stone used as tabletops in chemistry labs, is from 2.5 to 4.
  • Marble, one of the softest yet most popular countertop materials, ranges from 3 to 5.
  • Limestone also ranges from 3 to 5.
  • Travertine is a popular natural stone used for floors, showers, fireplace surrounds and backsplashes. If travertine is used as a countertop material, the naturally occurring holes in the stone must be filled, finished smooth, and properly maintained for sanitary reasons. Travertine has a hardness of 4 to 5.
  • Quartz is an engineered stone often confused with quartzite, a natural stone. It is slightly softer than quartzite with a hardness of 7.
  • Quartzite ranges from 7 to 8.
  • Granite, composed mostly of quartz and feldspar, ranges from 6 to 8 in hardness and scratch resistance. Cutting boards are recommended for granite countertops, not to protect the stone, but to protect the knives!

How to Avoid Damage That Can Happen Regardless of Hardness

Countertops tend to get a lot of use and are exposed to potentially damaging substances. A common misconception is that if a stone is very hard, it is difficult or impossible to damage. Even the hardest stone countertop materials are not impervious to damage. Here are some tips to prevent stone countertop damage.

Prevent Stains

Porous natural stone may need to be sealed. Most natural stone has tiny holes that can absorb staining agents found in food, beverages, and other substances. Properly sealed countertops inhibit staining by keeping spills on the surface long enough for you to clean them up before they seep into the stone and turn into stains.

There is a simple test you can do to determine whether your countertops need to be sealed. Choose the most-used area of your countertop to do this test. Pour a small amount of water on the surface. Allow it to dwell for a few minutes before wiping it away. Is there a dark spot left behind? This demonstrates that your stone is absorbing liquid and should be sealed.

Any stone that needs to be sealed will also need to be re-sealed occasionally. Although it is possible to seal your own stone, we highly recommend having a professional stone restoration contractor perform this service to ensure proper coverage and avoid mistakes that can diminish the appearance of your stone.

Never Sit or Stand on Stone Countertops

Even highly supported stone countertops can crack or break due to unevenly distributed weight on weak points in the stone, such as a small crack or fissure. This is especially true of the sink area, one of the weakest points in your stone slab.

Use Stone-Safe Cleaning Products

For routine cleaning, always use a stone-safe, pH-neutral cleaner specifically formulated for use on natural stone. Acidic or abrasive cleaners can damage even the hardest stone. Other cleaners, such as dish soap, may not necessarily damage your stone, but they can leave behind a buildup that can make your stone look dull or discolored.

Protect Against UV Damage

Stones that contain organic components, such as marble, limestone, and travertine, can fade in the sun. Quartz intended for indoor use, as well as granite that has been treated with dyes or resins can fade with UV exposure. If possible, do not install countertops in areas that get full sun for a long time each day; otherwise, pull shades down during peak sunlight hours.

Avoid Scratches, Chips, and Other Damage

Use coasters under cups and glasses and put soaps and other products on trays. Use trivets under hot pots and pans, and never drag cookware across the countertop surface. Be careful with heavy objects, such as cast iron cookware. If a heavy object is dropped on stone, it can cause a chip or crack.

For more tips and resources to help you care for your new countertops, download our free Stone and Tile Care Guide and use our Stain Management App.

Are Steam Cleaners Safe For Natural Stone?

Are Steam Cleaners Safe For Natural Stone?

There are many wrong ways to clean natural stone, which is why we recommend leaving heavy cleaning to an experienced stone restoration professional. As you will see in the following article from Fred M. Hueston, Chief Technical Director for SurpHaces and natural stone troubleshooting expert, steam cleaning should be used with care and sparingly, or better yet, not at all…

I am often asked, “Can I use a steam cleaner on my natural stone floors?” Steam cleaning is a very effective way to remove soil and containments without harsh chemicals. However, on marble, granite, and other natural stone, steam cleaning can be harmful. Steam causes thermal expansion and contraction of the stone. This heating and cooling process can create all sorts of problems.

Spalling

Steam cleaning can cause a condition known as spalling. Since most stone is porous, the high temperature of steam cleaning can cause pressure within the stone, which can lead to pitting and/or flaking of the surface of the stone.

Sealer Removal

Natural stone sealers inhibit staining. Impregnating sealers penetrate the surface of the stone. Color enhancing impregnating sealers intensify the colors in natural stone. Topical sealers form a strippable or permanent coating that covers the surface of stone. If natural stone is sealed, steam cleaning can remove the sealer.

Accelerated Crack Damage

As natural stone is fabricated, transported, and installed, stress on the material can cause cracks to form. Stone may also be cracked after installation because of accidental damage or environmental stresses. If natural stone has any cracks, the heat and pressure from a steam cleaner can cause the cracks to expand and open up, making the cracks more obvious and problematic.

Grout Damage

Grout can also be negatively impacted by continuous use of steam cleaning. Damage may include discoloration and the grout cracking and falling apart. Steam cleaning may also remove sealers that were applied to the grout.

Iron Oxidation

If the composition of your natural stone includes iron, steam cleaning poses a risk of discoloration. Moisture reacts with the iron, creating rust-like stains on and in the stone. Iron oxidation discoloration can be extremely difficult or even impossible to remove.

Filler Damage

If your stone has fillers (travertine, for example), steam cleaning can cause the fillers to pop loose and fall out.

Residential vs Commercial Steam Cleaners

Home-type steam cleaners may be safe to sparingly use on natural stone, since these steam cleaners do not reach the same high temperatures as commercial steam cleaners. The maximum temperature of residential steam cleaners is about 250 degrees F, whereas commercial steam cleaners can reach temperature of over 300 degrees F. However, even home-type steam cleaners should not be used often. Steam cleaning every few days, or even every week or two can result in damage. At most, you could use a lower temperature mop-style steam cleaner a few times per year.

Types of Steam Cleaners

There are several types of steam cleaners.

Vapor steam cleaners look like a canister vacuum. They emit a fog of steam vapor to the surface with a wand. The temperature can reach over 200 degrees F.
Steam mops inject steam into a cloth mop. Generally these are safer to use on natural stone than other types of steam cleaners, since the temperature is lower.
Handheld steam cleaners are simple to use and are good for spot cleanup. Using them on stone countertops or shower walls can result in the same type of damage as steam cleaners used on natural stone floors.

To be on the safe side, my recommendation is that you use a pH-neutral, stone-safe cleaner for routine cleaning of your natural stone, and ask your stone restoration professional to take care of any intensive cleaning, as needed.


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

Tips for Hiring a Stone Restoration Contractor

Over a period of time natural stone can become abraded, etched, scratched, or otherwise damaged, depending on its use. A fully trained and qualified stone restoration contractor will offer the following services.

  • Grinding—Removes deep scratches and lippage (uneven tile edges)
  • Seam Polishing— Visible seams are filled and mechanically polished to virtually disappear
  • Honing—Remove minor scratches and wear
  • Polishing—Gives marble or natural stone the desired sheen, protects the surface from everyday traffic and spills
  • Alter a Finish—Change a stone’s finish, for example, from honed to polished finish and vice versa
  • Cleaning—Removes dirt, stains, bacteria and also removes waxes and polymers that have become embedded
  • Sealing—Reduces staining
  • Color Enhancing—Penetrating sealers / impregnators enhance or enrich the color of your stone
  • Crack and Chip Repair—Fills cracks and chips in both marble and granite
  • Fill Pits and Blemishes—Fills limestone and travertine imperfections
  • Stripping—Removes coatings that can block a stone’s ability to breathe
  • Grout Cleaning and Sealing—Removal of deep contaminants in grout, then sealing for protection and easier maintenance

Interview Questions 

Here is a list of questions you should ask when interviewing the potential restoration contractor to whom you will entrust your natural stone. A qualified professional understands the leap of faith you are taking in hiring them and should neither balk at, nor be offended by any of the following questions. If they seem more interested in quickly securing the contract than in setting your mind at ease regarding their competence and qualifications, think carefully about whether they are the right one for the job.

What training have you had?

When hiring any contractor the more informed you are about the service you need, the better off you are. As with any profession the proper training is extremely important. You do not want to leave your natural stone in the hands of an improperly trained contractor. A properly trained company has received hands-on training in these application processes. Be sure to ask any prospective contractor about their training and certification.

Are you insured?

Ask for proof. Have him show you a certificate of insurance, or, if the job is large enough, have his insurance company send you one. Be sure he carries liability and workers’ compensation insurance.  Any reputable company will carry both.

Do you carry workers compensation insurance?

Workers Compensation Insurance protects you from liability if a worker is injured while on your property. Be aware that if the contractor does not carry workers compensation coverage, you will be liable for any injuries suffered by the contractor or any of his employees on your property. If the contractor is a one-man operation, he can be exempt from having to carry workers compensation insurance. Ask him to show you his certificate of exemption from workers compensation. This is very risky for you though. If he shows up with a helper and the helper gets hurt, with no workers compensation insurance, you may have to pay the medical bills. If the uninsured contractor is sloppy about verifying his sub-contractor’s workers compensation insurance and the sub-contractor gets hurt, again you may have to pay the medical bills.

Can you supply me with a list of references?

Ask for references—and check them.  Many contractors in all fields have references, but you’d be surprised how rarely they are actually checked.  Call at least two and ask if the contractor did a good job. Were there any problems and, if so, did he correct them? Were his employees professional? Were the surrounding areas carefully protected?

What professional organizations are you a member of?

Well established companies are affiliated with professional organizations.  For the stone and tile industry, it might be SurpHaces PROS or The Marble Institute of America, among others. In all cases, these organizations only attract conscientious contractors interested in bettering the industry and in weeding out unprofessional contractors. In order to become a member, the contractor’s background and references are thoroughly investigated. While a new contractor may not be a member of any professional organizations, it is highly unlikely an established contractor would not be a member of at least one, unless there is a reason that he cannot join.

What are the risks? While the risks may be minor, there are contractors that just don’t belong to any professional organizations, they are the rare exception and the vast majority of substantial companies do belong, because they understand the benefits of continuing education and peer review.

What are your work practices?

It can’t be stressed enough how important this information can be to you! Ask questions such as, how do they perform their work? What time do they start? How will they protect your carpets and surrounding cabinetry, etc.? How will the trash and debris be handled? The answers to these questions will give you a clear picture what type of contractor you are dealing with.

Contracts

Is their contract simple and straight-forward? Simple doesn’t mean it is right, and complicated doesn’t mean it is wrong, but the bottom line is: if you can’t understand it, or it is too complicated, make sure to get a clear understanding ― in writing!

Don’t hesitate to trust your gut feeling ― are you comfortable with the contractor? This is much more important than you might think!

 


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

How Does Sand Get Under Carpet?

How Does Sand Get Under Carpet?

People who replace carpeting or carpet padding are usually surprised to see a thick layer of what looks like playground sand underneath the carpet. A bit of sand is inevitable, but too much of it can cause premature carpet wear. How does this happen? Is there any way to minimize the problem?

Let’s Dig Into This Sand Problem

The layer of loose granular material under your carpeting is not quite the same as sand on a beach, in the desert, or in a playground sand box. All kinds of additional components can be found in the dusty stuff under carpeting, including the following:

  • Airborne dust particles(road dust, pollen, pollution, etc.) can come in through open windows. Carpeting acts like a filter, trapping the particles, which eventually accumulate and settle.
  • Pet and human hair and dander, composed of skin flakes, gets trapped in carpet fibers.
  • Insectsusually do not live in carpeting. They can get trapped in carpeting or die and fall down to the floor.
  • Microscopic organismscan actually live and die on almost any surface, including carpeting.
  • Carpet adhesive, over the course of time and in certain conditions, can become very hard and brittle. Foot traffic breaks up and dislodges little bits of this material.
  • Textile fibersfrom paper products, clothing, draperies, upholstered furniture, and carpet pile can settle in and under carpeting.

Without proper carpet care, all these components settle down to the lowest level in and, eventually, under carpeting.

Are Hard Floors Better?

One might imagine that the sand problem can be resolved by getting rid of carpeting altogether and installing a hard surface, but there are other factors to consider.

If sand remains on a hard surface, it will be unpleasant underfoot, give the floor a dirty appearance, and eventually result in dullness and scratches. If sand remains in carpeting, it will result in premature wear of carpet fibers. People tend to notice sand on a hard surface whereas carpeting disguises the problem. Either way, the sand problem must be addressed.

Hard flooring must be swept and mopped often and periodically professionally cleaned.

Carpeting must be vacuumed often and periodically professionally cleaned. Carpeting, unlike hard flooring, dampens sound, feels soft underfoot, creates a cozy, welcoming atmosphere, and can improve indoor air quality. Dr. Michael Berry, an environment and public health educator, writer, and science advisor, noted in the Journal of Cleaning, Restoration and Inspection that “six different field demonstration studies over the past twenty-five years indicate that a properly designed and scheduled carpet cleaning program that emphasizes extraction” will ultimately improve indoor air quality.

Tips to Avoid and Remove Excess Sand

At home, remove shoes, if possible, before entering. For residences where shoe removal is not preferred and for commercial properties, place high quality mats at entrances. Excess sand and grit will be deposited on the mats instead of your carpeting.

Vacuum upholstery and carpeting often, and if possible, use a rotating brush. The bristles help dislodge embedded particles from textile fibers.

Avoid using DIY carpet cleaning machines. The wrong type or the wrong amount of cleaning solutions can result in residue on carpet fibers that will act like a dirt magnet. Improper cleaning methods can drive sand further down into the carpet pile and backing.

Have your carpets professionally cleaned every six month to a year, adjusting the frequency according to the amount of traffic in and out of your home or business. Professional technicians use powerful and effective cleaning equipment and methods to remove sand from carpeting and achieve the best possible results.


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

Can Skin Soap Damage Natural Stone?

Can Skin Soap Damage Natural Stone?

If you have marble or other natural stone shower walls or tub surrounds, the skin soap you use can damage, stain, or diminish the appearance of your stone, especially if your stone is porous or calcium-based. With an abundance of skin cleaning products on the market, from bars and scrubs to foams and gels, knowing which ones to avoid using around your natural stone can be tricky. This article provides the details you need.

The Safest Soaps Are pH Neutral

The pH scale is a range of 0 to 14 to describe how acidic or basic, or alkaline a substance is. When something is pH-neutral, it is 7 on the pH scale. Soaps that are less than 7 are acidic. Soaps that are greater than 7 are alkaline. The safest soaps for both human skin and natural stone are pH-neutral, and do not contain detergents (synthetic cleaners), surfactants (surface active agents), dyes, fragrances, sulfates, and other additives.

What is soap, anyhow? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,

Ordinary soap is made by combining fats or oils and an alkali, such as lye. The fats and oils, which may be from animal, vegetable, or mineral sources, are degraded into free fatty acids, which then combine with the alkali to form crude soap. The lye reacts with the oils, turning what starts out as liquid into blocks of soap. When made properly, no lye remains in the finished product.

The easiest way to determine whether your skin soap is ordinary, pH-neutral soap is to purchase skin soap specifically marked on the label as pH-neutral. You may also purchase a digital pH meter or litmus paper to test soap.

Acidic Soaps Can Cause Etch Damage

One of the most widely recognized acid etch marks is what many people refer to as “water marks” on a kitchen countertop, because when acidic drink spills go unnoticed a little too long, the etch damage left behind can have the same circular shape as that of condensation left behind from a glass. Acidic soaps used for cleaning your skin can cause the same type of damage in the shower as in the kitchen.

Acids in skin soap chemically react with calcite or other minerals in the stone that are sensitive to acid, causing a white discoloration and roughening the surface of the stone. This damage cannot be wiped or washed away using regular cleaning methods. Your professional stone restoration technician may attempt to remove very mild etching with a polishing powder. Deep etch removal, however, will require honing and polishing.

Basic (Alkaline) Soaps Can Cause Etch Damage

One of the most widely recognized alkaline etch marks is a white spot on glass after going through a dishwasher with an inadequate rinse cycle. Similarly, regular use of soaps with a high alkaline content can etch the finish of your natural stone.

Alkaline etch damage cannot simply be wiped or cleaned away. Your professional stone restoration technician may attempt to remove alkaline etch damage with a mild acid, but since acid can also cause etch damage, chances are your stone will need to be honed and polished.

Soap Dyes or Fats Can Stain or Discolor Natural Stone

Some soaps contain dyes or colorants to give the product a more attractive appearance. If stone is porous, it can absorb dyes, especially blue, green, or turquoise dyes, causing the surface to darken or become discolored.

Some soaps are made from a high fat source, like coconut oil. An abundance of this ingredient can, over the course of time, act like a natural color-enhancing or darkening agent.

If a small area of your stone is stained, poulticing can draw the discoloration out of the stone. Visit our Stain Management App under the Resources tab for poultice ingredients and instructions, including a how-to video. If discolorations or stains persist or if they cover a large area, your professional stone restoration technician may be able to use a combination of honing, polishing, sealing, and enhancing to mask or diminish the problem to your satisfaction.

Soap Scum Can Diminish the Appearance of Stone

When minerals in your water interact with soap residues and surfactants, a thin film of soap scum can form on your stone. The best way to prevent this is to keep the shower clean. Use a squeegee to wipe your stone down after a shower, and clean your stone once per week with stone-safe, neutral cleaner.

Feel free to contact us regarding any specific questions or concerns you may have about your soap and your stone. To protect the finish of your natural stone shower walls or tub surrounds purchase soap that is safe for natural stone. Your skin may thank you, as well.


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

Man-Made Quartz vs Natural Stone Countertops

Man-Made Quartz vs Natural Stone Countertops

If you have been considering stone countertops, there are many high quality materials on the market today that will improve the value of your home. This article will help you familiarize yourself with the differences between man-made quartz stone and natural stone before making a decision. As you plan a kitchen or bathroom renovation or new construction, it’s important to remember that your countertops and vanity tops will be the surfaces in the room that are both most prominent and most utilized. You’ll want to choose your material wisely, for aesthetic reasons and for intended use.

Quartz

Quartz is an engineered stone made of crushed or powdered quartz crystals, pigments, and a binding material, such as resin. Quartz is sometimes confused with quartzite, which is a popular natural stone. Slabs of quartz are made to look very much like marble, granite, or other types of natural stone, but because they are manufactured using very specific processes, one slab can look exactly like another.

Over the past few decades, engineered stone products, also known as quartz surfaces, such as Cambria, LG Viatera, Vicostone, and countless others have skyrocketed in popularity. This comes as no surprise, since quartz offers many practical advantages over natural stone, including resistance to scratches, chips, cracks, and etch damage.

Natural Stone

One would imagine that with all the advantages quartz affords, people might choose it over natural stone every time. But this is not the case. Natural stone has many advantages over quartz. For homeowners who want a unique material, each slab of natural stone, like fingerprints and snowflakes, is truly one of a kind.

Marble, granite, soapstone, and other popular countertop materials are easier to repair than quartz, because they do not contain colored resins. Your professional stone restoration technician can fill in natural stone chips and cracks, remove stains, hone and polish away etches, scratches, and dullness, and completely refinish and renew your surfaces with greater ease and at less expense than quartz.

Sealers

Quartz is nonporous, which means it is inherently resistant to bacteria and viruses, does not stain easily, and does not require sealer. However, there are certain substances that can stain quartz, including paint removers, oil-based soaps and products, permanent dyes and markers, and certain chemicals, such as bleach and degreasers.

Some types of natural stone will not require sealer. Highly polished stone may not even take an impregnating sealer. But, if sealing is recommended, know that sealing represents an inexpensive, preventative measure against stain damage, because it buys you time to wipe up spills before they become stains. Other sealing options for natural stone include color enhancing sealers that enhance the natural colors already present within a stone or sealers for certain types of stone, such as slate or flagstone, that achieve a variety of finishes, from soft matte to a glossy or wet look.

Sustainability

When it comes to sustainability, one could make an argument for or against both quartz and natural stone. Quartz is very abundant, so it does not need to be shipped as far as natural stone. However, the production process for natural stone produces less carbon emissions than that of quartz.

Prices

Prices on quartz and natural stone tops for kitchens and baths vary widely, depending on many factors, from the type of material and finish to the design and edge selections. Quartz is a very dense, uniform material, making it conducive to elaborate designs and edges. Both quartz and natural stone are more expensive than laminate or other budget-friendly materials, but the perks of using a high quality material can far outweigh the cost. If your budget is limited, consider purchasing quartz or natural stone but opting for simpler design and edge selections.

Your countertops and vanity tops should be aesthetically pleasing and ideal for intended use. Whether you choose quartz or natural stone, these are both high quality materials that will improve the value of your home.


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

Tips for Products Commonly Used on Carpet

Tips for Products Commonly Used on Carpet

There are many products on the market today that people commonly use on carpet, from deodorizers and powders to stain sprays, protectants, and antistatic treatments. Some of these products may adversely affect carpeting. Here are some tips for avoiding carpet damage or premature wear.

Powdered Carpet Deodorizers

The most common cause of carpet damage and premature wear is dirt and grit. Any kind of abrasive particles, such as those found in the ingredients of powdered carpet deodorizers, act like tiny shards of glass that break and sever carpet fibers. Although the majority of powdered deodorizers are vacuumed up, some of the powder residue will inevitably remain in your carpeting. That’s part of the reason why the scent stays put long after you vacuum. The perfumed grit is activated when it is jostled around by foot traffic, and although it masks the odor problem, it doesn’t resolve the problem at all — and it creates a new problem. So when you sprinkle that pleasant scent, remember that you are, in effect, sprinkling damage and premature wear all over your investment.

How to Deodorize Your Carpet

Carpet odors are caused by contaminants, such as pollen, dander, food crumbs, and the like, that are trapped in your carpet fibers and backing. Thoroughly vacuuming your carpets on a regular basis, even when the carpet does not look dirty, and having your carpets periodically professionally cleaned should help keep odors at bay. You may also consider that the source of odors is something other than the carpet. Try using a HEPA filter in your HVAC system and make sure your home is properly ventilated, leave shoes in a mudroom or outside, keep your pets clean, and investigate any other potential odor sources.

Baking Soda

Nahcolite is a mineral commonly known as baking soda. Sprinkling your carpet with baking soda is essentially the same thing as sprinkling your carpet with minerals or sharp little rock ingredients. The potential abrasive damage is comparable to that of powdered carpet deodorizers. Baking soda is popular for DIY cleaning, and rightly so, because it can be highly effective, but it is not ideal for regular use on carpets.

If you choose to use baking soda on your carpet, we recommend that you only use it mixed with water to spot clean a small area. Once you are finished, you will also need to clean the treated area to remove any residual mineral particles. Apply enough plain water to moisten the treated area (do not saturate), blot dry with paper towels or a white cloth, and repeat this process several times. Once the carpet is completely dry, vacuum the treated area thoroughly.

Pet Odor Treatments

Sometimes, even after thoroughly cleaning a pet accident, odors persist. The uric acid in pet urine binds tightly with absorbent substances like carpet fibers and backing, and in the worst cases, the padding. Foot traffic or any change in humidity can reactivate the odor. The best way to get rid of persistent pet odor is to have your carpet professionally cleaned. Ask your carpet cleaning technician to do a spot treatment in trouble areas. If a pet accident penetrates too deeply into carpet padding, the odor can only be removed if the padding is replaced.

Spot Cleaners

If you choose to use a spot cleaner for your carpet, be sure to select one that is appropriate for your type of carpet by comparing details from the carpet manufacturers information with the spot cleaner product label. Use the appropriate amount, because too little can be ineffective and too much can leave a film that attracts and traps dirt and contaminants. This extra layer of residue can be unsightly and cause premature wear.

Anti-Static Treatments

The ingredients in anti-static treatments on carpet fibers can act like dirt magnets. Use a humidifier instead.

Harsh Chemicals and Abrasive Cleaners

Any product not specifically designed for carpet cleaning and care can cause damage. If you are going to use a chemical or cleaning product not specifically designed for carpet cleaning, be aware that you are taking a risk. White vinegar, mild dish detergent, peroxide, and OxiClean™ may be appropriate in some circumstances, but always test the product in an inconspicuous area first.

Carpet care products can cause carpet damage or premature wear. Follow the tips in this article to help preserve the life of your investment. For more information on carpet care, download our free Carpet and Interior Textiles Care Guide, and we are always just a phone call away.