How Many Dust Mites Are In Your Home?

How Many Dust Mites Are In Your Home?

One common cause of poor indoor air quality is allergens produced by dust mites. Indoor air pollution can cause annoying allergy symptoms, or worse, for people with asthma. Read on to learn more about dust mites, the symptoms dust mite allergens cause, and how to reduce the number of dust mites in your home.

About Dust Mites

Dust mites are microscopic pests attracted to human dander, a substance found on carpets, upholstery, and other surfaces throughout homes, but especially on mattresses, where humans sleep seven or more hours on average every night. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 100,000 dust mites can be found in just one square yard of carpet and a mattress that gets typical use may contain 100,000 to 10 million of them.

Symptoms Caused by Dust Mite Allergens

Allergy symptoms triggered by airborne dust mite fecal pellets range from sneezing and runny or congested nasal passages to cough, darkness under the eyes, and other symptoms. For people with asthma, symptoms are more severe, including wheezing and difficulty breathing.

How to Reduce the Number of Dust Mites

The only way to completely rid your home of dust mites is to move out. In other words, dust mites are very likely to be present in an inhabited home, but there are steps you can take to reduce their numbers. Let’s begin with bedding, the place these tiny, bug-like creatures prefer most.

Bedding Suggestions

Avoid down pillows and wool blankets, opting for cotton or synthetic materials, instead. Wash your bed linens once per week. Use mite-resistant covers on pillows and mattresses. If you have kids who love to sleep with stuffed animals, purchase washable toys.

Dehumidify Your Home

Dust mites thrive in humid environments. Make sure humid areas such as bathrooms and kitchens are properly ventilated. If necessary, run a dehumidifier to control indoor moisture.

Vacuuming May Not Be Enough

Vacuuming your mattress, carpeting, upholstery, and other textiles has traditionally been the go-to method for removing dust mites and the dander that serves as a food supply for them, however, a study by Woolcock Institute of Medical Research concluded that vacuuming in an inconsistent or incomplete manner will only serve to redistribute dust mites.

Suggestions for improving results of vacuuming include using a vacuum with:

  • rotating brushes in the head
  • proper suction
  • fully functional seals and gaskets
  • HEPA (high efficiency particulate air filter) filtration
  • By all means, vacuum often and vacuum thoroughly, but be aware that vacuuming may not be enough.

We Provide Deep Cleaning Services

Professional carpet and textile cleaning equipment and solutions can remove more dander and dust mites than vacuuming alone. Our highly trained and skilled technicians are very methodical and thorough, deep-cleaning from the folds and crevices in mattresses and upholstery to the corners and baseboards of carpeting for a fresh, clean, healthy living environment. Let us help you give bugs the boot.


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

Red Wine Stains

Are all those carpet care tips you find on the internet correct?

Arming yourself with accurate information for treating red wine stains can make all the difference between successful stain removal and a permanent stain.

Carpeting can be a fresh, soft, beautiful part of interior design, but carpet with permanent stains can make even the cleanest carpets seem dirty and unsightly. Of all the types of carpet stains, one of the most difficult to remove is red wine. When red wine spills happen, your carpet will need immediate attention in order to prevent a permanent stain. Before you search for one of the latest internet remedies, you should know that there is a lot of incomplete or incorrect information circulating online. Let’s take a look at what’s out there.

Treatments Found on the Internet

Club Soda

Some people claim that the bubbles in club soda will help lift a red wine spot. While club soda can be used as a carrier to blot up wine spills, it is no more effective than regular water.

Plain Water

Most of the time, plain tap water can be very useful for blotting up red wine spills. However, in certain regions “hard water,” or water with a high mineral content could possibly leave some mild discoloration. If you know you have hard water or you want to be extra cautious, use distilled water, which has no minerals.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a mildly abrasive alkaline substance. Baking soda can be used to absorb wine from carpet if the spill is fresh. Baking soda’s abrasive properties can result in fiber damage and breakage with foot traffic if it is not completely removed from carpet, so, if you choose to use baking soda, be sure to thoroughly vacuum once the area is dry.

Soap or Detergent

Soap can leave sticky residue on carpet fibers that will attract dirt. Certain types of soaps can de-color or discolor certain types of carpet. If soap is used, it should be tested in an inconspicuous area first. If no discoloration occurs, it should be diluted before use and then cleaned with water afterward.

White Vinegar

White vinegar is a popular green household cleaner, but it can leave behind odors and de-color or discolor certain types of carpet. Test in an inconspicuous area first. In addition, it should be diluted before use and then cleaned with water afterward.

OxiClean

Known for its stain removing properties, OxiClean is often recommended for removing red wine spots. OxiClean Carpet Spot and Stain Remover is made specifically for carpet. Do not use this product on carpets made with wool or silk. Test in an inconspicuous area first.

Our DIY Spot Treatment

For red wine spills, as well as many other types of spills, the spot removal method is pretty simple. Use dry, white, clean cloths or paper towels to blot the spill and absorb excess liquid. Moisten with water and repeat until the entire spot is gone. If this doesn’t work, use a manufacturer-recommended spot cleaner or try our DIY how-to.

First Step: Blot, Blot, Blot!

If it is a new spill, use a white cloth or paper towels to blot as much of the red wine spill as you can. Follow this with pouring a bit of cold water directly onto the wine stain. Doing this helps dilute what remains of the stain. Continue with blotting until no more of the stain is coming out then follow with cleaning methods.

Cleaning the Spill

(IMPORTANT! Don’t forget to test: Of course, your stains don’t always cooperate by appearing in inconspicuous areas, but do keep in mind that it is always recommended that you first test any cleaning solution on a portion of carpet or upholstery that is out of the way.)

The Dish Soap and White Wine Vinegar Solution Method

This method is great for red wine and a host of other tough stains.

  1. Pour two cups of warm water into a bowl. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar and another tablespoon of dishwashing liquid.
  2. Dip a sponge into the bowl and wring out well. Begin applying the solution directly onto the wine stain. You should see immediate lifting of the stain, but continue blotting until the stain has lifted completely.
  3. Follow with blotting the area with clear water, then blotting dry with a clean white towel or paper towels.

If spot cleaning fails to remove the red wine discoloration, call your carpet cleaning pro right away. The longer the spot remains on the carpet, the more likely it is to turn into a permanent stain.

Note: Home remedies are not guaranteed and may, at times, make spots/stains appear worse or make spots/stains that a trained professional is capable of removing into more permanent issues.

Spot Cleaning Pitfalls

Here are a few pitfalls to consider as you spot clean.

  • Note that thorough rinsing can be very difficult to accomplish using DIY methods, because the carpet can become too wet, which can cause odors and other problems. Focus on keeping the cleaning activity limited to the area affected, taking as much or more time to remove excess moisture as you do for the actual spot removal.
  • Avoid vigorously scrubbing the carpet. Carpet fibers can become damaged or break off if the cleaning methods are too aggressive.
  • If you purchase a product made for removing spots from carpet, read and follow the instructions.
  • Keep your carpet manufacturer’s warranty valid. Read and follow your manufacturer’s warranty instructions on required carpet care.

If your attempts at red wine spot removal fail, don’t give up! Leaving the spot will only increase the likelihood that it will become a permanent stain. Professional carpet cleaning solutions and equipment can achieve a deep level of clean not possible with DIY methods. In most cases, professional methods can safely and effectively get the red wine spot out and leave your carpets clean and fresh. The main concern with red wine spills is to take care of it right away.

Note: Home remedies are not guaranteed and may, at times, make spots/stains appear worse or make spots/stains that a trained professional is capable of removing into more permanent issues.

Countertops: Your Essential Guide

Countertops: Your Essential Guide

Thinking about purchasing new countertops? You’re going to love the SurpHace BUZZ magazine Kitchen Countertop edition!

When you begin to consider which countertop material for your new kitchen, you will want to educate yourself on all your options before you make your selection. After all, you’re going to be living with them for a long time and there are so many wonderful choices to consider. Look to the special edition of SurpHace BUZZ magazine that is dedicated to kitchen countertops. In addition to the regular articles–Did You Know? Ask Our PROS, and the ever popular Kid’s Page (which in this edition includes a fun how-to video)–our PROS present incredibly useful information and tips in:  Countertops 101: The Complete Guide to Kitchen Countertops.

In it, topics covered to help you in your decision process include…

How Do You Intend to Use Your Kitchen?

Although color, budget, and texture/finish are important considerations, your material selection ought to be based on how you intend to use your kitchen. An elegant, high-maintenance material might be a perfectly reasonable choice for a kitchen that gets very little use. Durable, low-maintenance materials are appropriate for kitchens where there is constant cooking, cleaning, entertaining, and eating. You might consider selecting more than one type of countertop material for designated purposes like baking or heavy meal prep.

Countertop Materials

There are so many so many choices for countertop surfaces today, from concrete and laminate to metal or natural stone. Some materials are easier to maintain than others. With proper care, most materials can last many years. The appearance of some materials can be renewed once use or damage have taken a toll, while other materials will have to be replaced.

  • Concrete countertops can look as elegant as natural stone. Look for a specialist with a reputation for excellence for concrete countertop installation.
  • Laminate countertops are an attractive, stain-resistant option for a limited budget design. With proper care, laminate can last a long time, but damaged laminate cannot be restored.
  • Porcelain countertops are a great choice as they give the look of marble without being porous or acid sensitive. However, damaged porcelain can be difficult or impossible to restore.
  • Recycled glass countertops are resistant to UV damage, chips, cracks, and stains. They are difficult, but not impossible to restore.
  • Solid surface countertops are made with acrylic or polyester plastic. They are a good option for interior areas where there is no direct UV exposure but not suitable for outdoor kitchens.
  • Metal countertops are a fantastic alternative to more traditional countertop materials. Fabricators can make seamless, custom integral sinks with metal countertops. Metal tops are non-porous, which is perfect for food prep, with the exception of metal tops containing lead. Options include zinc, pewter, copper, bronze, and brass.
  • Stainless steel countertops are, hands-down, the absolute best option for outdoor kitchens and are also appropriate for indoor kitchens with modern, retro, or industrial designs.
  • Wood or butcher block countertops can be sanded for brand new look. Wood tops are porous and should be sealed, but even sealed countertops can warp with excess water exposure. Wood is not suitable for exterior applications.
  • High end countertop options include gemstone, exotic stone, precious metal, petrified wood, and other types of exotic stone.

And a Special Section Dedicated to Natural Stone…

Natural stone countertop choices include granite, marble, limestone, soapstone, slate, quartz surface (engineered stone), and quartzite. Some types of natural stone are more suitable than others for kitchen countertops, depending on a variety of factors.

Natural Stone Selection

If you are looking for tops that can hold up to serious use, there are a few simple tests you can do with stone samples:

  1. The Scratch Test reveals the softness of the stone.
  2. The Dye Test can help you identify “Doctored Stone.”
  3. The Lemon Juice and Oil Test demonstrates whether the stone is prone to staining and etch damage.

Learn more about these tests and various types of natural stone in the full article, as well as how to work closely with your fabricator to select the most appropriate stone or other material for your kitchen countertops. Learn about slab selection, resined slabs, why fees go beyond square footage, what you should do before the slab is cut, and edge options that are available to you.

Caring for Your Stone

Some of the topics covered include…

  • Educating yourself on some essential do’s and don’ts
  • Troubleshooting – Common problems and what to about them

Don’t miss out on any issue of SurpHace BUZZ magazine. Be sure to subscribe to be notified when a new issue is published.

Demystifying Carpet Cleaning Walk-Throughs

Demystifying Carpet Cleaning Walk-Throughs

Before and after carpet cleaning services, our technicians do a walk-through, that is slowly and purposefully walking through your home or business, asking questions, and sometimes stopping to measure and jot down technical notes on a clipboard or mobile device. This article demystifies the walk through process, letting you know what to expect and why.

Why did you contact us?

On the surface, this may seem like a no-brainer. You want to have your carpets cleaned, because, obviously, carpets get dirty. Our technicians have good reasons for asking this question, especially if you are a new client. Maybe your previous carpet cleaning company did not meet your expectations. Maybe your carpet warranty only remains valid if you have your carpets professionally cleaned. Knowing what motivates our clients to schedule services helps us customize our services to best suit your needs.

Sometimes technicians may ask this question of existing clients, especially if carpets are cleaned at periodic intervals and it has not been that long since the previous visit. If there are odor problems, your carpet is seeing more traffic than normal, or you have other concerns that bring us to your home or business more frequently, again, we may be able to customize our services to best suit your needs. Knowing why you reached out to us gives us important clues about the condition of your carpet.

What are we looking for?

  • Electric. Home and business owners are usually quick to point out spots, spills, and problem areas. Any information that clients provide is helpful, and we appreciate that. However, there are other things your technician considers during the walk through. For example, sometimes electrical outlets are already being utilized or are not exposed because of furniture. Knowing where to plug in ahead of time helps us protect your belongings.
  • Protection. Speaking of belongings, we also make note of furnishings, cabinets, the flooring adjacent to our work area, window treatments, and other care considerations. We like to know ahead of time what level of protection will be required so that we clean your carpets and leave everything else untouched.
  • Lighting. We pay attention to whether there is adequate lighting and plan accordingly by either bringing additional lighting or showing up during a time when the natural light is best. This is especially important for jobs involving a lot of spot removal.
  • Space. We always use extreme care to avoid damage to walls, doorways, furniture, and other surfaces surrounding our work area. Making note of narrow hallways, aisles, and tight spaces enables us to plan our cleaning route so that our equipment stays well clear of your valuable property. We also measure, because we want to get accurate square footage to make sure you get fair and competitive pricing.
  • Manufacturer’s guidelines. Certain types of carpet have very specific care instructions provided by the manufacturer. Our technicians are highly trained and skilled at inspecting and identifying carpet types and selecting the most appropriate cleaning solutions and methods for your carpet fiber. If there are any questions about your particular carpet, we may ask you to provide the manufacturer info.

We may ask about your habits.

Our technicians may ask questions about your eating, drinking, and cleaning habits. We promise we are not trying to be nosey! These questions are completely normal and play an important part of our decision making process as we customize your carpet cleaning plan. For example, if you use hair spray near an area with carpet, we may need to pretreat this area in order to completely remove stubborn residues. We may also offer suggestions on how to avoid premature wear and keep your carpet looking fresh and smelling clean between professional cleanings.

We may need to clarify expectations.

During the walk through, we will point out any areas of concern, for example, shedding, buckling, fading, and provide the opportunity for clients to ask questions. There are some problems with carpet that cannot be completely resolved with professional carpet cleaning. The walk through is when both technicians and clients can ask questions and clarify expectations. Our goal is to give an honest evaluation of your carpet and what you can expect us to accomplish, and then provide the highest quality services to achieve the best possible results. Below are details about the most common concerns.

  • Spots and Stains. Most spots from pet accidents or food and drink spills can be removed if they are treated right away. Please refer to our free, downloadable Carpet and Interior Textiles Care Guide for more information. If you are unable to remove a spot, contact us right away so we can tend to it before it becomes a permanent stain. Sometimes clients are busy or don’t notice a spot right away, though. Although professional carpet cleaning can minimize the appearance of permanent stains, permanent stains are called permanent for a reason. For example, if you spill bleach on a dark carpet, it removes the dye in the carpet. Cleaning the carpet will not replace the dye.
  • Traffic Patterns. Over time, traffic patterns develop in carpet, because the fibers of the carpet can become bent or broken when abrasive materials on the bottoms of shoes cut into carpet fibers. Cleaning will help lift the carpet pile and minimize the appearance of traffic patterns, but it will not repair damaged carpet fibers or replace missing carpet fibers.

When we take the time to walk through your home or business, before and after carpet cleaning, we are paying close attention to how we may best serve you and meet your needs and making sure you know exactly what to expect from us.

Limestone Selection and Care

Limestone Selection and Care

The castle-like, serene palette limestone offers makes it a popular choice for homeowners in renovation projects or new construction. This article provides valuable information for anyone considering having limestone installed, as well as anyone with an existing installation. Read on to learn where limestone works best, why limestone is not suitable for wet areas, and how to care for limestone.

Limestone: Suitable for Many Applications

Limestone is an organic sedimentary rock that forms from the accumulation of shell, coral, algal, and fecal debris — a stone of choice for many applications such as interior flooring or walls, fireplace surrounds, backsplashes, in living rooms and recreation rooms, and more. There are many different types of limestone. One of the most popular is travertine, which is often used in exterior installations, such as pool decks or hot tub surrounds.

Most types of limestone can safely be used anywhere that it will not be exposed to excessive amounts of water. Certain types of limestone can be used for kitchen countertops or bathroom vanities, but like almost any natural stone, limestone is susceptible to etching, scratching, and staining. With proper care and periodic professional attention, it can stay looking great indefinitely. Reputable suppliers, fabricators, and installers know, because of positive feedback from owners, where various types of limestone have been installed with great success.

About Limestone in Wet Areas

Stone and tile professionals have noticed problems with limestone installations in showers and other areas that get excessive water exposure, such as staining and deterioration, or in some cases, complete disintegration of the stone. Unfortunately, the blame for these problems is often misplaced on suppliers, fabricators, or installers, even though the material is sound and has been installed within industry guidelines.

Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Iron. Limestone contains iron and other minerals that can oxidize and cause stains that worsen over time. Since iron is part of the mineral makeup of the stone, these stains can be impossible to remove.
  2. Porosity. Limestone, even when sealed, is typically very porous. Water enters the pores of the stone and reacts with the setting bed, which contains salts. When the limestone dries, the salts recrystallize, causing pressure that can result in the stone spalling, that is, peeling, flaking, or breaking on the surface of the stone. In steam showers, water vapors can enter very tiny pores that liquid water cannot. The steam then condenses in the pores causing the stone to deteriorate.
  3. Solubility. Limestone contains water-soluble materials, such as calcium carbonate and organic matter. When the water-soluble materials in limestone are constantly exposed to water, the stone can dissolve or disintegrate.

The Natural Stone Institute, the leading trade association in the industry, has a system for designating the soundness of a stone. It recommends that only class A and B stones be used in interior wet areas. Limestone falls into a C class, at best. Many stone types fall into the D classification. For more info on this classification system go to The Natural Stone Institutes website at https://www.naturalstoneinstitute.org/.

In a nutshell, it is not a good idea to use limestone in wet areas.

Let’s Look at Water

One may question the idea that limestone is suitable for areas that do not get excessive water exposure given the fact that limestone is often used for exterior installations without having any issues. This is true, but there is a big difference between the amount of water used in a bathroom shower and the amount of rain on an exterior installation. A bathroom shower, on average, produces over 8,000 inches of water per year. To put this in perspective, the rainiest area on earth is in China, which has 321 inches of rain per year. A shower has over 26 times that amount. That is a lot of water!

Don’t Replace Your Limestone!

If your limestone is already installed and you are having problems, don’t replace it! Most limestone problems can be resolved with professional stone restoration and repair. For example, if your limestone has a highly polished finish, you may opt to switch to a honed finish, which requires less maintenance. Limestone can be professionally cleaned for a fresh, clean look, and sealed to inhibit staining. Etches, scratches, and dullness can be virtually erased with professional honing and polishing. For regular day-to-day care, use a stone-safe, neutral cleaner, and follow the care instructions in our free, downloadable Stone and Tile Care Guide. Contact us for answers to your limestone questions and specific recommendations for caring for your limestone.

How to Remove Chewing Gum from Carpet

How to Remove Chewing Gum from Carpet

For people who love soft, clean carpets and rugs, removing clingy, sticky chewing gum may seem like a nightmarish and impossible task. Fortunately, in most cases, getting gum out of carpet fibers can be easier than one might imagine. Here are a few methods to try.

Note: It is important to get the gum off of the carpet as soon as possible, otherwise it could be harder to remove later.

Warning: Always test products and cleaning methods in an inconspicuous area first, to see whether they will damage or remove dye from your carpet.

Freeze It

The ice and spoon method is the most common way to remove gum from carpet. Alternatively, if you do an online search for “gum freeze spray” there are many products that you can use instead of ice. Here’s how.

What You’ll Need

  • Ice or gum freeze spray (specifically marked safe for carpets on the label)
  • Spoon or dull utensil
  • Carpet-safe cleaner (specifically marked safe for carpets on the label)
  • White cloth or paper towels

Directions

  1. Place a few ice cubes directly onto gum stain. Allow them to sit long enough to freeze and harden the gum. Or, spray the gum with gum freeze spray until it becomes hard and brittle.
  2. Use a utensil with a dull edge such as a spoon or butter knife to pop the frozen pieces off, or if it doesn’t come off all at once, to remove as much as possible.
  3. Repeat steps one and two, as needed, until most of the gum is removed.
  4. Test carpet-safe cleaner in an inconspicuous area.
  5. Spray the affected area.
  6. Gently rub the area with a dry, clean, white cloth or paper towels.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6, as needed.

Rubbing Alcohol or Methyl Salicylate

Rubbing alcohol breaks down the polymers in chewing gum. Methyl Salicylate, aka, wintergreen oil, is actually an ingredient in chewing gum. It can loosen gum from carpet fibers.

What You’ll Need

  • Rubbing alcohol or methyl salicylate
  • White cloth or paper towels

Directions

  1. Apply a few drops of rubbing alcohol or methyl salicylate to the affected area.
  2. Allow the solution to remain for a few minutes.
  3. Remove the solution with a dry, clean, white cloth or paper towels.
  4. Repeat steps 1 through 3, as needed.

WD-40 and Dish Soap

An alternative method, if neither of the above methods have proven successful, involves WD-40 and dish soap. The WD-40 loosens the gum from the carpet fibers. The dish soap gets the WD-40 out of your carpet once all the gum is removed.

What You’ll Need

  • WD-40
  • Soft bristle brush
  • White cloth or paper towels
  • Sponge
  • Dish soap
  • Warm water

Directions

  1. Apply a generous amount of WD-40 to the affected area.
  2. Allow the solution to remain for a few minutes.
  3. Use a soft bristle brush to remove the gum from the carpet fibers.
  4. Wipe the affected area with a dry, clean, white cloth or paper towels.
  5. Repeat steps 1 through 5, as needed.
  6. Once all the gum is removed, remove the WD-40 using a clean, white cloth and warm soap water.
  7. Finish up by cleaning the area with a clean, white cloth and warm water (no soap). This last step is to remove any soap residue, which could attract dirt.
  8. If the area is too wet to quickly air dry, use clean, dry, white cloth or paper towels to soak up excess moisture.

We’re Here to Help

Most of the time, people are able to remove gum from carpet using DIY methods, but for certain types of carpet, particularly clingy gum, or gum that has been on the carpet for a while, these methods may not work. Though you may be tempted to pry out the gum or scrub it out with harsh chemicals, this can result in damage to your carpet or rug fibers, perhaps even spreading the gum to a wider area. Instead, give us a call. With our professional cleaning solutions and specialized equipment, we have great success getting gum out of carpet.

The Mystery of Ancient Stone Fabrication

Ancient and Modern Stone Fabrication

When you compare the stone fabrication that is possible today with what was accomplished by ancient stone fabricators, there is not a great difference in the quality of the work. Yet, these ancient craftsmen were able to accomplish excellent work without the tools available to stone fabricators today. Today, stone fabrication is making great advances that will let you have just about any design you have in mind. Modern stone cutting technology, using computers, allows you to be innovative in your design and confident that the finished product will meet your exact specifications. How did the ancients accomplish the excellent quality of work without modern technology?

The Mohs Scale

In order to understand the significance of the differences between ancient and modern fabrication, we have to look at the Mohs Scale, a scale of measurement that classifies mineral hardness. There are ten minerals in the Mohs scale rated from one to ten, with ten being the hardest. They are: talc, gypsum, calcite, fluorite, apatite, feldspar, quartz, topaz, corundum and diamond. This scale is a measurement of scratch resistance. In other words, it determines which mineral is hard enough to cut softer materials. The hardest of these minerals is diamond.

Ancient Stone Cutting Tools

If you visit Egypt, Peru, or other places that have ancient sites with stone work, you will find that their structures, carvings, and stone implements are made with great precision and reveal that those who made them were very skilled craftsmen. The ancient fabricators did not have computers or sophisticated tools to help them cut stone with exactness. It is common knowledge that any tool used should have a greater hardness than the stone that is being cut and shaped. What tools were available to them? The tools that have been found would not have been capable of cutting and shaping the stone with such exactness and smoothness, yet the evidence of their work still stands today. The bottom line is that we just don’t know what tools or technology the ancients used.

The Missing Link

This poses the question, “How did they do such quality work?” This is still a mystery that architects, archeologists, and stone cutting experts have to solve. Somehow, these ancient architects and craftsmen were able to achieve amazing results without our modern technology. If hand tools were used, there would have been patterns in the stone providing evidence of the features of the tool. When the stones are examined, they are smooth and show no tool patterns. What equipment did they use to accomplish comparable results? This is still a mystery. There are many theories, but they remain theories. The tools found, from the time of the construction of large structures and the fine craftsmanship of objects left behind were basic tools that would not be capable of producing the results of the work found. There has been no evidence found to date of more sophisticated equipment. Archeologists are still looking for the missing link.

Modern Stone Cutting

Today’s technology is very advanced, giving fabricators the capability to precisely cut stone to your specific needs. Any stone design you want, whether it be countertops, mantles, or special unique shapes, can be achieved. Maybe someday the mystery of how the ancients fabricated stone will be resolved. While researchers are still looking, you can rest assured that we have the most appropriate, high-tech equipment to meet your needs. Modern stone fabrication is no mystery to us!


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

Removing Urine Stains and Odors on Natural Stone

Removing Urine Stains and Odors from Stone

Urine accidents on natural stone in homes or businesses can cause staining and odor problems. Maybe your new puppy made a mess on your marble floor. Perhaps in front of the urinals in a business restroom the granite is stained and smells of urine. Whether it’s your puppy, poor aim, or some other cause, there are ways to remove these stains and odors. Here are some instructions for urine stain removal, and if odors linger after stain removal, we’ve also included instructions for urine odor removal.

The Chemistry of Urine

Urine is unique in that it is a substance that comes out of the body as an acid, and when it starts to dry, it becomes an alkaline crystal, which absorbs moisture. In the case of urine accidents, stains can grow as these crystals absorb moisture. If the stone is a polished marble or limestone, it can become etched due to the initial acid reaction, but it can also be etched from the strong alkali. If this is the case, the stone may need to be repolished.

Removing Natural Stone Urine Stains

Removing urine stains can be tricky and timing is everything. The quicker you can get to the stain the easier it will be to remove.

As soon as you can, blot the urine up with some dry paper towels. Do not wipe, since this will only spread the stain. Clean the stain with some dish soap and water. Mix about one teaspoon of dish soap in a gallon of water. Apply this solution to the wet area and allow it to sit for a minute or two. Blot the solution up and rinse with clean water. If there is still a stain, then you will need to apply a poultice.

Poultice To Remove Urine Stain

A poultice is a mixture you will create and apply to break down and draw out the stain from the pores of the stone.

What You’ll Need

  • Flour (use only white flour) or Diatomaceous Earth
  • Hydrogen Peroxide 20 Volume (available at most beauty supply stores or order on-line)
  • Plastic wrap (Saran Wrap or equivalent)
  • Plastic putty knife
  • Low contact painters’ tape
  • Mixing bowl or cup
  • Plastic or wooden spoon
  • Paper towels or a soft white cloth

Instructions

  1. Wet the stained area with distilled water. Pre-wetting fills the pores of the stone with water and will isolate the stain and accelerate the removal by the chemical.
  2. Prepare the poultice. Take a small amount of flour and pour the peroxide into the flour and stir until you reach a creamy consistency.
  3. When you apply the poultice to the stain, be careful not to spill any on the non-stained areas. Apply the poultice approximately 1/4-inch thick and overlapping the stain area by about one inch.
  4. Cover the poultice with plastic. Use low contact painters’ tape to secure the plastic down and seal the edges. Do not use other types of tape, because the adhesive can damage the stone. 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.
  5. Allow the poultice to dry thoroughly. This is an especially 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. Remove the poultice with a plastic putty knife. Rinse with distilled water and buff dry with paper towels or a soft white cloth. If the stain is not removed, apply the poultice again. It may take up to five applications for difficult stains.

Removing Natural Stone Urine Odors

Once the stain is removed, the urine smell may still be present. The nasty smell you may experience is the result of bacteria using the urine as a food source. So, to eliminate the odor, you need to kill the bacteria. Here is how to neutralize the odor:

There are numerous products on the market designed for eliminating carpet odors. These same products can be used for stone. Make sure the product is enzymatic. Many products will only mask the odor. Since you want to eliminate the odor, an enzymatic product is necessary.

What You’ll Need

  • Enzymatic carpet cleaner
  • Plastic wrap (Saran Wrap or equivalent)
  • Paper towels or a soft white cloth

Instructions

  1. Spray the affected surface liberally with the cleaner using a pump sprayer or spray bottle.
  2. Cover with plastic for 1 to 2 hours to slow the evaporation rate and allow time for the first application to soak deeply into the stone.
  3. Note that as the first application of cleaner goes to work, the urine odor may intensify at first. This is typical with old or heavy urine deposits and indicates that the urine is being loosened and is rising to the surface.
  4. Remove the plastic and blot the floor dry with paper towels or soft white cloths. Expect the blotting towels or cloths to be colored yellow and smell heavily of urine. Dispose of the soiled towels or cloths.
  5. Reapply the cleaner. Allow to dry 1 to 2 hours. (In humid climates lacking AC, drying may take longer.)
  6. Continue to reapply as needed, with 1 to 2 hours drying time between applications or until the odor is removed.

The above processes are time-consuming but will be well worth the effort if done properly.

Urine Etch Damage on Natural Stone

It is possible in the case of polished marble or limestone that discoloration may persist despite your stain removal procedures. If the stone looks dull or has texture when you run your finger across the surface, then etching may have occurred. Sometimes, minor etch damage on stone with a polished finish can be removed using a marble polishing compound. For other finishes or deep etch damage, professional honing and polishing will be necessary. Your stone and tile restoration technician, who has the expertise to deal with this problem and can determine what needs to be done in your particular situation. Feel free to contact us for further guidance.


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

Is My Stone Really Stained?

Is My Stone Really Stained?

Sometimes when we get calls from customers regarding a stain on their stone, it is not uncommon to find that the stain is not a stain at all. Here are some examples of common stone problems that look like stains but are not actually stains and what can be done to resolve the issues.

Acid Etching

Almost all polished marble will become discolored and dull when it comes in contact with acids. Acids can be found in orange juice, lemons, soft drinks, foods, household and commercial cleaners, bathroom cleaners, and the list goes on and on. This dulling effect caused by acids coming in contact with the calcium in the stone is a condition known as etching. This can also occur on highly polished concrete and some tile surfaces.

To remove an etch from polished marble, re-polishing will be required. If the etching is minor and limited to a small area, you can use a quality marble polishing compound. If the etching is severe, it will need to be professionally honed and re-polished.

Moisture / Wet Stone on Countertops

Another common problem mistaken as staining is moisture that has absorbed into the stone. This occurs when a porous stone is not adequately sealed. When this happens, the stone will appear darker. (Think about what happens to a pair of jeans when they get wet. The material looks darker until it dries.)

If you suspect the problem is wet stone, give it time to completely dry or take a hair dryer to the suspected wet area and see if the area lightens. Caution: Do not apply too much heat, especially to granite, because it may cause the crystals in the stone to expand and spall, or the stone to crack.

When a stone absorbs moisture, this indicates that the stone needs to be sealed. Be sure to have the stone properly sealed.

Moisture / Wet Stone on Floors

Stone floors can also show moisture spots. This is especially true when stone floors are newly installed. The setting bed is usually very wet. The water migrates to the surface to escape and evaporates. This drying process can take a long time, depending on the temperature, humidity and air flow. Certain granites can take months to dry. Moisture can appear uniformly throughout the entire surface, or it can be blotchy.

Water Spots

Another common problem associated with staining is the deposits of water spots and water rings. These are the rings left behind from a glass that can appear on marble or other natural stone tables and countertops. Water spots are caused by slightly acidic liquids running down the sides of the glass and etching the marble.

Water spots can also be caused by chemicals in the liquid that deposit minerals on the stone. These are sometimes referred to as hard water spots. If the liquid contains calcium or other minerals, it will leave a spot on the surface in the shape of the bottom of the glass. The mineral deposits are the same type that appear in an automatic dishwasher or a glass shower door. These rings and spots are usually not stains and cannot be removed with stain-removing chemicals and poultices. Professional refinishing and re-polishing will probably be necessary.

Efflorescence

Efflorescence appears as a white powdery dust on the surface of the material. If you wipe your hand across a surface with efflorescence, you will pick up a light powdery residue. Efflorescence is simply a deposit of minerals on the surface. These minerals usually come from the setting bed or from the stone or concrete itself. When the material becomes wet during installation or afterward, the water dissolves some of the minerals in the setting bed and carries them to the surface. When the water evaporates, the minerals are left behind in the form of a powder.

If you are having issues with efflorescence, we can help.

These are the most common “stain” conditions that are not stains. Feel free to contact us with questions.

If you do have a true stain, please refer to our interactive Stain Removal Guide which shows you how to treat virtually any kind of true stain.

As always, let us know how we can help with any stone problem you are having.


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

3 Tips for Countertop Selection

What is the best countertop for your kitchen?

Installing new countertops comes with many questions, and even more choices when it comes to aesthetics. The best way to tackle the task of countertop selection is to eliminate as much uncertainty as possible. Here are some tips to help you make the most appropriate selection.

Know Your Renovation Strategy

Step one is to decide on the type of renovation taking place. If you’re committing to a full renovation—or if your kitchen or bathroom is being built from scratch—you’ll have the option to customize everything to fit your style and budget. If this is the case, make sure to pick your countertop first. The countertop is the center of focus for a kitchen or bathroom, so building your area around this piece is a fundamental interior design strategy. But if you’re only partially renovating—if you‘re changing just one or two things about your kitchen—don’t worry, your choices are still broad and highly customizable.

Know Your Countertop Budget

The next major step is considering your budget. When you know how much you can spend, you know what options to rule out. Marble makes you think luxury, but for your wallet’s sake, granite, quartz, and soapstone can give the exact same sense of exceptionality without breaking the bank. If your choice of countertop is set in stone, remember that you can always paint your cabinets and trim to compliment the countertop finish and color.

If you find that you haven’t quite narrowed your options to a single choice, remember that you can always choose more than one stone. Many experts say granite is a one-type-fits-all natural stone. With a variety of colors, wonderful durability, and multiple ways to finish the surface, settling on granite isn’t a decision you would regret.

Know Your Countertop Style

This brings us to the next step in the design choice, forming the room around your home. Start with a primary and a secondary color based around your home’s aesthetic theme. If you have a rustic country home, go for warm and neutral colors. Beveled and ogee countertop edges work well with these kinds of homes. If you have a modern or minimalist style home, choose solid colors or monochromatic shades. Choose eased or bullnose edges for your countertops with a style like this.

Deciding on the best countertop for your kitchen will require careful consideration of renovation strategy, budget, and style. Keeping these factors in mind will make it much easier to arrive at the countertop that feels just right for you.

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