Kids, Pets, and Your Carpet

Kids, Pets, and Your Carpet

Everyone knows that extra wear, spills, and accidents take a toll on carpet, and this is especially true in homes with kids and pets. Whether the culprit has two legs or four, here are some tips on what carpets material holds up best and how to keep carpets looking great.

Best Carpet Material for Kids and Pets

If you are contemplating getting new carpeting and you have kids and pets, there are carpets that are made to withstand the additional wear and possible staining that will occur when they are active in the house. One of the best materials is nylon fibers. A nylon fiber carpet is a good choice because it is affordable and durable. Stain resistance is the best feature of nylon, which is so important with kids and pets in your household.

Keeping Carpet Clean With Kids and Pets

Throw Rugs
Since pets have a habit of being territorial, they generally will only go to certain areas to relax. Once you have determined where your pet likes to sit, put a throw rug on that spot. In time, your pet will naturally go there, and the wear will take a toll on the rug instead of your carpet. The rug will also make it easier to vacuum up any shedding that may occur.

Vacuum Regularly
The best way to keep your carpet looking its best when you have children and pets at home is to vacuum regularly. Doing so will help remove fleas and dander from pets and any dirt or contaminants left behind by active children, prolonging the life of your carpet.

Remove toys and other things on the floor to ensure that you will maximize the area to be vacuumed. Move your couches and chairs enough to get the area behind them. It is also a good idea to change the furniture around a couple of times a year to get the areas beneath them vacuumed.

Good Habits
If you have very young children, clean them immediately if they get messy. If your children are older, encourage them to clean up after themselves. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Remove Shoes
Another way to keep children from tracking in dirt is to have them take off their shoes at the door. Set up a shoe location there. It can also be a transfer station, where they can change their shoes for slippers. The Japanese people have been practicing this since 700 A.D. Once you get in the habit of doing this, you will see a big difference when you vacuum your carpet.

Removing Spots
No matter how many preventative measures you take, sooner or later kids and pets will leave their mark. Handling the problem quickly will prevent any stain from spreading or leaving an odor to settle in. If you delay to take action, you will only add to the problem and it may require much more work on your part. There are stain and odor removal products available on the market that will help you when you need to clean the mess. Ask your carpet cleaning professional to make recommendations about specific products. You may even have some products on hand that will help you with clean up.

Different products can be used for specific problems. First you have to determine what type of spot or spill you have. This is important, because each discoloration needs to be treated differently. For example, little Johnny decides to surprise you and color your carpet with his favorite bright red crayon. There are different ways to remove crayon stains. You can use a dish soap solution to remove the stain. An alternative to that is to use your iron and a towel to transfer the stain. Each problem is unique and may require different measures. Remember if you are dealing with a spot or spill, don’t rub it in. Whether you are dealing with pet urine, Kool-aid, or a number of other problems associated with kids or pets, you can find plenty of helpful tips and info on spot and spill cleanup in our Carpet and Interior Textiles Care Guide and our interactive Stain Management App.

Professional Carpet Cleaning

If your carpet has a warranty, you may have to have it professionally cleaned once a year. Warranty or not, it is a good idea to have it done regularly, especially with kids and pets. Here are some of the many advantages:

  • Preventing premature wear, saving money
  • Removing allergens, dirt, and other contaminants
  • Removing spots and stains
  • Odor control
  • Deep cleaning of high traffic areas
  • Enhancing the overall look

Although kids and pets take a toll on carpet, purchasing the appropriate type of carpet, taking preventative measures, and proper upkeep will keep carpets looking great.

Do I Need To Seal My Grout ?

In order to keep your new grout or newly cleaned grout clean, it should be sealed. There are so many sealers on the market today. Which ones are best? Which ones really work?

It can be very confusing trying to choose a sealer to protect grout. In the past several years, the janitorial industry has bombarded the market with hundreds of products to seal & protect grout.

Fortunately, all of these products fall into only two major categories: Coating & Impregnators or penetrating sealers.


Coatings are sealers that place a sacrificial coating on the surface of the grout. This is a film that lays on top of the grout acting as a barrier to prevent water, oil and dirt from entering the pores.

Coatings can be classified into two general types: Strippable & Permanent.

Strippable coatings:

Strippable coatings are coatings that are designed to be easily stripped or removed from the surface of the grout. These coatings are made of polymers consisting of acrylics, styrene, polyethylene and others. They are usually water based. Many of the janitorial products are water based polymer type coatings. To identify these coatings look for terms on the label such as “metal cross link,” ”high solids,” ”high speed,” “acrylic,” “thermoplastic,” etc. When in doubt, ask. There are hundreds of different formulas of strippable coatings.

Permanent coatings:

Permanent coatings are coatings that are very difficult to remove. They are made of solvent-based polymers such as polyurethane, epoxies, etc. These are not recommended for grout.

Impregnators or penetrating sealers:

Impregnators are designed to penetrate below the surface of the grout, and deposit solid particles in the pores or to coat the individual minerals below the surface. Water, oil and dirt are restricted from entering.

Impregnators can be solvent or water based and usually contain silicone, siloxane, silane, methyl silicate or other similar silicon derivatives as well as Fluro alphatic polymers.

Impregnators can also be classified into two types: Hydrophobic-water repelling & oilophopic-oil repelling.

Hydrophobic impregnators

Hydrophobic impregnators are designed to repel only water and water based chemicals. A hydrophobic impregnator would repel fruit drinks, coffee, tea, soda, etc.

Oilophobic impregnators

Oilophobic impregnators are designed to repel water and oil based liquids. Cooking oil, grease, body oils, etc. would be repelled by an oilophobic impregnator.

An oilophobic impregnator will always be hydrophobic, but a hydrophobic impregnator may not be oilophobic. Be sure to read product labels carefully to determine if they are hydrophobic or oilophobic. Some products are listed as oil resistant. Oil resistant and oil repellant are entirely different. Oil resistant will only slow down the absorption of oil into the grout. Oil repellant will prevent oil from entering the grout. Again, read product labels carefully. Be sure you are buying the right product for your particular situation.


How do you make the determination between a coating or an impregnator? They both have their advantages and their disadvantages. The following summary should be studied carefully when choosing the proper product:

Coating Advantages

  • Coatings are sealers that place a protective, sacrificial layer on the surface of the grout.
  • Coatings are generally economical.
  • The initial application is relatively low.
  • Coatings are difficult to apply since you must apply them with a brush or applicator, which can be very tedious.
  • Coatings generally will provide a sacrificial coating. This layer will take most of the wear, preventing wear of the grout.

Coating Disadvantages

  • Since most coatings are typically softer than the grout itself, they will usually scratch, mar and scuff very easily, showing traffic patterns soon after application. This will require re-application.
  • Coatings can build up and can cause an unsightly appearance, producing an unnatural look.
  • Poor quality coatings can turn yellow. This is especially true if the grout is exposed to UV light.
  • Coatings require frequent stripping and reapplication. The chemicals and abrasives used in the stripping process may cause damage to the grout. Typically, certain stripping pads and stripping brushes can also cause damage.
  • Certain coatings may block the breathing capability of the grout. Moisture can become trapped below the surface and may lead to the grout falling apart

Impregnators Advantages

  • Most impregnators will not change the appearance of the grout.
  • Most impregnators do not require frequent applications. Since the impregnator is below the surface, it will generally last several years before reapplication is necessary.
  • Most impregnators are not affected by UV light since they are below the surface where UV light cannot penetrate. For this reason they can be used outdoors.
  • Impregnators are typically hydrophobic, while some are oiliophobic.

Impregnators Disadvantages

  • Impregnators that are solvent-based produce noxious and flammable vapors during application.
  • Solvent-based impregnators are harmful to the environment, producing high VOC (volatile organic compounds). For this reason, some are restricted in certain states. Always check the MSDS sheet.
  • The initial cost of most impregnators is relatively high.
  • Impregnators in general cannot be used below grade to resist hydrostatic pressure.
  • When choosing the proper product for protection, the above guidelines should help. Always talk with the manufacture or distributor, and let them know where you plan to use their product. They can be very helpful if you tell them all the conditions that apply.


Color sealing is another process which not only seals your grout but also colors it. This option may be necessary if the grout is so soiled it won’t come clean or you wish to change the color of your grout.


While cleaning and sealing can be a do it yourself project, it can get tricky and if you use the wrong cleaner or sealer you take the chance of not only damaging your grout but also your stone or tile. I would highly recommend that you contact a pro. This way the process will be done correctly and will last a lot longer.

Why Backsplashes Are Essential

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

Why Caulk Isn’t Enough

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

Removing An Old Backsplash

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

Cheaper Materials Can Be Costly

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

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

Top 10 Causes of Grout Turning Yellow

Top 10 Causes of Grout Turning Yellow

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

1. Toiletries

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

2. Body Oils

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

3. Sealers and Waxes

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

4. Grout Type

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

5. Cleaning Products

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

6. Iron

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

7. Dirty Water

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

8. Cigarette Smoke

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

9. Aerosol Sprays

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

10. Bleed Over

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

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

Recolor or Replace Yellowed Grout?

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

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

4 Most Common Carpet Problems

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

Common Carpet Problems

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

How to Remove Carpet Spots

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


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


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


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

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

Carpet and Interior Textiles Care Tips

Simple, Inexpensive Carpet and Interior Textiles Care Tips

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

Treat Spots

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

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

Get Rid of Dirt

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

Banish Odors and Allergens

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

Read Our Carpet and Interior Textiles Care Guide

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

How To Prevent Etching When Disinfecting Stone

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

Etch Damage

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

Use a Stone-Safe Disinfectant Cleaner

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

How to Remove Etch Damage

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

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

Graffiti Removal

Graffiti Removal Procedure for Stone, Masonry, and Tile Surfaces

by Fred Hueston

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

Graffiti Types

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

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

Graffiti Removal Rules

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


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


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


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


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

Removing Graffiti

Step 1

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

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

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

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

Step 2

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

Step 3

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

General Instructions for Removing Stains

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

Poultice Ingredients

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

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

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

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

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

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

Applying the Poultice

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

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

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

Carrara Marble Countertops: Michelangelo’s Preferred Stone

Carrara Marble is a great choice for kitchen countertops, because of its beauty, coolness, and affordability. It can be an ideal for floors and wall tile as well. This marble has been quarried since ancient times and still is abundant today. It comes from the Carrara region of Italy, which is in the northernmost part of Tuscany.

Artistic Appeal of Carrara Marble

Michelangelo and other sculptors selected Carrara Marble as the medium for their work because of its aesthetic quality, smoothness and whiteness. Michelangelo’s famous statue of David was sculpted from Carrara Marble. It has been the marble of choice since ancient times, not only for sculptors, but also for builders.

Carrara Marble Colors and Veining

Although noted for its whiteness, Carrara Marble may contain shades of blue-gray or gray. Some Carrara Marble has beautiful veining, which makes it desirable and gives it an organic look that is pleasing to the eye. If you want a more subtle, pristine look, selecting the plain white variety is ideal.

Bakers love its coolness.

As a countertop, Carrara Marble has functionality as well as beauty. For example, bakers love to work with this marble countertop because of its coolness. It is the denseness and hardness of Carrara Marble that makes it conduct heat differently than other surfaces. When you knead bread or pie dough, the warmness is absorbed by the marble, yet it still retains its cool surface temperature. The surface also has a pleasant feel when you touch it.

The price is right.

If price is a factor in deciding what surface to choose for your countertop, then Carrara Marble is a very good choice. Because of its abundance, it is affordable. It is in the mid-range of pricing. In 2020, the price according to various sources is between $40 and $60 per square foot. Calcutta Marble, for example, is $180 per square foot.

How To Maintain Your New Carrara Marble Top

To preserve the whiteness, Carrara Marble should be cleaned regularly. You can use water and pH-neutral stone cleaner, but not soap. It can be rinsed using clear water and wiped down with a soft cloth or paper towels. Ask your stone professional for recommendations for specific products on the market that are designed to clean marble. These products should be used as instructed.

Sealant? Maybe.

Natural stone can be porous, which means it can absorb spills. Sealers may increase the amount of time it takes for stone to absorb a spill. Any sealant used on a kitchen countertop should be marked as safe to use in food preparation areas. It is best to have a stone professional apply sealers.

When spills happen, use an absorbent, white cloth or paper towels to blot the spill. Do not rub or wipe the spill, because doing so will just spread the potential for etching or discoloration over a wider surface area. Once the spill is absorbed, clean the area with water and pH-neutral stone cleaner.

A great choice.

Carrara Marble is a great choice for your new kitchen countertops, and because natural stone can be restored, you’ll be able to enjoy a lifetime of use.

DIY Carpet Cleaning?

DIY Carpet Cleaning? 3 Things Carpet Cleaning Machine Rental Companies Don’t Tell You

Companies who rent out carpet cleaning machines hope to give their customers more bang for their buck by supplying the equipment they need to achieve “professional quality” results themselves. While DIY carpet cleaning may be cheaper, it can result in frustration and problems for unsuspecting consumers. This article explains what you are not being told about renting carpet cleaning machines.

The Carpet and Rug Institute

The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) is a non-profit trade association and source of carpet cleaning industry information that helps people make informed choices about carpet and rugs. CRI provides a Seal of Approval (SOA) program that tests cleaning products and equipment and then ranks them by level, according to the effectiveness. Both professional equipment and equipment designed for consumer use are ranked by CRI. Equipment is evaluated on soil removal efficacy, resoiling, residual moisture, surface appearance change, colorfastness, pH level, and optical brighteners. CRI’s SOA program does not, however, take into consideration the following important factors.

1. How much do rented carpet cleaning machines weigh?

Carpet cleaning machines weigh a lot more than vacuum cleaners. People who imagine themselves exerting only slightly more effort to use a carpet cleaning machine are in for a rude awakening. Carpet cleaning machines for consumer use usually weigh anywhere from 35 to 43 pounds. Add another 16 to 30 pounds of water, and you are looking at lifting, pushing, and pulling up to 73 pounds… possibly all day or longer. Carpet cleaning machines are heavy, bulky, and awkward to handle. Depending on the size of the home and health and fitness level of the user, this could be a real problem.

2. How long does it take to clean your own carpets?

Companies who rent carpet cleaning machines claim that you can clean an average size room in about 20 minutes. Most people will be using the machine to clean 3 to 5 rooms. Easy-peasy, right? Wrong! These other time-sucking tasks ought to be factored into the total time:

  • Traveling to and from the store to pick up and drop off the machine
  • Checking out and in at the store, including filling out a rental agreement and possibly waiting around, depending on how busy the store is
  • Doing research about your carpet to determine whether the type of detergent you plan to use is appropriate
  • Reading the manufacturer’s instructions for the machine and the detergent
  • Moving furniture and masking and protecting surrounding areas, as needed
  • Measuring and refilling water and detergents (maybe more than once per room)
  • Pretreating spots and stains
  • Vacuuming
  • Cleaning the machine after use

3. Are rented carpet cleaning machines difficult to use?

Proper use of a rented carpet cleaning machine is not likely to cause damage. The operative word is proper. Trained, skilled professional carpet cleaning technicians can clean carpets in their sleep. However, you are probably not a properly trained carpet cleaning technician. If any mistakes are made, the results can be problematic. Potential problems include:

  • Excessively wet carpets, which can create an offensive odor and invite mold and mildew that can make your family and guests sick
  • Damage to carpet or carpet glue that secures carpet fibers caused by using detergents unsafe for certain types of carpet or using too much detergent
  • Sticky residue, which acts like a magnet for dust and dirt particles
  • Partially cleaned carpets, which result in premature wear over time because abrasive contaminants slice into carpet fibers every time someone takes a step
  • Spots setting and becoming permanent stains

Before you rent a carpet cleaning machine, consider that getting more “bang for your buck” may not be worth it in the long run.