Beautiful Terrazzo

Terrazzo Polishing, Cleaning & Restoration

So, there you are, ripping up your old flooring. As you get down to what was there before, you realize you are one of the lucky homeowners who have beautiful terrazzo hiding under that flooring you’ve gotten tired of. Maybe you don’t feel so lucky, though —after all, it can be hard to imagine that a floor with holes or chips from tacks, patches of epoxy that haven’t come up, or grit and scratches from years of feet pushing dirt down through the carpet could even come close to a brand new floor. But you couldn’t be more wrong!

That’s the great thing about terrazzo—even if it’s been buried under carpet or other flooring for years, or looks yellowed and ugly due to buildup and aging of topical coatings, its fundamental beauty is still there and can be restored by an experienced professional. There are other things to recommend terrazzo as well. Properly finished terrazzo is non-porous, does not support microbial growth, and contains no VOC materials, making it a “green”option and an excellent choice in support of indoor air quality.

Terrazzo is also very easy and cost-effective to maintain. Daily dust mopping and regular wet mopping with either warm water alone or a neutral cleaner formulated for use on natural stone will do the trick. Not only do you not need harsh chemicals to get your terrazzo clean, they can actually damage the terrazzo (as well as the environment).

So, what exactly is terrazzo? When originally developed sometime in the 15th century, it was comprised of marble chips set in clay. You can imagine this was not particularly comfortable to walk on, so methods were quickly developed to grind the rough surface down to something smoother. By the time it became popular in America in the 1950’s and 60’s, the marble chips were still present, but instead of clay, Portland cement was used as a binder. If you’re finding terrazzo under a long-standing flooring, this is probably what your terrazzo is made of. Modern terrazzo can also be created using an epoxy binder and an incredibly diverse range of aggregate materials, ranging from the traditional marble chips to more contemporary materials like recycled glass and plastics.

In the hands of an experienced professional, the combination of aggregates and binders can allow for repairs of chips and holes in a way which blends well with the existing floor. In the wrong hands, such repairs can be unsatisfactory eyesores or worse. Be sure to ask potential contractors what their process is. If it does not involve making every reasonable effort to match the color of the existing binder, as well as the type of aggregate already present, keep looking.

Just like the components involved, finishing techniques have also evolved. While waxes or other finishes were often used to achieve shine in the earlier days of terrazzo’s popularity, today, when restored properly, such topical coatings are not required to either make the terrazzo look good or enhance its durability. Nor does terrazzo—antique or contemporary—require chemicals for the restoration process itself (unless an earlier coating material requires chemical stripping to remove it before restoration can begin).

When selecting your restoration contractor, watch out for those who use chemical shortcuts to achieve results—your terrazzo may look gorgeous and shiny right after such a process is completed, but a finish created with topical coatings is not as cost effective, long lasting, or as “green”as a floor whose shine is achieved solely through honing and polishing with diamond encrusted pads of increasingly finer grit.

Once your terrazzo is restored, you may wish to have it sealed to help protect against staining, but this is not the same as applying a coating. A sealer guards against staining by filling the pores of both aggregate and binder so it becomes more difficult for staining agents to sink in. Remember though, even if you do have your terrazzo sealed a sealer will not protect against etching caused by harsh chemicals or acidic liquids or foods. It is important to clean up spills right away. But this is good practice regardless of what your flooring is made of.

So, if you’re looking for attractive, environmentally friendly flooring that is durable and easy to maintain, don’t disregard the potential of terrazzo just because it seems to have been neglected or is covered by unsightly coatings. A qualified restoration professional, experienced with terrazzo can turn that potential into a beautiful treasure.

Damaged Dimension Stone Panels

Should damaged dimension stone panels be restored or replaced?

Dimension stone panels are vertically placed, non load-bearing stone slabs, found as an ornamental facing on both building exteriors and interiors, in both new construction and renovation projects. Potential problems with dimension stone panels include chips, cracks, stains, and bowing. This article explains which problems can be resolved by your qualified professional stone restoration technician, and which problems require replacement.

About Dimension Stone Panels

Dimension stone panels are a popular design choices for business centers, corporate headquarters, hotels, educational facilities, hospitals, libraries, government buildings, embassies, airports, churches, and high-end residential properties. Dimension stone panels protect and insulate, but their main purpose is to convey a sense of permanence, stability, and beauty. Because natural stone is a non-manufactured product, it is a very unique and enviable surface material for panels with character. Architects and designers have a wide variety of options with dimension stone, because each slab has its own unique color, grain, veining, and other features. There are also a wide variety of stone finishes include polished, honed, sand blasted, leathered, flamed, and more. Edge options are just as numerous, including straight, smooth, rough split, chiseled, beveled, etc.

Potential Problems

With proper anchoring, most dimension stone is appropriate for interior panels. Although a majority of natural stone restoration services are performed on horizontal applications like floors, countertops, and vanity tops, vertical applications in high-use areas like showers and hallway walls get their share of damage, too, because of exposure to moisture, improper cleaners, or mishaps. Damage may include chips, scratches, dullness, cracks, and stains.

Exterior dimension stone panels are exposed to the elements. Positive and negative pressure from wind, structural settling and concrete contraction (in new construction), freeze and thaw cycles, porosity, and other factors may contribute to damage or even failure. Staining and etching may occur because of environmental pollution. Hard water and mineral deposits from irrigation system overspray can diminish the appearance of dimension stone panels.

One of the most common causes of external panel cracking or failure is thermal hysteresis, where the sun heats the outer layer of stone at a greater degree than the back side. Over time, the stone bows, not only losing its aesthetic appeal, but also posing a dangerous risk if the panels were to fall off. Once a stone panel is bowed, it cannot be restored, and replacement is the only option.

Dimension Stone Panel Alternatives

Modern, lightweight stone panels are comprised of a thin layer of stone reinforced by a fiberglass or aluminum honeycomb backing. Another alternative to dimension stone panels is large-format manufactured porcelain, which can also be reinforced by a honeycomb backing. With these alternative, bowing is not as much of an issue, because the temperature of the material remains more constant throughout, plus the backing material absorbs building stresses that would normally result in damage. Like dimension stone panels, the appearance of lightweight stone panels and large format manufactured porcelain can become diminished for a variety of reasons.

Your stone and tile restoration expert can consult with you about any damage on your dimension stone, lightweight stone, or porcelain panels and advise you on whether problems are cosmetic or structural. Cosmetic damage can most often can be restored with chip and crack repair, honing, polishing, refinishing, stain removal, and in some cases, panel replacement. Structural damage can sometimes be repaired, but is more likely to require complete replacement.

Soft Water Can Damage Marble

Most people are familiar with hard water damage on natural stone, but did you know that soft water can also damage certain types of natural stone? Read on to learn more about soft water damage and what can be done to protect your stone.

About Hard and Soft Water Damage

Hard water damage to natural stone is a buildup on the stone’s surface caused by mineral deposits. One would imagine that having a water softening system installed would protect natural stone. Although it is true that soft water will eliminate the problem of mineral deposits on stone, soft water can create an entirely new problem. Lacking in minerals, soft water pulls minerals from natural stone. If your stone is marble or some other soft, calcium-based stone, soft water can degrade and dissolve your stone.

Where Stone Is Used Makes a Difference

Obviously, there is no cause for concern when it comes to natural stone applications that rarely get water exposure, such as walls in an entryway or a fireplace mantel. Floors that are damp-mopped, countertops that are cleaned with a damp cloth, conference room table tops, and other surfaces that see minimal water exposure will probably do fine, as well. Kitchen countertops near the kitchen sink and surfaces that are constantly being wiped down, such as commercial bar tops and restaurant table tops may see some degradation, although this will happen very slowly over the course of a long period of time. The major problem area for both hard and soft water issues is bathroom showers, because the stone is exposed to an average of two gallons of water per minute every time someone showers.

Solutions to Minimize Soft Water Damage

Consider using silicate-based stones, such as granite, sandstone, slate, and quartzite where water exposure is excessive. If your stone is already in place, consider the following suggestions.

Use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride pellets to soften your water.

Another option is to have a reverse osmosis drinking water system installed along with your water softener. Reverse osmosis removes over 95% of “everything” in the water, including sodium.

Since water with salts removed will dissolve soft calcium based stones, you will also need to have the stone sealed to reduce softening. The catch-22 is that sealing stone in moist environments may not always be advisable. Ask your stone restoration technician to give specific recommendations for your stone.

A Natural Stone Stain Remover

Hard surfaces like natural stone, concrete, terrazzo, and certain types of tile, as well as the grout lines in between tile, are porous, which means they will absorb liquids. If such liquids are staining agents, a stain will occur. Stain removal methods will vary, depending on the type of stain. Many stains can be removed using acetone. Here are the details.

About Acetone

Acetone, the main ingredient in nail polish remover, is a stone-safe organic compound. For the purpose of removing stains on natural stone, however, forget your nail polish remover. Some nail polish removers contain other chemicals, and non-acetone nail polish remover has no acetone whatsoever. Acetone for stone stain removal should be available at any hardware or paint store.

About Stain Removal

The key to success in stain removal is cleaning up any spills and treating any resulting stains as soon as you can. Understanding the source of the stain will help in determining the best treatment. Many options are available for treating stains on natural stone from creating your own poultice to using convenient ready-made poultices. Ask us for help if you need it.


Acetone is very dangerous to the skin and nervous system. Wear latex or rubber gloves when handling acetone. For your protection, as well as the protection of others, always read the warning labels, follow directions, and be cautious when working with chemicals. Remember to follow your local health and safety regulations for proper chemical disposal.

Stain Removal Methods

Acetone can be used to remove adhesives, candy (non-chocolate), furniture polish, glue (both water soluble and synthetic), heel marks, ink, ink toner, leather, lipstick, nail polish, paper, shoe polish, soap film, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tar, vomit, wines, wood stain, and many unknown stains.

Stain removal methods will vary, depending on the type of stain. For example, substances with heavy texture may require the excess to be carefully scraped from the surface of the stone with a straight razor, while thinner substances will not require this first step. Clean the area thoroughly with acetone and a clean white cloth. Be sure to blot only. Some stains may require one or more poultice applications. Poultices absorb and wick stains out of stone over a period of time from hours to days, depending on the severity of the stain. For specific instructions, please refer to our Stain Removal Application under Resources on our website menu.

Unknown Stains

If you have no idea what caused your stain, you may still be able to remove the stain. Be sure to test out your stain removal methods in an inconspicuous area before you proceed with your stain removal.

  1. Carefully use a sharp straight razor to scrape excess texture, if needed.
  2. Use a clean white cloth to blot the stain. Do not wipe or rub, as this may cause spread the stain outward. Hopefully you will see the stain beginning to transfer to the white cloth. If not, proceed to step (3). Use clean sections of your white cloth each time, and use a second or third white cloth, if needed. Continue until you see that the stain is no longer transferring from the stone to the cloth. Proceed to step (6).
  3. Use stone soap or a stone-safe, pH-neutral cleaner to thoroughly clean the stained area. Use a clean, white cloth to dry the area. Have a look at your cloth. If you see that some of the stain has transferred to it, proceed to step (7), if not, move on to steop (4).
  4. Use 20% hydrogen peroxide and a clean white cloth to blot (not wipe or rub) the stained area. Have a look at your cloth. If you see that some of the stain has transferred to it, continue working until the stain no longer transfers to the cloth, and then proceed to step (8). If no stain is transferring to your cloth, then proceed to step (5).
  5. Use an iron-removing cleaner and a soft brush to agitate and clean the stained area. Use a clean, white cloth to dry the area. WARNING: This step may cause acid etch damage to your stone. Use caution. If lightening of the stain occurs, proceed to step (9). If you do not see any improvement, proceed to step (10).
  6. Use poultice powder and one of the following solvents: mineral spirits or commercial paint remover, to create a poultice. To be clear, do not mix the solvents. Apply the poultice to the stain. See our poultice How-To video on the Stain Removal App for further poultice instructions. You may need to allow the poultice to dry out, remove it, and reapply it several times. Continue to poultice until you successfully remove the stain. If, after five attempts, the poultice has no effect, proceed to step (7).
  7. Use a poultice powder and an alkaline stone cleaner to create a poultice. Apply the poultice to the stain. You may need to allow the poultice to dry out, remove it, and reapply it several times. Continue to poultice until you successfully remove the stain. If, after five attempts, the poultice has no effect, proceed to step (10).
  8. Use a poultice powder and 20% hydrogen peroxide to create a poultice. Check the ingredients on clay or fuller earth powders. If they contain hydrogen peroxide, do not use them. Apply the poultice to the stain. If you do not see improvement in the stain, try creating a new poultice mixture using 50% hydrogen peroxide instead of 20%. You may need to allow the poultice to dry out, remove it, and reapply it several times. Continue to poultice until you successfully remove the stain. If, after five attempts, the poultice has no effect, proceed to step (10).
  9. Use a poultice powder and an iron-removing chemical to create a poultice. Apply the poultice to the stain. You may need to allow the poultice to dry out, remove it, and reapply it several times. Continue to poultice until you successfully remove the stain. Marble or other calcium-based stones may require honing and polishing to restore the finish. If, after five attempts, the poultice has no effect, proceed to step (10).
  10. Most stains on natural stone can be removed. Some are more difficult than others. Persistence is key. However, some stains do become permanently set. In other words, they become part of the stone. You may need to have your stone replaced. Another option would be to cover the stain with a rug or furniture rearrangement.

Potential Complications

If you are unable to remove the stain, you may actually be dealing with etch damage caused by an acidic substance. Etch removal methods differ from stain removal methods. If you applied a poultice as part of your stain removal process, lingering
discoloration may be due to moisture in the stone, which will disappear once the stone is completely dry. Most stains can be removed, but sometimes stains are permanent. Before investing in a costly replacement, consult with your professional stone restoration contractor.

Stone & Tile Restoration Helps Sell Homes

If you plan to list your home for sale, it’s a good idea to put professional stone and tile restoration on your to-do list. A simple way to improve buyer appeal and help your home sell quickly for the price you are asking is by having clean, elegant, welcoming floors and surfaces. According to, the number one turnoff for buyers when they enter a home is a lack of overall cleanliness. Stone and tile can be freshly cleaned, but still look (and smell) dirty. Here’s why:


Grout is porous, so it can trap all kinds of odors, but especially pet odors, which can be a deal-breaker for many homebuyers. Professional tile and grout cleaning leaves your floors smelling clean and fresh. Grout lines can be color sealed, for a fresh, spot-free, uniform appearance.


Eliminating allergens and other pollutants from your bath and shower areas is especially important for potential buyers with allergies. If they walk into the bathroom and see problematic grout lines, they’re likely to turn around and leave. Regular cleaning methods and even professional cleaning services cannot achieve the same level of deep-down clean as professional tile and grout cleaning.

Stains and etches

Natural stone can be perfectly sanitized, yet appear dirty if it is stained or etched. Many homebuyers see stains and etches on natural stone and raise unwarranted red flags about the overall cleanliness of the home. Most stains can be removed. Etches can be honed away and then polished to restored the finish of the stone.

Scratches and dullness

Thousands of tiny scratches and other signs of wear can make the surface of natural stone look dull and dirty. Larger scratches leave the (inaccurate) impression that the stone ought to be replaced. Professional honing and polishing will restore the factory finish of your natural stone.

Floors and surfaces that look brand new create a positive first impression. If you are selling your home, don’t let your stone and tile become a deal-breaker, and don’t replace your stone and tile! Have it professionally restored.

What You Should Know About Jerusalem Limestone

What is Jerusalem Limestone?

Sometimes our clients are misinformed by stone fabricators or installers about what to expect from their natural stone. This is especially true of Jerusalem limestone. If you are selecting natural stone and considering Jerusalem limestone or if you already have Jerusalem limestone, this article may be of interest to you.


Jerusalem limestone, including Jerusalem Gold, Jerusalem Gray Gold, Jerusalem Pearl, and more, is quarried in Israel. It comes in a variety of rustic colors and finishes.


Jerusalem limestone is soft, which means it can become scratched. It is porous, so if it is not properly sealed, spills can quickly turn into stains. As a calcite-based stone, Jerusalem limestone is susceptible to etching.

Problematic Applications

Varieties of Jerusalem limestone that contain a lot of fossils may be susceptible to spalling (surface flaking or peeling). Jerusalem limestone is not ideal for very high traffic areas since its density can be inconsistent.

Professional Care

Professional attention can make a big difference in the appearance of Jerusalem limestone. It should be periodically deep cleaned and sealed. Most stains can be removed, and if surface damage occurs, it can be honed and polished away by with professional stone restoration.

When Your “Granite” Is Actually Marble

Marble and other calcium-based natural stones are sometimes sold as granite. Since there are differences between marble and granite when it comes to acid sensitivity and porosity, accurately identifying stone will, in most cases, allow stone owners to predict how their stone will react if it is exposed to acidic substances or moisture and take the necessary precautions to avoid etch damage and staining. So how do you avoid etch damage and stains associated with stone misidentification? Here are the details.

The Science Behind Etching and Staining

Acidic substances, such as lemon juice or wine, will chemically react with calcium carbonate in marble, resulting in etch damage to the finish. In general, granite is not acid-sensitive, and most cases, as long as your granite is not misidentified marble, you should not need to worry about granite etch damage. However, some granites contain an acid-sensitive calcium binder mineral, which can etch.

Marble is generally not as porous as granite, therefore it is not likely to absorb as much moisture as granite. A stone owner whose marble is actually granite may not be as concerned about having the stone properly sealed, resulting in an unpleasant surprise when spills and splatters are quickly absorbed by the stone and turn into stains.

How to Avoid Etch Damage and Stains

One sure way to prevent etch and stain damage on countertops is to never allow your stone to come into contact with acidic or colorful substances. Obviously, this is completely unrealistic and impractical. The good news is that there are new protection treatments available on the market today that actually prevent etching and stains. Contact us to learn more. Otherwise, here are some precautions you can take:

  • Use a cutting board with a perimeter well for collecting juices.
  • Immediately clean spills and splatters with a pH-neutral, stone-safe cleaner.
  • Ask your stone professional to evaluate your countertops or perform this simple countertop usability test yourself. Then have the countertops professionally sealed, if necessary. Please note that sealers buy some time for you to clean up spills before they turn into stains, but sealers do not provide etch protection.

What To Do If Your Countertop Is Already Etched or Stained

If your countertop has a small etch or stain, it may be possible to remove it yourself, if you are so inclined. Watch this how-to video on etch removal or check out our Stain Removal Application, which includes a how-to video on stain removal. You are always welcome to give us a call with specific questions or to schedule professional natural stone countertop restoration services.

Repurposing Stone Slab Remnants

Selecting natural stone is a lot like selecting art work. Each slab is a unique, valuable geological display, so it makes sense to use as much of the material as possible, not only for your kitchen or bath design, but also by repurposing the remnants. After you have made your selection and we have decided on a design, we can let you know whether there will be usable leftover materials and set those aside for you should you choose to purchase them once the fabrication process is complete. Following are some suggested uses for natural stone remnants.

Natural Stone Tabletops and Stands

Complete any seating area with a small table for magazines, a crossword puzzle, or a few books. A c-table, named for its shape, can be snuggly tucked around a bed, chair, or couch, making it a convenient place to put a drink, snack, or laptop. Nesting tables are ideal for folks who live in small spaces. For very small remnants, use various base heights to create stands for sculptures, decorative pieces, plants, flowers, and other items.

Natural Stone Food Prep Surfaces

Natural stone is not an appropriate material for regular cutting boards, because soft stones like marble will scratch easily and hard stones like granite will quickly ruin knives. However, you can perfectly slice hard and soft cheeses on a natural stone board with a groove aligned to receive an integrated stainless steel slicing wire. Since stone tends to remain cooler than room temperature, a piece fitted with non-skid feet would make an ideal surface for pastry prep, keeping dough nice and firm throughout the rolling and cutting process.

Natural Stone Architectural Accents

Add elegance to your home or business with natural stone accents, such as fireplace surrounds, windowsills, backsplashes, stepping stones and more.

Natural Stone Accessories

From raised dog feeding ledges to soap dishes, natural stone accessories can add a touch of elegance to your normal routine. Use natural stone remnants for matching coasters, trivets, serving trays, candle holders, and more. The possibilities are endless.

Crack or Fissure? What’s the Difference?

Fabricators and restoration contractors often get calls about cracks in natural stone countertops. Sometimes these “cracks” are not cracks at all, but fissures, a feature of the stone that resembles a crack. How does one go about determining whether a countertop has a fissure or a crack? It all boils down to observation.

Naturally Occurring Versus Human Intervention

Fissures are a result of naturally occurring phenomenon, such as geological and environmental forces, crystallization of minerals, and other conditions. Cracks are a result of man-made stresses, such as transport from the quarry to the fabricator or from fabricator to a residence or commercial facility. Man-made stresses may also happen during the installation process.

Visual Differences

Knowing what to look for can help with determining whether you are dealing with a fissure or a crack. Fissures are elongated but extremely narrow openings along the boundaries of crystalline structures in the stone. The visible separation usually remains within the depth of the stone, although it sometimes can go entirely through. Fissures often appear in more than one place on the slab and are rarely straight. Cracks can be narrow or wide, usually only appear in one place on the slab, and may go through the entire depth of the stone. Cracks caused by stresses during the installation process are commonly observed in straight lines near supporting structures.

Tactile Differences

Knowing how a crack or fissure feels when you run your fingernail across the surface of the stone can help you determine whether you are dealing with a fissure or a crack. Your fingernail will run smoothly over a fissure, because a fissure does not change the plane of the stone, and it does not cause any gaps or depressions in the stone. However, your fingernail will not run smoothly over a crack. There will be noticeable unevenness, as one side of the crack is often higher than the other side. In other words, a crack can change the plane of the stone, and your fingernail will catch on the difference.

From Fissure to Crack

A fissure is not a crack, and although fissures rarely affect the soundness of the stone, sometimes a fissure can develop into a crack. You will know if this happens because there will be some chipping, separation, and obvious breakage.

What To Do About Fissures and Cracks

Fissures are naturally occurring and add to the character of stone. As such, nothing at all should be done about them. Some people who purchase quartz, onyx, or other translucent stones under-light them to bring attention to fissures and other natural features. Cracks, on the other hand, are structural defects that can worsen over time and may harbor bacteria and contaminants. Cracks should be repaired by a trained and qualified stone restoration contractor who can determine whether underlying structural repairs are needed and match the repair site as closely as possible with the surrounding stone.

How To Remove “Water Rings” On Polished Marble

A question our clients frequently ask is, “How can I remove water rings on my polished marble?” This article explains what “water rings” are, and what you can do about them.

Cause of Water Rings

Polished marble ideally has a glossy, glass-like, reflective finish. “Water rings,” although seemingly insignificant, can really diminish the appearance of polished marble when the lighting is just right. Blemishes on polished marble or other natural stone that are commonly mistaken and referred to as water rings are generally etch marks. Etching is chemical surface damage caused by acidic or high alkaline substances.

Removing Water Rings

If the etching is mild, that is, if you can run your finger across the surface of the stone and the finish still feels smooth, then you should be able to use a high-quality marble polishing compound to remove the etch.

Professional Services May Be Necessary

If the etching is severe, that is, if you run your finger across the surface of the stone and the finish feels rough, then the etch should be removed by a professional stone restoration contractor. Attempting to remove a severe etch on your own could result in further damage to the surface of the stone.

How to Prevent Water Rings

What can you do to prevent etch damage? Use drink coasters. Clean up spills immediately. On marble kitchen countertops, don’t store wine bottles, vinegar bottles, or similar items directly on the stone, and on marble vanity tops, don’t store cosmetic products directly on the stone. Instead, use trays to store items on your tops.

Contrary to what you may have heard, marble sealers cannot prevent etch damage. Sealers penetrate the surface of the stone to inhibit liquids from being absorbed into the stone. Acidic and high alkaline substances don’t need to be absorbed into the stone to cause damage, they merely have to come into contact with the stone. There are, however, some new solutions on the market to prevent etching on countertops and vanity tops.

Feel free to contact us for specific etch removal product recommendations, to learn more about etch prevention solutions, or to schedule professional etch removal services.