How to Clean and Maintain a Stone Pool Deck

By Frederick M. Hueston

Do you have a stone pool deck and are wondering how to maintain it? Do you need to seal it? How do you deal with stains? The following will give you guidance from a pro on what you need to do to keep your stone pool deck looking great.

Basic Stone Pool Deck Maintenance

To maintain a stone pool deck, you should regularly:

  1. Sweep or blow leaves and debris off the deck to prevent staining and discoloration.
  2. Clean the deck with a neutral cleaner and water to remove any dirt or algae that may have accumulated.
  3. Seal the deck every 1-2 years to protect the stone from water damage and staining.
  4. Check for and repair any cracks or chips in the stone to prevent further damage.
  5. Keep the pH levels of your pool water balanced to prevent damage to the deck.
  6. Keep the trees and plants around the pool trimmed to prevent leaves and branches from falling on the deck.
  7. Use mats or rugs to prevent any scratches or stains from pool chairs and other furniture.
  8. Consider using a professional cleaning service to maintain your stone pool deck for best results.

Other Issues that May Arise

Sinking Pavers – If you notice your pavers becoming uneven or sinking, consider the location of the affected area. If it is around the pool shell, it may be due to a broken pipe or improper backfill compaction, which requires professional repair. If the sinking is happening in other areas, it’s probably due to a poor sub-base compaction. To fix this, remove the pavers in the affected area and add more fill.

Weed Growth – Weeds grow by seedlings landing in joint spaces where sand has washed out between pavers, not from the bottom up. Properly installed pavers with good materials can help prevent weed growth, but weeds can still find ways to grow. Spot weed killers can effectively treat isolated weed issues, but avoid oil-based products as they can stain natural stone pavers.

Ants – Ants can create unsightly sand dunes on your patio and pose a stinging hazard. To get rid of them, you can use a mild insect repellent and spray it on any nests or areas with a lot of ants. As a longer-term solution, consider having insect treatment sprayed around the area. Additionally, using a product like “sand lock” can prevent ants from accessing the sand between your pavers.

Other helpful hints for avoiding ants are as follows:

  1. Keep the area clean: Ants are attracted to food and sugary substances, so make sure to clean up any spills or crumbs on the pool deck.
  2. Use ant baits: Ant baits contain a slow-acting poison that the ants will take back to their colony, killing the queen and the rest of the colony.
  3. Use a natural repellent: Essential oils like peppermint, cinnamon, and citrus can help to repel ants. Mix a few drops of the oil with water and place in containers around the perimeter of the pool deck.
  4. Use a barrier: a barrier of diatomaceous earth or talcum powder can help to keep ants off the pool deck.
  5. Call a professional exterminator: If the ant problem persists, you may want to consider calling a professional exterminator to help control the infestation.

It’s important to remember that preventing ants from entering your home is the best way to control an ant problem indoors.

Sealing Your Stone Pool Deck

To seal your stone paver pool deck you will want to use an excellent quality stone impregnating sealer. Impregnators are designed to sink into the pores of the stone and protect it from within. You DO NOT want to use any sealers that place a topical layer over the surface of the stone.This will block the breathing of the stone and will not allow it to breathe.

Caution: Avoid impregnators that are designed for color enhancing. These sealers will darken the stone.

How do you know if your stone deck needs to be sealed?

Test the stone surface by placing some water on the stone. Wait five minutes to see if the water soaks into the stone. This will result in a dark area. If the stone soaks up the water then seal it with a superior quality stone impregnating sealer, per directions below.

DIY directions for applying the impregnator:

  1. Clean the surface of the stone thoroughly using a neutral cleaner and water, making sure to remove any dirt, dust, or stains.
  2. Allow the stone to dry completely. This may take several days. Ideally check with a moisture meter.
  3. Shake the impregnator well before use.
  4. Apply the impregnator to the stone surface using a brush, roller, or sprayer. Be sure to saturate the stone completely, but avoid leaving any excess impregnator on the surface.
  5. Allow the impregnator to penetrate the stone for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer. I like to allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  6. Wipe any excess impregnator off the surface of the stone with a clean, dry cloth.
  7. Allow the impregnator to cure completely before using the stone surface or applying any sealers.

Usually, 24 hours is sufficient for curing. Please note that different impregnators may have different instructions, please always refer to the product directions before use.

How to Remove Rust Stains from Stone Pool Pavers

Rust stains can occur from furniture placed on the stone surface as well as from irrigation water,etc. To remove them, it is important to use the following procedures as soon as possible.

To remove rust stains from marble using a poultice

You will need the following materials:

  1. A mixing bowl
  2. A spoon or spatula
  3. A white, powdery rust remover (such as Iron Out*)
  4. A white, absorbent material (such as flour or talcum powder)
  5. Plastic wrap
  6. Painters tape

Steps for making your poultice

  1. In the mixing bowl, combine equal parts of the rust remover and the absorbent material and water until it forms a paste.
  2. Spread the paste over the rust stain (about 1/8 inch thick) and cover it with plastic wrap.
  3. Secure the plastic wrap in place with tape.
  4. Allow the poultice to sit on the stain for at least 24 hours.
  5. Remove the plastic wrap and discard the poultice.
  6. Rinse the area thoroughly with water and dry it with a clean cloth.
  7. It is always recommended to test the solution on a small area before applying to the entire surface.

Important! Iron Out is available in a liquid and powder form. Do not use the liquid. Only use the powdered Iron Out.

Removing Other Stains from Your Stone Pool Deck

Stains other than rust can be caused by wine or other food and drinks. The following is how to treat them.

  1. Mix a cleaning agent that is proper for the type of stain and the type of stone. Common cleaning agents used in poultices include hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and ammonia. Most wine and other food and drink stains can be removed with the above procedure with a 20 volume hydrogen peroxide solution. This peroxide can be purchased at most beauty supply stores (sold as hair developer).
  2. Add an absorbent material to the cleaning agent to create a thick paste. Common absorbent materials used in poultices include flour, talcum powder, and diatomaceous earth.
  3. Apply the poultice mixture to the stain and cover it with plastic wrap or wax paper to keep it from drying out too fast.
  4. Allow the poultice to sit on the stain for at least 24 hours, or longer if the stain is particularly stubborn.
  5. Remove the poultice and wipe the area with a clean, damp cloth.
  6. Rinse the area thoroughly with water and dry it with a clean cloth.

Note: Before trying the poultice method, test the cleaning agent on a small, inconspicuous area of the stone to make sure it doesn’t damage or discolor the stone. Also always make sure to read the instructions for the cleaning agent and for the stone.

Follow the above maintenance instructions and you will enjoy your stone pool deck for years.

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

The Versatility of Stone

We may need to change how we think about natural stone

Most of the time, when people think about natural stone, what comes to mind is building facades, countertops, shower surrounds, floors, and other “big” projects. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Natural stone is great for smaller projects outside as well as inside.

Why is natural stone great for smaller outdoor projects?

Since natural stone is created by nature in combination with the environment, it contains the natural elements of the earth. It doesn’t need to be protected from environmental issues such as rain, snow, heat, or cold. It will age with the weather, remaining beautiful and strong for years to come. However, if somehow it does become damaged, natural stone is renewable and repairable. A simple call to a natural stone restoration contractor can get your outside stone restored.

What are some smaller outdoor projects for natural stone?

  • Firepits – Natural stone can be cut into rectangular and sometimes curved blocks to create a firepit.
  • Walkways – Natural stone pavers are an excellent choice for walkways and sidewalks.
  • Tabletops – There is no better way to accessorize your outdoor look than with natural stone tabletops for your outdoor coffee or end tables. Fabricators usually have an assortment of smaller pieces left over from installed projects.
  • Garden edging – Add color and charm to your garden by using natural stone for garden edging and dividers. Showcase or spotlight those special areas of interest in your garden.

Why is natural stone great for smaller indoor projects?

Natural stone comes in a wide variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and stone types. With all this variety, there are so many smaller projects that can be done with natural stone. Natural stone is renewable and repairable so if it does become dull or damaged, it can be repaired.

  • Shelves – Keeping in mind that natural stone can be heavy, 2 cm might be better for shelf projects. However, with proper support, natural stone does make unique, beautiful shelves.
  • Windowsills – Wooden windowsills can be affected by several things, including weather (sometimes we forget to close the windows when it rains), in home humidity, and age. You can replace aging wooden windowsills with natural stone windowsills that will add beauty to any room and will last indefinitely. This is especially nice if you are getting a new countertop and you get a matching windowsill in your kitchen or bath.
  • Curbs and thresholds – If you are getting a new natural stone vanity top, or tub surround, consider getting a shower curb to match. You can also replace the dirty, worn thresholds in your home with natural stone. Natural stone will clean easily and hold up well. If it does become damaged, a simple call to a natural stone restoration contractor can get your inside stone restored.
  • Raised feeding platform for pets – If you have a large dog, vets recommend that you raise their feeding dishes off the floor. The trouble is that large dogs are strong, and they can push those feeding platforms around, causing a mess. A natural stone platform is heavy and difficult to push around, but very easy to clean.

Can smaller natural stone projects be used around food and drink?

Absolutely. Natural stone has many uses in these areas. Pastry chefs love marble countertops and pastry boards for making great desserts. Soapstone whiskey stones stay cold, don’t dilute drinks, and are a great conversation starter. A natural stone mortar and pestle can be used for grinding spices AND think about how stunning a natural stone charcuterie board would be!

Natural stone can be used in so many ways, big or small. It can add style and pop inside and out. It seems a shame to only think about it in terms of “big” projects.

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

5 Common Stone Misconceptions

In all phases of life, different products come and go. Some are good, some are not. The one thing they all have in common is that every product, no matter what it is, has some sort of “misconception” or mistruth told about it. Carrots improve night vision, canned vegetables are not healthy, coffee stunts growth, etc. Stone is no different. There are plenty of misconceptions surrounding natural stone and natural stone projects.

Let’s take a look at some of the more common stone misconceptions:

#1 – Natural Stone is High Maintenance: Natural stone does require maintenance but it is not necessarily “high maintenance.” Cutting boards are recommended on stone, but they are for other types of countertops as well. Regular cleaning is recommended, but again, for other types of countertop material also, not just stone. The biggest difference is sealing. Most stone does require sealing but that doesn’t have to be a big deal. Fabricators will seal it before installation. If it ever needs resealing, your stone pro can help with that.

#2 – Natural Stone is Expensive: Granted, some natural stone can be expensive BUT natural stone comes in a wide variety of price ranges. It is inexpensive enough that homeowners, home builders, and contractors use it for their projects every day. It is also expensive enough to go into high-end projects. The price of stone depends on a lot of different things, but stone can fit into almost any budget.

#3 – Natural Stone Cannot be Repaired: Restoration contractors repair stone every day, fabricators and installers as well. All sorts of damage to stone can be fixed. Chips, pits, cracks, and stains are among some of the things that can be successfully corrected by stone professionals. In fact, stone can be repaired to like new, unlike many other materials.

#4 – Stone is Out of Style: Trends have come and gone throughout time. Quartz, laminate, butcher block, porcelain, etc. have all shared the market with natural stone. However, natural stone has been, and still is, a wise choice for projects, inside and out. Natural stone has a lasting style. It has been the center of projects, big and small for centuries. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Mount Rushmore, and Angkor Wat are but a few testaments to its lasting durability. The millions of kitchen countertops, fireplace surrounds, and floor and wall projects are a tribute to its beauty and sustainability.

#5 – Natural Stone Stains Quickly and Easily: Yes, natural stone can stain. However, a properly sealed surface can buy you time to deal with a spill before it becomes a stain. Sealers slow down the absorption of the potential stain. You would naturally wipe up any spills on any other material, stone is just the same. On the off chance that it does stain, you can consult our stain guide under the resources tab on our website or call us for help.

Natural stone, like everything else out there, has misconceptions and and mistruths. When shopping for material for a project, make sure you get the truth of the material and not the “misconceptions” connected to it.

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

Granite vs Porcelain for Countertops

Times change, trends change. In the recent past, laminate was the countertop of choice. Over time, that trend gave way to natural stone, like granite, soapstone, or marble. Then quartz came along and became popular. Now, porcelain has entered the countertop market. Not as tile (although that is an option), but as full-size slabs for countertops. The question is: How does porcelain stack up against granite for countertops?

What is Granite?

Granite is a 100% natural stone product, created by the ongoing processes of mother nature and the earth. Man finds it and mines it but has nothing to do with its creation.

What is Porcelain?

Porcelain is a man-made product, created by engineers. It contains soft, white clay and various other materials such as feldspar, quartz, ash, sand, and other ingredients. Once mixed, these materials are shaped and then heated to over 2,200 degrees.

Pros and Cons of Granite Countertops:

  • 100% natural
  • Stain resistant – When properly sealed, granite is stain resistant.
  • Unique – Not only is each color unique but no two slabs in a color are the same.
  • LEED points – Granite can contribute to LEED points in projects.
  • Variety – Granite comes in hundreds of assorted colors.
  • Readily available – Granite is mined throughout the world.
  • Heat resistant – Hot pots and pans can be placed on granite surfaces. (Although trivets are recommended.)
  • Repairs – If granite is damaged, it can be normally be repaired by a qualified stone restoration technician.
  • Longevity – Granite has been around for thousands of years. It has shown itself to be a stable, beautiful, versatile product we can use for countertops and various other projects.
  • Seams – Depending on the size of the project there may be visible seams.
  • Expense – Granite comes in a wide range of price points, but depending on the look and color you want, it may be costly.
  • Damage – Granite is a very durable product but it can be damaged. Chips and cracks can happen if something is dropped on the stone.
  • Maintenance – Granite is not maintenance free. To avoid stains, wipe up spills as soon as possible, and clean with a stone safe cleaner as needed.
  • Sealing – Granite sealer is not permanent. Occasionally, resealing your granite may be necessary. This should be done by a qualified stone technician that understands the qualities of your specific granite.

Pros and Cons of Porcelain Countertops:

  • Heat proof – Porcelain is created with extremely high heat, so the normal heat of hot pots and pans won’t normally harm it.
  • Low maintenance – Clean with soap and water. Sealing is not needed.
  • UV resistant – Porcelain won’t fade in the sunlight, making it great for outdoor projects.
  • Chemical resistant – Acidic foods or harsh chemicals won’t etch, fade, or dull the surface.
  • Edges – Porcelain is a thinner material than granite, so the edge options are limited.
  • Variety – Porcelain does offer a variety of colors and patterns but because the countertop aspect of porcelain is still new, it does not have the wide variety of granite.
  • Longevity – Porcelain for countertops is relatively new to the market so there are not a lot of statistics or information about the long-term stability of porcelain as a countertop material.
  • Expense – While porcelain may not be more expensive than granite, because it is a thinner material, edges may have to be laminated or the countertop may need a backer board, adding to fabrication costs.
  • Depth of color – Unless you specifically request through body porcelain (a product where the pattern of the porcelain goes all the way through the slab), you may end up with a color body product. A color body porcelain only has the pattern on top of the slab. It does not go all the way through, so when cut, the edges will not be the same as the top of the slab.
  • Cracking – Porcelain, while very durable, can be prone to cracking. Porcelain is a rigid, thinner material making it much more susceptible to cracking during fabrication, installation, and everyday use.

No one product is 100% perfect for every project. It’s best to do the research, and talk to professionals, weigh the pros and cons of each surface and decide which one best suits your needs. Taking these steps will ensure you choose the surface that is best for you.

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

Sealers Can Help Protect Your Stone

[This article was originally published in October of 2018]

Kitchen countertops, bathroom vanity tops, bar tops, and the like can be prone to staining because they are exposed to oily or dye-containing substances on a daily, or sometimes, even an hourly basis. Consequently, a sealer should be applied to help prevent staining. Choosing the correct type of sealer can be very important for how the sealer performs. An experienced, professional stone restoration contractor will know which sealer is best, taking into consideration the characteristics of the particular type of stone to which it will be applied and the location where the stone is installed.

Impregnating Sealers

Impregnating sealers, also known as penetrating sealers, are the most commonly used sealers. They are applied to natural stone to inhibit staining. Impregnating sealers penetrate below the surface and protect the stone from within. They are formulated with water-repellent and oil-repellent substances. Topical sealers are available, but can be problematic, and are very seldom recommended.

Misconceptions About Sealers

There are many misconceptions about what a sealer does and doesn’t do. It is important to note that sealers do not prevent traffic patterns or etching. The surface of the stone is still vulnerable to acidic substances, scratches, dullness, and other damage. In addition, natural stone, even when it is properly sealed, is not stain proof, it is merely stain resistant. In other words, it buys some time so that spills can be cleaned before they penetrate into the stone and become stains. After natural stone is sealed, it still needs to be regularly cleaned with pH neutral stone care products and periodically refinished or resealed.

New High Performance Protective Treatments

There are new protective treatments that, unlike impregnating sealers, offer both etch and stain protection.

Ask us about how we can help protect your natural stone.

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

Cultured Marble vs Real Marble

Are cultured marble and real marble the same thing?

Cultured marble and real marble sound the same, but they are two completely different things. Each one is created differently. They are fabricated differently, and they are installed, cared for, and repaired differently. The only real similarity is that they both have marble in their name.

What is cultured marble?

Cultured marble is a man-made product that contains dyes, marble dust and resin. After it’s made, it gets coated with a high-shine, clear gel to protect it. Because of the way it’s made, cultured marble is more closely related to Corian or Hi-Macs solid surfaces. It is often called faux marble.

What is real marble?

Real marble is created by mother nature. Man has nothing to do with it. What man does is quarry it out of the earth, cut it, polish it, and install it in different projects.

How can I tell the difference between cultured and real marble?

  • Cultured marble projects have integrated sinks and backsplashes. (All one-piece design). Real marble projects have separate backsplash pieces and separate sinks.
  • Cultured marble can be manipulated to mimic real marble but will have a flat appearance that lacks depth. The protective gloss can even make it appear like plastic. Real marble will have depth to its look.
  • Cultured marble, made in a factory with a formula, has a consistent look, piece after piece. No two pieces of real marble are identical.
  • Cultured marble is considered more of a budget friendly product while real marble is considered more of a luxury item.
  • Cultured marble never needs sealing. Real marble does.
  • The protective coating on cultured marble gives it a high shine. Marble may have a high shine, but it can also have a dull, matte finish, giving it a softer look.

While cultured marble and real marble have vast differences, they can both be cleaned and maintained in basically the same way, with non-abrasive, pH-neutral cleaners. Look for cleaners that specifically state they are for cleaning cultured marble or real marble, depending on what you have. Both materials can be etched by harsh, abrasive chemicals and cleaning products. Both can also sustain chips, scratches, and cracks. Even though they can both be damaged in similar ways, the tools and processes used to fix them are different.

Can cultured marble be repaired?

Most damage on cultured marble can be repaired if the gel coat has not been penetrated or removed.

  • Light scratches can be addressed with automotive buffing compound.
  • Cracks and chips can be repaired with a retail repair kit specifically designed for cultured marble. It may be best, however, to let a professional stone restoration contractor handle such damage for the best possible results.
  • Since the gel coat on cultured marble is non-porous, deep stains don’t normally happen. Usually, stains can be dealt with by using a cultured marble cleaner or denatured alcohol and a non-abrasive pad.
  • Deep scratches or large chips and cracks may require a professional restoration technician or may require replacement altogether.
  • If the gel coat has been worn off, damaged or removed, it is also best to call a professional restoration contractor.

Can real marble be repaired?

Under most circumstances, real marble can be repaired to new or almost new condition.

  • Light scratches can be minimized by using a dry, soft buffing cloth in a circular motion after cleaning the area with warm, soapy water.
  • Cracks and chips can be repaired with a retail repair kit specifically designed for real marble or natural stone. It may be best, however, to let a professional stone restoration contractor handle such damage for the best possible results.
  • Stains can usually be drawn out with a poultice. Once you identify the stain, look at the Stain Care App on our website under the Resources tab to see what sort of poultice you need.
  • Deep scratches, set-in stains, etch marks or large chips and cracks may require a professional restoration technician.
  • If your marble needs to be resealed, it is best to call a professional.

While cultured marble and real marble are vastly different surfaces, they each have the potential to enhance the look of different projects in your home. The key is to realize which one you have so you can properly clean and maintain it, keeping it beautiful for years to come.

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

Natural Stone – Fissures vs Cracks

Fissures vs Cracks

Natural stone, granite, marble, quartzite, etc., is made by, well, nature. Man has nothing to do with it. We just quarry it, sell it, and put it where clients want it. Then we ooh and ahh and remark how pretty it looks. Yes, it is pretty and it does deserve our admiration, but it can have natural, unique occurrences in it called fissures. Fissures can give your stone project that one-of-a-kind look that people love. Natural stone can also have cracks. Cracks can be natural or unnatural occurrences. Fissures and cracks look remarkably similar, but they are not the same thing. Here we will explore the differences between them and help you know what to do about them.

What are fissures?

Fissures are defined as: A long, narrow crack or opening in the face of a rock. Fissures are often filled with minerals of a different type from those in the surrounding rock.

Basically, what this means, is that fissures are natural occurrences in the stone and normally they don’t affect the integrity of the stone itself. They are not considered to be flaws or defects. Fissures are not normally localized in stone slabs. They are usually spread out through the entire piece.

What are cracks?

Cracks are defined as: A line on the surface of granite, marble or another natural stone that has split without breaking into separate parts.

Cracks usually happen when the stone has stress or trauma applied to it, and they can run almost all the way through the depth of the stone. However, by the time the stone gets to the point of installation, cracks have generally been addressed, usually by the fabricator. As a general rule, cracks are mostly confined to one area of a slab.

How can you tell the difference between fissures and cracks?

One way is to rub your finger or fingernail over the area in question. If it is smooth, then it is a fissure. If your finger feels a bump or your fingernail gets caught or drags over the area because it’s not level, then it is a crack.

Another way to tell is to shine a light on the stone and look across the plane of the surface. A crack will have two points of reflection, one for each plane, but a fissure will only have one point of reflection as it is an even surface.

What can be done about fissures?

Nothing. They are a natural part of the stone and are not considered flaws or defects. You can just admire them for making your stone project unique.

What can be done about cracks?

If you see a crack while the stone is still at the distributor or wholesaler, think about staying away from it, no matter how much you love it. There is no guarantee that the stone will survive transport to the fabricator, and there is no guarantee that the fabricator will be able to cut around it.

If you discover a crack in the stone at the fabricator’s shop, find out if they can cut around it. If not, ask them if it is severe enough to compromise the integrity of the stone. If they say yes, then pick something else. If the fabricator says it’s minor, ask them how they intend to fix it. Then it is up to you whether you accept it or pick something else.

What if a crack forms after install?

If you notice a crack after install, you will want to have someone look at it right away. Left unattended, it could get worse. If your project was recently put in, you may want to give the business that installed it a call. They won’t warranty the stone itself, because Mother Nature made it, but a good company will warranty their own workmanship. If it has been a while or you know you did something to cause the crack, even accidently, you should contact your stone and tile restoration and repair technician. Your restoration or repair technician will know exactly what the issue is and how to repair it. They deal with these types of occurrences on a regular basis.

Natural stone is beautiful, and the projects created with it can take your breath away. In spite of its natural beauty and versatility, it is not a perfect product. We need to learn how to appreciate and work with its occasional imperfections and flaws. After all, those unique imperfections can help give your stone projects the “WOW” factor everyone loves.

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

Why is Caulk So Important in Your Kitchen?

Countertop Caulking

One of the biggest investments in a home is the kitchen. The right flooring, along with the paint, cabinets, appliances, and countertops can result in a hefty price tag. And yet, one of the smallest and easiest things to fix can be the cause of costly damage to your investment. You need to fix those cracks and gaps in your kitchen caulk.

When your stone countertop was installed, several areas were caulked. The bottom of the backsplash where it meets the countertop. The top of the backsplash where it meets the wall or tile. The gap between the sink and countertop, and the seams where two pieces of countertop come together. If you don’t have a backsplash, then caulk was used to fill in the gap between the countertop and wall.

Why does my countertop need caulking?

  • It looks better than leaving a raw edge.
  • It looks better than having a noticeable gap.
  • It’s an extra step to help hold the parts and pieces still.
  • Filling the gaps helps to prevent water and other spills from running behind or through your countertops to your walls and cabinets.

What causes caulk to crack and gap?

  • If your home is new construction, settling may be the reason you are seeing cracks or gaps in your caulk lines.
  • Change of the seasons is another culprit, especially if your countertop rests on an outside wall. Cabinets and walls shrink and swell with seasonal changes, and heat and humidity.
  • Maybe your cabinets were not level, square, and plum when the countertops were installed so there is undue tension on the countertop causing it to minutely shift.
  • Overscrubbing can also be an issue, especially since latex caulk can get moldy.
  • Normal wear and tear can be a key factor in causing gaps and cracks, as well.

What kind of damage can happen?

No matter how it happened, once you see those cracks and gaps, you should have them taken care of promptly to prevent any type of cabinet or wall damage. Gaps in the seam between two pieces of stone countertop can allow water or other liquids to run into the cabinets below. The same is true of gaps in the caulking material that helps adhere your sink to your countertop. Leaking water can damage your cabinets. Gaps and cracks at the backsplash can allow water and other liquids to seep through and run down your walls, damaging the drywall over time.

If you decide to take care of this yourself, be aware that different joints require different material.

  • The gap between the sink and countertop requires 100% silicone.
  • The joint at the bottom of the backsplash also needs 100% silicone.
  • If the stone meets a tile backsplash, you should use either 100% silicone or sanded color caulk to match the grout as closely as possible.
  • The gap at the top of the backsplash where it meets the drywall should have either 100% silicone or paintable caulk.
  • If the issue is between two pieces of countertop, a two-part epoxy, custom tinted to match the countertop color is needed.

Caulk is a little thing that most people tend to ignore. However, caulk can play a key role in protecting one of your biggest home investments: your kitchen. Make sure your caulking is in good condition. If your caulking needs to be redone, don’t put off taking care of it. If you aren’t exactly sure what you need to do, then give us a call. It’s best to take care of the small things now so they don’t become big problems later.

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

Staining vs Etching

Staining vs Etching

Two very common discolorations that can happen to natural stone are staining and etching. While they may appear to be similar, they are really two completely different things. The restoration process for each one is different.

What is a stain?

A stain happens when a substance like spaghetti sauce, coffee or red wine is left on the stone long enough for it to soak into the stone pores and cause discoloration. A stain usually darkens the stone. When you rub your hand over it, you can’t feel it. (Just like when you spill something on your shirt and don’t treat it right away).

Can staining be prevented? Yes!

Staining can be prevented by:

  • Having your tops sealed at initial installation.
  • Cleaning up all spills right away.
  • Using a stone-safe cleaner to perform routine cleaning. Some stone-safe cleaners have a bit of stone sealer in them. (Never seal over a stain. That locks it in place and makes it much more difficult to remove).
  • Periodically having your stone deep cleaned and resealed.

What can I do if I get a stain on my stone?

Don’t panic. Most stains can be removed successfully. Here are some quick tips:

  • Figure out what kind of stain it is. Knowing what it is helps to decide the correct treatment.
  • Consult our Stain App under the Resources tab on this site.
  • If you are unsure or if the stain did not come out, please contact us.

What is etching?

Etching happens when something acidic, like vinegar, strong cleaning solutions, lemon juice, or strawberries, is left on the stone long enough for the acid to actually eat away some of the surface minerals of the stone. An etch will usually lighten the stone and will feel rougher to the touch than the rest of your stone surface. The etched area will also lose its shine and appear duller than the surrounding polished areas.

Can etching be prevented? YES!

Etching can be prevented by:

  • Cleaning up all spills immediately.
  • Using coasters under glasses.
  • Using pH-neutral or stone-safe cleaners.
  • Not relying on stone sealers. Sealing your tops will not prevent etching. Sealing only helps prevent stains.

What can I do if my stone gets etched?

Again, don’t panic. Here are some quick tips:

  • If the area is small or the etching is minimal, you may be able to use a stone polishing compound to remove the etch. Consult our Stain App for detailed instructions.
  • If the etching is severe, contact us. You don’t want to risk making it worse.
  • If there is a stain in the etch, treat the stain first and then the etch.

Natural stone is beautiful and very versatile, but sometimes damage will happen. The great thing about natural stone is that most stains and surface damage can be removed. With the proper natural stone restoration processes, your stone can look beautiful for years to come.

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


What gives granite its shine?

Granite is a composite of magma and different kinds of minerals such as quartz, feldspar, amphiboles, and mica. The mineral mica is found in a lot of granite, and it is one of the things that gives granite a shimmery shine in certain places. Whether you already have granite countertops or other granite surfaces or if you’re thinking about having granite installed, here are a few things you should know about mica.

Mica forms in sheets like a book.

What is mica?

Mica is a highly reflective natural substance that forms in sheets, like the pages of a book. It ranges in color from clear to black. If you have granite, then you more than likely have mica to some degree. Delicatus White, Volga Blue and Cosmos are examples of granites that have a bit more mica than most. A lot of mica can make a slab incredibly beautiful, but it can potentially cause some issues.

Potential Problems With Mica

The BIG issue is that mica is brittle. When we think about the granite, we think of durable, hard, rock. Due to mica’s brittleness, there may be some fabrication issues with granite that has a high mica content. When mica gets cut, it breaks, causing crumbling, pitting, and flaking. Fabricators may charge you extra to fabricate slabs with a lot of mica, because they know they will have to repair the slabs during the fabrication process.

If your granite countertop has a lot of mica, think about going with a simple edge like a pencil round or eased edge. A triple pencil or waterfall edge takes more fabrication and opens up more edge surface for mica to chip out, both before and after install.

What happens after the install?

Maybe nothing. Maybe some chipping. One day when you are doing your routine clean up, you may notice the sponge catches on a rough, flaky area that you never felt before. If this happens, don’t worry. Your granite countertop is not falling apart. More than likely, what has happened is that a piece of mica has chipped out.

If routine cleaning or normal wear and tear cause pieces of mica to flake out of your countertop, you can call your stone restoration technician to fix the spot. In most cases, there won’t be any problem with the repair, however, repair can be difficult or impossible for very large or awkwardly placed chips. Also, be aware that there is nothing any stone restoration contractor can do to prevent future chips.

What should you do about mica?

There is a myth that applying a sealer to granite will help prevent mica from chipping. This is simply not true, however, you can discuss other protection options with your stone restoration technician or fabricator. They can take into consideration your particular stone, the environment where it is or will be installed, your budget, and intended use and then make a recommendation for a protective treatment or film to help prevent chipping. This can be applied to a brand new installation or an existing one.

For new countertops, your fabricator will know if any shine on the granite is an abundance of mica or something else. If the shimmering beauty it creates is worth the possible occasional chip, then everything is okay. If not, you can always look at colors that contain a little less mica.

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