White Streaks and Erosion on Granite Fountain
Hospital lobbies are carefully designed to create an atmosphere of comfort and security and to put patients at ease from the moment they enter the facility. Natural stone architectural features help convey a strong “who we are” and “why choose us” message for any organization or company, such as this Wentworth-Douglass Hospital fountain showcasing a map of the state of New Hampshire.
Tom Kingston, Head of Maintenance for Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, was concerned about how the appearance of this 32 foot granite fountain and waterfall feature had deteriorated since it was installed ten years prior. The constantly circulating water caused some major white streaks, also known as efflorescence build up. Despite the fact that the water was chlorinated, the stone had become yellowed, and the smooth polished appearance of the base of the fountain was rough and dirty looking. In certain areas, the granite was eroded. And there was a large blemish caused by an improper repair during the installation process. The fountain was conveying the wrong kind of message for this hospital lobby.
After considering several other restoration companies for this challenging restoration project, the hospital ultimately singled out Marble Perfect from New Hampshire as being uniquely qualified for the job.
We go to a job like this knowing we’ll need to explore multiple methods to discover what works best. –Ken DeMelis
Before taking on the project, Ken DeMelis, owner of Marble Perfect, had conducted an inspection to determine the stability of the structure and its ability to withstand the restoration process without damage. Based on his many years of experience, Ken determined that the fountain could be successfully restored, but in order to achieve the best possible outcome, multiple methods of restoration would need to be explored.
Granite Restoration, Refinishing, and Protection
This project presented many unique challenges, one of which was the sheer height, requiring the use of a hydraulic lift. But, the most difficult challenge was removing ten years and 32 feet worth of efflorescence. To accomplish this, the surface had to be rehoned, using multiple, aggressive grits. This aspect alone took several days.
The large blemish, caused by an improper repair during the installation process, was repaired with such precision that it was no longer detectable.
Three days were spent honing and polishing the rough and dirty looking fountain base. The beautiful polish and shine were restored, making it an elegant and soothing place for people to sit once again and listen to the calming flow of water.
There were parts of the fountain that had not been damaged, but merely required cleaning with a stone-safe neutral cleaner.
The entire restoration project took five days and three people to complete.
To protect the newly restored stone, sealers were applied to the polished base area of the fountain pool, where there water flows converge, and to the back of the cladding under the map, because that area was highly exposed to a constant flow of water and thus susceptible to efflorescence. Generous applications of a combination of penetrating sealers and enhancing sealers were used to inhibit the formation of efflorescence.
The hospital was thrilled with the dramatic improvement in the appearance of the fountain.
They also conveyed their appreciation that all the work was completed during the night for minimal disruption of daily routines, and that extremely green methods were used, such as the extensive use of diamond abrasives and water for most of the work, that all dust and air was channeled through a HEPA filtered vac system, and only low-odor, solvent-based chemicals were used.
Today, as people pass through the lobby or pause to linger, they can once again enjoy the true beauty of this incredible architectural focal point.
Keeping this newly restored fountain beautiful and preventing the formation of new efflorescence build up will require periodic service calls from Marble Perfect to reapply the efflorescence-repelling treatment and re-polish the base area as needed. This maintenance can be done in one night, and will keep the fountain looking great all the time.