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What to Consider When Assessing Stone Surfaces

Stone surfaces are resilient and last a long time. Yet, even though natural stone is durable and will last for many, many years, there are occasions when work may need to be done on a stone surface; whether a floor, wall panels, or countertop. To make the needed corrections, maintenance, or repairs, stone assessment considerations must be made. In this article, we will take a look at what to consider when assessing stone. We will also talk about why assessments are important.

What it Means

Assessing natural stone surfaces simply means to evaluate, or estimate the nature, ability, or quality of the stone you have. As mentioned above, stone is, for the most part, very durable and withstands a variety of forces. Yet, keeping the appearance of the stone in its best condition takes some elbow grease, depending on the amount of wear and tear the stone endures on a regular basis.

When Should Stone Condition Be Assessed?

Stone assessment occurs at various stages. When the stone is initially purchased assessments are made. Then, when the installation of the stone is completed, the material is again assessed. However, even after the install of a natural stone surface, the material must continue to be assessed periodically. Why so? Because as we said above, the daily usage of the material exposes it to forces that can diminish its condition. So, regularly assessing the stone's condition puts you in a position to take action when some extraordinary event occurs that requires attention.

Know the Stone's Normal State

Not every stone has the same baseline state. When we say "baseline state" we mean the normal condition of the material right after installation. In other words, what collective traits does the stone possess immediately after its installation? Some of the characteristics will be intrinsic and others will depend on how the stone was processed. But knowing these collective properties at this specific time is what gives you the baseline (or normal) condition of the material. What kinds of things affect the baseline condition?

Stone Treatments

One factor that weighs in on the assessment is treatments that have been applied to the stone. For example, has the stone been treated with an impregnating sealers or topical stone sealer? Does the surface have a wax coating? What about acrylic coatings or stone enhancers? There are a number of treatments that could be applied to a stone prior to it being installed and that may affect the stone's normal appearance.

What Finish Does the Stone Have?

The stone's finish also plays a role in the normal state of the stone. The appearance of the stone is affected by its finish, but its absorption rate may also be affected. There are a number of stone finishes. Some of them include:

  • Antiqued
  • Honed
  • Polished
  • Flamed
  • Sandblasted

Being aware of the stone's finish as well as what treatments (if any) have been applied make up part of the normal state of the stone.

Stone Assessment Considerations

A routine of assessing the stone should be established so you can care for any changes as quickly as possible. But now that you are familiar with the stone's baseline condition, what should you look for? The following checklist has some questions that will help you in making your assessment:

  • If the surface is tiled, are the tiles flat and level?
  • Are tiled surfaces free of cracks?
  • Has the stone been stained?
  • If the stone is stained have you determined what kind of stain the stone has?
  • If the stone has been sealed has the sealer worn off in spots?

Why Regular Stone Assessments Should be Made

As already mentioned, assessing the condition of a stone surface allows for quick maintenance and/or repairing. Using the questions in the previous paragraph will reveal actions that need to be taken to correct deviations from the stone's normal condition. Lets look at some examples of what responses could be necessary after an assessment.

Uneven Tiling

Stone tiles that have settled and are now uneven may require action. Re-leveling the surface may involve performing a series of steps to bring the surface back to its normal appearance. Here are some steps that may need to be taken.

  • Grinding of the tiles at the point where they are no longer level.
  • Honing the surface to restore the finish if it was a honed surface. Or, to prepare the material for the next step.
  • Polishing the surface if its normal state was a polished surface.

Cracked Stone Surfaces

Cracks in stone surfaces are a reason for response. This is because cracks allow dirt and debris to enter into the cracks and cause unsightly and ugly, dirty lines in the finish of the stone and/or tile. If the surface is a tile, it may be that the tile could be replaced. Or it may be that the crack could be filled. If the surface is a slab, one of several stone crack filling products may work to repair the surface of the stone.

Stains in a Stone's Surface

Several causes of stains affect natural stone surfaces. The basic type of natural stone from which the tile or slab is made will be important in determining how to respond to the discoloration. For example, a siliceous material that is stained can be treated using the appropriate stain remover. On the other hand, a calcareous stone surface made need to be treated for not only a stain, but also an etch; depending on the type of substance that stained it. Additionally, knowing what kind of stain (organic, biological, inorganic, water-based, oil-based, etc.) the material has acquired will also prove to be helpful.

Correcting Wear or Damage to the Sealer

If the stone's baseline condition included sealer, replacing the sealer would play a role in the correction of the issue. Therefore, being familiar with the types of sealer and knowing what sealers and/or color enhancers the stone had, as mentioned earlier, would be beneficial.

In conclusion, there are a number of stone assessment considerations to give attention to regarding stone tiles and/or slabs. Knowing what to consider when assessing stone is important because it helps to target the specific needs of the stone being assessed. However, keeping the concepts mentioned in this article in mind and perhaps even making a checklist for regular review, will help to not only notice, but also respond to any irregularities or other issues that may need addressed.