Maintenance of Natural Limestone Floors Interior & Exterior
INITIAL CLEANING OF THE FLOOR
Remove any deposits of mortar remaining on the surface of the limestone tiles after fixing. Vacuum thoroughly to remove any dust, especially cement powder. Wash the floor with a damp floor cloth (water only) to remove as much of the fine dust still present as possible. For the maintenance of natural limestone tiles you have two choices, using a water & oil repellent or the traditional method:
APPLYING WATER AND OIL REPELLENTS OR INHIBITORS
Only time will tell the long term effects of modern chemical
treatments on stone. They have definite advantages when natural limestone is
used for wet rooms and kitchens. For other areas the debate is open.
Water and oil repellents or inhibitors protect porous stone from the penetration of water and oil by changing the surface tension, while allowing the stone to breath. Please note that they do not protect against acids such as lemon juice and cola based drinks, which should be wiped off immediately before they react with the limestone or marble. The inhibitors must be colourless and stable under ultraviolet radiation. Outside they also help prevent moss, lichens, bacteria and mould growth. The inhibitor covers the individual grains of the stone with a minute film without blocking the pores. The active compound is released by the solvent and hardens on the grain structure of the stone. The new range of inhibitors uses water based solvents, far more ecological than the previous chemical solvents. Efficiency varies with the type of stone and depth of penetration and tests should be made prior to application. Some well known manufacturers include Lithofin, HMK, Akemi, Industria Chimica Reggiana (ICR anti-drop L10), Federchemicals, Fila Industria Chimica, General Industria Chimica and Massimo Piraccini Treatment. The manufacturer’s instructions should be strictly followed. Repeat applications may be necessary at intervals indicated by the manufacturer. The use of these products does not replace tanking for wet rooms. These products should not be used without expert advice on stone that has been in place for years, or when water penetration from underneath the stone is a possibility.
Before applying the product, wait several days after fixing for the support to be thoroughly dry. Stop any under floor heating and wait for the floor temperature to return to ambient. Do not apply in rooms where the ambient temperature can descend below 5°c. Do not allow access to the treated room until the product has cured.
N.B. Inhibitors should not be confused with sealers, a chemically resistant coating, generally a urethane or acrylic resin. These can create a major undesirable change in appearance and prevent stone from breathing. We strongly advise against their use.
THE TRADITIONAL MAINTENANCE METHOD
Many old buildings have beautiful limestone floors that have developed their patina over hundreds of years. They have mostly been maintained with soap such as Savon Noir or Savon de Marseille soap flakes. Look for traditional products based on olive oil or ask us to supply a suitable product with our stone. Those containing linseed oil should be avoided and using palm oil based products may contribute to destroying tropical forests. When the floor is clean and dry carry out an initial treatment as follows:
INITIAL TREATMENT: Take a large watering can (approx 10 litres) of very hot water (just off the boil) and add 8 to 10 table spoons of liquid Savon Noir or Savon de Marseille soap flakes. Water the clean floor abundantly and evenly. The hot water will help the soap penetrate into the pores of the stone. Renew the operation several times always following the same procedure. Once the floor is saturated with soap (approximately 3 applications) the tiles will have a whitish appearance due to the presence of soap on the surface of the stone. Do not attempt to remove. The soap will nourish the stone and the whitish aspect will disappear after a few weeks.
WEEKLY MAINTENANCE: Use only water with some Savon Noir or Savon de Marseille following the manufacturer’s instructions. The formation of a skin of calcium carbonate, a self defensive chemical reaction of the material, will safeguard the stone from staining and enhance the natural beauty of the stone. Do not use multipurpose floor cleaning products or any products containing free alkali (sodium, potassium, ammonia, bleach, synthetic detergents etc), acid products even diluted, abrasives, waxes or encaustics with linseed oil. Use only cleaning products designed specifically for natural limestone. Outside grease stains, for example after a barbecue, will usually disappear over time through the actions of sun and rain.
VARIOUS TIPS FOR REMOVING STAINS
Make up a paste with plaster of Paris and clean water.
Shape on top of the stain in the form of a crater and leave to dry.
30 minutes later pour into the crater some solvent such as:
For an oil or grease stain: acetone, ammonia or K2R stain remover
For a coloured stain: bleach
For a wine stain: alcohol
For a fruit stain: acetone
For a paint stain: the recommended paint thinner
After two to three hours, remove all with a wooden spatula and rinse abundantly.
IIf necessary repeat the operation several times until the stain is completely removed.
** REFERENCES, STANDARDS & CODES OF PRACTICE:
• BS 5385: Parts 1,3 and 4 preparation and part 5 installation of Natural Stone Tiles
• BS 7533: Natural Stone Paving
The Stone Federation of Great Britain code of practice for the design and installation of internal flooring
DTU 52.1: Fixing Natural Stone Tiles
CPT (CSTB) 3267: Fixing with Tile adhesives
NF B 10-401: Facing in thin stone
NBN 589-104 (4): Sand for building use
EN 10601: Specification of Natural Stone and tests
Hydraulic lime: Class XHN30,60 or 100, or class XHA 60 or 100
Sand class 0,08/5 mm
Bitumen waterproofing sheets: NF P84-313 & 35
All the instructions given in this information sheet are done so in good faith
and cannot be considered an exhaustive list. This list is compiled purely on a
voluntary basis and does not respond to any legal requirements. The information
given is based on the current state of our knowledge concerning the limestone
sold by our company and the uses to which it is adapted. Our responsibility as a
supplier of limestone may not be engaged for an incorrect application or usage
of limestone flooring, as well as the incorrect usage of treatment products.
The application of a water repellent, oil repellent, moss repellent, anti-graffiti protector, hardener, synthetic resin and all other products, whether chemical or not, applied on a floor of natural limestone, should only be applied on a support that is dry, clean, sound and free from stains, grease, oil etc. It is done under the responsibility of the manufacturer of the relevant product or the application team. The technical notice or application instructions supplied with the product take precedence over the above paragraphs.
In spite of all these precautions all the people responsible including the owner, architect, builder and installer should be aware that the simple fact of
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