Product Reviews: Marble Cleaning Products

Marble Cleaning Product Review (title to be named after final draft) When you have marble floors or walls, or stunning marble countertops and tabletops, you are probably the envy of your friends and neighbors. And that’s no surprise because marble surfaces look amazingly sophisticated and classy. But you are no doubt fully aware that marble requires tender, loving care to maintain its natural good looks.

That’s why we have developed a range of specialized cleaning and restoration products specifically designed to care for marble. These have been recognized as being the best of the best, by professional marble cleaning companies and we are inordinately proud that these professionals reach out for our products when they need to clean and maintain marble finishes in the 5 star hotels and luxury properties they service. You can be sure that if the pros trust and rely on our products, these products will truly produce fantastic results for you; our products are all formulated to be safe to use and user friendly. So when you have marble in your home, invest in these products to keep it in tip top condition.

Marble Cleaning Product NeautrasheenNeutrasSheen for Marble (pre-mixed spray): this fabulous marble cleaner couldn’t be easier to use. Just spray and wipe. No scrubbing, no rinsing, no fuss at all. And you can be sure that you are cleaning up dirt and spills with a product specifically designed for marble to reduce the incidence of stains, without causing damage to the surface. Use it on any marble in your home: showers, vanity tops, bar tops and floors. It will work everywhere and is also great on granite, limestone, porcelain and ceramic tiles.

At only $8.95 for a 32oz NeutraSheen sprayer bottle, you can’t afford not to have a bottle handy in the kitchen and bathroom to deal with any unexpected spills.

Marble Gloss Restorer Marble Gloss Restorer: when you feel that your marble tiles and countertops are looking a little faded, invest in the Marble Gloss Restorer to renew their original dazzling look. This proprietary blend of polishing compounds is specifically designed to deal with etch marks, light scratches, food and beverage stains, and water spots. It is just as effective on limestone and travertine.

If you have marble surfaces with a slightly different chemistry, we offer the Marble Gloss Restorer SF (Special Formula). This has a different chemical blend and is indicated for Thassos (pure white), Breccia Nouvella (dark brown), Verde Antique (dark green) and Belgium Black (absolute black) types of marble. We know our chemistry and will always recommend the right product for the right job.

The Marble Gloss Restorer is available in a 4oz size and costs only $17.95, 8oz @ $25.95, or $39.95 for the 16oz version. So when your floors, walls, shower, bath & kitchen counters and table tops need some help, reach for the Marble Gloss Restorer and you will have the glossy finish you desire in no time at all.

Marble Polisher and CleanerMarble Polish and Protector: once you have restored your marble surfaces to their former glory, ensure you enhance and protect them regularly. The Marble Polish and Protector is a marble polisher and sealant used to maintain the sheen of the marble whilst simultaneously protecting it – it’s not a coating and is polymer-free, but works by creating a physical barrier to keep oil, water, and dirt on the surface and prevent them from penetrating the stone which can lead to unsightly stains. Surface spills can then be easily cleaned up. This product is indicated for polished marble, granite, limestone and travertine.

When your marble showers, countertops, and tables are looking their very best, ensure you use the Marble Polish and Protector to safeguard the stone and maintain its natural beauty. At only $17.95 for 4oz, $25.95 for 8oz, or $39.95 for 16oz, you will be happy you made the investment to maintain your marble in the very best condition.
All of the above products can be easily purchased online at our website by setting up an account, adding the item you want to your cart and paying on check-out. It just couldn’t be simpler.

Choosing the Right Grout for the Job

When you are planning to lay tile, you may spend hours deliberating over the many choices of tile, but don’t forget the grout. It is what keeps the tiles bound together and stops them from moving and cracking. It is integral to the overall look of the finished tiled surface and needs to be color compatible and long lasting. You need to consider three main elements:
Choosing The Right Grout

  • The size of the grout joints
  • Where the tiles will be laid – which determines how stain resistant the grout should be
  • How easy is the grout to apply – important if you intend to lay the tile yourself

On the subject of grout joint size, if the spaces between the tiles are up to an eighth of an
inch wide, use unsanded grout. Any bigger and you should be using sanded grout which, unsurprisingly, contains sand and helps reduce any shrinkage or cracking of the grout in these bigger joints. Please note: do not use sanded grout for marble and granite tiles, because the sand contained in the grout mix will scratch the marble and granite over time.

Cement Based Tile Grouting
This grouting comes as a dry powder of Portland cement, colorant plus additives and must be mixed with water. It’s cheap and easy to apply. However, it needs to be sealed to ensure resistance to stains. The sealant is also easy to apply but must be reapplied annually to prolong the life and good looks of the grout.

Epoxy Tile Grouting
Epoxy grouts include a resin of epoxy and a hardener. This type of grout is extremely durable and highly resistant to chemicals such as acids, and greasy foodstuffs that might get dropped on the floor. Epoxy grouts require no sealant. While this all sounds wonderful, it is a tricky substance to work with and isn’t a project to undertake lightly. Unless you are completely confident in your DIY skills, it may be time to call in the experts.

Saying that, epoxy grout is far easier to work with than in the past, when it was not only difficult to apply but hardened quickly, within the hour. Today’s manufacturers of epoxy grouts have sensibly added detergent which makes things easier as the grout can be cleaned up with water. However, there are some other limitations for this type of grout: it is expensive and can only be applied to certain tiles: those with a thickness of more than half an inch and where the grout joints are at least a quarter of an inch wide.
Fundamentally, epoxy tile grouting is ideally suited to rooms which are likely to suffer chemical or foodstuff spills such as in industrial or commercial settings and is normally applied by professionals.

Acrylic Tile Grouting
The advantages of acrylic grouting lie in the fact that it contains silicone and is pre-mixed with Portland cement. This grout is strongly adhesive and is ideal for outdoor settings because it is undamaged by wide ranges in temperature – it can freeze and thaw without problem. So consider this type of grout if you wish to tile a patio or garage.
Another great advantage over epoxy grout is that acrylic grout is easy to work with: it can squeeze into much smaller grout joints, less than an eighth of an inch, can be applied just to the joints.

Acrylic tile grout is resistant to staining and is available in a variety of colors. It is the best option for marble and granite tile, as sanded grout will undoubtedly scratch these natural stones.

Premixed Urethane Tile Grouting
A relatively new addition to the DIY enthusiast’s options, urethane grout is great because of its long working time, the fact that it is water based allowing for easy cleaning of tools and because it needs no sealing. It can also be used on very narrow grout joints. However, care needs to be taken to wipe down the tiles completely before the grout dries or you may have a problem removing the grout residue.

When you have decided on the right grout for the job, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, put on your protective clothing and get grouting. As always, don’t forget to buy a grout cleaner and grout sealer to keep your tile and grout looking great for many years to come.

Are Granite Countertops Expensive?

Granite countertops in the bathroom and kitchen are a great investment to any home. They are certainly not to be considered a cheap option and when properly cleaned with specific granite cleaners, they will never need to be replaced in your lifetime. Put that way, granite countertops sound like a great investment and furthermore they will definitely increase the value of your home.

Granite is an exceedingly tough stone making it great for heavy use in the kitchen and bathroom. But once installed you do need to lavish some tender loving care on it – primarily by not abusing the surface and using an appropriate cleaner. So once you have decided that granite countertops are the way to go, just how much will it cost you?

Granite tiles and granite slabs are both options. The granite should be sealed first to increase its durability and ease of maintenance.

Granite tiles are about one square foot in dimension and are easy to transport to your home. If you have do-it-yourself skills in laying tiles, you can install them yourself. However during installation they are quite easy to break so have a few left in reserve in case they are needed. Prices for granite tiles can range from about $20 to $50 per square foot depending on the quality and the species of the granite.

Granite slabs are custom produced countertops made from a single piece of granite and installed in one piece. You need a concerted team effort to install a slab since it is heavy and one false move can ruin the whole countertop. Unsurprisingly these tailor made slabs cost more than simple tiles – typically from $40 to $100 per square foot, but prices can be much higher depending on the quality and origin of the granite.

If you’re not up to installing granite countertops yourself, call in the professionals. This will of course increase the overall costs. As will the degree of customization of the granite for your particular kitchen or bathroom space. If you have a number of tricky corners to deal with, or desire ornate edges, the price will rise as the granite will need to be cut and fabricated accordingly. But once your home has its new granite countertops in place you will be delighted with the result. So look after them, clean them only with the best granite cleaners and sit back and enjoy them for a long time to come.

Choosing Floor Tiles

When choosing tiles for your floor think carefully about color, design and how easy they will be to clean. Floor tiles are available in every color under the sun from muted beiges and tasteful terracotta to imposing black. They may be monochrome, multicolored and with or without some kind of pattern or design. Choosing the right color for your room is paramount and especially for rooms with a lot of footfall, you need to ensure that you use an appropriate tile cleaner to keep them looking in tip top condition. Here are some key points to consider.

  • Don’t choose a tile that will clash with the existing color scheme of the room – make sure it complements the walls and soft furnishings.
  • Plain tiles will act as a more neutral base for the furniture in the room whereas highly designed and multicolored tiles will call attention to themselves.
  • Keep to the style of your house: shiny black tiles can be very sophisticated in a large, modern room but would look out of place in a rustic style house.
  • Darker tiles will also make a room look smaller, whereas pale colors such as beige and cream will make a smaller room look much bigger.

Discuss your requirements with the store where you are making your purchase. They have plenty of experience and will help narrow down your choices of tile to one that is suitable for the room you wish to tile and will be easy to keep clean with a reputable tile cleaner.

Before you start to lay one single tile, take a few different samples back home and view them in the room they are destined for. Check them out in both natural and artificial light as they may look quite different in both.

Once you have made your final decision, you are just one step away to having a beautifully tiled room and as always – don’t forget to purchase tile cleaning products to protect and clean your tile to keep it looking new.

Why Choose Granite Countertops for your Kitchen?

Granite CountertopA variety of different materials can be used for kitchen countertops, for example marble, granite, quartz, laminates and ceramic tiles. If you’re looking for a surface that is resistant to heat, scratches and stains, granite is your man. Being second only to diamond in hardness rating, it’s a fabulous surface to use in a kitchen where it is going to get a lot of use. Pre-sealed properly and cleaned with only appropriate granite cleaner products, these countertops will last a lifetime.

So those are the impressive list of pro’s. And what about the con’s? Well there are some. It tends to be more expensive than other options. But it will weather a lifetime when well maintained and cleaned with professional granite cleaner, so it makes perfect sense to pay out at the beginning. It can crack if not properly installed and may absorb stains if not properly sealed, but again both of these con’s can be easily avoided by purchasing your granite countertops from a professional company who can also install them without problem.

And so we move on to the supplier. Granite originates from many parts of the world so beware a granite countertop whose price seems to be too good to be true – it probably is. Cheap granite equates to poor quality stone. When shopping for your granite countertops be sure that you visit the warehouse in person to check for these defects:

Hairline cracks – these may appear like small veins but look carefully and you may see small hairline cracks. These weaken the granite surface which may lead to the top breaking during installation.

Pits – granite has small holes called pits. Rub your hand over the surface – the fewer pits, the better quality the granite.

When you have decided to install granite countertops for your kitchen, discuss your requirements with a professional supplier/fabricator who can advise you on the best quality granite to match your budget.

And then all that is left is to choose the color and pattern complexity – but we’ll leave that for another article.

Marble vs. Granite Countertops – Which is Better?

Image Courtesy of Granite International http://www.granitemakeover.com/Granite-Countertops/Granite-Vs-Quartz.asp

When you’re putting in your new kitchen and want a beautiful and sophisticated look, you may decide to install marble or granite countertops. Visually they are both stunning and some people think they are interchangeable. However they are two completely different kinds of stone and you should consider the advantages and disadvantages of each before making your decision.

Granite is beyond a doubt the more resilient of the two. It is an igneous rock formed from cooled and solidified magma. It consists mainly of quartz, mica and feldspar and it is the high quartz content that gives it strength. It is known to stand up well in high use areas such as the kitchen and keep its looks for the long term. When treated with a penetrating sealant, it is unlikely to scratch, dull, stain or wear away for many years.

Marble is a metamorphic rock originating from carbonate rocks which were subjected to high heat and intense pressure to cause a crystallized composite of calcite, aragonite and dolomite crystals. It has a reputation for being difficult to maintain because it is prone to staining, dulling and scratching, but be aware of the facts before you throw this option out of the window.

It is true that a spill of water or oily liquid on a marble countertop will result in stains because the liquid soaks into the tiny spaces between the crystals. However pre-application of a sealer will slow down the seeping process giving you plenty of time to wipe up the spillage before it can do any real damage. So as long as the marble countertop is properly protected, stains are not much of an issue. If your marble does stain then you will be able to lift it, at least partially with professional cleaning products specifically designed for this purpose.

Dulling is a little trickier. Acid based liquids such as vinegar, orange and lemon juice, plus foods and beverages preserved with citric acid, will eat into the marble due to a chemical reaction between the acid and the calcium carbonate content of the marble, the dulled area is called an etching. Unfortunately a sealant is no match for this reaction; but, here’s the good news, the damaged area can be restored to its high gloss condition by using one of our Marble Refinishing Kits. However in the real world, you’re unlikely to spill acid based foodstuffs on a daily basis on top of your marble countertop, and in the long term you may be prepared to put up with the occasional dull mark.

Regarding scratching, prevention is better than cure. Marble is classified by the Marble Institute of America from A to D depending on its porosity and durability. So when you are choosing marble countertops, check with the seller that the ones you want are suitable for use in the kitchen. And make sure that you only ever use non-abrasive cleaning products designed specifically for use on marble – they can be easily sourced at acceptable prices.

If you’re looking for countertops that keep their new look for as long as possible, and especially if you have clumsy teenagers in the house, the more resistant granite countertops may be your best option. But if your heart is set on marble, and you can treat it well and put up with slight imperfections, then install marble countertops. Ultimately the decision rests on your shoulders. Whichever countertops you choose, look after them and you will continue to be delighted by their elegant finish for years to come.

7 Tips for Laying Marble Tiles

Marble FloorWhen you have decided to install a beautiful marbled floor in your house, you will need to spend some time preparing the area before beginning to lay down the marble tile. To get a really professional look, here are 7 tips to get the best results possible:

1. Check that the floor can withstand the weight of the marble tiles before your proceed. Take professional advice and strengthen it if necessary.

2. Make sure the floor is level. Absolutely flat. Don’t rely on your eyes. Spirit levels were created for a purpose. Laying marble tiles on an uneven surface may cause them to lift or crack.

3. A dry, clean floor is a must. Don’t think about putting down marble tiles if the floor is damp or dirty or the tiles may not adhere effectively and will start to loosen with time.

4. Plan the design and layout before you begin. Most designs will require that you work out from the exact center of the room.

5. Make sure you have enough tiles before you start to lay them. Place the tiles on the dry floor where they are destined to go so you can double check how they will eventually look. Buy a few extras in case some get broken on the way.

6. Choose thin-set tile mortar of a color appropriate to the actual tiles. If it’s too dark it might show through the marble tiles and make the final floor seem darker than it should be.

7. Similarly chose a grout to compliment the tiles – either comparable to the tile color, or contrasting to make the tile layout design really stand out.

Once the tiles are laid you will have a classic marbled floor which you can sit back and admire. Treat it well and use a damp mop to clean it, or professional cleaning products specifically created for marble – they’re not as expensive as you might imagine. A striking marble floor oozes luxury and quality and will definitely add thousands of dollars to the resale value of your house.

Tip Your Hat to Two (2) Winners for Grout Cleaning

If you’ve been to our homepage recently, you might have noticed the exciting news that two of our products were featured in the Homekeeping section of the October 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. The good people at Martha Stewart Living singled out our Grout Guard Restorer plus our Grease and Grime Buster as outstanding products for consumers to use for grout cleaning and restoration.

Even though these products just recently appeared in Martha Stewart Living, it’s actually been in the works for quite some time now.  How this all came about makes for a pretty interesting story, so here’s how our Grout Guard Restorer plus our Grease and Grime Buster got featured and promoted in the October 2008 issue:

Grease Grime Buster

Early in November of 2007 the Editorial Department of Martha Stewart Living magazine contacted us to let us know that they were going to be writing an article on cleaning grout and tile.  They told us that they were going to want to test our grout cleaner/restorer alongside five (5) other national brands that cleaned tile and grout.

Grout Cleaner Restorer

A month later, they informed us that the tile and grout cleaning results were tabulated and that our Grout Guard Restorer plus our Grease and Grime Buster produced the best results!  We were thrilled to have knocked the socks off the competition.  In a competition like that you have to have an outstanding product that actually works in order to come out on top. Not only did Martha Stewart Living share with us the good news about the competition, they asked us for permission to feature and promote Grout Guard Restorer and Grease and Grime Buster in a future story; naturally our answer was YES!

About a year later, the story finally came to print in the October issue and just before Thanksgiving they published a modified version of that print story on their website.  You can read the online version for yourself here.
Click here to read the article

How to Remove Stains and Discoloration from Granite

Most people think granite will never stain. They are wrong. All granite species are porous and their porosity varies from granite species to species. Food and beverage spills, especially that of greasy foods and cooking oils, can stain a granite surface over time. Hair dyes, colored toiletries, paint and stain pigments – the colorants contained in chemicals, when spilled on granite, will seep into the granite’s pores and discolor the surface.

It’s important to be aware that this is normal and typical for all granite countertops and granite islands in the kitchen. Over time (usually in excess of one year), improper cleaning (such as not completely removing food and beverage spills or residue contained in smoke from cooking) attacks the granite’s color and clarity. As a result, the granite’s surface becomes much darker in color compared than when it was new.

The Solution to Remove Stains from Granite

We have finally developed a Granite Poultice, which removes deeply embedded stains and discoloration from kitchen granite countertops and islands. Our Granite Poultice is specifically formulated to work below the granite’s surface and pull out grease and oil, plus food and beverages that have penetrated into the granite pores. Watch those dark, dull, and discolored areas of your kitchen granite countertops and islands disappear and come back to life. Your granite will look as beautiful as it did on the day your granite was installed.How to Remove Stains from Granite

Granite Poultice is quick and easy to use; restoring the original color and clarity to granite countertops and islands. The product usually takes about 24 hours to fully remove stains from granite, depending upon the age, depth, and severity of the granite’s discoloration and staining.

How to Use Granite Poultice Remove Stains & Discoloration

Our Granite Poultice is highly effective at removing stains from granite. Follow these do-it-yourself instructions below.

  1. First, mix the granite poultice with lacquer thinner to the consistency of cookie dough (lacquer thinner can be found at hardware and paint stores).
  2. Next, use a rubber, wood, silicone, or plastic spatula, to spread the granite poultice over the discolored or stained granite surface to a thickness ranging between 1/8 to ¼  inch (similar to a pancakes thickness).
  3. Tightly cover the granite poultice with plastic wrap, or use plastic sheeting applied to the granite surface with duct tape. The idea is to make the granite poultice airtight, enabling granite poultice to maximize its penetration into the granite pores and pull out grease and oil that’s stained the granite surface.
  4. Keep the granite poultice in place for a minimum of 24 hours in order to get the best results. For extremely discolored or stained granite areas, it may be necessary to keep the granite poultice in place for two or three additional days. (In some cases of deeply stained granite, a second application of granite poultice is necessary.)
  5. Next, after removing and discarding the granite poultice, it is quite common for granite countertops and islands to appear darker than normal. This is because moisture from the granite poultice has not fully evaporated out of the granite’s pores. It usually takes a few days for the evaporation process, and the granite’s normal color, clarity, and gloss will be fully restored.
  6. After removing and discarding the granite poultice, use our granite cleaner NeutraClean for Granite to clean the restored granite area, then seal this granite area with our granite sealer Granite Guard Protector (SB), then polish this granite area, with our granite polish Granite Polish and Protector. Our granite cleanser, granite sealer, and granite polish, are all included in our Granite Maintenance Kits along with additional items to clean, seal and protect your granite.

granite poultice

Our Granite Poultice is very economical and easy to use. Use one pound of granite poultice to restore two square feet of granite. You can learn more about this product by clicking here.

 

This article is in response to a question from Rhonda, received 10/05/08.

Bathroom Vanity Tops: Natural Marble vs. Man-Made Synthetic

Karen Mitchell has a situation which is quite rare; but, with elements that are uniquely common.

What would be extremely rare is if her bathroom vanity top and sink were made out of one solid piece of natural marble. What is more likely, is this one piece bathroom vanity top with sink is not natural marble. It’s man-made from synthetic materials to look like natural marble. In the industry, we call this cultured marble.

What is common to these cultured marble bathroom vanity sink combos is this: over time, the vanity section gets a build-up of scratches, it still retains its gloss look (soap, perfumes, other toiletries) don’t harm the gloss, cleansers containing abrasives will remove the gloss; the sink bottom near the drain typically stains, dulls, and cracks.

When you determine it’s time to replace the cultured marble bathroom vanity sink combo, we recommend replacing the vanity top with a piece of natural marble or granite and the sink basin can be replaced with porcelain, ceramic, mosaic, glass, or metal. If you choose to have a marble bathroom vanity top, we suggest installing an under mount sink basin instead of an over mount sink basin; because, it’s easier to refinish the marble vanity top if it gets damaged in the future.

If Karen Mitchell’s sink is natural marble, and stains near the drain are caused by metal oxidation leeching deep into the marble. This staining is usually yellow, orange, brown, or a mixture of these colors and because they are so deep in the stone, the staining is considered permanent. Sometimes a poultice can be used to draw out the staining and the discoloration will be reduced to varying degrees based upon the initial depth of the staining.

This article is in response to a request for help, submitted by Karen Mitchell, on 09/08/08.