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Discolorations On Natural Stone Surfaces

It is bound to have happened to each of us at some point in our lives. A surface in our environment has gotten some form of discoloration and needed to be corrected. But what do we mean by the term "discoloration"? There are many things that can hinder the appearance of your stone surface and there are many ways to correct these unfortunate and unpleasing visual nuisances. In this article we will explore a variety of things that can produce a discolored spot on your hard surfaces. We will also tlak a bit about what you can do to correct and/or prevent them.

A Variety of Discolorations Affect Stone

The first thing we need to mention is that in this article we are using the term discolor in a very broad sense. Therefore, as you will see, this article is going to cover a lot of ground and discuss several aspects of this topic. We won't cover every single cause of discoloration, but we will mention a diverse sample of them. The key point here is that there are a number of ways that stone can be discolored and different kinds of stone more susceptible to different stone discoloring agents.

Different Stone Types Discolor From Different Things

It should not be a surprise to you that not all stone materials are the same. You can find articles about comparing materials with one another online. This article will mention three different classes of stone surfaces. They are:

  1. Natural Stone
  2. Engineered Stone
  3. Sintered Stone

These three classes of material differ in significant ways, but they all are composed of a significant amount of minerals that are found in stone. Each stone type becomes a countertop by means of some sort of processing. And each material is subject to substances that can change its appearance in some way.

The kind of material that has become discolored makes a difference in how you treat the material. There are a variety of cleaners and not all cleaners can be used on all types of stone. For example, the pH of a cleaner impacts some materials. To learn more about that, check out our article entitled Just the pHacts: pH and Stone Care. The point here is that you will need to use particular cleaners on specific materials. Let's turn our attention now though to the kinds of discolorations that occur.

Ways Stone Surfaces Get Discolored

We are going to group the types of discolorations into two specific groups in this article and talk about each group. The two groups we will look at are:

  1. Surface Discolorations
  2. Discoloring Internally

On the Surface

The first way that discolorations occur on stone countertops is something gets onto the surface of the stone and then will not come off. There are different ways this happens. Even liquid substances that would make their way into the proes of a natural stone, can discolor non-porous materials. For example, a spill happens and is not noticed until the liquid has evaporated. The residual material could remain behind and be difficult to remove. In this way, surface stains can affect even non-porous materials like sintered stone and engineered stone (quartz). Here are some substances that can cause discolorations on stone surfaces that are non-porous:

  • Grease
  • Oil
  • Ink
  • Rust
  • Limescale
  • Wine
  • Tire Rubber
  • Ice Cream
  • Resin
  • Nail Polish
  • Coffee
  • Candle Wax
  • Asphalt
  • Cement (Residual)
  • Gesso
  • Epoxy Adhesive
  • Grout
  • Fruit Juice
  • Tar
  • Nicotine
  • Soft Drinks
  • Dye
  • Plaster
  • Pneumatic Rubber
  • Enamel
  • Shoe Polish
  • Lime
  • Iodine
  • Blood
  • Permanent Marker
  • Aluminium Marks
  • Pencil Marks
  • Beer
  • Chewing Gum

In the case of the discolorations listed above, you will need specific cleaner depending on the type of stone you are treating and what the discoloration is from. Both of those variables will play a role in determining which cleaner to use. In the case of natural stone, simply contact us and let us know what kind of stone you are treating and what caused the discoloration. From there we can give you guidance on how to treat your specific discoloration.

Inside the Pores

The other kind of discoloration is one that happens on natural stone surfaces. Natural stones like granite, marble, quartzite, and travertine are porous. Besides treating natural stone periodically with an impregnating sealer, cleaning natural stone with a pH neutral cleaner daily to preserve the sealer is necessary.

Performing these two steps regularly is an excellent maintenance practice to follow for natural stone. Sealing the stone with an impregnating sealer slows the stone's absorption of water based and oil based liquids that could work their way into the pores of the stone and discolor it. The pH neutral cleaner allows the sealer to stay on the stone longer (acidic cleaners break down stone sealers). Basically, the best way to handle a discoloration is to prevent it in the first place.

Some Stone Requires More

In the case of calcareous stones like marble, travertine, limestone, and onyx, the possibility of other discolorations exists. Stones high in calcium carbonate are susceptible to etching and these kinds of discolorations can take time, patience, and elbow grease to remove. If you have any of the following materials, it is good to have etch remover handy in case you meet up with one of these pesky discolorations on the stone.

As we have seen in this article, there are so many things that can discolor stone. Additionally, each kind of stone has diffferent properties and some can even be susceptible to additional discoloring factors. The key though is to be aware of the type of stone you are dealing with, know what cleaners to use on each one, and remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. keeping these things in mind will ensure you get the most from your stone surfaces and your maintenance products.