By Ed Hartz and Ed Townsend
Someone who works only with new materials may not be familiar with professional stone restoration services or why they may be necessary. In the extreme, a visit to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece will present the viewer with centuries of damage from soil, wear and gunpowder. Closer to home, the damage to the perfect appearance of natural stones begins with the residue from the fabrication equipment, adds grout haze during installation, and continues with soil, spills, grit enhanced abrasion, supermarket cleaners and polishes. Stains, scratches, improper maintenance and wear obscure the original beauty of natural stone, concrete, tile and grout. An inevitable, gentile deterioration you may think.
Modern standards of perfection approach those of museum displays and far exceed the expectations of previous generations. Common kitchen spills must be removed from counters, backsplashes and floors. Residues of bath soaps and lotions are simply unacceptable on showers and vanities. Dark trails leading from each doorway must be erased. The standard of performance for stone, tile and concrete in modern homes has been set very high. Occasional professional restoration is necessary for these quality materials to maintain their original appearance.
Because the stone, tile or concrete has been permanently installed, it must be restored in place, and because the restoration process is essentially an industrial process the professional restorer must exercise the most extreme care to protect the surroundings. Water, chemical cleaners, powerful machines to scour accumulated coatings and dirt with stiff brushes, and wet vacuums remove dingy residue. Diamond impregnated grinding disks remove the damaged surfaces and create new polished or honed surfaces. Appropriate polishes, waxes and sealers complete the restoration and set-up the surfaces for future. When the machinery and protective coverings are removed, the professional has worked miracles without leaving excessive evidence of the process.
Surprise, relief and even amazement follow the restoration of long abused hard surfaces. The clear, deep play of light returns to the surface of polished marble. The even color of clean sandstone, the polish of limestone and the contrasting grid of grout return to clean and restored surfaces. Granite regains its mirror smooth polish; the soft color and texture is again revealed in slate; and the industrial uniformity of concrete reemerges. Layers of dull coatings and dirt are stripped from glazed and unglazed tile and grout to reveal the original subtle shades and patterns of colors and textures. The distinctive characteristics of fine materials reveal themselves. Floors are even smoother and flatter than when originally set.
Each floor, wall and counter has had its own unique history and each restoration is a distinct story. To see a few examples of restorations of various materials, take a look at the Our Work section of HartzStone.com.
The first step in the restoration of a marble floor, the original un-restored condition is on the right.
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