Lenny Sciarrino worked beside his father and grandfather at age 13 to learn everything there is to know about stone, from sourcing and fabricating to installation and repair. And for the past 25-plus years, Sciarrino has carried on the family tradition as president and CEO of Granite Gold, a San Diego-based company specializing in the manufacture of stone-care cleaning products. We sought his expertise for a few tips and tricks to use on the stone products in your home.
1. Pay Attention to Prevention: One of the easiest habits to overlook with stone surfaces is the use of coasters. Sciarrino suggests the use of coasters under every glass — especially alcoholic or citrus drinks. Likewise, blotting spills immediately will help prevent any staining.
2. Seal the Deal: Sealing your stone surfaces with an impregnating sealer following installation is paramount. DIY sealants are water-based and nontoxic, usually cost $25 to $30, and will last a little more than a year, depending on the type of stone. Silane-based sealers must be professionally applied and run around $250, but last at least 10 to 15 years. For upkeep, Sciarrino says, “Using a natural stone polish weekly will prevent hard water spots and help resist fingerprints.”
3. Break Down Buildup: As often as possible, use a neutral-based stone cleaner with a nonabrasive pad to clear residue from the stone surfaces in your bathrooms. Residues include spray from toothpaste, and acidity from hairspray and perfume, among other buildup-prone solutions found in the powder room. You also can use rubbing alcohol to break down the buildup.
4. Green Cleaning: For any homeowner with stone surfaces, eco-friendly cleaning products are the best bet for maintaining the natural look and polish of your surfaces. According to Sciarrino, the high-alkaline and ammonia bases of ordinary household cleaners can dull the natural polish of stone and even etch the surface on contact. An easy home remedy is to mix mild dish soap with warm water to clean the stone or otherwise use a pH-balanced cleaner. For stains, Sciarrino suggests mixing acetone (often found in nail-polish remover) and baking soda into a paste with similar consistency to pancake batter. Apply this mixture to the stained area, and let it sit overnight. Remove the mixture with warm water and a spatula. Be sure to reseal the stone afterward.
5. Regular Checkup: If you are not the first homeowner to care for the stone surfaces in your home or the surfaces have gone otherwise unloved for a long period of time, it never hurts to check the integrity of the seal. A simple water test should do the trick. Pour water (about 3 inches in diameter) on the surface, and let it sit for 30 minutes. If the water beads, then the stone remains sealed; however if the stone is penetrated, it is time to reseal. Check for etching and stains as well before sealing your stone surfaces, as these issues will need to be fixed before the sealant is applied.
For more information and answers to other frequently asked questions about stone surfaces, check out Granite Gold.