Marble Stone Crystallization
Stone floors offer something no other flooring can: history. Architects and designers have been using natural stone for most of their important works. In countries around the world, stone has long been the accepted choice for cathedrals, monuments, museums, houses of government and, of course, hotels.
Natural stone forms over millions of years but improper care can ruin nature’s beauty. Although we usually think of stone as “hard”, it is a porous material that can absorb spills and stains if left untreated. Sand, grit, and dirt can damage natural stone surfaces because they are abrasive. With natural stone floors acid resistance / sensitivity is probably the most important factor for the choice of cleaning methods. Different natural stones have different properties & characteristics depending on which the treatment method is chosen. For example, the most common stones available or used widely in India are Marble and Granite. Both are natural stones.
Marble is commonly available in white and a wide range of colours depending on the embedded metal salts or their oxides. It normally has a fine to coarse grained structure. It is soft, easy to process, easy to polish and maintain. It is sensitive to all kinds of acids, resistant to moisture, alkalies and solvents, has limited resistance to oil & grease and is very sensitive to mechanical damage (scratches).
When a marble floor becomes dull and scratched, it obviously loses its shine and lustre. These scratches or dullness is predominantly due to constant foot traffic that the floor is subjected to. At this point in time, the marble floor needs to be refinished to restore its original shine. The process of bringing back the gloss and shine is called ‘crystallization’.
Crystallization is a combination of mechanical and controlled acidic reaction with the calcium carbonates contained in the stone. Calcium carbonates are changed into components (fluorides and oxalates) that are less sensitive to acids and which densify the floor. Crystallization products also contain abrasives which help remove little scratches on the floor. Please note that crystallization is applicable on only calcareous floors like marble.
Marble floor crystallization is normally a 4-step procedure. The equipment that you would need are:
• Single disc machine (that weighs a minimum of 50 Kgs and above and rotation speed of 165 rpm)
• Crystallizing chemical
• Grinding discs
• Floor pads
• In addition to this, you need a wet & dry vacuum cleaner, microfibre flat mop, a wet floor sign and other accessories.
The first step of marble floor restoration is grinding and honing. This is nothing but a process of removing the lippage (the uneven portions existing on the floor). Even newly installed marble floors can have higher or lower tiles due to the natural gradient of the floor. This step removes all edges, roughness, and makes the floor even and smooth. This step can also remove the deepest of scratches and stains.
The process of honing is usually done when the existing floor has a high amount of scratches, possible stains and is extremely dull. This process is done with the help of a single disc machine and diamond pads that cut the top surface of the soft marble stone in a uniform pattern. The diamond pads are to be used from a coarser to a finer pattern to ensure consistency in the honing process.
Before beginning the crystallization process, the first important thing to do is to clean the honed floor with the help of a microfibre mop so as to pick up all the finer particles of stone, dust and sand. Take the crystallizing compound and apply to the floors with the help of a single disc machine. Work for three – four minutes/sqm. of the floor and massage the crystallizing compound into the floor. Rinse the floor with plenty of water and pick up the salt solution with a Wet & Dry vacuum cleaner. Crystallization creates a microfilm on the surface of marble which is more solid and durable and helps to preserve the colour and brightness of marble.
The benefits of crystallization are:
• Increase in gloss levels giving a shiny floor
• Durability as the surface of the stone has been chemically altered to calcium fluoro silicate which has higher durability and less porous.
Daily maintenance after crystallization
Since crystallization of marble floors is an expensive proposition, this process cannot be done on a frequent basis (every two or three days). Consistent foot traffic on a crystallized marble floor will reduce the gloss levels steadily everyday. Therefore, it is imperative for us to ensure that the crystallized marble floor is maintained so that the gap between two crystallization cycles can be increased.
The following steps can be taken to maintain crystallized marble floors:
Damp mopping of the floor with a neutral cleaner and microfibre mop. This activity needs to be done depending on the foot traffic the floor is subjected to.
Use a maintainer. Marble maintenance product with the help of a single disc ensures that the gloss levels do not reduce quickly. This process of crystallization can be used on all types of marbles and is a very good method to ensure longer life and enhance its appearance.Abhay Desai, Director-Marketing, South Asia, Diversey India ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————-