This is a broad question so we will explain it under several headings:
General Information about stone sealers
A few years ago the stone sealers available were not very effective. This was because their main ingredient was silicon. The pore size in stone varies but in the main they are smaller than the particle size of silicon. Therefore on application most of the silicon was unable to be absorbed by the stone, and the sealer was effectively acting as a surface sealant (i.e. sat on the surface of the stone) As such this surface sealant was then exposed to sunlight, which gradually broke it down, making it increasingly ineffectual at preventing stone staining over time. As a result consumers found the results unsatisfactory and some stopped buying stone because of this.
Thankfully, science has moved on and since 2011 newer, more effective products have been developed which reliably and safely protect stone. Longer lasting sealants can now be relied upon to provide effective protection of stone for up to 10 years. This has been possible since newer sealants are now oil based, produced from polymers which have much smaller particles than the previous silicon versions This enables the stone to absorb the sealer more easily, resulting in a sealant that sits within the stone.
Further, more recent, eco-friendly developments now include water based sealants, reducing the use of petrochemical bi products.
Do you need to seal stone paving?
Sealing exterior paving has been a hotly debated subject in the past. The effectiveness was one of the main issues, as laid out in the above chapter, but there are also issues in the UK regarding the drainage of water, due to our climate, that have caused many disagreements between stone suppliers and landscapers alike on this subject.
Happily, a lot more is understood about the nature of sealants and its reaction with stone now, and your stone specialist will be able to reassure you if you have any doubts about whether to seal or not seal your patio.
What are the advantages of sealing your paving?
At Stoneworld our advice would be to definitely seal stone if it is of a very light colour, such as White Mint. The beauty of this stone is its pure light colour, so the ingress of any lichen, or spillages from the BBQ, etc is going to quickly spoil your enjoyment of the stone.
We would also suggest sealing a stone like Black Limestone if you like the finish that can be achieved using a colour intensifier whereby the natural colour of the stone is enhanced. There are various products on the market for this kind of effect, but Rob Parkers Best Colour Intensifier is unique because it is a colour enhancer and sealer treatment in one.
Sealing a stone patio in the UK can also help preserve the structure of the stone. Our cold damp winters can be detrimental to the long life of a patio. If water is held within the structure of the stone and we then get a cold snap of weather, the water will freeze and expand. Then on thawing the water will contract again. Over time this continual expansion and contraction will cause weakness in the stone, and eventually cracks in the paving. Effective sealing will prevent the ingress of water completely.
After sealing your patio with an excellent product like Rob Parkers Best Patio Sealers, no moisture will penetrate the surface, therefore it is essential to ensure that rainwater run-off is controlled with an effective gradient to ensure that standing water does not collect on the surface, which could cause a slipping hazard to users. This is best practise with patio building anyway, and all good landscapers will be aware of this.
Do you need to seal stone floors?
Yes, is the simple answer!
To have relatively carefree enjoyment of your stone floor, at Stoneworld we strongly recommend sealing your stone floor tiles.
All natural stone is porous to some extent, with sandstone being the most porous, and granite & marble being the least. Any spillage has the potential to seep into unsealed stone tiles and cause staining that will affect the overall appearance of the floor.
There are now many fantastic products available for stain removal from stone, which your stone specialist can advise you about, but if you take preventative action and seal the floor before use, or embark on the rejuvenation of an old stone floor by first stripping, then re-sealing it, you will save yourself the worry of having to deal with mini domestic disasters during your care of it!
This treatment will help to keep your floor free of grease stains, prevent staining of wine, and keep general dirt on the surface, where it can be more easily washed away, rather than allowing it to become ingrained.
Do you need to seal stone, as in granite worktops?
Again, and more emphatically, Yes, is the simple answer!
Buying a granite worktop is not a maintenance free option. They are not hard work, but many people buy them and then spoil them by letting them become marked or stained through careless use.
At Stoneworld you can imagine that we are a bit precious about stone, please excuse our passion!
Stone is hard, and is a natural element of our world, but before we install it in our homes it is polished to bring out the hidden beauty that lies within the raw hewn rock. It’s that polished surface that’s not as bulletproof as you might think.
Cutting directly on the surface can leave scratch marks. Hot pans can leave marks in the polished surface. Acidic substances can spoil and mark the polished surface.
It is possible to help protect the surface from these spillages however, by sealing your worktop at installation.
Responsible granite worktop suppliers will always seal your worktop during the fabrication or installation process. A good granite sealer can offer protection for up to 2 months before they need reapplying. There are products available from good stone suppliers that are suitable for keeping protection topped up.
Whilst these sealers will assist in the protection of your worktop, it is essential you still wipe up spills immediately, and we will never recommend cutting, or placing hot pans directly on the surface if you wish to keep the finish perfect.
However, there is a new and unique product in development that will protect against all of the above dangers to the surface of your worktop. It is a permanent solution and will be available to buy very soon. Nano technology has been used to produce a product that will create an impenetrable, permanent coating for granite and marble worktops, meaning that nothing will be able to spoil the polished surface of your new granite work top. We suggest you speak to your granite supplier now to find out when you can buy Rob Parker’s Best Pure Marble.
We hope this article has helped you decide whether to seal your stone products.
Please contact us for further advice on suitable treatments and remedies for your stone surfaces.