This last year has seen a large increase in the number of people having natural stone, marble, granite, limestone, sandstone or slate fitted into their homes either as work surfaces or as flooring. No man made product can rival the beauty of well presented natural stone with its myriad of colours and patterns which are unique to your individual stone.
With this increased interest in returning to natural stone products has come an avalanche of products to clean, shine and seal the stones. Importers, tile retailers, builders and chemical firms have all jumped on the band wagon and see big profits in natural stone. Unfortunately it would seem that very few of these companies have any understanding of the products they are selling or fitting or advising customers to purchase.
In the past most of our work was concerned with restoring old marble, granite or limestone but increasingly we are getting called out to deal with brand new tiles which have developed problems.
Some of these problems are;
· Tiles being laid so that there is significant lippage between them
· Grouting gaps being too large
· Tiles smeared with grout after sealing
· Incorrect sealant being used
· Acrylic sealants being applied
· Polish or wax being applied to the surface
· Marble and limestone being used in kitchens
· Slate being used in showers
· Not sealing the stone
· Applying a seal and then assuming that it is now protected from all possible sources of damage
· Discolouring of the tiles because sealant is left on the surface
· Use of acidic cleaners in the builders clean
· Poor or non existent care and maintenance programmes provided to the client
How do you ensure you are not left with a big bill after the builders have moved out?
· Buy your tiles from a supplier that provides good advice and has an installation service,
· Research the topic prior to purchase so that you can ask pertinent questions. If you get suspect or glib answers walk away and shop elsewhere
· Do not simply go for the cheapest, they may prove to more expensive in the long run
· If possible retain some of the money until the job is completed to your satisfaction. That way if there is a problem you can insist on it being rectified.
Your biggest protection is to get acquainted with the properties of natural stone and its care and maintenance before setting out to purchase your preferred stone type. You can do this by carrying out the appropriate search on the Web.