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Care & Maintenance

Hardwood

General care and cleaning tips for hardwood floors

  • Don't Damp Mop - Water and hardwood floors don't mix! Use only the manufacturer's recommended cleaning products on your hardwood floor.
  • Vacuum Regularly - Small stones, mud and gritty dirt tracked in from outside can scratch the finish of your wood floor's finish. To help combat this use long bristle welcome mats placed at all outside entrances for people to wipe their feet on before entering onto the floors. Also, vacuum using a soft bristle brush attachment.
  • Use the Proper Chair Glides - Narrow wheels, sharp wooden legs or metal furniture legs can scratch and dent hardwood floors. Any furniture that rests directly on top of a hardwood floor should have felt protectors, or furniture coasters under all it's feet. For extremely heavy objects such as a piano, use wide, non-staining rubber cups. Purchasing floor protectors is cheap insurance for protecting your hardwood floor investment.
  • Don't Use Oil Soaps - There are many over the counter oil-based soaps and wax based cleaning products that may damage or dull the finish of your wood floor. The best suggestion is to only use the manufacturers recommended cleaning products on your hardwood flooring.
  • Never Wax a Urethane Floor - If your hardwood floor has a polyurethane finish never use a paste wax on the floor's surface. A paste wax may form a sticky film on your floor and allow tracked in dirt to stick to your wood finish. Polyurethane finishes will not adhere to any wax and adding a fresh coat of polyurethane to your floor will be very difficult.
  • Wipe Spills Immediately - when accidents happen and some liquid gets spilled on your hardwood floor, you should use a slightly damp white cloth, or paper towel to immediately clean up and dry the effected area. For more difficult spots, follow the manufacturer's recommended cleaning procedures.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's recommended procedures and recommendations.

Carpet

Carpet Stain Removal

Treatment of the affected area should begin immediately upon discovery. The more time that elapses before treatment, the more difficult a stain will be to remove.

First scrape the food spill gently with a spoon or dull knife, removing as much as possible.

Always work from outer edge of the stain towards the center to avoid spreading. Blot, do not rub or scrub, as the carpet may fuzz.

When using a mild detergent, use a clear, non-bleach laundry detergent. Do not use cloudy detergents as they can leave a sticky residue. Use only 1/4 teaspoon of detergent to 32 ounces of water. Follow detergent cleaning with clear water rinsing and then blot dry as much as possible.

For any stain removal, use a white cloth or paper towel for cleanup.

Vacuum Regularly

Most dirt, and even dust, takes the form of hard particles. When left in the carpet these gritty, sharp particles abrade the pile of the carpet. Regular vacuuming not only prolongs the life of the carpet, but will enhance its appearance as well. Most soiling in carpet is of the dry, particle type which can be removed with a vacuum cleaner.

Vacuum high traffic lanes daily, medium to high traffic areas twice weekly, and the entire house at least once a week.

Use a vacuum with a rotating brush or beater bar. Change the bags often and check the beater bars for burs and gouges so as not to damage the surface of the carpet. Some thick loop pile carpets will fuzz if a rotating brush vacuum is used. In this case we recommend a suction vacuum only.

Preventative Maintenance for Carpet

The use of mats or runners at all home entrances and on uncarpeted areas adjacent to carpet will reduce soil and moisture in traffic areas. Clean mats and any other rugs placed over carpet regularly.

The use of furniture coasters to distribute the weight of heavy items is also recommended, especially for furniture with wheels. Take care when moving furniture with wheels by putting a protective barrier between the wheels and the carpet.

To extend the beauty of your carpeting, close drapes or blinds during hours of direct sunlight.

Exercise extreme caution with all bleaches, tile cleaners, mildew removers, oven cleaners, drain openers and plant food. They are strong chemicals that can permanently discolor or dissolve carpet fibers.

Carpet Cleaning Recommendations

Even with regular vacuuming, soil particles and oily dirt will cling to the carpet fibers. With foot traffic these particles and oily dirt are driven deep into the carpet. We recommend professional hot water extraction every 18 to 24 months. Periodic cleaning, using the hot water extraction method performed by a professional cleaner, will refresh carpet appearance.

The most used areas, such as entrances, doorways, traffic lanes, and in front of chairs will collect dirt faster than other areas. Clean these areas as they begin to show soil. This will stop dirt from spreading, and will extend the time between professional cleaning.

We carry the manufacturer's maintenance products so you can be sure when shopping with us to get the right floor care product for your new floor. So why not stop in and let our friendly, knowledgeable sales staff help you protect your flooring investment.

Vinyl Floor Care

  • Vacuum regularly to remove grit and sand. Wash your floor occasionally with the manufacturer's recommended floor cleaner, such as Armstrong's Once 'n Done No Rinse Cleaner, or Mannington's Award Cleaner.
  • Wipe up spills immediately. If needed clean with the manufacturers recommended cleaner. You can also clean with luke warm water and clear ammonia.
  • If your floor becomes dull looking you may need to add the manufacturer's recommended floor polish to restore the original gloss level. First, try cleaning with luke warm water and clear ammonia to see if there is a film on your floor causing the dullness.
  • Never use abrasive cleaners, soaps, paste waxes, or solvents on your vinyl floor.
  • Place non-staining, walk-off mats at every outside entry to your room. This will help keep sand and grit from being tracked on to your floor.

Will ceramic tile chip or break?

Once a suitale ceramic tile is properly installed, it is very difficult to damange. Tile may be chipped or broken most often only if a heavy object is dropped on the floor. Structural deficiencies may also lead to cracking or breaking, most commonly caused by substrate movement. Speak with one of our professionals about suitable installation techniques. It is always prudent to keep extra material available to repair any broken pieces.

Is ceramic tile cold?

Tile is actually the same temperature as the surrounding room - it holds warmth in a sunny room and would maintain a cooler temperature in an air-conditioned room. There are many installation products that will warm tile if necessary.

How does ceramic compare to other flooring options in terms of price

The initial installed price of ceramic may be higher than other flooring materials. However, the longevity, ease of maintenance, and design capabilities make ceramic tile an investment and not a liability that will require replacement and considerable cost to maintain as with other flooring options. Ceramic tile is the only flooring option that adds value to your home.

How do I care for grout?

Grout is basically made up of Portland Cement with color pigments added. Due to the porous nature of cement, grout is difficult to keep from absorbing the staining agents. Recent enhancements in the production of grout and it's raw materials have made grout a much denser product. The addition of latex additives in the mixing of the product will also increase the density of the grout. Standard maintenance procedures to keep the tile clean may now also be used to maintain the original beauty of the grout.

Should I seal my ceramic tile?

A sealer is unnecessary and should not be applied to any ceramic tile that is glazed. Sealers are primarily used on unglazed products and natural stone in order to reduce any absorption that particular tile may have. A penetrating sealer is usually invisible and will not alter the look or performance of the tile. Topical sealers are used to enhance the look of some tiles and will be affected and worn by foot traffic. These sealers will require a maintenance program in order to maintain the look and performance of the sealer.

Facts about Ceramic Tile

All materials that go into making ceramic tile come from the earth, including the colors that make up the glaze portion. This is a testimonial to the quality of the product. While most other flooring products (such as vinyl and carpet) substitude synthetic materials to improve quality, ceramic tile has remained the same for thousands of years.

Facts about Durability

If ceramic tile is installed properly, it will bring a lifetime of function and beauty to any installation. Glazed products perform according to the hardness of their glaze; this hardness is determined by the manufacturer and rated using a PEI scale (Porcelain Enamel Institute). This PEI rating will determine the proper usage of each product;

  • PEI-1: Wall tiles or tiles suitable for residential bathrooms where softer footwear is worn.
  • PEI-2: Tile suited to general residential traffic, except kitchens, entrance halls, and other areas subjected to continuous heavy use.
  • PEI-3: Tiles suited for all residential and light commercial areas such as offices, reception areas, and boutiques.
  • PEI-4: Tiles suited for medium commercial and light institutional applications such as restaurants, hotels, hospital lobbies, and corridors.
  • PEI-%: Tiles suitable for heavy traffic and wet areas where safety and maximum performance are a major concern such as exterior hallways, food service, salad bars, building entrances, around swimming pools, or shopping centers.

Note: All tiles are suitable for wall use.

Facts about Glazes

Glaze is a liquid glass that is sprayed or poured onto the surface of the tile. It is then infused to the body of the tile using tremendous heat during the firing process. Strength and wear resistance are determined by its hardness. The following factors will have an effect on the glaze hardness:

  • Temperature - the higher the temperature the harder the glaze.
  • color - Dark glaze colors such as blacks and blues are usually softer than the lighter color glazes.
  • Gloss level - Shiny glazes are usually softer than matte or satin finished glazes.

Facts about Shading

Shade variation is inherent in all fired ceramic products. Many tiles are deliberately produced with a wide shade variation in order to capture the natural beauty of the product. The recent trend in rustic-looking tiles utilizes a high shade variation in order to achieve a random appearance in the shading and texture of their tiles.

  • Shade and Texture Index
    • LSV - Differences among pieces from the same production run are minimal.
    • MSV - Clearly distinguishable texture and / or pattern within similar colors.
    • HSV - While the colors present on a single piece of tile will be indicative of the colors to be expected on the other tiles, the amount of colors on each piece may vary significantly.
    • VHSV - Random color differences from tile to tile, so that one tile may have totally different colors from that on other tiles. Thus, the final installation will be unique.
NOTE: Shade variation is an inherent characteristic of ceramic tile. Always make color selection from a product sample since the shipment may vary from samples.

Facts about Maintenance

Most ceramic tiles are easily maintained with clean water and a damp cloth or mop. Some tiles and natural stone may require special cleaning products and methods in order to maintain the original look of the product.

  • Stain resistance - ceramic material in general is the most stain resistant building product in the world. Glazed tiles and most ungalzed tiles resist practically all solution that may cause staining.
  • Hygiene - since most ceramic tile products do not retain liquids, absorb fumes, odors or smoke, they are a perfect choice for any envrionment where hygiene is essential.

Stone, Granite and Marble

Care and Maintenance

Protect your investment. These are some easy steps to maintain the beauty of your ceramic tile, natural stone, and grout.

Wet areas such as showers, tubs, bath floors, shower pans, etc are especially important to maintain. If the tiles in these areas become loose or cracked- this can create a place for water to penetrate through. This may cause damage to other areas or surfaces in your home.

Make sure to periodically inspect these areas for any defects in the caulking, grout lines, or tiles.

Ceramic Tile

Make sure to periodically inspect these areas for any defects in the caulking, grout lines, or tiles.

Type of Tile/ Usage Routine Cleaning Heavy Duty Cleaning
Glazed walls/ countertops Wipe with damp cloth or sponge using all-purpose cleaner. Use window cleaner for glossy surfaces. Wipe dry with cloth. Clean with scouring powder, commercial tile cleaner, or all-purpose cleaner using non-metallic scouring pad or very fine grade stainless steel pad. Rinse and wipe dry.
Glazed tile floors Vacuum regularly to remove gritty particles. Damp mop using solution of water and soapless detergent. Use a commercial tile cleaner or a strong solution of water and "soapless" detergent. If stained, use scouring powder paste. Let stand for five minutes, brush and scrub. Rinse and dry. For large areas and for areas that are difficult to clean, a power scrubber is recommended.
Glazed tile showers Use all-purpose or bathroom cleaner. Allow to stand for five minutes- rinse and dry. May also use a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar or a commercial tile cleaner. Use chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide (1). For stubborn stains, use scouring powder containing a bleaching agent. Let stand four to six minutes, then scrub and rinse thoroughly. To remove mildew, use a commercial tile cleaner, chlorine bleach or ammonia (1). DO NOT MIX.
Unglazed tile walls Sponge with a diluted solution of water and "soapless" detergent. Use scouring powder paste. Let stand for five minutes, then scour with brush. Rinse and wipe dry.
Unglazed tile floors Vacuum regularly to remove gritty particles. Damp mop or sponge with water and/or a diluted solution of water and "soapless" detergent Use scouring powder paste. Let stand for five minutes, then scour with brush. Rinse and wipe dry. A small brush is suitable for small floors; consider a scrubbing machine for larger areas.
Natural Porcelain/ Semi-Polished Porcelain* Vacuum regularly to remove any gritty particles. Damp mop using a solution of water and "soapless" detergent, rinse and then wipe dry. Use scouring powder paste. Let stand for five minutes, then scour with brush. Rinse and wipe dry. A small brush is suitable for small floors; consider a scrubbing machine for larger areas.
Commercial Applications For smaller commercial areas, vacuum regularly to remove gritty particles. Using a "soapless" detergent scrub with an inexpensive nylon brush (such as a "Doodle Bug"). Follow by using a dry/wet vac to remove water and soap residue. Note: After initial cleaning, replace nylon brush. Replace thereafter as it becomes worn. A clean scrubber makes for a clean floor. For large commercial settings, consider the use of a commercial floor scrubbing machine.

(1) With colored grout, test a small inconspicuous area first or follow grout manufacturer's instructions.

* A note on Semi-Polished Porcelain: Porcelain tile is virtually impervious to stains and wear. However, the polishing process opens microscopic pores in the surface of the tile. Therefore, it is recommended that a penetrating sealer (such as Aqua Mix "Penetrating Sealer," "Sealer's Choice", etc.) be used 2 hours prior to grouting. Penetrating Sealers need only be applied once, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Remember, prompt clean-up of spills and regular cleaning will keep your ceramic tile surfaces looking their best.

DO's and DON'Ts of Ceramic Tile Care

  • Do not combine ammonia and household bleaches.
  • Do not use harsh cleaning agents (such as steel wool pads) which can scratch or damage the surface of your tile.
  • Do test scouring pads in a small area first.
  • Do use a silicone sealer on all grout joints if continuous staining is a problem.
  • Do read and follow label directions for all cleaners.

Natural Stone Care & Maintenance

The use of natural stone in both residential and commercial environments has increased dramatically over the past ten years. Prior to this, polished marble was the primary stone utilized in interior areas. Today, numerous stones are used. What type of natural stone do you have
inside your home, on your patios, entries, or in your exterior landscaping? Stone cladding today ranges from the very dense, low porosity stones such as granite to high porosity (very absorbent) stones such as sandstone. Surface textures also vary, ranging from very rough, textured surfaces such as cleft slate and flamed-finished granite to polished surfaces often found on marble and granite surfaces. Although natural stone provides an excellent upgrade from many of today's synthetic alternatives, it must still be recognized that it is neither maintenance free or stain proof. Grout, even latex-modified, is also very porous and subject to sub-surface staining if not properly protected and maintained. Here are some excellent tips that will help ensure the ongoing beauty, long life, cleanliness, and slip resistance of your stone installation.

Do: Seal your stone and grout installation to improve the stain resistance and ease the ongoing maintenance. It is very important that the proper sealer be used based on the type of stone, surface finish, and location. A good rule of thumb is that with denser stone, including polished surfaces, only penetrating-type sealers should be used. If you have a stone with a very porous (absorbent) or textured surface such as slate or sandstone, then you have an option of using a "coating" or surface sealer that will generally provide a degree of surface sheen or a penetrating-type sealer that will leave a completely natural look. Be careful when selecting coating-type sealers on exterior areas as many of the coating-type sealers currently available do not work well in exposed exterior environments.

Don't: Allow liquid contaminants to stand indefinitely on stone and grout surfaces, even if they are sealed. It is important to remove liquid contaminants as soon as possible. They will very quickly penetrate into unsealed stone and grout surfaces, making them difficult to extract, and eventually seep into even sealed surfaces if allowed to dwell for extended periods of time. A sealer should be viewed as providing reaction time to remove the contaminant before it penetrates and stains the stone or grout.

Don't: Directly wipe a liquid contaminant off the stone or grout surface. This will simply cause the stain to be spread over a larger area, and even drive the contaminant deeper into the stone or grout, especially if unsealed.

Do: Quickly utilize an absorbent paper towel or rag to blot up any liquid contaminant remaining wet on the surface before scrubbing the surface with a proper cleaner.

Don't: Use acidic cleaners for routine stone maintenance. Although many stones are acid resistant, there are many stones (most noteworthy- Marble) which are sensitive to acids. Even a light solution of vinegar and water will quickly etch and dull polished marble surfaces. It is also important to note that acidic cleaners do not function as degreasers, but work by chemically attacking cement and calcium found in grout and some varieties of stone, thus damaging the structural integrity of the grout and stone.

Do: Use neutral PH cleaners for everyday routine cleaning of stone and grout surfaces. In situations where periodic heavy duty cleaning is needed, use an alkaline (high PH) cleaner. These are excellent degreasers, working well on grout and most stone surfaces without
chemically damaging these surfaces. It is recommended that whatever cleaner is used on fine polished marble, that it is always first tested to ensure that it does not dull the polished surface.

Don't: Clean textured stone surfaces and grout using only a mop. Highly textured or uneven surfaces such as flamed granite, slate, and sanded grout is rough finished and tends to grip and hold surface contaminants. A simple mopping is not going to create sufficient surface agitation to release these clinging contaminants.

Do: After applying a neutral PH or high alkaline cleaner, utilize a scrub brush to create sufficient surface agitation to release the surface contaminants so they can be easily removed in the rinsing process.

Don't: Wet mop polished stone surfaces, allowing the polished surface to dry as the water evaporates. This will allow for eventual mineral buildup to occur which will dull high polished finishes.

Do: Use absorbent paper or cotton towels to polish dry any water on the polished surface. This will eliminate the dulling mineral deposits that would be left behind if the water is left to naturally evaporate. This is also important in wet areas such as showers, where polished stone surfaces should be towel dried after use so as to eliminate eventual buildup of mineral hard water deposits.

Don't: Just pick up any cleaner from your local grocery store and use to clean your stone and grout. You would be surprised how many cleaners contain at least trace amounts of acid that can cause quick or eventual damage to fine stone and grout. Most stone and ceramic tile outlets carry cleaners that are specially designed to properly care for these fine surfaces.

Do: Contact the product manufacturer if you have any questions about their product and its intended use. Manufacturers of these products should have toll free numbers and would encourage phone inquiries should there be any questions about their products.

Aqua Mix Inc., a specialist manufacturer of sealers, cleaners, and "problem solvers" for stone, tile, and grout, encourages all questions be addressed to their "Technical Service Hotline" at 1-800-366-6877.

Care and maintenance of Tile Grout

Grout may present a special cleaning problem because it is susceptible to many staining agents. Apply a silicone sealer to grout joints several times a year for maximum protection. In addition to keeping the grout clean, be sure to keep grout joints in good repair. Scrape out loose, cracked or powdery joints and refill with good grout.

One common grouting trouble spot is the joint between the tub and the wall in your bathroom. As the house or tub settles, the grout may crack and crumble. It is relatively simple to remedy. Remove the old grout with a sharp pointed tool, watching out that you don't scratch the tile or tub. Then, dry the joint thoroughly and fill with a flexible caulking compound, such as silicone rubber caulking.

A Word about Cleaners

There are many excellent household cleaners on the market today. They should all do a good job for you, so use your favorite. Remember to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions and recommended usage. They will perform as promised if you use them as directed.

Here is some general information about the cleaners which are mentioned in this website.

All-purpose cleaners included such products as Soft Scrub, Scrub Free, Mr. Clean, Top Job, Fantastik, Ajax Liquid, Liquid Comet, and Dial Bathroom Cleaner. You can find them at your supermarket.

"Soapless detergents" are also commonly found on supermarket shelves. They include such cleaners as Spic & Span and 409.

Scouring powders which are readily available include Comet, Bon Ami, and Ajax. Nylon scouring pads may also be used (such as Scotch Brite), but steel wool pads are not recommended.

Stain Removal Guide

Stain

Removal Agent
Grease and fats Soda and water or commercial spot lifter
Inks and colored dyes Household bleach
Blood Hydrogen peroxide or household bleach
Coffee, tea, food, fruit, lipstick, juices Neutral cleaner in hot water followed by hydrogen peroxide or household bleach

* Caution: Vinegar may damage some tile glazes. Be sure to test this solution first in a small area to see if it etches the tile or erodes the grout.

Natural Stone Care

Do not allow liquid contaminants to stand indefinitely on stone surfaces even if they are sealed. It is important to remove liquid contaminants as soon as possible. They will very quickly penetrate into unsealed stone and grout surfaces, making them difficult to extract, and eventually seep into even sealed surfaces if allowed to dwell for extended periods of time. A sealer should be viewed as providing reaction time to remove the contaminant before it penetrates and stains the stone.

Do not directly wipe a liquid contaminant off the stone or grout surface. This will simply cause the stain to be spread over a larger area, and even drive the contaminant deeper into the stone or grout, especially if unsealed.

Do not use acidic cleaners for routine stone maintenance. Although many stones are acid resistant, there are many stones (especially Marble) which are sensitive to acids. Even a light solution of vinegar and water will quickly etch and dull polished marble surfaces.

Use neutral PH cleaners for everyday routine cleaning of stone surfaces. When heavy duty cleaning is needed, use an alkaline (high PH) cleaner. These are excellent degreasers, working well on grout and most stone surfaces without chemically damaging these surfaces. It is recommended that whatever cleaner is used on fine polished marble, that it is always first tested to ensure that it does not dull the polished surface.

After applying a neutral PH or high alkaline cleaner, utilize a scrub brush to create sufficient surface agitation to release the surface contaminants so they can be easily removed in the rinsing process.

Use absorbent paper or cotton towels to polish dry any water on the polished surface. This will eliminate the dulling mineral deposits that would be left behind if the water is left to naturally evaporate. This is also important in wet areas such as showers, where polished stone surfaces should be towel dried after use so as to eliminate eventual buildup of mineral hard water deposits.

Phone: 301-607-9100    Email: info@stonemarkflooring.com

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