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China Stones Inc. manufacture kitchen countertop, bathroom countertop, granite tile countertop, seal countertop, countertop seal, MIA member. For individual customers, it is a key decision for them to choose the right material for their kitchen countertop or bathroom countertop. Granite and marble are 2 best materials for countertops and vanity tops. Usually the granite tile countertop need not to be sealed, but marble bench top or work top are seal countertops. When choosing the sealer for kitchen countertop, bathroom countertop, vanity top, bench top or work top, be sure to choose the water based, odorless sealer protecting against stains. These kinds of sealers are different from the sealers used for walls, etc.

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Marble Institute of America
How to Choose the Right Stone for Your Home

You have many options when it comes to beautiful, long-lasting natural stones for your home’s interior and exterior: slate, granite, marble, quartz-based stone, and limestone, just to name a few.  Choosing a natural stone for your home is a very personal decision, much like selecting wallpaper or artwork.

While there are scores of natural stones to consider, some are better suited than others to particular uses in and around the home.  This guide, along with your architect and stone contractor, can help you explore your options and offer guidance on the right stone for the right home project.

Factors to Consider in Selecting a Natural Stone:
Natural stones are available in a beautiful spectrum of colors. Colors in granite and marble, for instance, can range from soft beiges and pinks and classic black-and-whites to rich corals, greens, and multi-colors.  Marble traditionally features swirls and veins of colors, while granite has a flecked or pebbled appearance.

Unlike the repetitive sameness of materials produced by machine or assembly line, the varied appearance of natural stone has wonderful character and creates a one-of-a-kind effect everywhere it is used.

Natural stone can be polished, honed, or flamed for a distinct appearance:
A polished finish has a glossy surface that reflects light and emphasizes the color and marking of the stone. This finish is typically used on walls, furniture tops, and floor tiles. A honed finish is a satin-smooth surface with relatively little light reflection. It is generally preferred for floors, stair treads, thresholds, and other areas where heavy traffic will wear off a polished finish. A flamed finish is a rough-textured surface used frequently on granite floor tiles.

The harder the stone, the more it resists abrasion. One measure of a natural stone’s strength is its Measurement of Hardness (MOH) rating, on which 1 is the softest and 10 is the hardest. On the MOH scale, most marbles rate “3” and quartz-based granites rate “7.”  Using a softer stone simply requires the home owner to use gentler cleansers and more frequent dusting to prevent scratching.

Marble Institute of America
Sealing Natural Stone

Should natural stone be sealed? In some cases it makes perfect sense to seal the stone. Once properly sealed, the stone will be protected against everyday dirt and spills. In other cases, it is best to leave the stone untreated. Topical sealers can alter the surface texture and finish, as well as build up on the surface creating a layer that is less durable than the stone.

The Marble Institute of America’s position on sealers is as follows:

The Marble Institute of America (MIA) recognizes the benefits that sealers can provide in certain applications. MIA recommends that care be exercised in the application of any chemical to a stone’s surface. Although normally harmless, some sealers have reportedly reacted with some cleaning/maintenance chemicals and/or with components within the stone surface, causing some reactions.

                                    Dimension Stone Design Manual, Version VI, page 19

Factors to consider prior to determining if the stone should be protected:

•  What is the hardness, density, and durability of the stone?
• How porous is the stone and how fast will it absorb a liquid (also referred to as the absorption co-ef ficient)?
• Is the stone expected to be in frequent contact with a staining agent?
• What type of finish has already been applied to the surface? For example, a polished surface is more resistant to staining than a honed surface. Will the sealant affect the color or other aesthetics of the stone?
• If a resin has been applied to the stone, how will the sealant react with the resin?
• Where is the stone located (e.g. countertop, floor, wall, foyer, bathroom, etc)? Residential or commercial?
• What type of maintenance program has or will the stone be subjected to?
• The type of stone, its finish, its location and how it is maintained, all need to be considered when determining how to protect the stone. The MIA recommends that these factors be reviewed with the end-user during the decision-making process.

Different types of Products

Make sure you understand the differences between the common product types available on the market. The products typically fall into two major categories: Topical Sealer/Coatings and Impregnators.
Topical sealers are coatings (film formers) designed to protect the surface of stone against water, oil, Sealing Natural Stone and other contaminants. They are formulated from natural wax, acrylic and other plastic compounds.
Coatings are classified into two general types: strippable and permanent:

Strippable coatings are formulated to be easily stripped or removed from the stone. These coatings are made of polymers such as acrylics, styrene, and polyethylene, and are usually water-based. Many of the janitorial coatings available on the market are water-based, polymer-type products designed for resilient tile floors and not for stone. Read the label carefully and/or consult with the Manufacturer prior to application.

Permanent coatings, once applied, are very difficult to remove. They’re made of solvent-based or water-based polymers such as polyurethane and epoxies. These are not normally recommended for stone.

When a topical sealer is applied, the maintenance program often shifts from a program focused on the stone care to a program focused on the maintenance of the sealer (for example: stripping and reapplication).

If a coating is used on a countertop where food is to be used, verify the coating is approved for food use.

Impregnators, water- or solvent-based, penetrate below the surface and become repellents. Impregnators keep contaminants out, but do not stop the interior moisture from escaping. These products are considered “breathable ,” meaning they allow for vapor transmission. They are generally hydrophobic (water-repelling) and may also be oliophobic (oil-repelling):

Hydrophobic impregnators are formulated to repel only water and water-based chemicals. Fruit drinks, coffee, tea, and soda, for example, would be repelled by a hydrophobic impregnator.

Oliophobic impregnators are designed to repel water and oil-based liquids. Cooking oil, grease, and body oils are examples of substances that would be repelled by an oliophobic impregnator.

An important distinction between oliophobic and hydrophobic impregnators is that an oliophobic impregnator is always hydrophobic, but a hydrophobic impregnator may not be oliophobic. Be sure to read sealer product labels carefully or contact the manufacturer to determine if they are hydrophobic, oliophobic, or both.

Some products are also labeled as “oil-resistant,” but “oil-resistant” and “oil-repellent” are entirely different. An oil-resistant impregnator will only slow down the absorption of oil into the stone. An oil-repellent impregnator will prevent oil from entering the stone. Make certain that you’re buying the appropriate product for your particular application.

Topical Sealers vs. Impregnators (Advantages and Disadvantages)

How do you decide whether to use a coating or an impregnator to protect the stone? Both have advantages and disadvantages. The following summary should be studied carefully to help you choose the right product.

Topical Sealers – Advantages

Topical sealers are generally economical. The initial application cost is relatively small. They’re usually easy to apply. Unskilled laborers can learn to apply them with a reasonable amount of training and practice.
Topical sealers typically provide a sacrificial layer on the stone. This layer will take most of the wear on the stone. Certain topical sealers may provide added slip resistance. Some topical sealers can be applied below grade. These products provide various degrees of luster.

Topical Sealers – Disadvantages

Since most topical sealers are typically softer than the stone itself, they will usually scratch, mar and scuff very easily, showing traffic patterns soon after application. This will require frequent buffing, burnishing, or reapplication.
Topical sealers can build up and cause an unsightly appearance, giving an unnatural, wavy, plastic look to the stone.
Poor quality topical sealers can turn yellow. This is especially true if the stone is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.
Some topical sealers require frequent stripping and reapplication. The chemicals and abrasives used in the stripping process may cause damage to the stone. Typically, certain stripping pads and brushes can scratch softer stones. Some wax strippers can harm agglomerate stones by eating through the polyester resin binders they contain. Certain topical sealers may block the “breathing” capability of a stone. Moisture can become trapped below the surface and may lead to spalling.

Impregnators – Advantages

Most impregnators won’t change the appearance of the stone.
Impregnators typically don’t require frequent applications. Since the impregnator is below the surface, it will generally last several years before reapplication is necessary. Most impregnators aren’t affected by UV light because they’re absorbed below the surface where light can’t penetrate.
Impregnators are typically hydrophobic, and some of them are oliophobic as well.

Impregnators – Disadvantages

Impregnators that are solvent-based produce vapors during application. In some cases these vapors can be noxious and flammable.
Some varieties of solvent-based impregnators are harmful to the environment, releasing large amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). For this reason, the use of these impregnators is restricted in certain states. Also, some water-based impregnators may also contain harmful or toxic chemicals. Always check the material safety data sheet (MSDS) of the product before deciding
whether to use it.
Proper application of impregnators is generally more difficult than that of coatings. In many cases, training or professional consultation is recommended.
The initial cost of most impregnators can relatively high.
Generally, impregnators cannot be used below grade (i.e. below ground level) to resist hydrostatic pressure. Because the stone is still capable of breathing, water can be forced through the stone by pressure.

Other factors to consider:

Exterior stones - Generally, topical sealers are not recommended in exterior applications, because they can trap moisture within the stone which may lead to surface deterioration during freeze/thaw cycles.
Resined stones - In some situations, impregnating sealers applied to a resined stone will cause the material to cloud, discolor, or fade. While this is a new topic in the stone industry, some initial reports have indicated that the application of a color enhancer may hide the problem. Additionally, the problems have occurred with solvent-based vs. water-based impregnators. It is highly recommended that you consult with the Sealant Manufacturer prior to applying a sealer to a resined stone.

Mystic Granite & Marble Inc. recommends:
Carefully review the ‘factors to be considered’ prior to treating (checklist from page 1).
Read the Manufacturers Warranty and Instructions. Contact the Manufacturer prior to application if you are unsure or need clarification. The wood-working analogy of ‘measure twice, cut once’ applies. Consider the life span of the application (1-year, 2-years, 5-years, etc) – keep a log of each application with maintenance logs. Don’t switch from one product to another without fully understanding any potential issues. Not all product are alike – again, consult with the Manufacturers. Consult with your Stone Professional as necessary. Ask, does the stone need to be treated in the first place?

Marble Institute of America (MIA) recommends:
A careful review of multiple factors (i.e. type of stone, its finish, its location, and how it will be maintained) should be taken into consideration when determining how to protect the stone. If the choice has been made to protect the stone with a sealer or impregnator, always consult with the Manufacturer/Distributor to advise and choose the appropriate sealing product. This technical bulletin contains general guidelines. The Marble Institute of America and its member companies are not responsible for any use or misuse that causes damage of any kind, including loss of rights, materials, and personal injury alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in this document.

The MIA thanks MIA Member firms The National Center for Stone & Masonry Trades, Aqua Mix Inc., StoneTech Professional Inc., Miracle Sealants & Abrasives Company, as well as members of the MIA Board of Directors, Education Committee, and Technical Committee for their help and advice.

Specialist Manufacturer of Stone Products for Projects.
Address: 24F, East Block of Fortune Bldg. No. 338, Hualin Rd. Fuzhou,FUJIAN province, China
Tel: 0086-591-87601540 Fax: 0086-591-87530384

website: Skype Me: gao-rong

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