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Old 03-30-2010, 07:14 PM   #1
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What Type of Stone Do I have and What Should I use to Clean It?

We have a used house, and we're not sure what kind of stone is used in our master shower. We've tried using Simple Green (stone cleaner) to clean it, but it doesn't remove the black stuff.

I've included some pictures of the stone from my shower. You can see that in between the tiles there is some black stuff (somtimes looks like tiny black dots) and we don't know what to use to get rid of them. Also, you'll notice there is a white washed out look to some of the areas in the shower in the stone. When we tried to clean it with simple green stone cleaner, it sort of got rid of the white washed look, but it came right back immediately after 1 shower.

What kind of stone is this and how do you clean it? Thanks...
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Old 03-30-2010, 08:19 PM   #2
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I think what you have there is a tumbled marble---=The black dots are mildew-----

I suggest first of all that you go to a good tile store and ask what is recommended.

I know that acid cleaners are not recommended for marbles because they soften the surface of the stone---However--Try this on a small spot any way----

50/50 mix of water and vinegar with a dash of dish soap.-- apply with a sponge or spray bottle--
wait 2 minutes or so and scrub with a stiff little scrub brush--

Rinse well---when dry apply several coats of a good marble sealer.

That tumbled marble is very soft and absorbent---It look dull and dusty if not sealed well.

The previous owners neglected to keep it sealed and soap and minerals have left it blotchy and sick looking.

A thorough cleaning and deliming -topped with a few coats of sealer will restore that.--Mike--


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Old 04-02-2010, 02:40 PM   #3
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I would say with 98% accuracy that those tiles are travertine, non-honed or filled.

Open faced travertine looks great but I would not use it in the shower unless you were religious about sealing it every year (6mo would be best). They should have used a travertine that was honed and at least filled.

"Honed" refers to the reflectivity and smoothness of a tile. Honing is the action of abrading the surface of the tile. A honed tile usually refers to a tile which has been abraded up to a certain grit and is not highly polished.

Natural travertine is full of open divets. It can be harder to clean and the divets may tend to wear/chip. The best option is to go with filled travertine. "This is when the divets are filled in smooth. The result is a much more finished appearance that's uniform and easy to clean. It is a very porous tile and it doesn’t take much to stain it."
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Old 04-03-2010, 07:28 AM   #4
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"Oh ya... that's marble all right"...LOL

Just kidding. In actual fact, by saying it is 'marble' is like saying my Bentley is a car. Yes it is, but there's a lot more to the word 'car' than that. Same thing...

In a commercial sense, it is 'marble' - that's what the guy at Lowes was told to tell you and that's all they care about in order to make you buy it - because the chances are that if you buy stones there, you 're probably as stupid about stone as the sales guy is.

In general, a "marble" can be any calcareous stone, from travertine to compact limestone - just like 'car' can mean Rolls-Royce or Yugo...and, just as relevant to the owner of a "car", the type of car you have matters a lot to where you'll have that 'car' serviced, no?

So let's strip away the crap and get down to the real scientific data - the data you'll need to treat the problems you have in the pictures. First, no matter what stone you end up calling it, that was a bad installation. A proper stone intaller would not have installled the stones that way, so that tells me that there are more problems than meet the eye. Things like waterproofing jumps to mind...

See, it's like a home inspector finding a glaring code violation at your service entrance. He sees a major problem there and right away thinks: "Ah-ha DIY" and that there may be suspicious electrical work done in the rest of the house - so right away, he is uneasy. When I see installs like that, I almost know what'll happen next.

But back to the story; I see tumbled marble there and I see unfilled travertine. The good news is that you won't be 'restoring' that tumbled marble because being tumbled, it's already had the crap beaten out of it so that's what you'll get. So, if you're really courageous, follow the vinegar recommendation.

Surprise, surprise, you have mould; you can physically, or chemically eradicate it in the short or long term but to do that implies other things are taken care of first - otherwise you'll be back here in 6 months.

Surprise, surprise you have soap scum, whether or not you actually use soap - and not a detergent bar.

Finally, I don't like the grout nor its discoloration and nor does the "seal it" advice make any sense to me without further investigation and clarification. Some travertines won't seal, others might but either way sealing isn't the sole answer to your problems.

So what's the verdict? well, knowing first how old the install is and what your expectations and budget are, are a good starting point. That'll dictate what'll come next for you. But rather than read X opinion posts on a DIY forum, I'd seek professional help locally, in order to confirm the findings. You can't tell any of our qualification from where you are - but a local stone store may have the phone # of a professional stone restorer who will give you his thoughts. Then you can get back and tell us which way you choose.
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Old 04-04-2010, 09:04 PM   #5
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thank you to everyone for the info.

This has given us a really great starting point now, on where we go from here. I'm going to try and find a stone place around here (southeast houston) and ask them what they think.

My budget is very small....I didn't plan on having to spend any more than what basic cleaners would cost....
hopefully, I'll get lucky and I can just have to clean it and reseal it for now....
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