Learn some amazing tips from Al!!
In a word – yes. You have invested a lot of money in them, and to not protect them makes no sense at all. There are different ways to seal them, depending on your interest and budget.
We have a water based, environmentally friendly sealer called Crystal Magic Stone Sealer. It is an excellent sealer, with virtually no odor, and is easy to apply. We like to say it is goof-proof, and I am the goof who can proof it! Clean your floors well, let them dry completely, and apply two applications of the sealer once a year and you are well protected against water and oil. This is very important for grout joints, as they are going to get dirty, and with a good sealer, it makes it easier to clean. As with all silicone, Teflon or flurosilcate sealers (all words that are 10 cent words for "plastic"), these work by being microscopic plastic that fills in the microscopic pores of the stone. Nothing sticks to plastic, that’s why they work.
Conversely, plastic sticks to nothing, so that every time you wash the floor, you wash away some of the protection. That’s why you need to re-apply yearly.
Get an untreated micro fiber dust mop This can be obtained thru any decent janitorial supply store, or you can purchase it directly from The Ground Floor™. Use this as many times a day as you can. Dust is the big enemy of polished stone, whether it is marble, limestone, travertine, slate or even granite.
You don’t want to buy any dust mop treatment, as those typically have an oil base, and will leave streaks in your floor. So just dry dust mop your floor and when dirt builds up, wash it in the washing machine, no bleach and no fabric softener in the dryer. Simple.
When you decide to wash the floor, DON’T use plain water. Unfortunately, due to acid rain, almost all tap water in the U.S. is slightly acidic. Acid eats (or "etches"), marble travertine, limestone and sandstone. So, every time you wash the floor, you actually make it dull! And, using a convential mop (other than micro fiber), you are doing nothing more than spreading the dirt and germs around.
We recommend Floor Magic (formerly Stone Kleen – Floors) from The Ground Floor™. It is a Lemon Scented Neutral Cleaner with Optical Brighteners, and havw been manufacturing it for over 20 years now. Easy to use, and very economical. Available in quarts or gallons. Use a microfiber mop and a spray bottle filled with a mixture of water and Floor Magic (dilution rates on the bottle). Squirt down some solution and then hit it with the mop. The micro fibers hold on to the dirt and do not spread it around. No rinsing is necessary. Again, when it is real dirty, simply wash it in your regular washer and dryer, making sure not to use bleach or fabric softener, both of which destroy the characteristics of micro fiber.
Granite counters need to be sealed. There are some other stone professionals who dispute that, saying that granite, though a dense, hard sponge, doesn’t always need to be sealed. They are right. Some granites don’t need to be sealed. But what if yours is not that type? And someone spills some red wine. And it permanently stains it? Was it worth not protecting that expensive investment? I prefer to err on the side of protection.
We use our Crystal Magic Stone Sealer, as it works very well against oil and water. It is an excellent product. You need to re-seal every year, as every time you wash it, a little bit is removed, as described above.
Over the past 25 years, Counter Top Magic (formerly Stone Kleen for counters), has proven to be the hands-down favorite. Available in an aerosol, it can be used daily to clean and protect the granite.
To save yourself some money, buy Floor Magic, and dilute it 32 parts water to 1 part Floor Magic, put it in a trigger spray bottle, and keep it handy for spills and general clean-up. Use the Counter Top Magic at the end of the day to leave the granite looking shiny and clean.
There are as many kinds of stain removal techniques as there are stains! So, the first things you need to determine is what made the stain in the first place. Then you can work on how to get it out.
If you don’t know what caused it, a simple home-made poultice can often remediate the problem. Clean the area as well as you can. Then make a paste the consistency of peanut butter, out of laundry detergent. Any brand will do. Simply add water in a bowl and stir around until it is a sloppy, wet goo. By the way, this is great fun for the kids to help out.
Then apply it liberally onto the stain, at least ¼ inch beyond the stain, and so thick that you can’t see the stone below. Leave it there for a couple of days, until it is completely dry. Not damp, but dry. Then sweep it away. This will usually do the trick. If it only lightens it a little, then do it again. Some stains need 10 or more poultice applications to work. If you want to get fancy about it, after making and applying the poultice, cover it with clear plastic wrap. It will take a couple of extra days for it to dry, but may work better.
Don’t worry if the stone turns dark. That is just moisture, and will dry out in time.
Make sure you now seal your stone.
These are etch marks, and are caused by something acidic. If it is in the bath room by the toilet, it is probably caused by your toilet bowl cleaner, or if there is a man in the house - "men drip"! If it is in the kitchen, there are literally thousands of things that could have spilled onto the floor that are acidic. These range from the mundane, like milk, juice or soda, to the exotic, like wine or liquor.
To remove these, we recommend Stone Magic Polishing Crème. It comes with its own polishing pad, so you can do it yourself. Apply some on the offending area, add a little bit of water to stretch it out (hey, don’t waste money if you don’t have to), and rub in circles, in all directions. Re-apply if needed. If these have been there a long time, or are from some strong acid, it may be a job for a stone professional, with his range of tools, including diamond sanding. But it is always best to try to save yourself the expense.