Limestone is unique among other types of rock for its biological origins. Each slab forms over millions of years from the skeletons and shells of countless oceanic organisms. Water pressure crushes and compacts the calcium carbonate from these remains. The result is a beautiful, sand-colored stone that makes for gorgeous and durable tile floors.
Without proper care, though, your limestone surfaces may grow weak. All those eons will go to waste, along with the money you invested in installing the material. Sealing limestone tiles is a valuable preventative measure that any homeowner should take the time to do. We can give you some pointers with this in-depth guide.
The Value of Sealing Limestone Tiles
Sealing your newly installed stone floor is always important, no matter the material. Even the most durable rock has its share of cracks and crevices. Most are nearly invisible to the naked eye, but moisture and dust, and debris can enter even the smallest openings.
Once inside, these contaminants weaken the integrity of the tile over time. If it builds up, the effects may become visible and mar the floor’s appearance. Material-appropriate sealer can form a protective layer over the surface, blocking foreign matter and extending the rock’s lifespan.
Sealing limestone tiles is particularly vital because limestone is among the most porous types of rock. Water can more easily find its way inside, where it can wear away the material or expand the openings. For this reason, sealing is not just recommended on floors made from this stone. It is necessary — especially if it is outside and exposed to rain.
It does not matter how recently or how long ago you installed your limestone floor. If it has not been sealed, you need to seal it as soon as possible. As soon as the contractors finish setting it, get started on the process. The following guide will show you just what to do.
Choosing the Sealer
Not just any sealer will serve as a limestone floor. You can find plenty that claims to be all-purpose products designed for all types of stone surfaces, but you should check their description. If they do not list limestone as one of the materials they treat, look elsewhere. Better yet, we suggest looking at sealers designed specifically for limestone.
We should also inform you that sealers come in different types. Topical sealers cover the surface, producing a conspicuous layer of gloss. Our recommendation is to use penetrating sealers. For starters, they produce a much more natural appearance — few will notice that they are stepping on anything but rock. More importantly, they are so named because they fill the crevices and openings of the tile. Contaminants will have a much tougher time breaking through.
Before you even start to crack open the sealed container, you need to get two things ready. The first is yourself. Limestone sealers may produce irritating fumes upon their initial application. We advise wearing a dust mask, the kind typically used by people with dust allergies when vacuuming. Gloves are also a great idea, and you may even want to use protective goggles for your safety.
The second thing to get ready in the area. It would defeat the purpose if any contaminants were, from the start, bound to the tile under a layer of sealer. At the very least, you should vacuum any dust and debris. Better still, use limestone cleaner afterward. Choose it with the same care that you chose your sealer. Take care to avoid anything acid-based, or your tile may end up with much bigger openings.
Applying the Sealer
Sealing limestone tiles is not as simple as dumping the substance all over the floor. This approach would leave some parts less protected than others. The layer should be as evenly spread as possible across the entire surface. The best way to do this, in our experience, is with an unabrasive foam brush.
Pop open the container and dip your brush inside. If it does not fit within the hole, pour the sealer into a separate container. Go over each tile, not applying too much but not leaving any unmarked spaces either. Let it sit for a few minutes, then polish the tiles once they are dry. After that, we suggest waiting a few hours and going through the process all over again. Two layers are better than one.
When you get a new limestone floor installed, you should go through the sealing process twice. The first is after the tiles are firmly entrenched on the ground. The second is after the contractors finish with the grouting. Yes, the grout needs to be sealed as well.
We realize that repeating the task will take a few more hours and consume more of the sealing product. However, unprotected grout may provide an opening through which contaminants can enter the limestone. You can find out whether your floor’s grout requires sealing by splashing a few drops of water on it. If it turns black, then it is porous, and therefore dangerous to the integrity of the rock.
Maintaining the Sealer
You may be finished with the sealing process at this point, but you are never truly finished with protecting your floor. Limestone tiling can represent a significant financial investment, and you are responsible for maintaining it. When anything spills on it, take the time to clean it. The floor might not absorb it, but its prolonged presence may damage the layer of sealer.
Finally, your current layer will hold for quite a while, but it will not last forever. A good rule of thumb for limestone is to apply a new layer of sealer every two years. Of course, you can also check the same way you tested the grout: flick some water droplets on the surface. If it does not bead up, it is time to reseal.
Limestone Sealers and Cleaners at My Stone Care
Sealing limestone tiles is much more effective when you use high-quality products made for the material. You can find plenty of excellent limestone sealers, along with other care products, right here at My Stone Care.