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Limestone is a popular choice for building, both indoors and outdoors. It is also the favourite natural stone of the Athena Stonecare team. The intricacies of the fossils and the array of colours mean that we never meet the same limestone floor twice. Read on for an in depth look at this stunning natural stone.

Properties

Limestone is a sedimentary rock which means that it is formed on or near the earths surface from the accumulation of other rock and organic matter. Limestone is primarily made up of calcium carbonate but will also often contain minerals such as iron oxide, feldspar and clay. This accounts for the array of colours that you’ll see when selecting limestone for your home. Usually, limestone is formed in shallow water where the skeletons of organisms settle. The debris left behind you can see scattered throughout limestone as beautiful fossils.

The formation of limestone is what accounts for the properties of the stone. Being highly alkaline with its calcium carbonate base means that limestone is very sensitive to acids. Any contact will create a chemical reaction. In the context of your home, this means that you should take care to avoid highly acidic food, drinks and cleaning products coming into contact with your limestone surfaces.

As a sedimentary rock, limestone is also porous. This means that it will readily absorb liquids that come into contact with it. This is a key consideration when using limestone in your home. It is important to limit repeated exposure to moisture. Limestone also usually scores between 2-4 on the MOHs hardness scale and can be vulnerable to scratching.

Finishes

Depending on the use of the limestone and its origin, different finishes can be applied to create the desired look for your home.

A popular choice in a countryside setting is the tumbled edge. This is achieved by distressing the edge of the stone in a barrel or bath. This is most suitable for the softer limestones. Another option is a pillowed edge that can create a rustic, worn feel to the stone.

For a more seamless finish, limestone can be honed to create a smooth surface. This accentuates and highlights the fossils and intricacies within the stone. Some of the denser limestones can also be polished similar to marble in order to reflect the light and highlight the beauty of the stone.

When used in a wet setting or when a texture is required for slip resistance, limestone can also be brush hammered or sandblasted. These techniques applied during manufacturing of the tile and are often seen in a bathroom or swimming pool surround.

Maintenance

Limestone has been used in buildings for centuries and as such is an incredibly durable material. You can enjoy limestone in your home for many years by just following a few simple steps.

Our advice centres around three main concepts – prevention, dry cleaning and wet cleaning. The kindest thing that you can do for your limestone floor is to make sure that it is free from scratch hazards. This might include asking guests to remove their shoes at the door or installing good quality matting at each entrance.

For daily maintenance, we recommend sweeping your stone floor rather than hoovering or mopping. This will reduce the potential for damaging dust and debris to be carried throughout your home.

Spillages and dirt are always inevitable and so you will need to plan for cleaning your limestone floor regularly too. We recommend investing in a good quality cotton Kentucky mop with a suitable bucket. Larger buckets are key to allowing any dirt from the mop to fall to the bottom of the solution and not get reapplied to the floor. It is important to keep your stone as dry as possible. Mopping too often, over-wetting with a mop, or use of a steam-cleaner can reduce the lifespan of the sealant and actually make the floor dirtier. The most important thing to remember is to use a pH neutral cleaning detergent. Fila Cleaner Pro is our recommendation for a maintenance cleaner.

Professional services

There are occasions when it is beneficial to invest in a professional maintenance or restoration treatment. This might be part of a renovation project, or due to damage from incorrect cleaning or a spillage.

Professional cleaning gets deep into the pores of your limestone floor. No matter how well you maintain your limestone, over time dirt can build up in the grout lines. This can be difficult to remove with household products. The first stage before deep cleaning is to strip the existing sealant (if any) that may have worn away or degraded. This ensures an even finish and longer, cleaner life. It is a dust-free process using fresh water, alkaline cleaning solutions and abrasive powders.

Limestone restoration is a service that is provided for floors that are scratched, etched or that over time have become dull and worn. Diamond abrasives are used to gently buff away the surface of your stone to remove any damage and create the desired finish. This method can be applied to older limestone floors as part of a renovation project but also to restore stone damaged during installation or at any point in time. Clients will often invest in a regular maintenance programme of diamond restoration in order to keep the stone surface always looking at its best.

For more advice visit our knowledge hub.

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