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If this is your first exploration into restoring natural stone then welcome! The internet is a wonderful resource of information but we know it can be overwhelming too. So we’ve put together a simple guide to everything you need to know about restoring natural stone.

What do we mean by restoring natural stone

Restoration often conjures an image of old, listed or historic buildings. However, you could also use to term rejuvenation. In the context of the services that we provide, restoring natural stone is all about bringing your stone back to life again. When you purchase stone, you do so for its beauty – our job is to return your stone to looking like it did when it was first installed. We often refer to resurfacing or repolishing rather than restoration. When it comes to internal stone, our restoration work will resurface your stone and reveal a fresh layer that not only looks as beautiful as it did on day one but also retains the properties of brand new stone.

When might you need to restore your stone?

It’s not all about old stone. There’s lots of different circumstance that might lead you to think about restoring natural stone. If you have moved into a property with an existing stone floor, then you might want to uncover its beauty. Equally if you are renovating your home then it is worth considering if the existing floor can be restored rather than replaced. We love working with you to make the natural stone a real feature of your house once more.

Sometimes new stone will also require a restoration or resurfacing treatment. This might be due to an error made during the installation process. Or it could be that the finish is just not what you’d anticipated. As part of the resurfacing process, the stone is refinished. This can leave the floor with a more matt or a shiny finish depending on the look that you want to achieve.

Regular restoration or resurfacing of natural stone can also be part of ongoing maintenance. If you want your stone to endure then we always recommend having it regularly treated professionally. Stone is very easy to care for and clean yourself. However, if you have a highly polished worktop or stone that you want to always look perfect, then it is worth investing in a maintenance programme. Regularly restoring your natural stone in this way will ensure that it remains both beautiful and functional. When accidents do occur and your stone is scratched or stained, then our restoration processes can return it to its former glory.

The mechanics of restoration

Whether your stone is new or old, the processes used for restoring natural stone are the same. Resurfacing will not only restore the beauty of your floor but also ensure a longer-lasting finish.

When we resurface a stone floor, a fresh layer of stone will be revealed. This means that not only will you have a clean floor, but the stone will have a look a lot closer to when it was first laid. The process will remove surface scratches, dulling and etch marks on the surface of the stone. It will regain the colours and properties of that initial stone. This means that once sealed, it will retain its finish for a lot longer than a floor that has been simply cleaned.

The resurfacing process begins with removing any stains, scratches and worn areas of the stone by gently removing the top layer of the stone surface using resin bonded diamonds. These are attached to a rotary machine with a weight of up to 160kg. The rotation and the pressure created will scratch the floor providing a light abrasion.

The refinishing or polishing process that follows is all about creating tighter and tighter scratch patterns that reduce the size of the pores and capillaries in the stone, creating a natural shine. Your natural stone can be resurfaced to a honed, mid or high shine depending on your preference. The process for worktops, and walls is similar but uses slightly different machinery. We have specialist kit to get into small spaces and up to the edges of the room too.

Full Restoration

For stone floors that are more deeply scratched, or shows uneven heights at the grout joint (lippage), we can offer deeper restoration services.

Full restoration is the term given to grinding a floor to one flat level. This process involves up to 8 stages beginning with a grinding phase to even out poorly laid tiles and remove scratches or etch marks. This initial phase is essential to ensure that the floor is flat, to allow the finer grit diamond abrasives to work most effectively.

After the initial stages of grinding, we can apply a densifying compound to the floor. This reacts with salts in the stone and grout, causing them to harden. Having a denser material will reduce its moisture retention, and reduce its susceptibility to scratching, dulling and dirt ingress in the future.

Refinishing the densified, flat floor surface to your desired level of shine gives a homogenous level of shine. A full polish will be much shinier due to the added density, without the previous grout dips that cause shadows and collect dirt.

Having a flat surface will make maintenance much easier. As described, the added densifier will reduce the moisture retention and susceptibility to dirt and scratching. Furthermore the nature of a flat floor will mean dirt and dust won’t collect in the grout joints.

Different finishes

When mechanically refinishing your stone surface, we use diamond abrasives to create scratches in the stone. As we progress through stages of finer diamond abrasives, the scratch patterns become finer and the surface tighter. This causes more light refraction and this is what creates a polished surface. During this step by step process, we are able to stop at any level of shine that you prefer. We can create a completely matte (or honed) finish all the way to a high polish. Your stone care expert will discuss this with you at quote stage in order to advise if there is a recommended finish for your particular stone type.

For more textured or tumbled finish stone the process is slightly different but the finish can still be manipulated to an extent. For information on achieving a matt, satin in polished finish for these stone types click here.

Restoring natural stone on an ongoing basis

For some, the patina that natural stone develops over time adds to its character and beauty. However, if you want to maintain perfection, then professionally restoring natural stone can be undertaken on an ongoing basis.

The frequency of professional maintenance visits will depend on the use of the room. In the case of floors it depends on the foot traffic too. It will also depend on the initial restoration works carried out. For many of our clients we will recommend a more comprehensive restoration service for their initial visit. This will mean that for subsequent visits, the floor is likely to only need a light restoration.

We always recommend that you adopt the correct cleaning regime for your stone as soon as it is installed. You can request an Athena Aftercare guide by clicking here. This is packed full of advice and tips to care for your stone as well as product recommendations.

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