We at Santa Barbara Stone Masters are asked rather frequently “do I need to seal my stone” or told “I think my stone needs to be re-sealed”.
These are good questions that depend on several factors, but first let me help educate you a little with the basics.
By intent, sealers are meant to:
- Seal or coat a sub-straight as per their application instructions, in order to prevent or reduce, the intrusion of water or oil, or water and oil, into the pores of the stone or stone and grout.
- Sealers are either topical, meaning they do not penetrate the stone but instead dry on the surface in a mat, low gloss or high gloss shine, or
- Penetrating meaning, they penetrate the depth of the stone bonding to and into the stone and not affecting the surface appearance. This means they do not leave a surface coating like their counterpart.
- Sealers can be water borne or solvent based, low VOC or high VOC.Here is a curve-ball for you:
- There are even topical and penetrating enhancing sealers which enhance/enrich the pigmentation of the stone which darkens the features of the stone.
Confused? OK, then how about we cut to the chase and focus on why seal, how often and which sealers to use.
Allow me to present a visual so you can understand the concept of sealing:
It’s a light misty rain outside and it isn’t enough to need a raincoat, but you don’t want your blouse or shirt to get wet. You do have a moisture resistant wind breaker, so windbreaker it is!
After all, you’re just going down the driveway to get the mail and after all, it’s just a mist.
Going down no problem, dry shirt or blouse. Coming back: Bam, the clouds drop buckets of water. Once inside… yep, you’re soaked.
That’s the difference between water resistant and water proof. Sealers are water (and/or oil)resistant, they are not water proofers. If it hadn’t started to pour you would have been all set, the water-resistant nature of your windbreaker meant your blouse or shirt would be dry, as if you just put it on.
As a rule of thumb, no matter what kind of natural stone you have or decide to get, I highly recommend sealing as a protective measure for your stone.
You see, even the hardest stones are porous, which means that liquids and other grime, will seep (be carried by the liquids) into the pores of the stone and potentially create lasting damage to your stone. Over time, without diligent care, your surfaces will lose their original luster, as well as potentially becoming homes to bacteria, mold, and mildew.
When you seal your stone, you are preemptively “filling” those pores” with something that resistsmoisture and other liquids such as oil (if its specifically an oil resistant sealer), allowing your floors and counters to last much longer and appearing as they did when you originally had them installed.
Like wearing that windbreaker in the mist, sealing is a preventative measure helping you protect the stone, but it is not a water or stain-proofer. It buys you time to prevent stains and damage to the stone.
Now which sealer do you use, which one is better? Here’s my standard answer, honest:
DOES THE SEALER COME WITH A WARRANTY AND IF SO, HOW LONG? No warranty? Why use it?
We at Santa Barbara Stone Masters use sealers for natural stone that come with a manufacturer’s warranty from anywhere between 5 years up to 25 years, depending on the sealer type, enhancing or penetrating. That means once sealed, that surface, properly maintained, would not need to be sealed again for that duration.
Its an efficacy issue with us and further, we just want our clients to be protected over time. Your run of the mill sealer from the hardware store usually is not adequate.
Read the label, no warranty? It just isn’t going to do what it was sold to you to do for very long or very well. Translation – stains, discoloration, ultimately – disappointment.
No sealant is impervious to all damage, however, so no matter how diligent you are with this, make sure to always take good care of how you treat your stone! Use coasters whenever possible, and don’t allow liquids to sit after a spill – clean up immediately!
Lastly, no sealer sealer will prevent etching. Etching is the literal dissolving of the stone from an acid. Think wine glass ring, or spots or large areas from cutting or spilling citrus or vinegar. The only way to protect from etching is to keep these things away from your stone.
Do you have natural stone that needs to be sealed?
Trust the pros here at Santa Barbara Stone Masters – nobody will take better care of your stone than us. Give us a call today!