Natural stone is naturally durable and hardwearing. However, if it is not treated properly, it can be susceptible to staining. That's where a sealant comes into play: by sealing stone tiles, you will prolong their looks and their life.
But how do you know which sealant to go for? Here at the Stone Gallery, we offer various sealants to help your natural stone look its best, and so here's our guide to choosing a sealant that's right for your needs.
Topical sealants are coatings which sit on top of the surface of stone tiles and protect them against water, oil and other liquids and contaminates. They typically produce a polished appearance on the stone's surface, and can also darken it too, so they do alter the look of the natural stone slightly.
If a topical sealant is to be used on stone flooring, its glossy nature can mean that it has less slip resistance, and so a non-slip additive is needed in bathrooms and kitchens. This type of sealant also tends to wear quickly, and may therefore not be suitable for stone flooring in high traffic areas.
If you are applying a topical sealant to natural stone kitchen countertops, make sure to apply one which is suitable for use on a food preparation area.
The alternative to a topical sealant is a penetrating, or impregnating, sealant. These sealants penetrate the surface of natural stone to offer protection from liquids and staining. Penetrating sealants do not alter the natural beauty of natural stone as topical sealants can; they do not, however, protect the surface of stone tiles from scratches and abrasions.
Having said that, as they work from below the surface of the natural stone, penetrating sealants require less maintenance than topical sealants as they do not wear away as quickly, although a special cleaner may be needed to work in conjunction with this type of sealant.
Deciding upon your sealant requires prior knowledge of your stone tiles. As a general rule, topical sealers are used to protect porous stones such as travertine, limestone and slate. Penetrating sealers work well with less porous natural stone like granite and marble.
Furthermore, you need to think about the overall look you're trying to achieve. If you love the natural markings of travertine, for example, be aware that a topical sealer could alter its colour and give it a slightly unnatural glossy look. In this instance, it might be worth asking your natural stone supplier about penetrating sealants which can be used with porous stones to keep their rustic appearance.
If you're still undecided which type of sealant would work best for your stone tiles, come and speak to our advisers at the Stone Gallery. We will help you choose a sealant which will work for your lifestyle and the overall look you want to achieve, as well as one which will protect your stone.
You may want to consider a sealant which works with both natural stone and ceramic tiles, so why not pay a visit to our colleagues within the Art of Living group at the Ceramic Tile Warehouse to see how this could work for you? You can also choose fixtures and fittings to work with your tiles at Park Street Interiors.
Protecting your investment in natural stone is part of our job description, so feel free to ask for advice: we're happy to help in making your stone look its best for as long as possible.