Natural stone is porous. Therefore, floors, kitchen countertops, bathroom vanity tops, bar tops, and the like can be prone to staining because they are exposed to oily or dye-containing substances on a daily, or sometimes, even an hourly basis. Consequently, a sealer should be applied to help prevent staining. Choosing the correct type of sealer can be very important for how the sealer performs. As experienced, professional stone restoration contractors we will know which sealer is best, taking into consideration the characteristics of the particular type of stone to which it will be applied and the location where the stone is installed.
Impregnating sealers, also known as penetrating sealers, are the most commonly used sealers. They are applied to natural stone to inhibit staining. Impregnating sealers penetrate below the surface, filling the pores to protect the stone from within. They are formulated with water-repellent and oil-repellent substances. Topical sealers are available, but can be problematic, and are very seldom recommended.
For certain types of stone, an enhancing sealer will bring out the rich colors and characteristics of the stone while giving it stain protection.
Enhancing sealers contain active sealing molecules that penetrate and bond within the stone’s surface. These active ingredients fill gaps and line the pores of the stone.
Enhancing sealers will most commonly be used on slates and certain travertines.
There are many misconceptions about what a sealer does and doesn’t do. It is important to note that sealers do not prevent traffic patterns or etching. The surface of the stone is still vulnerable to acidic substances, scratches, dullness, and other damage. In addition, natural stone, even when it is properly sealed, is not stain proof, it is merely stain resistant. In other words, it buys some time so that spills can be cleaned before they penetrate into the stone and become stains. After natural stone is sealed, it still needs to be regularly cleaned with pH neutral stone care products and periodically refinished or resealed.
There are new protective treatments that, unlike impregnating sealers, offer both etch and stain protection.