New York and New Jersey are home to some of the oldest and most prestigious schools in the nation. Many of these facilities are located in historic buildings, often laid with marble, granite, travertine, or other natural stone tiles on the floors (and sometimes walls). Your school’s stone surfaces are important not only for their beauty, but also for their durability. But without proper care and maintenance, these surfaces can easily show their age, especially considering how many thousands of feet walk those halls year after year.
The good news is that with the right care and occasional stone floor refinishing, your school’s surfaces can be renewed to their natural beauty. Even if your stone floors and walls have been around for generations, proper care can allow them to stay in place for several generations more! Here’s what you need to know about keeping stone and tile surfaces in top condition across your campus.
Common Types of Stone Flooring Used in Schools
There are numerous types of stone flooring used in schools. Let’s take a look at three of the most common flooring types.
The most popular stone flooring option for schools is likely marble, a beautiful and durable material that is often chosen for its aesthetic appeal. Marble tiles certainly add a touch of elegance to the “hallowed halls” of any school or campus building. At the same time, marble is a softer stone, making it susceptible to staining and scratches from dirt, sand, and grit brought in from outside. In high-traffic areas, marble floors can begin to show wear and tear more quickly than harder stone types. Despite these challenges, marble floors can last for decades with proper care and maintenance.
Another stone flooring option popular among schools is granite. This type of stone is much harder than marble, making it more resistant to scratching and staining. In fact, granite is one of the hardest stone materials available. As a result, granite floors are often chosen for high-traffic areas where durability is key. Schools may often install granite countertops specifically for their durability.
Travertine is a specific type of limestone that is mined from hot springs and caves, yielding an “earthy” texture. Honing and polishing travertine floors creates a very beautiful glossy look, but it’s just as attractive with a matte finish–and in fact, many schools prefer the matte finish because it offers good traction for foot traffic. Although it’s softer than marble or granite, travertine tends to mask scratches due to its texture, and it holds up well against traffic. However, if you don’t clean and seal travertine regularly, it can be prone to unsightly stains and etching.
The Importance of Proper Care for Stone Floors in Schools
All stone floors need to be properly maintained to continue looking their best, but this is especially true for schools because they see continual high traffic and heavy use. Without regular care, these floors can quickly show signs of wear, lose their luster, and even develop potentially dangerous chips and cracks. Here are some tips for keeping your school’s stone surfaces clean and in good condition.
General Cleaning and Maintenance
The first and best way to protect your stone surfaces is to keep them clean. Dust, dirt, and other debris can damage the finish and make the surface more susceptible to stains. For general cleaning, use a soft cloth or brush and a mild, diluted soap solution. Avoid using harsh chemicals, acidic cleaners, or ammonia on stone floors or walls as these can damage the finish. Occasional floor polishing can remove light blemishes and scratches. You should also have your stone surfaces professionally cleaned and sealed every few years.
Repairing Damage and Cracks
Some wear and tear will inevitably occur over time, especially in high-traffic areas. If you notice cracks, chips, or other damage to your school’s stone surfaces like floors or stairs, it’s important to have them repaired as soon as possible. Failure to do so can allow the damage to spread and become more difficult (and expensive) to repair–and in some cases, it can also present a safety hazard for your students. A professional stone care service can quickly and easily repair any damage to your school’s stone surfaces, returning them to their original condition.
How Often Should a School Refinish Its Floors?
Over time, you may notice dulling, worn areas on your school’s stone floors, especially along lanes of heavy foot traffic. The best way to return these floors to their original sheen is by refinishing them. The frequency with which you need to refinish your stone floors will depend on several factors, including the type of stone, the finish, the level of traffic, and how well the floors are cared for. For example, marble floors in high-traffic areas may need to be refinished every one to three years, while granite or travertine floors in low-traffic areas may only need to be refinished every five to seven years. A professional stone care service can assess your floors and advise you on how often they need to be refinished.
During the refinishing process, the technician will buff the surface with special diamond grit pads to create an even finish across the floor’s surface. You can restore the floor’s original sheen, or you can create a new look by choosing a different finish, whether it’s a matte finish, high honed (semi-gloss) finish, or a high-gloss finish.
Work with a New York Stone Care Professional
The natural stone and tile floors of your campus buildings are more than just for people to walk on–they are often an important part of your school’s history and identity. Proper care and refinishing of these surfaces will preserve your heritage and legacy while adding to the overall beauty of your campus. Statewide Stone Care (a stonework company) offers a full array of repair, restoration, refinishing, cleaning, and maintenance services for schools across New York and New Jersey. For a free quote on our stone care services, contact us today.