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Cleaning stone floors

Stone is a natural material and can lose its finish or become stained, so it does need some looking after to keep it in good condition. Different types of natural stone flooring will require a specific cleaning regime. One size does not fit all when it comes to stone floor cleaning, as variations in texture will call for different cleaning methods.
For example, sandstone and limestone are more open textured than, say, marble which is denser and harder wearing. Ceramic tiles on the other hand may have a glaze that could be damaged by inappropriate cleaning methods. Porous stone may also have a sealant, so care needs to be taken not to damage that.

Of course the best way to keep anything clean is to do it regularly and floors are no exception as regular cleaning prevents the build-up of dirt which can lead to staining or damage. 

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has increased everyone’s focus on cleaning and sanitisation. Floors are no exception, as harmful bacteria and viruses in the air will fall to the floor and can also be carried on shoes and any equipment being used in the area. Regular floor cleaning is particularly important in a commercial setting, where cleaning time needs to be kept to a minimum, so it’s important to choose a machine that will clean stone floors efficiently.


How to clean stone floors

A stone floor can be cleaned manually with a mop and bucket using a standard detergent but for larger areas or for severe staining then a cleaning machine, designed for use on hard floors, would be a better option.

Most floor cleaning machines effectively replicate the manual method, but are much less labour intensive. Machines like floor scrubbers are much faster and more efficient than manual cleaning.

Here are some things to consider before choosing a floor cleaning machine:

  • How large is the floor area and is it a large open space or doesn’t it have awkward corners or obstacles to work around?
  • What type of stone is it, and what is the finish – i.e. smooth, rippled, gloss finish?
  • What type of dirt do you generally have? i.e. standard dust and dirt or food, liquids etc
  • Do you require high levels of hygiene – e.g. in healthcare environments or food preparation areas?

Stone floor cleaning equipment

Types of floor cleaning equipment suitable for stone floors include:

Rotary floor cleaning machines

Ideal for marble or tiled floors amongst others, a rotary floor cleaner uses a rotating cleaning brush or pad to clean the floor with the machine being pushed along by the operator. The advantage of this type of machine is that the brush or pad can be changed to suit the floor surface, from gentle surface cleaning to using a diamond finisher to clean a hard stone like marble and a variety of cleaning levels between.
The Truvox Orbis for example is a highly portable machine which can wash, scrub and polish the floor.

Floor scrubber dryers

Rippled or undulating floor surfaces usually benefit from a cylindrical floor scrubber such as the Multiwash MW340, one of our most popular floor cleaning machines. This machine is great for commercial applications as it washes, scrubs and dries in a single operation, making it safer and avoiding the need for “wet floor” notices. Compact and easy to operate, it can also be used on carpeted floors, so is ideal if you have a mix of floor surfaces to clean.

For smooth surfaces in showrooms, shops, restaurants etc, the Nilfisk SC351 is a compact and quiet, battery powered floor scrubber which gets into the awkward corners, and works backwards and forwards. For larger areas, the Viper AS5160/AS5160T is another popular walk-behind floor scrubber.

Industrial stone floor cleaning

For stone floors in factories and workshops, there are some heavy duty machines available like the Nilfisk scrubber dryer range, featuring innovative oscillating scrub decks, for cleaning right up to the edge and polishing the stone surface. Ride-on or walk behind options are available.

Cleaning a natural stone floor is not completely straight forward and the choice of equipment will be influenced by the floor area, the type of stone and the level of dirt or staining. If the method to be used is too abrasive it can damage the stone, but if it is too gentle the cleaning will not be effective. There is also a range of floor cleaning detergents and treatments available – we can advise on and supply those too.

If you need help with your stone floor cleaning problem, call the floor care team at B & G. 

Original blog post 30/11/16, updated by Kerrie Leigh 19/8/20.

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