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Protect Your Investment

Written by Jane Trabert Schmitt

The allure of natural stone is unmistakable: one-of-a-kind beauty, lasting style and exceptional durability. A carefully-selected granite countertop in your kitchen, a luxurious marble bath or distinctive slate floor will add value to your home for years to come.
   “The natural beauties of stone cannot be duplicated,” says Dean McArthur, a partner in Certified Stone Professionals in Buffalo, New York. “If you have a piece of stone in your kitchen or bathroom, there’s nobody else who has that piece of stone. It is one to itself; it’s like a snowflake.”
   Protect your investment with proper maintenance, advises McArthur, a certified tile and stone inspector. While these eco-friendly materials impressively hold up to a variety of uses, problems sometimes arise such as scratches, chips, stains and cracks.
   “Every product has its enemy, but every surface can be fixed,” he tells relieved homeowners. Indeed, scratches can be smoothed out, chips can be filled in, many stains can be lightened or lifted and cracks repaired. The key is preventing problems in the first place. Experts advise the following:
• Get familiar with the unique properties of natural stone such as finish and hardness. Next, consider the right type for your space and how it will stand up to use in your home. Hard-to-scratch granite, for example, is best for countertops and fireplace surrounds. Marble works well in situations where elegance and beauty are desired, if it won’t be exposed to harsh chemicals or heavy traffic. Slate, meanwhile, gives a beautiful rustic look.
• Seal natural surfaces to protect them from moisture, harmful citric acids, oil and dirt. Depending on the stone, this is done with a topical sealant or a surface-penetrating solution. Choosing the right type of sealer is critical, so get advice from a professional.
• Keep surfaces clean. Regular cleaning with products made specifically for stone will help to keep them looking as good as the day they were installed. Always wipe up spills promptly. If possible, don’t put wet, hot or abrasive objects directly on stone.

“Stone is so versatile. It can go in so many different places in a home,” McArthur says. “But you have to know what can happen to it when you put it in a certain situation.”

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