Providing the Right Option for Today’s Natural Stone Customer

The true stone enthusiast will explain that the only way to properly restore a natural stone floor would be to grind out the lippage, fill the voids, and refinish the surface to the desirable luster. While there is a great argument for this train of thought, and in a perfect world this would certainly be the case, we do not live in a perfect world and more specifically, we do not live in a perfect economy. It’s true, the trend in today’s market has been to restore versus reinstall or sell, but as contractors we still need to be sensitive to not only our customer’s flooring needs, but also their financial needs.

We all know what the full restoration process entails; grinding the floor flat with metal delippage diamonds, filling the voids the either polymer resins or concrete and latex blends, progressively refinishing surfaces with multiple resin bond diamonds, and often times, finishing the project using high grit honing powders or polishing powders. While this process will provide your customers with an absolutely perfect floor, the costs incurred and time required for such a process may not settle so well with your client. On average, this process is going to cost your customer $1.25 per step, per square foot. And as the contractor, we will spend approximately one day for every 1000 square feet that we are restoring. To make more sense of this, let’s take a 500 square foot area and break down what this means to you and your customer. Assuming that we’re going to leave our floor at a satin finish, the full restoration process is going to require about eight steps. In other words, our 500 square foot area is actually 4000 square feet (8 steps x 500 sq. ft.) and our $1.25 per square foot is actually $10.00 per square foot (8 steps x $1.25) for a grand total of $5,000.00 and 4-5 days in your customer’s home. While there’s no doubt that the result provided with this level of service will be outstanding, finding the customer who is willing to pay this price tag may be a little more difficult to come by.

Now, let’s take this same floor and use a more economical approach to provide similar results with much less labor and time spent in the home. Often times, the floors in question will have minor foot wear and chemical etching from heavy traffic or neglect. Unless these floors have been flattened in the past, there is sure to be tiles that were not installed evenly creating a “lip” from one tile to the next. These lips make restoring the floor evenly impossible with diamond discs, but with the right tools and products, you can still refinish the stone surfaces without charging an arm and a leg. One method to take is using Modern Stone’s honing powders to restore the finish instead of using the diamond discs. With honing powders the need to flatten the floor prior to restoration is eliminated and can often be evened out and restored with minimal steps. Even in a worse case scenario, the amount of labor using honing powders rarely exceeds three steps taking the price of the job from $10.00 per square foot to $3.75 per square foot. In situations where the wear is very minor, the contractor will often need only one step to even it out bringing the costs down even further. Top polishing can also be done in one step as well providing a beautiful lustrous finish and taking out minor chemical etching. Keep in mind that you as the contractor are still making the same amount of money per hour, but the length of the job is being significantly reduced. This means equal profitability for you, less costs for your customers. Being that honing powders cannot be used to remove scratches, these limitations must be addressed prior to starting the job and all expectations must be set in stone. (Pun intended)

Another option that will save your customers money while providing high end results is restoring the stone floors using Modern Stone’s Evolution Pad. Instead of a powder, these pads are embedded with diamonds giving you the results of using a diamond disc while being unaffected by an uneven floor. (Learn more about the Evolution Pads in this month’s, ‘Product Spotlight’.) Having the ability to get diamond results without having to flatten the floors first will mean you can offer higher levels of restoration while eliminating costly steps at the same time. Even when working on a floor that has been heavily neglected, you can restore and refinish the area in no more than four steps.

Becoming the most proficient stone restorer means not only being able to offer the highest level of restoration, but also having the ability to offer multiple options at different pricing structures to meet all of your customer’s needs. At Modern Stone Technologies, we have provided all the tools, products and educational needs for you to offer your customers every level of restoration.

The Benefits Of An Outdoor Sealer

Often times, I will have a contractor or homeowner ask me which is the best penetrating sealer to use outdoors. My first response is always, “what are you trying to protect against”? Both types of sealers serve a purpose and should be used when applicable. But when we’re talking about outdoor surfaces, topical intrusion is the least of our concerns.

Sure, a good penetrating sealer is going to protect against topical staining; spill a glass of red wine and you’ll be able to wipe it right up without it discoloring the stone’s surface at all. Even neglected grout lines and tumbled surfaces are going to clean-up almost perfectly during restoration when a high quality penetrating sealer is applied properly. To better understand the need for two types of sealers you must understand what each of the sealers is protecting against and what type of protection that each sealer is providing. As we all know, a penetrating sealer does not completely seal off the surface of the stone or grout. In essence, what we’re doing by applying a penetrating sealer is giving us an opportunity to wipe of a spill before it becomes a stain. Providing stain resistance to our stone surfaces certainly has its benefits. And for the most part, sealing the stone or grout will keep the interior floors looking clean and vibrant as long as they are being maintained properly. However, when we’re sealing outdoors there are a whole new set of challenges that must be dealt with. High alkaline soils, UV damage, Efflorescence, and high acid rain are just a few of the issues that we run into while dealing with exterior surfaces. So what, if anything, can be done about sealing your stone surfaces outside? Penetrating sealers like, Clear Guard, Rapid Seal, or Select Seal are going to have limited benefits as the chances of dropping a plate of food or spilling a beverage are very unlikely.

In order to protect stone surfaces against the outdoor elements the right type of chemistry is going to be required. Modern Stone’s Preserve is the only sealer currently on the market that protects against the damage caused by Mother Nature. This is the same technology used to protect the stone monuments across the country and the marble Pillars built on the white house. Not only does sealing your exterior surfaces with the proper chemistry keep the stones looking vibrant and new, but it will also slow down the effects of efflorescence and other mineral damages. Having the ability to offer your clients this type of service and talk knowledgeably about the different types of protection and challenges when dealing outdoor installations will certainly make a good impression and might just land you the job.