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Sungloss Marble Company

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Limestone Cleaning, Marble Cleaning, Granite Cleaning and Maintenance Tips!

Monday, January 9th, 2012

The goal for this blog, is to provide education and tips about natural stone care and maintenance, polishing, cleaning, sealing, and honing, as well as explore ways we all can contribute to a greener world. We want to share a few perrenial natural stone maintenance issues with you this time.

Murphy’s Oil Soap, and Flax Soap, are both common examples of vegetable oil-based soap. Murphy’s Oil is mainly intended to clean sealed wood floors. Although they claim no residue is left behind when used properly on wood surfaces (although some wood professionals disagree), when used on natural stone floors such as marble, granite, terrazzo, limestone, or slate, we have seen disastrous consequences. The vegetable oil residue over time imbeds into the pores of the stone. This process is invisible, and the use of Murphy’s Oil Soap is impossible to detect without a verbal acknowledgement by the caretaker. However, when we’ve been hired to refinish, or seal a floor with this issue, the imbedded residue clashes with our processes and chemicals creating unforeseen problems. For example, the floor will not take a polish, or the stone sealer reacts with the residue and ‘blooms’ (white powder forms). Only after we realize why we’re having problems, can we address the issue by aggressively cleaning and stripping out all imbedded residue. We’ve said it before (and we’ll say it again) DO NOT use Murphy’s Oil Soap on any natural stone surface. Following our 20 years experience and the Marble Institute of America’s Maintenance Guidelines, we recommend a neutral PH rinseless stone soap, used with an unbleached clean nylon pad to clean stone.

Another item we wanted to talk about is what to do with pets during a stone maintenance project in the home. Pet owners know there are many indoor and outdoor dangers to pets (click here for a full list from the Humane Society). When contractors come into the home to do work, new dangers can sometimes be introduced. Sungloss Marble Restoration Company’s environmental motto is to use water-based cleaners and sealers at all times unless a specific circumstance calls for a solvent-based product (in which case we will only use low-VOC products). Our approach to having pets in the home during work is cautionary: even if only water-based products are in use, cats, dogs, or other pets should be strictly kept in another part of the house. While no offensive odors would be present with water-based sealers, accidentally ingesting any of the solutions we use would be bad for them (luckily we have never had any cases of this occurring). In the past when solvent-based sealers were required, the fumes have been harmful enough to recommend pets be removed from the house, or at least far enough away so as to not subject their lungs, which can be as sensitive as a human infant. Another more practical consideration is the fact strange people and noises in the house might confuse or rile up the pet. We’ve even had customers who chose to board their pets for the days we were hired for stone maintenance.

Check back next time for more tips from Sungloss Marble Restoration Company, serving Chicagoland’s terrazzo, limestone, slate, marble, and granite maintenance needs for over 20 years

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New Year, New Location! Same Limestone, Granite, Marble Restoration Value

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Sungloss Marble Restoration Company is Moving Locations!

Sungloss Marble Restoration is moving!

We are expanding into a wonderful, larger space to better accommodate our personnel and equipment. The move will make us better than ever at bringing natural stone restoration value and beauty to our customers’ real estate properties, and improving curb appeal!

Please see all the information in our moving announcement postcard.

Happy Holidays and New Year from Sungloss Marble!

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Granite Cleaning, Granite Polishing, Granite Sealing

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Although our name, Sungloss Marble Restoration Company, only contains the word marble, we also are granite restoration experts! We can bring new life to polished or honed granite lobbies, countertops, reception desks, and even exterior granite slabs.

Granite is somewhat misunderstood among the average consumer. Here are some basic granite talking-points:

Granite is a quartz-based coarse-grained igneous rock. It is much harder and denser than calcium-based rock like limestone and marble. It is finished with a variety of methods, including high-pressure polishing, sandblasting, and flaming.

Many of our clients including homeowners, condo boards, developers, construction companies, and Federal buildings to name a few, have hired us to spruce up their granite and improve the curb appeal of their property. The maladies of granite are similar to many other natural stone installations we see: polished granite floors get dull, granite countertops get unknowingly abused, and honed granite floors may look worse for wear due to imbedded dirt. Also, flamed or sandblasted granite often needs regular sealing to keep it protected and looking great.

There are myths about granite, too numerous to enumerate all here. We’ll just cut to the chase—granite needs upkeep! It is not a lower-maintenance stone, just a ‘different-maintenance’ stone. And the stone industry makes things harder for us and our customers when they take stone not technically classified as granite and call it ‘granite.’ Often we learned about unusual or unexpected properties of these “fake” granites in the midst of working on it—Black Absolute granite is the prime example. It took some elbow grease and consulting with our partners in the industry to come up with a multi-faceted approach to restoring and polishing Black Absolute when it first came up in popularity, because of the fact that some fabricators would infuse black dyes into mystery stone and call it black granite…but that’s a separate story.

When it comes to granite, Sungloss Marble (and Granite!) Restoration Company can add value to our customers’ granite floors, countertops, and installations, while dazzling their expectations as well.

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Limestone, Marble, Granite: Award-Winning Designs and Maintenance

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

This Solid Marble Chair May Need Cleaning and Sealing In the Future

This unusual marble chair caught our eye while perusing through some architecture and design magazines. We wondered if it was a bit gaudy. On second thought, there are almost an infinite number of design schemes and interiors, and the chair surely has a home somewhere. And where that is, Sungloss Marble Restoration Company can maintain it!

Thinking further on the question of interior design with marble, Sungloss can add to the conversation. We’ve been in the business of cleaning, sealing, honing, and polishing marble, granite, limestone, slate, and terrazzo to name a few, for over 20 years. In the course of this time we’ve seen some utterly brilliant designs, created by some of Chicagoland’s most respected architects and designers. And on the flipside, we’ve also been hired to work on some truly horrendous designs that make you wonder “what were they thinking?” And then there are tragic situations where a wonderfully planned and designed remodel or new construction job went south because of the contractor’s ignorance on how to install and treat natural stone. Those jobs are where Sungloss Marble’s experience and value shines through. We’ve pretty much seen it all, and we know what needs to happen to fix it.

Think of consulting Sungloss Marble Company when you want to maintain, clean, seal, hone, or polish your natural stone design, award-winning or not. Or when you spill wine on your solid marble chair!

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Ecological Marble Restoration, Environmental Narrative

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Sungloss Marble Restoration Company Account Rep John Leonard was privileged to recently attend a Chicago lecture by Maya Lin, who spoke much about her work fusing art, architecture, and memorial monuments, and her latest environmental conservancy project What Is Missing (whatismissing.net).

John reports:
Her lecture included many slides of her work, highlighting her site-specific works of natural wave fields, and physical representations of some of the world’s most important rivers and waterways. One example being a three-dimensional 90-foot long solid silver mass in the form of the Colorado River from end to end, that now hangs in Las Vegas. Lin described the piece as an attempt to make the viewer realize rivers are continuous systems end-to-end, and should be treated as such.

She touched on her most famous memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. My overall impression of the memorial, made of black granite cut into a hill, is that of a scar on the earth, and in our nation’s heart. Ms. Lin surprisingly described it as a “polished geode” coming out of the earth to offer beauty and wonder to the landscape, much as her own discovery of geodes offered in her childhood. She reminisced of asking the granite fabricator to make the slabs as thin as possible, to give the monument a lighter feel.

At the end, Maya Lin described at some length her efforts to restore wetlands and river sites along the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington State. As well, she showed a preview of her latest (and last) memorial project What Is Missing, which is a web-based collection of people’s stories from all around the earth of environmental changes observed across generations. She posited that ecological disasters happen over and over due to human’s inability to learn across lands and generations. We are too spread out land-wise, socially, politically, and generationally, to connect the dots of measurable changes in the environment that have been occurring for hundreds of years: “look at the salmon in Europe, the salmon in the Atlantic, and now the salmon in the Pacific Northwest. It happens over and over again. We just don’t learn.” Her goal with the website is to collect enough narrative from around the world to show connections with the earth across generations.

At Sungloss Marble Restoration Company we’re also pushing to make our customers aware of the connection our marble, granite, limestone, terrazzo, slate, and other natural stone restoration has with the environment. Not only does restoration (polishing, cleaning, honing, sealing) conserve quarrying energy, but water-based sealers and virtually chemical-free processes help our immediate environment and waterways. We salute Maya Lin and look forward to her final memorial growing a useful ecological narrative that we can all learn from.

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Limestone Cleaning, Marble Restoration, and LEED Certification

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Sungloss Marble Company has recently been involved in projects where businesses or municipalities have desired LEED certification. With all the excitement and interest in LEED, we thought we’d touch generally on what that means. We’ll have more specifics on the individual projects in future posts.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is simply a standardized way of measuring how ‘green’ a building is. It was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in a consensus process, which included non-profit organizations, government agencies, architects, engineers, developers, builders, product manufacturers, and industry leaders. From the web: LEED certified buildings use key resources more efficiently when compared to conventional buildings which are simply built to code. LEED certified buildings have healthier work and living environments, which contributes to higher productivity and improved employee health and comfort.

At Sungloss Marble, when it comes to conserving existing buildings, we have been working towards the same goals for LEED certification since before LEED even existed! Some of the criteria—low emission products, low emission (water-based) sealing products, and conservation/restoration of existing walls and floors—have been our focus from the start.

A flooring firm in Michigan that does similar work to Sungloss, has an extensive website that talks about LEED certification. Some parts (not all) relate to what we’re talking about and give some details (link).

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Limestone Cleaning and Other Basic Stone Maintenance Concepts

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

At Sungloss Marble Restoration Company, we’ve helped so many of our residential customers to understand basic maintenance techniques for marble bathroom vanities and granite kitchen counters. Since those surfaces are so common, and we receive questions about them over and over again, we thought our maintenance tips might bear repeating for newer customers (and established customers, and those who are just curious about how to keep their natural stone looking good!).

Limestone and marble bathroom vanities are the most unknowingly-abused stone surface in the home. There is a large gap in knowledge and communication between a homeowner and their architect, interior designer, real estate agent, and (this one hurts us most personally), stone provider. What happens often is the homeowner either moves in to a house that already has stone vanities, or they install them during a big renovation. In both circumstances, sometimes they wish they never had limestone or marble vanities! It’s not that the stone is the problem, but the high expectations that come with marble or limestone, combined with an over-abundance of chemicals and practices harmful to stone.

If you think about it, there are probably 10 or 15 chemicals in constant rotation around your bathroom sink. Almost all of them react with calciferous (marble, limestone, etc.) stone. Even a well-sealed vanity will still look worse for wear after a few years if the user isn’t careful with after-shave, toothpaste, and doing her nails. All those chemical drips discolor or etch (burn) the surface. And God help the homeowner who hires a well-meaning but stone-illiterate cleaning lady. Truly unfortunate and horrific damage can result.
What’s the best advice for marble and limestone vanities? Although it can be difficult, treating them carefully—using a tray or a towel to store your toiletries—is the first line of defense. Of course, having them sealed about once a year with a high quality penetrating stone sealer helps, too. Finally, cleaning then with a neutral stone cleaner designed for sealed marble is best.

While granite countertops are much more resilient than marble and limestone, there are a few bits of advice that bear repeating. Two words: No Windex! Use a neutral stone cleaner to clean them. If you are in short supply, a mild soapy solution of dish soap followed by a very good rinse is OK.

Hopefully, these scant advice points ring a bell with not only our residential clients, but also make sense to the condo boards, real estate developers, interior designers, and construction company clients who come to us with similar issues in their fields.

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Granite Polishing, Sealing, and Relative Costs of Marble and Stone Maintenance

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

During this uncertain economic time, we are repeatedly asked questions about stone maintenance costs, procedures, and value. At Sungloss Marble Restoration Company, we emphasize customer education, to help everyone to be on the same page when it comes to making decisions. Here are a few issues that have come up recently:

Natural Stone Sealing. It seems the internet and every stone care professional has a slightly different take on the age-old question of when to use stone sealers. In general, Sungloss follows the guidelines and logic of the Marble Institute of America’s position on sealing marble, granite, limestone, travertine, terrazzo, and other natural stone. The bottom line is, in most situations we highly recommend a penetrating stone sealer. The re-application schedule, and sealer type may be variables, but we would almost never dissuade a customer from sealing their stone, as part of a plan for upkeep of a natural stone installation. We also are dedicated to using all water-based sealers, for the sake of the environment. If solvent-based sealers are somehow more appropriate for a particular job, we are dedicated to using only use the lowest-VOC products available. We feel in the big picture, the cost of overlooking this crucial part of maintenance is pound-foolish, and barely penny-wise. By the time a typical marble, limestone, terrazzo, or granite cleaning, maintenance, or restoration job is nearing completion our crews would typically already be set up and primed to apply the sealer; this step is usually the smallest relative portion of the full job. Therefore, by cutting this step the cost savings is minimal and probably not worth it. And you can know that sealing your stone will have little or no cost to the environment as well.

Patching Holes Versus Replacing Tiles. At Sungloss, we have Stone Technicians who are artists at what they do. Some of them are excellent at filling cracks, divots, or holes in damaged stone (usually tiles or countertops) with a colored epoxy compound, designed for patching stone. Although some damaged areas are too difficult to repair due to excessive damage, spalling, loose tiles, or too narrow a crack, most holes and broken pieces have at least some chance of repair. When considering a repair, the owner must look at the big picture, i.e. what are the consequences of the repair versus the alternatives, the cost differences, and what are my ultimate expectations? I think we can confidently say a high proportion of repairs look very good, meaning they blend in and fulfill the owner’s expectations. But not all repairs will satisfy all customers. We say this because due to the position of the repair, the stone veining, texture, or size, the repair will be harder to fully blend in, meaning it will be detectable visually or texturally. This might not bother some customers who are only looking for a structural repair, but could be a factor to some. However, when looking at the typical alternative to a patch repair–removing and replacing tiles or slabs–repairs can be highly desirable. First, the costs of replacing tiles can be substantially higher than patching (we estimate at least four times costlier to replace a tile than repair it). Second, the dust, noise, and time involved in a tile or slab replacement is going to always be higher than a patch job. Sometimes the tiles have to be chiseled out with a prybar and hammer, incurring damage to adjacent tiles that don’t even need replacement! And matching old grout with new grout is an art in itself; that issue alone is one that might derail an otherwise successful replacement.

When considering tile replacement or repair, it helps to think of the environmental advantage of repairing otherwise perfectly good existing stone, as opposed to supporting the largely non-environmentally conscious world of stone quarrying. It will ease your mind as well as your pocketbook!

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Water-Related Issues in Marble, Limestone, Natural Stone Maintenance and Refinishing

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

With all the rain around Chicago this Summer, we at Sungloss Marble Restoration company are reminded of the many ways unwanted water can wreak havoc on natural stone. Two come to the forefront of our minds:

Efflorescence. One time I started explaining this phenomenon to a customer and he asked, “isn’t that a band?” True, it might not be a common term, but this can be a serious problem. In an abridged nutshell, efflorescence is the process of undissolved salts being drawn up to the surface of stone or brick. New, curing concrete has a lot to do with it. If a new-ish brick building starts blooming white residue, it isn’t too far a stretch to blame the concrete core construction underneath. Efflorescence can be trickier to troubleshoot in a commercial or residential interior. Water must be present under the floor (perhaps seeping through a poor subfloor barrier and contacting the backside of natural stone tiles), and unless you have x-ray eyes, experience and specific tools and procedures may be needed to diagnose it. The key here is water—where it shouldn’t be—causing a problem.

Mildew. This is a well-known blight, almost exclusively existing in residential marble and natural stone showers (as well as ceramic tile, porcelain, plastic, and every other variety of shower stall). Obviously, water is involved when we’re talking about showering. That’s what the mildew—technically, black mold—loves. The reason why mildew loves showers is because they perpetually provide food (soap scum, and other nasty stuff) and high moisture, which is mildew’s favorite environment. Guess what? If you squeegee your shower down after you finish, and ensure it has a strong and effective ventilation system, mildew doesn’t like your shower as much anymore. Other steps such as anti-fungal cleaners can also help ward it off. Unfortunately, proactive intervention and shower designs both being what they are, mildew persists in some of our customer’s showers.

Sungloss Marble Restoration Company has successfully helped our corporate, commercial, and residential clients repair and solve problems in marble, granite, limestone, travertine, terrazzo, and other natural stone. Whether the cause is water-related, acid or chemically caused etches (discussed in this blog), or just plain wear and tear that needs refinishing, Sungloss Marble delights our customers with stone restoration know-how and value.

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Marble, Travertine, Granite Maintenance Similarities and Differences in Rome

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Sungloss Marble Restoration Company was thankful to have our part-time Estimator John Leonard reporting from Rome last month while on vacation. In this final report, he describes more of the natural stone he saw while in Italy. He writes:

I have been blown away by keen similarities between the marble, granite, travertine, and terrazzo I see in Chicagoland homes, banks, Federal Buildings, condominium lobbies, and hotels, with the marble in Rome. Not just the contemporary designs, but on the contrary, ancient Roman villas and Senate chambers, along with medieval cathedrals, to name a few. The designs throughout the ages still look as fresh as present-day, and it’s easy to see where our interior designers and architects get their inspiration. As well, I witnessed maladies plaguing some of the Roman marble structures that seemed all-too-familiar—natural stone issues I’ve seen disrupting Chicago developers and construction companies. Finally, my overarching impression of Rome was the unending creativity and mastery the builders of yore applied to natural stone elements and designs. It’s no wonder marble, granite, terrazzo, travertine, and natural stone as a whole continually proves its’ unbridled value and beauty.

I’ve assembled a few photos taken in and around Rome showing off the wonders—and a rare gaffe—marble purveyors and designers have created over the last 2000 years. Ultimately, I hope they convey the arresting beauty that has inspired the Western world’s architecture and design community for millenia.

Marble and granite description in the pantheon

Successfully pitched (angled) marble floor and rainwater drain necessary due to the open roof in the Pantheon. Bathroom Remodelers and Designers do the same thing today in marble showers.

Renaissance-era beautiful marble exterior of Santa Maria Novello in Florence, Italy

This detail of the Florence Cathedral floor shows Renaissance artisans' skillful use of different stone reflectivity, similar to work of modern natural stone designers and architects.

Dazzling natural stone designs of the floor in the Florence Cathedral.

I was told the ancient Romans used sand and straw to polish this granite bathtub. Achieving work like this bathtub without electricity is an impressive feat!

Masterful mosaic marble flooring lifted from a nobleman's home and deposited in the Vatican Museum.

In the EUR section of Rome, the facade of the Palazzo dei Congressi suffered severe marble spalling due to an old prophylactic non-breathable top coat sealer.

Detail of severe spalling caused by a flaky plastic topcoat marble sealer that caused more harm than good.

The travertine facade and form of the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, built by Mussolini, uncannily mirrors its' ancient Roman counterparts.

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