Marble and Limestone Sealers—Old Concerns and New Breakthroughs

At Sungloss Marble Restoration Company, for 20 years we have been looking for the Holy Grail of the Stone Care Industry: a ‘miracle’ sealer. The harsh reality is, there are some amazing sealers on the market, but there really is no such thing as a breathable ‘true’ stone prophylactic, especially for calciferous stone (i.e., marble, limestone, and travertine). To go into sealers in depth would require a little more than a few paragraphs in this blog. However to simplify the discussion a little, there are breathable penetrating sealers (which Sungloss largely uses), and there are non-breathable top-coat type sealers. The performance of a top-coat sealer (wax or urethane) is a moot point, due their distinct ability to cover up the natural beauty of marble and make the natural stone look cheap. And they have other inherent ‘cons’ that (we feel) outweigh the pros, especially their environmental impact. We do not recommend top-coats for natural stone except for very rare circumstances.

On the flip side, breathable penetrating sealers offer the natural beauty of the stone to shine fully through, as well as being less likely to impact the environment when water-based products are used. The only caveat with penetrating sealers, is to understand that their performance is based on their ability to slow the penetration of stains and liquids. It rarely has anything to do with the acidity or caustic nature of the liquid. No sealer we know of can prevent stone from reacting with lemon juice or spilled Coke, no matter what sealer is used. A penetrating sealer will give you the advantage of time—the ability to blot (not wipe!) the liquid while it is still resting on the surface of the stone, before it saturates the pores. But if that liquid is made up of a substance that would normally etch (react with) the stone in question, there’s still a possibility of a permanent mark being left behind. With the better sealers and immediate care, an etch might not even form, or if it does, might be extremely faint. But the point is, the sealer cannot prevent all forms of attack over time.

At Sungloss, we have been experimenting with techniques, and with new products, to come ever closer to a ‘miracle’ sealing system that will prevent reactive etches even better than the sealers we have used in the past. We’ve found that multiple passes of different sealers with seemingly different chemical foundations, combined with other processes, offers our customers finished stone surfaces that to date surpass our highest standards for protective sealing. I say ‘to date’ because we continue to try new techniques and products to find solutions that better serve our customers. In fact, Sungloss will soon attend the Coverings show in Orlando Florida. This show will cover (pun!) many issues in our industry, including showcasing the most current sealers. It is continuing education opportunities, including attending industry expos, where we learn about cutting edge products. Maybe soon we will discover and pass on to our customers the Holy Grail – a true prophylactic sealer that prevents much of the chemical damage household and commercial marble, limestone, terrazzo, and travertine is subjected to on a daily basis. Until then, we offer our experience and know-how to our commercial and residential customers to deliver value in all our stone services: restoration, cleaning, polishing, and especially sealing.