Refinishing Marble, Terrazzo, Granite, Limestone, Honed Slate and Other Natural Stone is Greener

We’ve said in previous posts that refinishing you natural stone is ‘greener’ than installing new stone. A recent report from the Natural Stone Council (link) solidifies (no pun intended!) what we’ve been saying. The data contained in a group of stone life-cycle reports prepared by the University of Tennessee Center for Clean Products is illuminating. The report on limestone (link) is what I draw the following numbers from:
The gross energy to produce one ton of limestone is 914,000 btu/ton, and the amount of water to produce that limestone is 20,000 gallons. These figures are for quarrying on-site only, and do not take into account the transportation and finishing processes that are needed to get the finished product installed. As the report says, “Processing commences with transportation of the (raw) stone from the quarry to the processing facility…this step may consist of multiple transportation steps; prior to reaching the doors of the facility, the stone may be transferred to a number of vendors or distribution locations worldwide. The route that the stone takes through the plant therefore depends on its physical state upon arrival, as well as the product to be produced.”

It seems that if refinishing your stone is an option (it almost always is), one more advantage of refinishing to put in the ‘pro’ column, is the environmental impact of refinishing compared to installing newly quarried stone. Refreshing stone could include cleaning it, patching holes, or wet sanding and polishing a worn surface. It also can include stripping layers of wax, and ending the wax life cycle, which in itself is a step in the ‘green’ direction—halting the eventual release of wax into a landfill (it has to go somewhere), and halting the production of chemicals wax is sometimes suspended in for floor applications.

When it comes to restoring (cleaning, polishing, and/or honing tiles, for example), the processes Sungloss Marble Restoration uses are focused on reclamation and preservation of stone in the most environmentally friendly way possible. Depending on the size and condition of a floor, our crew can do a job sometimes using only two 5-gallon buckets of water; more as needed, but infinitesimal compared to quarrying. And, to get to the job site, the crew drives efficient lightweight station wagons, rather than gas-guzzling trucks or SUVs. On-site, our crew also is almost exclusively using water-based products, and the lowest VOC-emitting chemicals on the market.

There is far more data on this subject, and we are still filtering it. We expect to cite more reports like this in future posts. For now however, we think it is fair to say that the choice to refinish your natural stone will make you feel good in more than one way – it will look beautiful, and you’ll know in the back of your mind you helped save water and energy to boot.