Shower areas are subjected to a number of problem causing elements.


These all can be managed successfully if an effective preventive maintenance program is in place and adhered to.

Water is the major cause of stone related problems in the shower, and hard water being the # 1 offender.

Hard water contains a high level of solids. When a drop of hard water evaporates italways leaves behind spots. These spots consist of a spectrum of minerals that physically bond themselves to the stone.

These spots can be classified as "Soft" spots, composed mostly a of calcium and magnesium and “Hard” spot which additionally contains sulfates, silicates and silica.

In many geographical areas the water source has a higher content of silica than calcium and magnesium which makes the water very hard.

As general rule water supplied by wells and areas that have had volcanic activity in the past have high levels of silica.

One of the most common methods of determining the hardness of water is to measure the how much calcium and magnesium are present. This is generally expressed in terms of calcium carbonate, CaCO3.

To find out how hard the water is in your area you can request a water analysis report from your local municipal water company.
Hard water deposits can be very difficult to remove because the acidic chemicals that will dissolve these deposits also attack acid sensitive stones, creating further problems and if the deposits are allowed to buildup the only option is to have them removed by a professional stone care company.

Water is often referred to as the universal solvent.

Some stones are more absorbent and moisture sensitive than others. Due to this  absorption factor, after repeated wet/dry cycles various mineral binders that holds  stone together begins to dissolve resulting in the surface of the stone developing pits, spalling or flake off. This usually begins in the veins and softer areas of the stone.

Soaps and shampoos that contain dyes can cause permanent discoloration.  Medicinal shampoos can cause unpredictable results.

Bar soaps that contain a high level of lanolin will leave more soap film on the walls than others. These can increase the likelihood of hard water deposits.

Do not use acidic tile, tub and grout cleaners. Avoid using powder cleansers and soft cream cleansers, mildew/mold removers, disinfectants and abrasive nylon scrub pads.

Clean  the showers frequent using a  neutral pH stone cleaner. To prevent mold  and mildew growth and staining use a stone disinfectant cleaner that has been  formulated specifically for stone.

Use a shower squeegee and wipe down after use.

For maximum protection, if the stone has a polished finish, polish the stone with a stone polish. This will provide added protection, increasing the sheeting action.  This will further minimize hard water deposit build-up from occurring.

To prevent damage due to the wet/dry cycles, it is highly recommended to treat the  showers with a penetrating water & oil repellent to reduce the stones absorbency  and to minimize bonding of mineral deposits in hard water areas and soap films.

A water conditioner system should seriously be considered. The conventional water softener (salt & ion exchange) are effective at replacing the calcium and  magnesium. However, in areas where there is a high content of silica in the water
these conventional water conditioners do not address silica removal.

There is one type of water treatment process, a catalytic water conditioner that effectively neutralizes all the minerals in the water and prevents them from adhering to surfaces without the use of salts, chemicals and is environmentally safe.

NOTE : The use of conventional water softeners that use salt or zeolite resin ionexchange can cause salt decay in stone. These two processes replace the calciumand magnesium in the water with sodium. Salts are detrimental to stone.

Armed with this information an effective shower maintenance program can beimplemented and realistic expectations can be achieved.

NOTE : If the shower has a steam feature it is important to understand that the Color Stability of the stone may be affected and treating it with a water and moisture repellent will have a limited affect related to this factor.

The reason for this is, repellents do not make the surface of the material it is applied to impervious to moisture vapor. They are formulated to permit migrating moisture vapor from below the surface to pass through  the stone. This  is known as permeability and it works both ways.
When the steam feature is used the water is converted into a vapor and it  can be absorbed into the stone right through the sealer.

Some stones have moisture sensitive minerals that when repeatedly  subjected to moisture will cause the stone to develop rust spots or other color variations, and some contain moisture sensitive substances that will cause blotchy and streaking discolorations. Certain limestone's contain  bituminous materials that are soluble when exposed to moisture.

When considering the use of stone in a shower it is important to find out if the stone has a moisture sensitive history and request its mineralogical composition.


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