Voted the earth’s most plentiful natural resource, stone is a common surface for driveways, walkways and patios. In fact, stone surfaces makeup over 60% of new construction in the United States on average.
With growing concern about global warming and environmental degradation, homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint while still enjoying beautiful landscaping.
This led to the question: can stone be lightened?
Yes! Natural stone can be lightened by using sandblasting technology.
This process is similar to hydro-blasting and dry ice blasting that is already used in the automotive, aerospace and commercial cleaning industries for tasks such as removing graffiti from buildings or preparing surfaces before painting.
The result is a brighter and cleaner stone surface that will reduce the amount of time homeowners spend maintaining their stone.
This blog post will cover why natural stones change color, how to lighten them and even make them shine.
Natural stone color change
Homes and businesses are often surrounded by colorful stone surfaces, whether it is the blue hue of an Italian marble or the reds and browns of natural Terrazzo.
With so many options, it would appear that natural stone is an ideal choice for decors.
Studies show that natural stone ceramic decorated with unleaded glaze is safe for outdoor and indoor decoration.
Boulder opal, for example, is a popular choice for wall coverings because it features warm earth tones.
I’ve had the pleasure of exploring the many different looks that natural stone surfaces have to offer.
However, one question keeps coming up amongst homeowners and landscapers: does natural stone change color?
The answer to this question is yes.
Some are naturally occurring stones that are affected by their surroundings while others are manufactured stone products like cultured marble that are made to mimic the look of other natural stones.
The color will not always be consistent throughout the life of the stone, however.
Depending on where the stone is located, humidity, temperature and even direct sunlight (UV radiation) will cause different parts of the same stone to turn different colors.
Masonry heaters, fireplaces and other outdoor elements introduce elements to the stone that can cause it to turn colors.
Natural stones are not manufactured products, so they will change depending on their unique surroundings.
Can natural stone be lightened?
Pools, fountains and other water elements are often seen surrounded by light-colored stone surfaces.
Uneven and varying tones can be a big detriment to the look of a home or business.
As with changing color, different natural stones will change in tone over time.
Research confirms that natural stones lose strength and durability when exposed to high temperatures.
The exact shade and intensity of the stone color can be difficult for stone masons to predict, but they can provide a general idea of color changes.
However, just because the stone’s exterior changes color it doesn’t mean that the interior is not still pristine.
Some types of natural stone like limestones will even fuse with other stones or minerals when exposed to extreme temperatures (such as inside a masonry heater), sealing the exterior stains away from the inside.
Many homeowners want lighter color stones because they match the décor of their home better than darker stones.
That’s why stone lightening techniques such as sandblasting are used to strip away layers of rust and tan to create lighter colors.
Although not widely accepted, some people swear by toilet bowl cleaner as a way to lighten the tone of natural stone surfaces.
Get rid of natural stone color enhancer
Rarer stones like jasper, agate, and jadeite are naturally occurring.
These stones are known for their veining and unique color patterns.
Some will not change color over time, but they can be enhanced with a color enhancer.
Others will naturally change color over time as they react to their environment.
A color enhancer, is a manufactured product and the coat changes color at the hands of someone wielding a paint brush.
These surfaces can be used indoors or outdoors.
The color enhancer can be removed using a stripper such as acrylic stripper solution, but the stone will most likely have to be re-polished – by hand or machine.
If you are set on using a manufactured product, choose one that is made for outdoor use so it holds up better against sun exposure and cleaning products.
Make your stone shine
Oils and polishes are two popular options for exterior stone surfaces.
However, some homeowners prefer a natural look to their stone with regular cleaning.
The majority of stones do not require any treatment when they are installed from the quarry.
In time, the surface will wear down from micro-abrasion.
When the stone is exposed to harsh elements, it will require more maintenance through washing and polishing.
Some shiny stones, like travertine that have a uniform look, may not need any treatment beyond regular cleaning.
Even if you have a naturally shiny surface, it is still necessary to clean regularly because grease from cooking and other pollutants in the air will affect its appearance.
Another option is to coat or seal granite countertops.
This will add a layer of protection from stains, dirt and other elements.
Granite sealers are an easy way to add a protective coating that is good for the environment.
Finally, by polishing stone on a regular basis, you can bring back the shine and preserve the stone for decades to come.