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Unread 10-24-2018, 02:13 PM   #1
A.Fox
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Unsatisfactory Restoration Work on Marble/Tile Floor

Our recently purchased home came with a black and white patterned granite and marble floor in it's foyer and kitchen. It's not exactly our taste, but it was clearly well done so we are going to work it into our interior design. However the floor as we received it had been covered with a wax coating that was worn, scratched, and peeling. We had a very hard time finding a company that would work on granite and marble and felt comfortable removing the coating (those that might have been most qualified declined because we weren't a commercial client). We finally found a company that seemed knowledgeable and willing to take on the job, but we were really disappointed when their final product was so unsatisfactory.

Not wanting the floor to look like a black mirror, we were aiming for a slightly lower polish, or maybe we received a high hone? I'm not sure I'm versed enough in the process to know the difference. And that would be fine if the finish were consistent. Looking across the floor at some distance it certainly looks better than with the sealant but it doesn't hold up to closer inspection.

The worst thing is what I've learned is called picture framing on probably 10% of the tiles. They have darker, higher polished edges, and there are a bunch of micro-scratches between the two finishes. But there are also zones that seem permanently dirty along the edges, smudges that won't go away in various tiles, and it's hard to tell what things are due to the work this company did, and which may be imperfections or prior damage to the stone.

We expressed our concerns to this company. Their response, I think because we expressed it at the time as a haze, was that it was probably an issue with the sealant. So a week later they returned for a day and I guess re-polished then resealed. The result was exactly the same.

We've now spent much of two weeks trying to get a meeting on site with them so they can walk us through what they did and how it may be fixed. Meanwhile in our frustration we have contacted another company to come in and assess the issue. But I was also directed here from another site to see if someone could give some insight to what exactly is going on.

Any advise is much appreciated. The pictures posted are all from after the second restoration attempt.
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Unread 10-24-2018, 10:35 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum, Andrew.

Okay, if you've really got a mixture of granite with marble, that might explain some of what we're seeing. The marble is fairly soft compared to the granite. So, if you grind the surface with something akin to a soft "interface pad" behind the grinding pad (I don't know what type of equipment they used, so I'm speaking generically, here), the finished surface will be wavy. The softer marble will grind down more readily than the granite, leaving a slightly wavy surface. Where the grinding action takes place between the low soft marble and the higher harder granite, there's something of an "edge". The grinding head puts a lot of extra pressure on the edge of the higher, harder granite. It creates a tiny "ramp" in height transition and would explain the glossy "picture framing" on some of the harder granite tiles. But, I'm speculating at this point and am throwing this out for consideration.

It's clear that the finish is uneven. From this side of the computer, some of it looks like imperfections in the grinding. And in other areas, it looks like excess sealer on the surface of the tile. It's confusing.

This leads me to asking you about the "wax" coating you thought was on there. What makes you think it was wax? Is there a chance it was a topical coating? (A topical coating is a type of sealer that forms a film on top of the tile. Think of it like adding a layer of varnish to wood.) If you had a topical coating and it wasn't completely removed, you'd be left with a crappier polish job because soft topical coatings don't take a polish nearly as well has hard marble or granite.

Now, I know you talked about sealing the tile. But polished marble and dark colored granites have a fairly significant history of not accepting sealer. They are too dense for any sealer to penetrate into them. So, I'd want to know what, if any, sealer was used during this job.

If I was at your house, I'd carefully pick away at a granite tile with a razor blade to see if any clear material could be scraped from it. If so, it would indicate some sort of topical coating. That would explain the dull, crappy finish and you'd work to remove that coating. If there was no indicaiton of a coating on the tile, you'd turn your attention to improving the polishing procedure/technique.

So...some investigating is needed. Come back with any extre info you might be able to supply and we'll try to help the best we can.

In the mean time, hopefully, the company sends out a sharp individual that can piece together what has happened and make proper corrections. Stone restoration isn't easy and experience makes a big difference in the quality of the finished job. If they come back and take another crack at this and it produces good results, I wouldn't be too mad at them. Sure, they could have done a better job the first time. But if the person working simply didn't have the experience to handle this job, they may have struggled and struggled, not knowing what they could have done better. Or, perhaps I'm being too soft on them.....? One thing is certain, stone restoration is very challenging.

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Unread 10-25-2018, 12:07 PM   #3
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Tool Guy,

Thank you for the initial response.

I attached the closest photo I have of the floors before the work was done if that shows anything. I'm not sure if wax is the right term, but it was definitely some sort of top coating that was thick enough to contain scratched that did not extend down into the stone itself. There was also an area where a rug pad must have stuck to the coating and pealed it off. The tile below the coating appeared only to be honed. So this coating was providing the gloss finish. I believe it was one of the companies that looked at the floor that said it was a wax...maybe one of the ones that declined to work on it.

My best guess is that the floor is absolute black granite and nero marquina marble plus some unidentifiable cream stone with no veins. I had initially read about the issues with sealing black granite and that's why I believed that the sealer was to blame for the look. But on closer inspection it seems to be more complicated than that. Now that you've mentioned the difference in hardness between marble and granite, I can feel across the floor that many of the granite tiles are slightly higher than the marble, and my memory was that the floor was more or less absolutely flush when we started this project. With various edges being caught or not caught would explain the picture framing effect.

This other company had some availability and actually showed up yesterday. They had this analysis of the floor: That it had been done with a standup floor machine only with no hand work, and that is what was causing the uneven finish and the dirty effects along the edges. They also thought that the floor had been honed with a enhancer applied to reach the results we got (which doesn't gel with what we we have been told throughout the process). he also estimated that his costs to do the work would be 2.5 times what we paid for the first company. Which now has us thinking that we should get a third quote to determine what is reasonable, and determine if we need to go with someone else how much additional cost is being driven by the work done by the first company.

Unfortunately I believe the person we are talking to and who did at least some of the work is the owner of the company. So I'm not sure if we are going to get much better quality out of them.
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Unread 10-25-2018, 12:15 PM   #4
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To quantify my statement about costs, we paid a little over $5 per square foot to get the current results. The rough estimate that we received is over $12 per square foot. Did we really underpay for the quality that we expected by that much?
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Unread 10-25-2018, 04:42 PM   #5
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No....I think at $5 per square, you got a reasonable job. If you paid $12....it might have been a bit better....but I would move on. No one but you will notice it.
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Unread 10-26-2018, 01:12 PM   #6
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Laz,

Are you suggesting this is an average job or a case of getting what we paid for? If the former, as someone who has seen a lot of stone floors in my professional life, even if I haven't been involved in stone restoration like this, I would consider these results less than mediocre with the finish not even extending consistently into the corners or around the bathroom fixtures and with so many tiles having inconsistent polish or scratches. If the latter, that is very well possible, which is why I asked the question. But if that is the case, I'm not sure how we would have known that going in. Obviously the best indicator was to get 3 bids, but the price we did get was in line with the rules of thumb that I had read in various places. Another way to look at it, is that we paid two people each $75 per hour to do this job; $50 if you include the time traveling to the job site. They were at our house a total of 26 hours, and in that time did 500sf of this floor, some grout staining on tile floors and walls, and ground the carpet related adhesive off of another tile floor.

I do agree that a honed surface with some sort of gloss enhancer is apparently what we did pay for, as I read into what was written on the invoice and an email where 6 step honing and 3 step water based sealer are listed but no other steps that would polish the stone. But I don't think that was adequately expressed to us. At one point during the job they even sent us a photo asking if the floor was glossy enough, and when the response was that we would prefer a higher gloss they said that they would then go up a grit. Am I not correct that "upping grit" is unrelated to a gloss sealed honed floor?

And if the issue is that to make the floor look better they would have needed to put more effort into the honing, and that would have cost more, I don't understand why that has not been stated, versus all of this talk about the sealer being at fault, and that they need to speak to the manufacturer, or that they need to dye the granite (how much blacker can Absolute Black granite get?)

Similar to that note about dyeing that now has me questioning their competence: In the same email where they explained their process, they wrote that they would not be doing any crystallization, which is what would give the stone a high polish if that were what we were after. Perhaps when that was written they forgot that we had granite on our floor too, but from what I read, if they tried to crystallize our floor the results would have been even worse.
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Unread 10-28-2018, 02:22 PM   #7
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Hi Andrew,

There is a huge difference between honed and "polished." No one should ever try to achieve a high sheen by using a top finish over a honed floor.

So I don't really know exactly what's going on there. The difficulty in doing anything to a floor of alternating granite and marble squares has been mentioned.

I think I would live with it and maybe consider replacing in down the road.
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Unread 10-28-2018, 02:48 PM   #8
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I agree with John. I think you got what you paid for.......
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Unread 10-28-2018, 05:24 PM   #9
Tool Guy - Kg
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My initial impression is that you did NOT get what you paid for. Something doesn’t appear to add up.

But I would want to see the contract to compare what was agreed to before settling on an opinion. And I’d question the contractor to see if the actual worker performing this restoration understood that you’ve got a mixed floor like that.


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Unread 11-01-2018, 05:45 PM   #10
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Crystallizers are normally used in commercial areas, its quick but I call it lazy polishing and looks odd when it builds up, squirt and buff is why its common, not much knowledge needed. Ive seen guys use it on dark stones that cant get to pop.

Thats a tough combination to polish as has been said. The Negro Marquina is one of those marbles that wont pop with oxalic acid commonly used on marbles, it needs to be done with a granite powder tin oxide mixture.

This would be a difficult job for seasoned pros, the mixture of hard and soft in a checkerboard is tough. I think you would be better served getting someone to bring it to a full shine and help hide the inconsistency.

$5 a sq ft is too cheap for that job
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Unread 11-02-2018, 10:16 AM   #11
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I’m not a floor refinisher, but I understand the complexities of the alternating stone types. I think the real answer would’ve been at the beginning of when the discussion on price and quality of refinishing work would be based on test samples.

Sounds like basically every other stone needed to be treated separately and not as a single floor approach. I can imagine someone taping off and protecting every other stone and working one square at a time and then later taping off all the finished stones and then working on the alternate tiles with a separate technique. I would charge a lot more for the added intricate work.

But again that’s just using logic as opposed to experience. I think the installer should’ve stopped if he couldn’t achieve the results with his technique.
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Unread 11-04-2018, 09:21 AM   #12
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Hi Andrew, this is interesting, I'm sure the others are like me and want to know what you decide to do and how it turns out.

I don't restore stone but if someone asked me to install this pattern using these two stones, I sure would have warned them about future polishing issues. Maybe they did warn everyone and no one listened, which is common.

I wish you luck with it.
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Unread 11-09-2018, 10:01 PM   #13
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All, Thank you for all of the thoughts.

Davy, I personally think the pattern is a little over the top, but it's there so we are going to work with it. The previous owner was an interior designer and black and white patterned floors seemed to be his thing. He did them in several of his projects.

As an update, the original company has completely stopped communicating with us. As such, we never got an on-site meeting with them nor any explanation of the process that they used.

The contract says without much specifics this: "Floor will be stripped, removing the layer of wax/crystallizer. Once the floor has been stripped , and chipped or cracked tiles will be filled with a color matching stone mixture, this will be sanded down and blended. Floor will then receive a 9 phase hone( a mixture of diamond raisin pads and diamond dipped hug hair pads) and 3 step sealing process( stone specific sealers are used)."

The second company came back with a actually estimate that comes out to a little over $9 a s.f. He did a small test sample of a high polish finish of which I've attached a picture below. Using mostly hand work, he was able to take out the scratches and picture framing. If they do the job, they plan to strip the floors first, as when he was doing the work he thought it definitely felt like there was a top coating.

The rest of the floor we swear is getting worse by the week, Under high light levels it looks very hazy, and basically permanently dirty. See the pictures below. I'd have a hard time saying that it even looks better than where we started, Any ideas what could be going on? We have tried cleaning twice with a PH neutral stone cleaner, but it doesn't remove anything a leaves a streaky film that then needs to be buffed off.
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Unread 12-18-2018, 02:52 PM   #14
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At this point, we've gotten all money back that we paid to the first company, and early next year we will the same guy who did the sample for us come back to redo the floor. The first company discontinued all contact with us and never provided any information on their process. But I thought someone here would find this interesting:

Last night our dog had a major vomit accident on our floor. It was almost completely contained to one of the absolute black squares and could have sat there up to 7 hours but may have been much less. Where it sat, the "polish" finish is completely gone. The stone beneath looks like the new stone sample when it was honed before he moved on to polishing. Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've read if and when absolute black etches, that is not the effect. My assumption is that the vomit acids only dissolved the top coating, and that what we got was indeed a gloss enhancer of some sort over a poorly done hone.
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Unread 12-18-2018, 10:50 PM   #15
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Generally speaking, the sheen of a stone floor (e.g., shiny or dull) comes from the actual surface of the stone...not from a topical coating of some sort.

Etching is the physical degrading of a microscopically smooth surface and eating part of it away to leave the surface microscopically rough. Many would say that a honed surface (depending on the grit) and an etched surface may look very similar. Do you have a picture of where the dog stripped the tile?

By the way, thanks for the update.

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