It’s not always easy to encourage people to use the correct maintenance products. They can get very suspicious. It often reminds me of those awkward after sales conversations, in shoe shops and electrical stores. The problem is that when it comes to natural flooring, people need to be educated – now, more than ever before.

A few years ago, we received a call out of the blue from the owner of a London-based cleaning business asking for our help.  Their client had just spent thousands of pounds renovating their home. Part of the refurbishment included new bathrooms and, in one of them, they’d commissioned a fairly unique vein cut brown marble which had been mechanically polished to a high sheen. The cost of the marble and the installation in this bathroom alone was about £10,000.

Starting at the highest point, one of the cleaners had sprayed a cleaning solution onto the surface of the marble, on all walls in the room, and had left it to drip down the face, from top to bottom. The cleaning product used was a standard run-of-the mill kitchen and bathroom cleaner, designed to remove dirt and limescale. Perfectly alright to use on marble-effect porcelain or ceramic tiles.  However, because the cleaner was high in acidity and not pH neutral, contact with the delicate calciferous polished surface had immediately caused an etching of the stone and a deep, irreversible amount of damage to the surface.

It may have been possible to re-burnish the surface, to try and polish out the damage, but the amount of water required and the confined space made this an impossible task.

In many ways, the popularity of porcelain and ceramics – and the realistic natural-effects now available – have created a new issue for our industry.   Tile manufacturers with digital printing technology have become very good at copying the real thing! People may assume that all natural looking finishes are manmade and, as a result, relatively bomb-proof.  The same general cleaning products are then used through the home and authentic materials are damaged as a result.

At the house in London, I believe that the insurers are still trying to decide who is at fault and who should pay for the damage. The suppliers of the brown marble apparently didn’t offer the client any cleaning or maintenance advice at the point of sale. The installers just installed it, without offering any tips on the correct aftercare. The architects who commissioned the stone on behalf of the client hadn’t specified a sealer, or offered their client any information about the aftercare, despite the cost and sensitivity of the surface that was being installed.  And the cleaners couldn’t have been expected to know the difference between a glazed tile and a piece of polished natural stone. If the correct advice had been given at the design stage, or at the point of sale, or by the installers, the damage may not have happened at all.

The cost of the bottle of cleaner that caused the damage was 64p.  A good quality pH neutral cleaner wouldn’t have cost any more.  Specialist cleaners are highly concentrated, so in most cases they’ll provide up to 40 washes for a single litre of product; fit for purpose and economical too.  So, I’ll be gritting my teeth and doing my best to push through the scepticism, no matter how cynical the customer might be.

For expert advice on caring for natural surfaces, visit, tel. 01823 666213 or email  Or, for instant advice on-the go, visit

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