Q: I have a stone floor in my kitchen that is dull. I would like to put a shine on it similar to the one on stone floors you see in Mexican restaurants. What type of product can I use to permanently seal my floors with a glossy shine?
A: Your masonry dealer and many well-stocked tile dealers carry sealers and finishing products for masonry, stone and tiles. Before applying any finish product, your stone flooring must be thoroughly cleaned to remove dirt, grease, previous finishes and waxes, efflorescence and any residual detergents. Commercial cleaning products are available. One manufacturer that carries a line of stone dressings (petroleum based-products) is Sparks Southwest Inc. (1804 Industrial Blvd., Colleyville, Tex. 76034).
The Sparks line includes "Stone Glamor," a sealer for slate and quarry tiles, as well as terrazzo and other stone products. Finish coats include Mex Seal for clay Mexican Tiles as well as Internacional Finish for terrazzo and other stone tiles.
For a thorough cleaning, use a commercial cleaner such as Spark's Brick and Tile Cleaner, or use this basic cleaning technique: First, wet tiles with water; then pour on small amounts of phosphoric acid cleaner--follow manufacturer's directions. Scrub tiles with a natural-fiber bristle brush screwed to a broom handle--wear rubber gloves and avoid all skin and clothing contact with the acid solution. The acid will foam as it's brushed on, and the tiles should look cleaner right away. Rinse tiles with a cotton string mop dipped in a bucket of water. Re-rinse tiles with a solution of ammonia mixed with water to remove any acid residue that might remain. Your flooring must be thoroughly dry before you apply any sealer or finish.
Q: We have a synthetic marble sink and counter in our master bathroom. I have several stains on the surface that I have not been able to remove with regular cleaners. Do you have any cleaning suggestions for this type of surface?
A: This is a common problem and one that many of our readers ask about. Although synthetic marble is less porous and more stain-resistant than natural marble, it will scratch if abrasive cleaners are used, and caustic chemicals can damage the surface. Synthetic marble, often referred to as cultured marble, is made from poured polyester resin, usually treated with a clear gel coat or onyx resin on the top surface. Nonabrasive cleaners, such as 409, Fantastik, Cinch or Soft & Scrub, should be used. For more stubborn spotting, try a fiberglass cleaner such as Gel Gloss. Harsh cleaners, even ordinary household bleach, can damage the surface.
To remove minor scratches, try buffing the surface with a medium-cut rubbing compound. Use a buffing pad on an electric drill. If necessary--for major stains only--you can lightly sand the surface with 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Use a sanding block and wet sandpaper for best results. I would test a small inconspicuous area first to make sure you are not damaging the surface. Follow any compound buffing or sanding with a thorough rinsing in clear water and buff to a high luster with a paste wax. Use a good automotive compound, then buff it out.
Q: We have installed a new copper roof over a cupola at the entrance to our home. I am more interested in the antique verdigris look than the copper tones.
Is there a chemical that can be used to obtain this coloring?
A: Copper roofing is both corrosion-resistant and decorative. While it can be treated with a clear coating to preserve its natural warm color, if left alone it will oxidize to a greenish, iridescent patina over time.
During the beginning of this oxidation process, the copper will turn blackish-brown before development of the verdigris coloring. This process can be speeded up by treatment with a chemical that reacts with the surface of the metal to create the patina almost immediately.
This is usually a job that is done professionally by the metal roofing contractor.
If you are looking to do this yourself, check with a copper roofing manufacturer for information on, and availability of, the appropriate chemicals. Another source of information and application advice might by a local chemical supply outlet.
Q: A bottle of red fingernail polish was spilled on my light-colored carpet. I have tried polish remover and several commercial carpet cleaners to no avail. Do you have any suggestions on how to remove such a stain?
A: Some stains may not be removable, particularly if they have had time to penetrate the carpet fibers. Call in a professional carpet cleaner who has the knowledge and available chemicals for spot treatment. If this is unsuccessful, there may still be a remedy. Cutting away the damaged area and replacing it with a patch could be the answer.
Wall-to-wall carpeting can often be repaired fairly easily, particularly if the carpet has a deep pile, which tends to hide seams. Even tightly woven, short-pile carpeting can be patched with nearly invisible seams if you do your cutting carefully.
You will need a sharp-bladed utility knife to cut out a square or rectangular section of the carpet that includes the damaged area. Press the pile aside in a straight line--a screwdriver can help separate the yarn--and cut all the way through the carpet backing, but try to avoid cutting into the padding or floor below.
Make each cut in one pass of the knife if possible; keep edges clean and straight, and remove the cut-out in one piece. Prepare a patch from a carpet remnant, using the damaged piece as a pattern. If you don't have a remnant, remove some carpeting from inside a closet or from underneath a piece of furniture you do not intend to move.
When preparing the patch, be sure that you match the pattern and direction of the weave and knap as well as the size. You'll probably find some unavoidable color differences between the patch and the surrounding carpeting, but over time and with wear, this variation should decrease.
Check the patch for fit and trim if necessary. The patch should lie flat within the cut-out, snug but without bulging. Apply a small amount of carpet adhesive to the floor or the padding to hold down both the center and the edges of the patch and the edges of the surrounding carpet.
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