Cleaning Natural Stone and Terra-Cotta
Remove small stains with specialty stone-specific cleaners; otherwise, clean stone tiles and pavers the same as other tiles.
For the most part, natural stone and terra-cotta tiles can be swept, vacuumed, and otherwise maintained like other tiles. However, these materials are porous, and even properly sealed tiles can absorb stains that aren’t wiped up quickly 1. Fortunately, you can remove small stains fairly easily with specialty stone-specific cleaners (available at tile stores and home improvement centers) that are formulated for cleaning natural stone and terra-cotta without etching or damaging the tiles.
To remove a stain, you apply a poultice of the cleaning product over the stain. Apply the cleaner straight from the container, spread it over the stain 2, then cover the area with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and tape the edges 3. Leave this area alone for 24 hours. Remove the covering and wipe the tile clean 4. In most cases, the drying poultice will remove the stain 5. If this doesn’t work, contact a professional stone cleaner or restorer (check online for a marble cleaning service).
Resealing Natural Stone and Terra-Cotta
Sealers used on natural stone and terra-cotta wear off due to normal usage, cleaning, and foot traffic. You can check the effectiveness of tile sealers by dripping water on the face of the tile. If it beads up, the sealer is still good, but if it is absorbed, you’ll need to reseal the tile. Use a penetrating sealer for a natural look or a top finish sealer for a glossy appearance.
After thoroughly cleaning the surface of the tile, check the compatibility of the new sealer with any old sealer remaining on the tile. Brush a small amount of sealer on a tile in an inconspicuous location. If the new sealer is absorbed, seal the rest of the surface.
If the sealer beads up, you need to strip the old finish off the tile before resealing it. Unfortunately, stripping tile requires the use of toxic products and a good knowledge of chemicals and techniques. Our recommendation is that you leave this to a floor-care professional.