How Recrystallization Can Damage Your Surfaces

Learn about the potential pitfalls of stone recrystallization and how it can harm your beloved stone surfaces. Explore alternatives for long-lasting surface maintenance.

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Marble and natural stone surfaces bring a level of beauty and sophistication that is hard to duplicate with other materials. But, as with any surface, marble and stone can lose their luster over time.

This is especially true in commercial buildings, where high-traffic areas can wear down and become scratched. When you notice the appearance of your surfaces degrading, you naturally want to find an easy and affordable solution for returning the beauty you and your clients appreciate.

Stone recrystallization offers a seemingly ideal solution — in theory, you receive the shine you want at a lower cost than traditional marble polishing. But such services have serious drawbacks, especially over the long term. Recrystallization can damage your surfaces and leave you in a worse position than when you started.

What Exactly Is Stone Recrystallization?

The technical term for stone recrystallization is vitrification, which uses steel wool pads and chemical compounds to create a finish that is glossy. Traditional marble polishing also results in a glossy finish, but it achieves this goal through a more time-consuming, multi-stage process. Vitrification takes certain shortcuts that appear to lead to the same result but do so by ultimately degrading the marble or stone.

The main chemical used in recrystallization is called fluorosilicone. Fluorosilicone is made up of acid and wax, although the exact mixture can vary by service provider. The use of the acid makes the calcium carbonate in the stone break down to the point where it can bond with fluorosilicate.

The bonding creates a new compound called calcium fluorosilicate. The final finish is harder than the original stone and quite shiny. However, there are serious drawbacks to breaking down your stone surfaces and bonding them with fluorosilicate to create calcium fluorosilicate.

Reasons to Avoid Stone Recrystallization Services

1. The new shell on the surface will trap the acids used in the treatment process.

The acid will continue to degrade the stone surface underneath, which can eventually lead to the complete replacement of your stone.

2. The surface can start to appear discolored.

There are many times when the marble or stone underneath the chemical shell will begin to turn reddish or orange. The discoloration happens because the steel wool material used to grind the surface down gets trapped underneath the shell. The iron in the wool begins to rust, which seeps into the stone and turns it off-color.

3. Scratches present before continue to accumulate dust and dirt.

Recrystallization does not accomplish the same kind of polish that standard marble polishing does. That means that the scratches that were present on the stone surface will often remain after the recrystallization, and they will continue to collect dust and dirt.

4. The harder finish can crack more easily.

Traditionally, polished marble and natural stone are some of the toughest surfaces you can have in your building. However, creating a chemical shell on the surface can actually make it too hard — which means it can crack. The natural stone is not able to breathe and is prone to developing unsightly cracks that can only be fixed by grinding past the chemical shell.

5. The chemicals used can cause health issues.

The chemicals used to break down the stone can be harsh on people, and some of the chemicals should only be used outdoors. Certain chemicals can cause rashes, respiratory issues, and eye irritation. Be sure to ask for a material data safety sheet if you purchase recrystallization services to ensure that the chemicals they use are safe for you and those in the building.

6. The cost is higher for recrystallization over the long term.

As with many services, going for the least expensive option often leads to higher costs down the line. The wax used in the recrystallization process will wear out pretty quickly, which means you will need to get another round of recrystallization. It will also tend to degrade your stone surface, eventually leading to the need to install a whole new surface. Marble polishing may cost more initially, but it provides enduring protection of your stone.

Here to Protect Your Stone Surfaces

At Marble Doctor, we are dedicated to helping our clients protect their stone surfaces over the long term. If your surfaces look worn, please contact us. Let our team help you understand your options for getting the shine back on your marble and natural stone.

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