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Polishing vs. Conditioning

Polishing vs. Conditioning

When the goal is to achieve a glossy reflective appearance. It is important to understand how this is achieved, before deciding whether to “polishing” or “conditioning” is the better strategy. Both will deliver gloss, but one is a longterm solution, and the other a short-term band-aid with downstream cleaning impact.

Gloss is achieved when light can reflect off a surface in a “true” manner. This typically means it reflects at the same angle at which it arrives. So if the light source is at 45 degrees from horizontal it will bounce off at 45 degrees from horizontal as well. The net result is a true image with good clarity matching the light source. So a window looks like a window. You can literally see your hand reflected in the surface.

However when the surface is rough whether natural or through stratches or wear light can no longer bounce true, and we see a hazy appearance. You may be able to see a light source but not clearly what it was.

The rough surface can be addressed by either filling in the valleys (conditioning) or polishing down the high spots (polishing).

Polishing when it comes to natural stone is the process of smoothing out the rough surface of stone. If effect laying low the mountains. We are intending to grind or polish away the high spots to return the surface to a true flat surface. As stone surfaces are rather durable the results tend to be long lasting, or until the surface is re-damaged, or recoated. Ceramic, Porcelain and Granite surfaces do not tend to ever need polishing. Any disruption to these surfaces is either severe damage or a coating build-up. If facing severe damage, you would need a professional craftsman to repair these surfaces (rare).

Marble on the other hand is another matter, due to its sensitivity to acids. Water spots, drink rinks, spill marks and vinegar dulling cleaning can result in white spots which when light can be removed using MARBLELIFE MARBLE POLISH. Acid has dissolved micropits into the surface of the stone, the polish seeks to melt and refuse the surface, when used as designed. Remember it is important to neutralize the surface after chemical polishing to remove the polishing medium using MARBLELIFE MARBLE & TRAVERTINE CLEANER.

It is important to point out that if the haze not caused by damage but rather deposits of from an inappropriate cleaner or conditioner, all that may be needed is to chemically strip away these deposits. This is easier than polishing, however the trick is selecting an appropriate stripper, based on knowledge of what was deposited. When dealing with strippers they will attack all they come in contact with including coatings and adhesives so it is the edges one needs to be concerned with – baseboard, carpet and wall paper. For this reason, this approach is recommended to be left to a professional, else a simple job can become a frustrating, expensive and much larger one.

Conditioning on the other hand, seeks to achieve a flat surface by filling in the valleys with an easily applied material. This is typically a wax or an oil, neither of which results in a permanent or hard surface, and as such both are deemed to be short lived solutions. Furthermore, they both tend to attract dirt creating the need to clean more frequently. That said, when it is the day before a party, and you need it done NOW, conditioning has its place. For that purpose we offer a stone conditioner. However, once applied one can remove it with an appropriate cleaner, such as MARBLELIFE GRANITE Cleaner, MARBLELIFE TILE & GROUT Cleaner, MARBLELIFE MARBLE & TRAVERTINE Cleaner. This is an important feature, as one does not want to build up layers of conditioner or wax on a surface. One should clean the surface prior to re-conditioning.

As such you have choices on how to address dullness or lack of gloss. Conditioning is a short-term easy to apply solution, however if you are seeking a longterm solution, stripping the surface or polishing will provide permanent solutions, at least to the immediate cause.

Need to discuss your particular situation, call MARBLELIFE and talk to one of our trained craftsman 888-463-2780.

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