Google+ House Revivals: How We Care for our Natural Flagstone Floors

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How We Care for our Natural Flagstone Floors

I've talked about our natural flagstone floors at the beach house a few times. Recently I shared a little about how our nephew patched them, and why we chose not to rip them out and replace them.

When we originally bought our beach house, the flagstone floors were pretty dirty.  Actually, they were filthy.

The house had sat empty for some time, so everything was dirty, but the floors had been neglected long before all the people had moved out. The kitchen floor had lots of grease and food stains, as did the dining room floor.  We found lumps of play dough smashed into the floor, and dried.  We also found chewing gum and lots of general grime and crud.  There was even spilled and splattered paint that needed to be scraped off.

Cleaning the floors was a HUGE task. We spent hours crawling around on hands and knees with a flat-head screwdriver, a scraper, and a wire brush. We scraped, we scrubbed, we swept, we mopped. I may have even cried a little.... We bought a deck brush, and spent hours scrubbing.  Everything we did helped, but there were so many layers of grime, it was a little disheartening. Every day, for weeks, I swept and scrubbed and swept and scrubbed -- my guess is these stone floors had not been cleaned well in at least a decade. Little by little, layer by layer, the floors got cleaner. Natural stone is rough, so there are lots of cracks and crevices where dirt can collect. To some degree, this can be seen as patina, I guess, but these floors were way beyond that!

When we finally got the floors to a place where they didn't have cemented on crud and chewing gum and ground in years old food, and who-knows-what-else, we brought in a floor polisher to scrub the floor.

We bought several Brillo-type pads for the polisher, and our flagstone ate through them one by one, but we got the job done. The floor was finally clean! The cleaning solution we used was mostly water, with a little bit of vinegar (about four parts water to one part vinegar) and a few drops of dish soap.

Once the floor was completely dry, it was swept again, and then given two coats of sealer in most areas, three in the kitchen and high traffic areas. The sealer was applied with a paint roller screwed onto a broomstick.  The floors looked amazing when we finished!  All those weeks (yes, weeks) of labor paid off.

Day to day maintenance is not so different than other hard flooring. At first, I tried to keep the floors "swept" with a vacuum cleaner, but flagstone will tear your vacuum cleaner apart. Now, I just sweep with a broom -- and yes, the stone wears brooms down pretty fast, too!  To mop, you need to use a replaceable string or rag mop.  Sponge mops start shredding apart almost instantly when pitted against natural stone. String mops will also tear apart on the rough stone surface, but not as quickly as a sponge mop, plus the heads are replaceable.

Originally, my flooring of choice would have been hardwood for the beach house. I'm so glad we stuck with the stone, however.  My friends who have installed hardwood in their beachfront homes are having lots of problems with scratching and gouging from the sand. My floors can hold up to anything we can dish out! You would be amazed at how much sand gets brought into the house -- even with everyone removing their shoes outside, lots of sand gets carried in on our clothes. I sweep up giant piles of sand every week!

Interested in having stone floors in your  own home?  Here is a link to a post with lots of images of stone floor gorgeousness!

Click Here to see how our stonemason patched the flagstone, where we changed the footprint of the kitchen.

Thanks for stopping by!

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