Sealing Natural Stone

The sealing of stone is quite different to sealing other floor types. When sealing wooden floors for example a protective coat is added to the outside. When sealing stone the pores in the rock , or the spaces between the crystals that make up the rock are filled with the sealant with no trace of the sealant on the outer surface.

The purpose of this process is to stop liquids seeping into the stone and staining it. A sealant does not protect the stone from physical damage as a sealant on another surface would..
So what is the best sealant to use?

Natural stone must be allowed to breathe. What does this mean, because stone does not breathe like we do. Stone is made up of a variety of crystals. Each crystal is made up of different minerals. The minerals that make up the crystallized structure of the stone determine whether it is marble, or limestone or granite. To maintain the integrity of these crystals they must interact with the air and the component parts of the air in particular the oxygen. Hence they must be allowed to breathe. It is also essential that any water that gets into the stone is able to evaporate by moving through these spaces until it reaches the surface and can evaporate.

Most importantly and a little considered aspect of stone structure is the interaction between the crystals of the stone and the many millions of bacteria that live in these pores. Very slowly research is demonstrating that bacteria would seem to play a vital role in maintaining the integrity of the stone in ways that are as yet little understood. In order for these bacteria to survive and prosper the sealant used should be one that does not damage them but possibly promotes their activity.

Acrylic type sealants should be avoided at all costs because they fill up the pores killing the bacteria and blocking completely the movement of water through the stone. This can ultimately lead to the stones cracking if the underside becomes wet for any reason. They are also very difficult to remove if excess sealant is applied and not properly removed whilst still wet. What you end up with is a covering of sealant on the surface of the stone which discolors and dulls it.

The best sealers to use are those based on natural products and made up of fatty acids such as soap. These can be applied in the normal cleaning process to top up the seal and clean at the same time. Any excess is washed off with pure water. Most importantly these fatty acids fill the spaces but not in a rock hard manner. Because fat is hydrophobic it repels water stopping it penetrating during any spillage so preventing absorption into the stone and subsequent staining. Being semi hard only it does not stop the natural movement of water through it so it can still escape by evaporation. Most importantly it encourages the bacterial population by providing another source of nutrient and a comfortable environment in which to live and reproduce.

This article was created and submitted to us by ACJ Remodeling, at www.acj-remodeling.com.

Replacing wood sash windows with vinyl windows

replacement vinyl windowWhen we left off last week, we had removed the old wood sash windows and prepared the opening for the vinyl replacement windows. Now it’s time to install your new windows. You should have someone there to help you when doing the installation. First, Remove all shipping materials from the window. Now, if you are installing several different sizes, make sure you are putting the correct window in the correct opening. You need to put the window into the opening to make sure it’s going to fit, then remove it and run a bead of caulk on the face of the outside blind stop where the window will rest. You don’t want to caulk, only to discover the windows are too big. It’s worth the extra few minutes to make sure it’s going to fit. Lift the window and set the bottom in first. Then raise the top until it rests against the outside blind stops. Sometimes, when raising the top into position, the window frame will hit the top of the wood frame. You need to tap down on the top of the vinyl frame while keeping pressure towards the outside.  You are now ready to start installing replacement windows in your NJ home.

Once you determine that it’s going to fit, remove the new window and set it aside. Run a bead of caulk on the face of the outside blind stops. White latex painters caulk works fine. Raise the window into position again. Now have your helper hold the window in position while you raise and lower the sashes, making certain that the window is square in the opening. Remember how you ordered the windows 3/16″- 1/4″ shorter than the tightest measurement? This is where you use this space to adjust the frame to be the most plumb and level. Get a box of popsicle sticks and wood coffee stirrers at the grocery store. The coffee stirrers are about 1/16″ thick, and the popsicle sticks are approximately twice as thick. You want to put the shims in the four corners. Then caulk the gap on both sides and along the top before installing the inside stops. I don’t recommend putting any screws in the sides, but you can put one screw in the top center and one in the bottom center. You really dont have to use any screws in this kind of installation, since the shims will eliminate any side play, and the caulk on the blind stops will hold the frame in place as well. Remember, we still need to re-install the inside stops.

Before installing the inside stops, remove all the old nails and replace them with new nails. A 1″- 1 1/4″ finish nail is fine. Before installing the inside stops, scrape all old caulk off the stops. Then, while your helper holds the window in place, nail your stops back on. If the window has 4 stops, install the shortest ones first. That way you can bend the longer stops into place between the two short ones. Use a nail punch to sink the head past the surface of the stop. If you have several windows to do, i suggest doing the first window to this point before going to the next. How frustrating would it be to have a helper removing the old sashes, only to discover that the windows aren’t going to fit!? If the first one goes in fine, then you can send your helper ahead of you to start removing old sashes. The best way to avoid the nightmare of having a bunch of new windows that won’t fit is to make sure you measure CORRECTLY. Remember, tight minus 1/4″ on the width and height should be fine.

Finish the inside by caulking the area of the inside stop where it meets the casing, and the point where the stop meets the new frame. Fill the nail holes in the inside stops with caulk to hide the nail heads. Now it’s time to finish the outside. A quality replacement window will either have a sloped frame to match the slope sill, or it will come with an insert that fits under the new frame to fill the gap created by the sloping wood sill. If you buy a lower grade window that doesn’t come with anything to fill the gap underneath, you can buy some wood trim to fill the space, or you can get a flat vinyl trim that attaches to the face of the bottom of the new frame. The flat trim is available on my website under the “shop” tab. Once you cover the bottom gap, it’s time to caulk where the outside blind stops meet the vinyl frame, and where the bottom gap filler meets the wood sill.

That’s it! You’re done! You can buy accessories to cover your old wood sills with a vinyl wrap extrusion. That can also be found on the website under the “purchase trim” tab. Next week we are going to start on replacing old aluminum windows.