How To Care For Natural Stone Shower Stalls

“Maintenance begins much earlier than the cutting of the ribbon!”

Such a pearl of wisdom that’s valid with all natural stone installations, has never been truer than in the case of a shower stall. Tiled shower stalls – whether ceramic or natural stone represent a very delicate and demanding environment because of the heavy-duty nature of their use. There is quite a difference in use between the walls of the bathroom outside the stall, and the the same walls inside it. Because of that, the first real and utmost concern is that the installation is done properly. A poorly executed installation will inevitably lead to an expensive failure. Aside from all the plumbing work (which also includes the shower pan) and the proper sheeting with the right material (no green-boards there!), it is important that a provision of 1/16″ gap (the thickness of a round toothpick) in between tiles is made to allow for proper grouting. While in the walls outside the shower stall an installation “butt-jointed” (that is without any gap in between tiles) is acceptable and, we concede it- prettier too, the same type of installation inside the stall will mean a virtually sure installation failure down the line. In fact, the grout would only fill the “V” shaped groove made by the bevel in the edge of the tiles where they meet, but won’t have any “root”. As a consequence, with the hot water hitting those grout lines day in and day out, plus the heavy-duty cleaning that’s typically necessary inside a shower enclosure, that “ornamental” grout will first soften, and then come off. The consequence of that is that the water will start finding its way in between the tiles, behind them, and by gravity, accumulate under the tiles of the shower floor creating all sorts of problems that eventually will call for a total remaking of the shower stall.

Assuming that your shower stall was installed properly (please, every so often, do monitor your grout and caulk lines and address any problem immediately!),

DON’T use any cleaner, either in a powdery or creamy form.

DON’T use a solution of water and ammonia. Not only will ammonia end up damaging polished marble and other calcite-based stone surfaces, it won’t work either.

DON’T use any generic alkaline soap film remover, such as Tilex on your polished stone shower stall.

DON’T use any generic mildew mildew stain remover

DON’T use any magic self-cleaner such as Scrub Free or any harsh disinfectant, such as Lysol.

DO clean your shower stall daily. The easiest way is to use a squeegee. After everybody has taken a shower, spray the walls and floor of the stall with a regular-duty spray cleaner specifically designed for natural stone, scrub swiftly then squeegee. When eventually you will notice an accumulation of soap film (especially on the lower part of the walls and on the floor pan) that looks and feels like wax (it will leave a whitish residue on your fingertips when you rub them on the stone surface), you must then use a specialty soap film remover rated for natural stone. pH neutral stone cleaners won’t even begin to tickle the soap film and mineral deposits. Even heavy duty stone cleaner (alkaline) will not cut it. Only alkaline products with the certain percentage of chelates in them will do the job. They are not easy products to formulate in a way to be effective while leaving the stone unaffected, but a few may be available in the marketplace.

If, over time, some mildew will appear on the grout lines of the shower enclosure,

DO clean the mildew stain with a Mildew Stain Remover that’s rated as safe to use on natural stone. Also, these types of products are not easy to formulate and hard to find, but a few are available.

Side Note: Commodes

If your toilet bowl sits on a marble or other natural stone floor,

DON’T use any liquid toilet bowl cleaners; possible spills will dig holes in your marble! Clean your bowl with a powdery cleaner, like Comet and such. Even if some of the powder happens to spill on the floor, it will not affect the stone UNLESS it is activated by water.


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