Stone Restoration and Maintenance Corner: Specialty Accessories
Photos by Bob Murrell
Transparent flowing, knifegrade and penetrating adhesives are specially formulated for specific gluing and filling operations on granite, marble, terrazzo and other natural stone and hard surfaces. Epoxies have an especially strong bond for repairing stone-to-stone breakage and are generally more weather-resistant than polyester adhesives.
When you are doing wet maintenance and restoration, use the right tape for the job. Waterproof polyethylene and low-tack, easy-removing tape for painted surfaces are a must-have for site prep.
Anti-seize tool thread lubricant is an overlooked accessory that can really save your bacon. Make it a regular part of hand-tool use. Take care of your tools, and they will take care of you.
Scrapers with replaceable razor blades and a variety of small picks are a few essential but overlooked specialty accessories to stock in your toolkit.
It is the season for the showers to begin, so the flowers next month can grow (and hopefully my bees will collect nectar from them!). Speaking of growing, the economy seems to be doing very well with regards to the restoration and maintenance industry, so far for 2017 (knock on wood).
Both commercial building owners and residential property owners seem to be eager to invest in sprucing up their installations. I have seen a big increase in spending for the cleaning, polishing, and sealing of stone surfaces during the first quarter of this year.
For this article, I wanted to discuss some of the specialty accessories which can make a project easier and more cost effective. There are many products which can be essential to the success of a particular project.
Let’s look at adhesives and their many uses. Most of the adhesives used in the stone industry are normally a polyester, epoxy, acrylic, or some variation thereof. These specialty adhesives serve such useful functions as reassembling and repairing broken pieces, filling voids, doing laminate work, and other similar stone-to-stone operations.
These adhesives are available in different formulas such as flowing, which is more liquid-like and pourable, and knifegrade, which is thick, like peanut butter. Both consistencies have their advantages and disadvantages. There is also what is known as a penetrating adhesive, which is very fluid material designed to penetrate hairline cracks.
Flowing adhesives are better for filling holes in horizontal surfaces, whereas knifegrade adhesives can be better for repairing broken pieces (think putting Humpty Dumpty) together again) and vertical filling.
I would venture to say that polyester resins are the most commonly used adhesive in our industry. I have personally used polyester adhesives many times over my somewhat lengthy career in this business, and they have almost always worked well for me. Contractors rely on polyester adhesives for routine applications. Polyesters are strong, can be colored, and set up quickly, which is why most contractors and fabricators use them more than other adhesives. They like the fact that the polyesters can be worked faster than most other adhesives.
I recently used some polyester adhesives when filling in some improperly removed carpet tack strip holes in terrazzo. We used the transparent flowing polyester colored with tint, and with added marble chips. We drilled out any shallow holes to better receive the chips and colored adhesive. You must slightly overfill polyesters as they normally will have some shrinkage. When the hardener is added, this causes a chemical reaction. This reaction generates heat and, as we all know, when something heats up, it expands. Once the adhesive begins to cool, it then contracts. The more hardener you add, the greater the chemical reaction and expansion and therefore the more shrinkage which makes for a weaker bond. So the trick is to add just enough hardener to get the adhesive to set up as slowly as possible, for the best bond.
Epoxies are usually a part A and part B type adhesive. Some are 1:1 and others are 2:1. Epoxies tend to be much harder and with stronger bonds than polyesters. They take longer to set up and normally do not generate the level of heat that polyesters do. They are good for applications where strength is required and are generally more weather resistant, too. There are good UV-resistant epoxies available.
Tape & Drape
Tape can be a very useful tool in the restoration and maintenance business. Like adhesives, there are several types that are necessary for different applications. Some tapes are better for painted surfaces. I like the blue and green tapes for these applications. They are made with a special adhesive that does not harm the paint when removing the tape, later. The Tape & Drape product comes with the blue tape on one side. Red Polyethylene tape is very water resistant and can be used where protection from water is paramount, like at the baseboards or for damming up around a vanity or countertop.
As I’ve mentioned before, splashguards for your machine are very handy. In fact, I would consider them mandatory. They allow for less masking and taping, and definitely keep the splatter to a minimum. This is especially true when using diamonds. I wouldn’t go to any project without a splashguard.
Another handy item to keep in the toolbox is anti-seize. Use this periodically on the spindle of your hand tool to protect the threads and make screwing and unscrewing accessories much easier. I apply the anti-seize with a small metal acid brush. Trust me, when you are on a remote job site, you don’t want a worn out Velcro-backed driver that is seized on your hand tool spindle. If you have used your anti-seize as I recommend, it will unscrew right off so you can either repair or replace it easily. You will thank me for this advice one day! Along these same lines, some spray lubrication would also be useful to have on hand.
Razor blade scrapers are another must-have tool. Removing excess or old adhesives, tape, paint, dried food or gum, caulk, and many other undesirables requires a good razor blade scraper and fresh blades. Always keep plenty of new blades handy. A set of dental picks is also great to have for removing stubborn caulk or silicone.
Another type of adhesive that should be kept handy is a spray or bottle type water-resistant contact cement. This comes in handy for repairing Velcro drive plates as well as diamond pads that may lose their adhesion during a typical work day.
Being able to rinse off a drive plate and let it dry for an hour or so will keep you going, with as little down time as possible.
As always, check with your supplier for these types of products and for technical support. An important part of their job is to supply answers to your technical questions, and offer advice and quality products. The phone call is free, the advice is free, so what have you got to lose?
Bob Murrell has worked in the natural stone industry for over 40 years and is well known for his expertise in natural stone, tile and decorative concrete restoration and maintenance. He helped develop some of the main products and processes which revolutionized the industry, and is currently the Director of Operations for M3 Technologies.