High-traffic bathrooms sealed for safe keeping
What to consider when sealing stone floors in busy areas such as public restrooms
As an architect specifying materials, you consider how surfaces hold up and look their best for years to come, so the next time your client wants to build or remodel, they will think of you as the one to call. Materials specified for high-traffic bathrooms – from hotel rooms to restaurants – are no exception – as they need to be clean from day one to 1,000. Humidity, all sorts of soaps and shampoos, and everyday grime can quickly make rooms start to look and smell like a dirty Tudor-era dungeon. By specifying the proper sealers on floors, walls and counters, you can ensure these surfaces stay cleaner longer — protecting their beauty and integrity while ensuring all those experiencing your spaces will post rave reviews.
From natural stone, well known to need sealing, to an extra preventative step for even the highest performing grouts, specifying the proper sealer involves three decisions: penetrating or film forming, solvent-based or water-based, and drying invisible or with an enhanced look. Robb Kostman, senior technical advisor for Miracle Sealants, a Rust-Oleum brand of professional grade stone, tile and grout sealants, recommends using a penetrating sealer rather than a film forming sealer, as they allow for water vapor transmission within the substrate on both the stone and grout. If moisture is trapped, he cautioned, it can cause the stone to deteriorate, including flaking and chipping.
The second decision is chemically driven. Solvent-based sealers are formulated with smaller molecules than their larger-molecule cousins to penetrate deep into the surfaces. This deep bond within the surface means long-lasting protection and long-time slip resistance. Solvent-based sealers can also be less expensive per square foot given their expanded coverage range. There are some considerations when using solvent-based sealers, for example, they require proper ventilation during application and curing.
The third decision requires finding out what type of finish your client ultimately desires. Some sealers leave the finish looking natural but still protect the stone from stains, so once the sealer has dried it looks like you didn’t put it on at all. Other types will leave an enhanced finish and may be put to their best use on older installations that need a facelift. It’s always a good idea to test a small area first before having a contractor apply this to 205 rooms!
Finally, while stone lasts a long time, it still requires ongoing cleaning and maintenance. Many types of stone need to be sealed once a year, for example, depending on foot traffic and porosity. That way, for your average hospitality guest, it looks like it was installed right before they got there. Creating a clean, fresh and welcoming space makes vistors feel special — and that means five-star reviews.