Re-Crystallization vs. Standard Marble Polishing

by Susan
(Phoenix, AZ)

QUESTION:

Are you familiar with the process of marbleizing / crystallizing for marble polishing?

They've used it in Florida and Italy for over 20 years and it seems fabulous.

I had white marble in my kitchen in Florida (not something I would have considered on my own for the obvious reasons). They apply a chemical that bonds with the marble and creates a lustrous to shiny surface that is easily renewed.

If acid gets on the marble and marks it, you just buff on more chemical and voila, it's new again! I have no idea why other places don't use it.

ANSWER:

Susan,

I can appreciate that you think it is "fabulous" probably because it makes the marble shiny.

But more people don't do it (and most pros don't like it) because crystallization creates problems (sometimes expensive nightmare problems) not found with standard marble polishing. It's just an inferior method.

Here's why:

Crystallization can ruin your marble, it takes longer and costs more without ANY benefit over standard marble polishing.

It creates a problematic hard chemical shell on your marble trapping acids (used in the process) in the marble. It will make the marble shiny and it seems this is the "proof". But the shell also keeps the marble from breathing properly, which could lead to your marble simply falling apart.

So, understand once you crystallize you no longer have a "marble" surface. It becomes a "chemically manufactured" surface. Traditional, proven methods for marble cleaning, care and marble repair can no longer be used. You are stuck having to maintain the chemicalized surface.

Yes, I know it's been around for a while, but that doesn't make it good or beneficial. Agent Orange has been around a long time too.

The people that have it done simply don't know any better (no reason they or you should of course) and get sold by the sales pitch which seems fine and dandy.

There are also problems with formula compatibility.

Example: You have your floor crystallized then a couple three years later when this chemical crust that isn't as durable as marble starts to look crappy you have it crystallized again only the first guy who did it is out of business or not available so you go with someone else who uses a different formula.

Well... his formula may not work with the first formula and the crust will have to be removed (grinding it away just like standard re-polishing) before the new formula can be applied. Just useless nonesense.



There are proponents out there and the sales literature makes it seem like it's the latest greatest thing, but the main reason they like it is because it requires very little experience or knowledge of marble.

Traditional marble polishing requires real skill, knowledge and experience.... the art of a true craftsman.

Crystallization requires virtually no skill... no more than cleaning a carpet, so from a business standpoint it's simply easier and cheaper to find/train technicians. So, marble cyrstallization is easier to perform.

But if they screw it up while crystallizing.... your marble may be toast.

This will NEVER happen with standard marble polishing. You can always fix a mistake with re-polishing, you never change the chemical or physical nature of the stone and it makes it nice and shiny too.

So ask yourself... do you want a craftsman who knows how to properly maintain your marble in optimum condition over it's entire life.... or just anyone capable of pushing a machine around?

Also, if you etch polished marble... a normally re-finished marble... all you need to do is to properly apply a good marble polishing product like ETCH REMOVER / Marble Polishing Paste and viola... it is gone... all shiny again. So, even on this point there is no advantage to crystallization.

If my arguments aren't enough to dissuade you from doing it again in your new home, then consider that no factory in the world uses crystallization as a method to "polish" the stone. They all use standard grinding and friction to polish marble and make it shiny. It's simply the best way.

Standard re-finishing / marble polishing provides "like new" results without any of the risks and problems associated with crystallization.

There are plenty of stories and myths floating around about marble and natural stone care and repair that are just bogus. It's unfortunate for consumers because it's only natural to think that anyone selling or installing marble ought to know what's right, but they often don't.

That's why I've written a comprehensive marble maintenance manual to debunk the myths and to teach consumers how to clean and maintain their marble the right way.

If you are interested in learning about simple proven solutions, what you should and shouldn't do, etc. then check out Cleaning Marble Secrets.

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Can my marble be saved?
by: Anonymous

Help! I wish I'd found this article before my floors were ruined.

I have Crema Marfil marble floors throughout my home which I've had polished many times in the past and they came out looking beautiful and shiny. I don't know exactly what process he used but it would take one man about 8 hours (1400 sf of marble). Unfortunately he retired and the two people I had in for quotes said it needed to be honed, polished, re-crystalized, etc. and it would take two or three men two days to complete the work.

Bottom story short. Because I get copious amounts of sunshine in my home everything shows up. The morning after they were finished and the sun was shining on the floor all I could see were horrible scratches (what they tried to pass off as swirls). They came back and rebuffed or some such thing to take the swirls out. By this time we were up to six days of labor. Baseboards all gouged. Steel wool dust all over the place.

A week later it appears my floors are getting worse on a daily basis. Dull, cloudy looking, along the veins it looks like calcium or lime deposits developing, etc., etc., etc.

I am sick at heart. I am trying to find someone to fix them but everyone within my area is telling me they need to be re-crystallized, etc.

Any suggestions would be greatly welcomed.

===ANSWER:

Sorry to hear about this. Document everything you can, damage they caused, poor results, etc. Don't pay any remaining balance. You may have to go to court to recover any damages.

But to fix the floors you'll have to search for a true stone restoration professional.

Good Luck,
Ryan

Crystalization
by: Anonymous

I agree with you completely. See this excellent article in support:
http://stonecaresolutions.blogspot.com/2011/04/crystalization-micro-recrystalization.html



Absolutely...
by: John Jackson, aka kcstoneguy

I agree with your comments 100%. I restore marble 5 days a week, and have done so for over 10 years. True restoration/polishing lasts longer and gives greater clarity than crystalization.

Crystalization is pushed by the Jan San crowd because it is easy, and requires less skill, therefore lower pay.

I tell people, go to Las Vegas and look at any hotel floor. Those plastic looking floors that are falling apart, are crystalized nightly. If a floor is properly powder polished it will last much longer with a greater degree of clarity.


Question for Ryan
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your commnets. It was an eye opening.I also have crema marfil floor. When it was place about a year before, after grouting, floor had several spots all over. Then my installer sent the guys whod did crystalization with Runit. Now I have scratches in couple of marbles, can I now onwards to do polishing instead of the recrystalization.

===ANSWER: Yes, you can have the marble refinished, but that will entail removing the "crystallized" layer. So, the first time will be more expensive.

You may try using the ETCH REMOVER / Marble polishing paste which works great to remove mild scratches on marble.... honestly not sure how well it will work on a crystallized surface, but it'll certainly be a LOT cheaper than a professional.

Polish the right way
by: Brandon's Marble Restoration

We have been restoring Marble for over 15 years,and familiar with both processes, but must say that crystallization is bad for your marble, trust me, I restored many floors that had previously been crystallized. Oh what a difference. Marble is natural and should be treated in a natural way!!Get it done right.

Finding a reputable floor restoration contractor
by: Anonymous

To whom it may concern,

My name is Robert and I've been in the stone restoration business since 1990. I stumbled upon this page and felt compelled to respond to some of the claims that are made in this article. I have crystallized floors for over twenty years and have never had a problem with the process of crystallization. Unfortunately the floor restoration industry isn't regulated to eliminate some the inferior workmanship that is commonly found. In my years in the business, I've seen competitors submit estimates offering a multitude of services to get the job when in reality their intention was to perform less work. I've seen work where the refinisher supposedly crystallized a floor when in fact they waxed the floor or applied some other product. It is best to screen any tradesman by confirming that they are currently incorporated by logging on to the division of corporations in your state, check if they have workers compensation, general liability insurance, ask for a portfolio of work showing before and after pictures, once you hire them, demand that they perform a sample area prior to submitting a deposit and never pay the balance until their work was performed to your satisfaction. These precautions will enhance your chances of finding a reputable floor restoration contractor. Please follow us on Facebook. Marble Care Intl.,

==== Admin comment:

Thanks for the post... All good advice and unfortunately true. There are good and bad in every industry.

Crystallization can make the floors look very nice, however, even when done correctly crystallization introduces new potential problems that you will never have if you simply have your stone restored in traditional fashion by a skilled professional.

Maybe you won't have a problem, but there are many problems associated crystallization that commonly occur... and not just because someone was dishonest. It's the process itself.

Crystallization is an option... it's just not the best option even when done well.

refinishing techniques
by: Dave

What an interesting article,and some great points also.I have been manufacturing and refinishing natural stone for the last 8 years and have used both powder polishing and crystallization methods in the restoration process of many floors.

In my opinion done correctly and properly maintained crystallized floors look as good as powder polished floors 85% of the time, and correctly maintained neither method is 'better' than the other.

However it is true to say that diamond refinishing and powder polishing is a far more skillful method than crystallizing.

==== ADMIN COMMENT: Thanks for your comments!

Yes, the problem isn't with the "look" of either. Crystallization will look good, when done properly. However, it can be done very poorly (like traditional polishing) and look horribly as well.

The rub is in the maintenance. While natural stone can always be restored to a brand new finish, crystallized marble floors change the surface layer of the marble into something other than natural marble and maintaining this surface can become much more problematic than natural stone.

Especially since there are many unskilled people using crystallization that lack any real knowledge of stone solving problems can be a real dilemma.

You get some novices using traditional methods as well, but pretenders get weeded out pretty quick.

Also, once you crystallize it is troublesome to go back to a natural finish.

Our thinking and that of many stone professionals is that you should do as little as possible to stone. And why mess with a problematic method like crystallization when traditional polishing methods are tried and true and don't change your stone into some chemical-ized surface.

Marble Cleaning And Marble Restoration Is Not That Easy
by: Mint Marble

We have been reestablishing Stone for over 15 decades,and acquainted with both procedures, but must say that crystallization is bad for your marble, believe in me, I renewed many surfaces that had formerly been frozen. Oh what a change.

Stone is organic and should be handled in a organic way!!Get it done right.

Crystallization Explanation Video
by: Anonymous

Explanation of marble crystallization from recognized stone expert Dr. Hueston.

http://youtu.be/SdMI7lGN5OU

Video is kind of long, but the first 4-5 minutes really explains the whole deal.

crystallization video
by: Anonymous

take a look at this interview about crystallization

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwkmDsBfzaI&feature=share&list=FLSYtGVkBZZmtYxVIQQJ978A

==== Admin Comment:

Yes, this video is an excellent explanation from a very knowledgeable and well-respected pro.

What Can I Do?
by: Sherri

It's been about 5 years since we had our crema marfil marble floors polished. They look terrible.

They are self-crystallizing and the many hairline cracks are growing in number and size. Is there a way to correct without replacing all.

We have a large master bath and it goes into my master closet. We have slabs on counters and in shower, but only the floors have the problem. If we have to replace, would be upwards of $30,000.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Well, there could be many reasons why your marble floor tile looks bad. Foot traffic will wear down polished surfaces, improper/infrequent cleaning can be an issue, using harsh cleaning products (which are nearly all common household cleaners), or other physical and chemical damage could be at cause.

However, I'm not sure what you mean by "self-crystallizing" and would have to see the cracks and other areas of damage to make a judgement.

I'd suggest using our Contact Form to submit your question. Once received we'll respond with a request for photos of the areas of marble floor tile in question to evaluate.

It all depends on the need.
by: Erwin of Technoshine

Ive been in Stone Restoration Business since 1993, being in a third world country like ours makes all the difference...

While I highly believe that repolishing is the best solution to make the stone beautiful and shiny this can never be applied to big areas or commercial areas that uses natural stones such as marble, granite, travertine, etc. simply because it's a huge area it is not possible to maintain it using polishing method, the only possible is crystallization...powder crystallization at least twice a year and liquid crystallization for maintenance...Cost effective and Easy Maintenance specially in Large Hotel Lobbies, Hospitals, Churches, and other similar areas..also contrary to belief that crystallization can ruin marble it protects marble since when you do it you lessen problems that usually arises due to marble porosity like staining and scalling...i can personaly attest crystallization effectivity..thanks..

==== Countertop Specialty comment: We thank you for your contribution and opinion Erwin.... we simply disagree with you completely. And as I imagine you are aware... so do many/most stone pros.

As you stated, traditional stone re-polishing is the best solution. And certainly it is possible to re-polish large, commercial floors... crystallization is just an easier process for the technician.

Crystallization does not "protect" marble in any way. It simply changes the maintenance equation. No longer are you maintaining "marble"... no, you are maintaining the crystallized surface, which usually requires more frequent work.

In our opinion... crystallization is all-around bad for the stone.

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