The Truth About Crystallization
What is crystallization?
Crystallization is a process that was developed by Coor & Kleever, in Spain, in the late '60s. This unique process is used on marble and limestone floors all over the world. Crystallization utilizes acidic chemistry, steel wool, a low-speed rotary floor buffer and an expert user. The process converts the calcium carbonate on the surface of the stone into a harder and glossier calcium fluorosilicate. The before and after images of a crystallized floor is quite astonishing. There really is no method that can make marble glossier or more durable yet crystallization constantly gets a bad rap with so many in the floor maintenance and restoration industry. Why would that be if the results are so incredible?
The following are three problems with crystallization.
- The expense of steel wool is quite high.
If a technician is crystallizing for an entire work night than he is likely to use 8 to 16 steel wool pads. At more than $6.00 each, the technician will have used $50 – $100 worth of steel wool. That makes it a substantial cost approaching that of labor itself.
- It can destroy grout.
The grout may not look any different the first time the marble is crystallized but once it is crystallized several times the grout will begin to discolor and rust, in many cases. When crystallization fluid is being worked on the surface of the marble, with a low-speed buffer and steel wool pad, the fluid is being deposited into the low-lying grout. Because crystallization is a wet to dry process the acidic fluid that is deposited into the grout is never recovered by a wet vacuum. As for the rusting, that is caused by the iron in the steel wool. Steel wool being rubbed against grout will eventually lead to rust. The exception being synthetic grout
- If it's not an expert using it the result can be catastrophic.
Crystallization must not be overdone. Using too much of this acidic product can result in orange peeling. This is when the surface of the marble is essentially burned and it loses its glassy smooth surface in place of a dimpled surface just like an orange peel.
Overuse can also deteriorate the veins in the marble. A marble floor requires abrasive work to resurface it once it has been crystallized a handful of times. If the marble is never resurfaced, and the same surface is crystallized over and over again, it is being submitted to an acid bath that is going to cause damage. This is not what crystallization was designed for. It was never intended to be the only step in a marble maintenance program. It must be accompanied by resurfacing from time to time.
APEX Surface Care are experts on all hard surfaces. Visit us at www.APEXSurfaceCare.com
Kathy Edwards, Regional Sales Executive Texas
Xavier Fernandez, Stone Division Operations Manager