Limestone

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This seemed the most likely newsgroup for such a question, for which I've been unable to find an answer on the net.
I have been in my new house for about a year. In the master bathroom, I splurged and installed beautiful Jurassic limestone everywhere. In the walk-in shower, the floor tiles are starting to look much darker than the walls and other areas -- and I noticed a similar thing happening on the countertop next to the vanity sink. In addition to the discoloration, those areas appear to have lost their matte luster, but I'm afraid to apply anymore sealer until I figure out this discoloration problem.
The fact that it's happening both next to the sink and on the shower floor leads me to believe that the discoloration may be caused by something in a soap or shampoo I'm using, but that's just a guess. The discoloration extends about half an inch up the wall in the tile, so if it wasn't a soap I was using on myself, perhaps the softscrub I was using on the shower floor did it.
In any event, I'm seeking some idea with regard to what I've done wrong (so I won't do it anymore) -- and if there is any way to restore those tiles back to their original color and luster.
I don't understand this! I wasn't warned about using limestone in those areas -- and in fact, I've seen it used in bathrooms for years (and in Europe, for centuries!). Any limestone experts out there?
Thanks in advance,
Perri
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Limestone and marble, which it is related to, are very porous and can absorb many cleaners, skin oils and/or dirt. Acidic products can also dissolve some of the lime and change the surface making it more receptive to soils. Personally, I wouldn't use limestone in areas subject to staining and/or requiring much cleaning with cleaners.

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Perri Morgan writes:

You should have been warned. Limestone has a water absorption of several percent. It will not stay pristine like a porcelain ceramic. It will absorb and hold contaminants, like the dyes in soaps and shampoos, which accumulate to a dingy stain.
Consider it part of the charm of this ancient material, and get used to it.
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But it doesn't look charming. It looks dirty.
It seems like there must be *something* that will fix this. Home building and decor publications are loaded with limestone bathrooms and even high traffic areas like master baths & kitchen countertops -- none of which appear discolored.
Does anyone else know of a solution? Telling me that I should have used something else really doesn't help at all -- the house is already finished, and the choice can't be changed.
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The dark in the shower is probably mold, regular laundry bleach will kill it and not hurt the stone, to clean exterior Lime stone I use Muriatic acid and bleach, but never use the acid indoors, it fumes to much. The bleach should do it, im betting its mold.
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snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (m Ransley) wrote in 3133.bay.webtv.net:

I'm 100-percent positive it's not mold -- I've been sponging off the floor tiles with Soft Scrub several times a week. It's an open shower, well- ventilated, cleaned regularly, and only a year old. I think that a reaction to something in one of the soaps I'm using -- or possibly even the Soft Scrub -- might be the problem.
Also, I once set the sponge that I use to clean the bathtub and other fixtures with Comet on the shower floor to dry off and it bleached out the tile in the shape of the sponge -- so I'm afraid to use anymore bleach with this particular limestone.
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The black stuff might be manganese or a copper oxide? Just a thought, its entirely possible the limestone had those particular minerals in it when it was quarried and it just might not be coming out. Just passing out some random thoughts
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Oh -- it's not black. It's just turning darker than the rest of the limestone -- almost like a stain.
Your idea has some merit -- I was told that some rust might become apparent over time (and they showed me what that would look like -- this isn't that). But if it was one of those minerals, why would it only be coming out on the areas that get soap dripped on them frequently?
Thanks for your response.
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I can't really say, it is probably not iron, more like copper or manganese - assuming my comments aren't a red herring anyway. I'm really just talking from the hip here.
As to why only the soap spots - soap is a basic material, that is it is the opposite end of the spectrum from acids. So I don't know maybe the limestone minerals are reacting to the basics in the soap while they are simply dissolving in the pure water and being washed away. Manganese is pretty common in most lifeforms and I would expect it to be present in limestone as well as your water supply
http://www.wellowner.org/awaterquality/basics.shtml
Anyway take my comments with a grain of salt, I'm no chemist.
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Hmmm. This might be something. The other thing that the stained areas have in common with the soapy areas is that since they're one and the same, they both remain wet longer than, for example, the walls or the floor. And I'm on well water, without a whole house filter or water softener.
Thanks for the website! I need to learn more about this whole well and septic business anyhow, having been on city water for years. I know that the well was tested right after I moved in, but I have no idea what they found. They just said that it was good to go -- but I'll bet they retain those testing records down at the county inspector's office.
Thanks again.
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Perri Morgan wrote:

I will soon build a house on a well and septic. Water testing and an appropriate softener will be added (Hydrogen sulfide and hardness are common for the area, 90 ft down or 600 ft down). I expect to also add a whole house RO so that Hot water, and all cold water are as close to bottled water as possible.
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This whole well and septic business is new to me, having lived on city water all my life, and it's been a challenge. I omitted the water filter and softener after the county told me that it was unnecessary; now I wish I'd bitten the bullet on the cost and included it at the beginning. I plan to do so now, as in addition to whatever minerals may be damaging my stone, the water seems to have a lot of calcium in it and it's a chore to clean; also, when washing the car, if I don't get every drop of rinse water dried off immediately, it spots.
Good luck to you on your new home. This was the first one I built, and I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than go through it again -- but I know of many others who thoroughly enjoy the process.
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Is your water discolored at all? Usually manganese will cause your water to look grey or black. Iron will appear rust colored. Chances are if you have iron, you've got manganese but that's not always the case. A simple water test will verify both. Cheers, cc
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No, the water isn't discolored at all, though there is some very fine black silt in it that I can see if I leave water sitting for any length of time.
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Sounds like manganese to me. Best to get a test done to verify. Other option would be bacteria but a comprehensive water test would confirm this. Cheers, cc
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Thanks to all who helpfully responded. I've contacted the county for a copy of my well test, which they're sending me (for a small "processing fee" of $10). Perhaps I've discover the offending substance within.
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Perri Morgan writes:

Real houses, like real women, don't look like the photos in the magazines.
http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t 1753
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But I look EXACTLY like those women!! ;-)
They must be doing something in those houses, then, to make the limestone appear pristine, since most of them aren't brand new. Do you know what they could possibly be using?
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If Comet with bleach made it clean it IS mold, and bleach is what you use to get rid of it. Bleach and acid dont make stone any cleaner or whiter than it is, You have mold, use bleach.
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snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (m Ransley) wrote in 3137.bay.webtv.net:

I know mold, and this is NOT mold. It looks like a stain that covers the shower floor, which is scrubbed down several times a week. There is also a place on the countertop next to the sink where soap drips every time I wash my face in the sink that has developed the same stained look. Both surfaces have been cleaned regularly with Soft Scrub, which contains bleach. I recently discovered on some of the stone sites on the net that I'm NOT supposed to use bleach on limestone -- a lesson I should have learned when I left that Comet-covered sponge there to dry -- so have been using stone cleaner for the past couple of weeks.
Another reason I think it's connected somehow to the soap is because the area right in the center, where the shower water hits the floor constantly when it's on, is not stained -- but in the corners of the shower, where the soap doesn't always get washed away immediately or thoroughly, are stained. That leads me to believe that it has something to do with the soap lingering on the limestone.
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