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May 26, 2021/Stone Care Guides

Basic Guidelines for Three-step Restoration Procedure for Polished Stone Floors (part 3.2)

Basic Guidelines for Three-step Restoration Procedure for Polished Stone Floors

Dry Polishing

 A newer and not yet popular way of polishing with a compound is called dry-polishing. It is not exactly dry, for a certain amount of water is always necessary to activate the acid part of the compound.

The term dry-polishing refers to how the polishing procedure is finished in each targeted section of the floor, which is dry. No wet and dry vacuum cleaner will be necessary until the final cleaning phase after the whole floor has been polished.

The dry polishing method is overall faster than wet-polishing, in many instances offers better final results, and increases the range of marbles that can be polished with it. The trained operator can control the heat of the powder by increasing and decreasing it according to the type of marble at hand.

Prerequisites for Dry Polishing

Suitable Polishing Powder

Such a superior method is not very popular yet because there are not many polishing powders available that allow dry-polishing. Dry-polishing can only be performed using a polishing powder so hot that it could not be used wet in most instances. If one needs to use a wet polishing compound formulated for dry-polishing, it would undoubtedly mean that the marble could not be polished with any wet-polishing compound unless artificially custom-enriched by the operator before using it.

Powerful Swing Machine

The second prerequisite is to have a Swing Machine with enough power and torque to withstand the higher friction demand of dry-polishing. With brushed electric motors, 1 ½ HP is the minimum requirement, providing that the machine does not spin at more than 175 RPM. 175 RPM machines motivated by a 1 ½ HP brushless motor will most likely not prove themselves up to the task. If the machine only has a 1 ½ HP brushless motor, it should not spin faster than 150 RPM to work. Of course, a 110V engine with more than 1 ½ HP will not present any problems, as long as the motor does not absorb more than 14 Amps. A 220V machine with 2 ½ HP up to 4 HP would be best suited.

Honing Pads and Marble Type 

Once again, the clarity obtained with the Honing Pads is even more critical with certain particular marbles than in wet-polishing. With those specific marbles, the perfect clarity produced by the Honing Pads is a prerequisite for dry-polishing to be possible. Keep in mind that we're talking about marbles that could never be polished well with a wet-polishing powder, no matter how good the clarity produced by the Honing Pads. Those particular marbles represent the most convincing example of the increased range of applications of the dry-polishing method over the wet-polishing one.

How Does Dry Polishing Work?

  1. You will start with the water tank of your swing machine empty. An extra piece of equipment that you will need is a spray bottle filled with water. 
  1. You will ideally target a 15-18 square feet section of the floor. Put a tablespoon of the powder in the middle spreading it within a circle of approximately 13", which will be covered entirely by the natural-fiber (hog-hair) polishing pad. Anything else would put too much strain on the machine by creating too much friction. 

While we recommended the natural-fiber polishing pad or nylon polishing-grade pad for wet-polishing, a natural-fiber polishing pad is a must in the case of dry-polishing.

  1. Spray a mist of water over the powder to make it damp, and then spray a little sprinkle of water over the targeted section of the floor. Be very thrifty with the water. Remember, it's the factor that activates the heat of the powder.
  1. Position your pad on top of the powder and then start buffing the entire targeted section of the floor back and forth and side by side until it dries nice and shiny. Since you will be using a brand-new pad in the first section, there will be no build-up of the polishing compound on it; therefore, the first section may need to be done twice.
  1. According to the result of the first section, you will adjust - if necessary - the amount of the powder, the amount of water, and the pace of the work: more powder, more water, and a slower pace if the first section is under-polished, and the opposite if it turns out to be over-polished. 
  1. Proceed to the next section. Even in this case, the overlapping of the previous and following areas in all four directions is essential for a consistent final result. As you proceed and the pad builds up as the polishing compound sticks to it more and more, the requirement of the amount of powder on the floor's sections will decrease because part of the damp powder attached to the pad will still be alive.
  1. You will also notice an increase in the resistance offered by the machine as the friction increases; you will have to master control of the Swing Machine - which is not difficult to do once you get the hang of it.
  1. After approximately 100 square feet, you may flip over the polishing pad and then discard it. The good news is that it can be hosed off and used again on the next job once completely dry. Needless to say, when you flip the pad over or replace it with a new or clean one, the first next section will probably need to be done twice again.

The Execution

Interestingly while the powder, the machine, and the polishing pad are always the same, the way the dry-polishing is executed is not the same all the time. The operator needs to understand the process and adjust the quantity of powder, water, and pace of work depending on the type of stone and the clarity produced by the honing elements.

How Hot Can It Be?

As a principle, the more water applied to the powder, the hotter the compound will become, and the slower the pace of the work, the more aggressive the action of the powder on the surface of the stone will be. 

For example, if you try to polish Crema Marfil in the same way you shine Botticino, it wouldn't even tickle the Spanish stone! Conversely, trying to polish Botticino in the same way Crema Marfil needs to be polished would burn the surface of the Italian stone right away!

In the case of dolomitic marbles, such as White Thassos, Palissandro, and Brown Emperador (both dark and light), it will be necessary to keep the powder more on the hot side using a bit more powder and more water and work it at a slower pace. The good news is that it's almost impossible to burn dolomitic stones. Therefore, you can load up the mixture of polishing powder and water relatively safely. Although, if the honing was done right, you wouldn't need to and would only represent a waste of precious time. The same principle applies to travertine.

Experience Is All That Matters

It may sound redundant, but in this "keep-it-simple" seeking world, the statement that there's no substitute for professionalism, knowledge, and experience can never be repeated enough times. Dry-polishing has to be considered a big step forward - if not a breakthrough, but it does not even attempt to claim to satisfy the quest for a "system to polish marble" that everybody can do.

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