Granite is an intrusive igneous granular rock consisting primarily the minerals quartz, mica and feldspar. Granite is often used for countertops, flooring, walls, building exteriors, sculptures, monuments, fountains and headstones. These are all opportunities for service and profit once you become comfortable working on granite. The processes used to clean and maintain granite are not much different than those used on other types of stone.
It is important to realize that you can do the cleaning, maintenance and light polishing of granite. Restoration is a different story and for now, you should avoid the restoration of granite.
Granite is one of the hardest stones you will ever work on. I don’t mean just in difficulty, but also in the actual hardness of the stone itself (6-7 out of 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale). This is one of the reasons that granite is difficult to restore (make repairs, remove lippage, deep scratches and gouges) and why most people stay away from it.
Its hardness and composition means that restoration options are limited and processes are time consuming. Without special heavy equipment, diamonds and training, it’s not realistic to think that you can do an acceptable job of granite restoration.
Leave restoration to the professionals, or do what it takes to learn what you need to know before you get in over your head. However, you should be able to clean or lightly polish most granite surfaces without a problem.
Granite is widely in use in both commercial and residential properties and is often in need of cleaning and maintenance. Anytime others don’t want to do a task, opportunities are created for those who are willing to go where others fear to tread.
A basic 1.5 horsepower rotary floor machine, a weighted drive assembly (30-45 pounds), some hog’s hair and diamond impregnated pads, a variable speed angle polisher and neutral cleaner is about all you need to get started.
In some cases, a good portable or truckmounted extractor and a spinner type head (with a brush shroud) will be useful as part of the cleaning process. When it comes to light polishing or bringing back a shine to dull, scuffed or lightly scratched granite, diamond impregnated floor pads and possibly some specialty polishing powder made for granite will do the trick.
In some cases, light cleaning and then treating the stone with an impregnating or color enhancing sealer or a polish or protectant may be the best option. A little research regarding products and procedures and some testing/practice on granite samples is the best way to build your confidence and determine which products, processes and equipment will give you the best results.
Test, test, test
It can’t be stressed enough that the only and best way to determine what will work and what the end result will look like is testing your products and processes in a small inconspicuous area prior to wide-spread use.
This may sound basic, and it is, but until you end up buying a job, you may not fully appreciate the value of this concept and advice.
Absolute black and some darker color granite stone may have been infused or treated with pigments, dyes, oils or other materials to obtain a dark consistent color.
What this means to you is that when you clean, polish or restore this stone, there is a possibility that you will remove some of the surface color and or shine and it won’t return on its own. You will have to add it back in or polish it back to its original shine and without access to specialized chemicals, equipment and knowledge the end result may not be acceptable to your customer.
The bad news is that an unhappy customer isn’t going to want to pay you, may threaten legal action and you may end up bringing in and paying for a stone specialist to solve the problem, which can cost more than you charged for the job in the first place.
The good news is that a simple test with acetone or lacquer thinner will help you identify these problem stones so you can avoid them.
Resources and research
If you want to get into granite cleaning and maintenance, go online, research the subject, get some product samples and practice in your garage or in a location where you can perfect your technique without financial risk. Or the critical eye of a paying customer.
You will find many equipment and chemical manufacturers/distributors that are willing to provide you with samples, literature, advice and training.
Best of luck, perfect your skills and keep your eyes open for opportunities to provide this valuable service to your present and future customers.