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Lime Buildup on Slate Tile

Updated:2014-03-10 10:36:37

Slate tile lends a rustic, natural beauty to the home, and comes in a wide range of colors to fit any decor. While this material offers the strength and density typically associated with natural stone products, maintaining its rich coloring requires regular maintenance and care. In addition to everyday cleaning to remove dirt and dust, slate may also require more aggressive treatment to remove ugly lime deposits and other mineral stains.

                                                       

Causes
Hard water, caused by minerals in the water, can leave deposits of calcium, magnesium and other minerals behind on faucets, tiles and other surfaces in your home. These mineral deposits, known as lime or limescale, can build up in your home, getting thicker over time. When limescale occurs within a faucet or pipe, it can prevent the flow of water and lead to plumbing problems. On slate tile, the effects of limescale are largely aesthetic.
Signs
Lime buildup on slate tiles leaves a white, scaly or chalky finish on the surface of the tiles. On sealed slate, wiping your finger across this buildup will leave a white residue or powder on your finger. Lime buildup is easily confused with efflorescence, which occurs when mineral salts in the tiles make their way to the surface. While lime sits above the sealer on slate tile, efflorescence remains trapped beneath the sealer, according to the Aldon Corporation. If you run your hand across sealed tile and no white residue comes off on your hand, you are likely dealing with efflorescence, not lime buildup. While these two types of stains can be removed using similar methods, removing efflorescence requires stripping the sealer off the tile prior to cleaning it.
Removal
Keep acidic cleaners, including acid-based cleaners, vinegar and lemon, far from slate floors to avoid damage. Choose a pH-neutral cleaner designed for use on slate tile, then test it in an out-of-the-way spot to make sure it doesn't discolor or otherwise damage the surface of the tile.

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