While dirt and dust may go undetected on the surface of stone fireplaces compared to brick ones, you still need to routinely clean the space. Dirt, dust, creosote and soot accumulate in the tiny pits present on the surface of most natural stone fireplaces, including granite and marble. These are generally by-products of the vapour and smoke emitted from the fireplace and can damage the appearance of granite or marble fireplaces.
By caring for your fireplace surround, you keep its beauty intact and ensure it remains shiny and attractive for years to come. Keep reading to discover how to care for yours.
Top 5 Ways to Maintain Granite and Marble Fireplace Surrounds
Here are some cleaning methods to ensure your granite or marble fireplace surround stays beautiful.
1. Remove Ash Properly and Ensure Airflow
It’s generally best for wood-burning fireplaces to have a bit of coal and ash accumulated in the firebox. However, this shouldn’t amount to more than two inches high. If your fireplace is properly ventilated, you don’t need to worry about smoke and there will be no smouldering when the wood burns. But be sure to remove small amounts of residue when you notice the pile getting higher than a couple of inches.
2. Prepare the Fireplace, Surrounding Areas and Yourself
Before you start cleaning, remember to prepare the fireplace, its surrounding areas and yourself properly to ensure it’s done in a safe manner. For this, let the fireplace cool down for at least 12 hours after the last fire is extinguished before starting the cleaning process. Next, lay a few drop cloths on the floor around the fireplace and place a tarp over any nearby furniture. Remember to wear goggles, a dust mask and gloves to protect yourself from soot and dirt. Also, wear a long-sleeve t-shirt and pants to protect your skin from residue and cleaning agents. Using a shovel, get rid of ash in the firebox. To make cleaning easier, use the brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner to get rid of dirt and dust on the surround.
3. Routinely Clean the Fireplace Surround
If you use your fireplace often, it’s necessary to clean it at least once a week to get rid of accumulations of dirt, grit and soot. For this, you will need a small bucket filled with hot water. Mix up a cup of mild detergent or dish soap and use a soft brush or cloth to scrub the fireplace surround. This will loosen any trapped soot or dirt that the vacuum may have missed. Next, use a clean rag dipped in water to get rid of soapy residue and loose dirt that may still be on the surface. Then, use a dry microfibre cloth to soak up any water and allow the space to air dry before you light the next fire. If you are dealing with stains that soap and water aren’t enough for, use a cleaning product designed for natural stones. Choosing the wrong product can damage the stone’s beauty and result in spending time and money to fix it.
4. Don’t Ignore Deep Cleaning
If your fireplace is heavily used but you can’t find the time to routinely clean it, it’s best to deep clean the surround before the first fire of each season. Deep cleaning eliminates the build-up of creosote from previous fires. It also gets rid of hard-to-remove stains, soot and dirt. Using a soft dry brush, scrub the surround to loosen dirt, dust and soot. With a vacuum hose or handheld vacuum, get rid of the debris left behind on the wall and floor. Instead of using soap and water like you would for routine cleaning, you can use trisodium phosphate (TSP) powder which works like a heavy-duty cleaner and degreaser. Make a solution of the powder using hot water and apply it on the surround and any grouting. Let it sit for five minutes before using a soft bristle brush to scrub the surround from top to bottom. Then use a dampened cloth to remove the solution and allow it to air dry completely before igniting your next fire.
5. Consider Using a Sealant
A sealant is a great tool to protect both granite and marble fireplace surrounds from needless damage. While the previous tips help get rid of dirt and fire residue, a sealant can proactively prevent stains from setting into the stone and keep the area looking shiny and beautiful. Consult your fireplace surround provider to suggest an appropriate cleaner and offer advice on how to safely apply it. Remember to first do a spot test on an inconspicuous area to see if any etching or discolouration occurs.
Both granite and marble fireplace surrounds have a reputation of being hard to care for and maintain. However, since they are both natural stones, they need to be looked after to keep their beauty intact. Also, the wrong products can damage and dull their appearance. With these tips, you can ensure your fireplace stays attractive for years to come.