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Is My Stone Coated?

Very often people call us and aren't sure what type of sealer has been applied to their stone floor. This page is to help you determine if your stone has a coating sealer on it or not. This can be useful to know upfront because depending on the type of stone and location, may require stripping the coating off. This can be costly but at times the only remedy to really beautify your stone flooring.

First let's clarify the two types of sealer for stone:

1. Penetrating sealers~ common in the industry, they are intended to SOAK INTO THE STONE and leave no trace. They have no visual impact on the stone unless overapplied. Penetrating sealers will slow water absorption and minimize severity of etches. But they do not make your stone waterproof or etchproof.

2. Topcoat sealers/Coating sealers~ also common in the industry, this type is thicker and lays ON TOP OF THE STONE and does not penetrate. Useful for only certain type of stone (see below) they can be very problematic. Shiny and prone to scratching, fading, peeling they can be hard to maintain and once faded, obscure the true colors and beauty of natural stone.

See the video below for a simple way to check for tile coating.


One way to tell if you have a coating is to run your fingernails over the top.
If they leave scuffs like the above coated travertine, you have a coating.

If you have......
Travertine, Marble, Limestone, ALL Outdoor Stone Patios

These types of stones inside and all outdoor stone surfaces should never be coated with any type of acrylics, wax, or any topcoat sealer. The coatings will scratch, peel, bubble, fade and discolor. They lend to a very plastic look to what should be a beatuiful stone floor. Outside, the Arizona heat will destroy topcoat sealers in no time and they will look grey or whitish. Coatings can be difficult to remove and we have found some floors to have multiple layers of different type of sealers. Each layer may need a different process and/or chemical stripper to remove it.

Topcoat sealers on travertine, marble, limestone and all outdoor stone patios will
scratch, peel, bubble and fade.
Topcoat sealers can be difficult to remove and we have found some floors to have multiple layers of different type of sealers.

If you have.....
Flagstone, Slate, Saltillo, Canterra

These types of stone can have coatings inside only. These stones are very rough, hard to clean, and porous. Topcoat sealers are helpful in sealing the pores, making it easier to maintain, and will give shine because these stones cannot be buffed naturally to a shine as can travertine, marble or limestone. Of course, you don't have to use a topcoat sealer but it is an option if you want some shine. Keep in mind that topcoat sealers need to be re-applied every couple of years before they wear thin and require stripping.

Flagstone patio with thick coating coming loose revealing a brighter cleaner flagstone underneath.   Another example of the same flagstone coating. This is an extreme example, but we did strip it off and bring back to life.

A very typical view of a faded and peeling coating. The whitish stuff is the coating, the darker is the flagstone underneath the coating.

  Another typical view of a coated flagstone patio. Coated Slate or Saltillo patios would have a similar appearance.