Question: I have a problem with my Fireslate kitchen counter. As far as I know, Fireslate is no longer advertised for meters because it doesn’t hold up well and needs regular refinishing. I’ve let mine get pretty bad and I want it to be renewed. I would also like to know the best way to take care of it while still using it normally – I don’t want to have to baby it.
Answer: Fireslate still has a website (www.fireslate.com) promoting the use of the material on kitchen countertops, but no one replied to the phone number or email address listed there.
Comments online from homeowners with Fireslate countertops indicate that many people have had experiences similar to yours. Fire slate, which resembles slate, is made from Portland cement, quartz sand, water, and fillers. The website warns that you will have to reapply sealer after about five years and that you can damage the surface by spilling acids like lemon juice or vinegar, using the surface as a cutting board, or scraping it off with a coarse cast iron saucepan. It also says you can treat scratches in place by sanding them down. However, this also wears out the seal, making it less effective there.
But you probably know that. So what now? If the entire surface is badly scratched, the only remedy is to grind or grind to fresh material. According to Fireslate, woodworking tools and sandpaper can be used, but it should be noted that diamond abrasives and stone polishing tools are much faster to work with.
If you try to do this yourself, be sure to keep the surface moist to control dust. Airborne silica dust is classified as carcinogenic and can cause silicosis, a serious and sometimes fatal lung disease. Wet and dry sandpaper and diamond abrasives are resistant to moisture.
If you want professional restoration there are two options: Rose Restoration in Merrifield, Virginia (800-413-9893; www.roserestoration.com) and Concrete Angle in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (301-514-1766) which is across the Washington area work. Rose specializes in marble and often refers work with concrete to Ron Rinehart, owner of Concrete Angle. The cost can range from $ 500 to $ 2,000, depending on the surface.
Fireslate recommends Lithofin PSI for sealing. However, the manufacturer has since replaced this product with Lithofin MN Stain Stop, which costs $ 50 per liter at www.mystonecare.com. Rose and Concrete Angle also use penetrating sealers and include the application in their pricing.
Another tip courtesy of John Forguson, General Manager of Mystonecare.com: Forget about coating the sealed countertop with tung oil as suggested on the Fireslate website. On a sealed surface, the oil creates a blotchy appearance that appears blotchy. If you want the darker color that tung oil would create, he recommends using the Lithofin MN color enhancer, which is also a penetrating sealer, instead of the basic version. A bonus: the color enhancer costs just $ 27 per liter.
You mentioned that you want to avoid having to babyize the countertop. Unfortunately, you still need to be reasonably vigilant. The seal should make the countertop dirt-repellent. But you still couldn’t leave a puddle, especially one with vinegar or other acid that sat there for hours. Surface renewal also does not protect against dents from knife blades. Use one or more generous cutting boards.
Q: Is there a company in Northern Virginia that specializes in cleaning copper roofs? B. over bay windows?
You don’t need to clean a copper roof to extend its lifespan. That’s one benefit of investing in copper – it really should be a light-hearted finish. Maybe you are really wondering if you can bring back the shiny, bright penny look? That might be possible, but realize that you will be battling the natural life cycle of copper.
One solution would be to hire a handyman to clean and polish with metal repair products (or even do the job yourself if you’re comfortable on a ladder). Everbrite provides instructions and lists the products you need on their website. The company’s 4-ounce kit, which includes a cleaning gel, neutralizer, and protective coating, costs about $ 45 and covers about 25 square feet, enough for a roof over a six-foot-wide bay window.
Or you could hire a professional. Many companies that maintain architectural metals only work on commercial projects, but one that also does small residential work is Extra Clean, based in Rockville (800-453-9090; www.extraclean.us). A company representative looked at the picture you sent and estimated that polishing the roof would cost $ 425 plus $ 135 if you added a clear protective finish. You can ask the company to visit and create a work sample that shows the final look and feel.
Ordering a free sample of work seems like a good idea, especially given the advice of Brad Emch, a salesperson at Zappone, a Spokane, Wash., Company (800-285-2677; www.zappone.com) which kits for Copper Roofs manufactures bay windows as well as a whole range of copper roofing products.
Zappone does not recommend keeping entire roofs shiny, but offers advice and makes products for those who want bright copper on decorative details or roofs over bay windows. When the copper on these surfaces begins to turn cloudy and a little brown, it can be polished back to the shiny stage, Emch said. But this is not always possible when a roof is already made of dark bronze.
“It’s a chemical reaction, not just a topcoat,” he said, referring to the way copper weathered due to corrosive sulfur compounds in the air.
Emch suggested testing a small, inconspicuous area with a copper cleaner like Everbrite. If the copper turns shiny, you can either clean it yourself or pay someone to do it.
For the clear coating, which is important if you want the shine to last longer than a few months, he recommends his company’s acrylic finish as it’s thicker and more corrosion-resistant than clear varnishes sold in varnish stores. A quart for $ 29 is enough for a bay roof. Depending on the weather and exposure to the sun, the finish could take seven years, he said. Then it would start peeling and would have to be stripped (probably using xylene, an effective solvent) and reapplied.
If you’d rather have a roof that doesn’t oblige you to an ongoing maintenance cycle, or if the copper is already too tarnished, Emch recommends letting the copper do what it is programmed to do. Early tarnishing looks blotchy, but the color evens out over time and eventually takes on a greenish tinge – the verdigris that many people love. To fast-forward into this stage, Zappone sells a patina solution for $ 23 a quart.
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