Engineered Stone and Greenguard Certification

Currently we see many engineered stone brands that have several certificates, today's post we will be dealing specifically with the Greenguard certification program. Many industries have been coloring themselves green and engineered stone is clearly looking at every green certification and making sure their products are not left behind.

Why is Greenguard important?

People spend a great deal of time indoors, during the winter season, the time spent indoors can range over 90%. Although many of us have never looked at this in this perspective, truth is that, our home air has pollutants, and being home means you’re exposed to many airborne pollutants.
Deficient ventilation, humidity levels, temperature levels may have a negative effect on your home air quality, many products and materials which we use or have in our homes may release micro particles and volatile organic compounds (VOC) into the air, these may stand as great risks to human health. Allergies, asthma, cancer, reproductive and development problems, as well as annoying odors are some of the most common problems that poor indoor air may cause on humans.
It is said that indoor air pollution can be superior to outdoor air pollution, so it is considered a great health hazard to humans.

So what is a Greenguard Certificate?

Greenguard Environmental Institute is a non-profit organization, which provides special certification for building materials. Currently Greenguard Environmental Institute has three programs, for which building materials may qualify: Greenguard Indoor Air Quality Certification, Greenguard Children and Schools Certification and Greenguard Premier Certification. These three programs certify specifically building materials, however they also have a building  certification program, which is the Greenguard Building Construction Certification.
On the product side, namely building materials are tested and to qualify for their Greenguard certificate have to range as low emitting and non-toxic. To qualify for the certification the manufacturers have to voluntarily settle their products for Greenguard rigorous testing and continuous verification.  
The certification process insures that the building material is low emitting and non-toxic, as they are tested for thousands of nocive chemical agents. There is an annual re-certification process and quarterly quality monitoring which insures ongoing compliance with the Greenguard certification program.
Most engineered stone manufacturers have two certificates the Greenguard Air Quality Certificate and the Greenguard Children and Schools Certificate.The engineered stone industry is currently undergoing severe industrial changes to improve it's emission and toxicity, which will gradually improved usability and future certifications.
Green certificates are here to stay, manufacturers will use them aggressively in their marketing, and manufacturers who have not yet seen this current trend will soon have to certify their products or possibly their product may be rejected due to lack of certification.


Engineered Marble and Cultured Marble Maintenance and Care

Engineered marble requires daily maintenance and care, it also appplies to cultured marble, and these procedures will ensure that you engineered marble or your cultured marble maintains its unique beauty and elegance. Engineered marble ( cultured marble ) have a great percentage of natural marble, therefore in part they will need similar care as to its natural stone composition.
The use of a vacuum to do periodical cleaning on your engineered stone ( cultured marble ) is a wise option, as we all do understand that sand, pebbles, stone grit and dirt have a greater hardness than marble, and therefore can originate scratches on your engineered marble floor ( cultured marble ). A good brush type door mat may be essential to avoid sand and dirt entering your home. 
Many shopping centers also have big brush type door mats at all their entrances, mostly to clean off all sand and dirt that may come in attached to visitors shoes. The sand and dirt that is carried inside by visitors is considered one of the most damaging to flooring surfaces.
Cleaning detergents should be carefully selected, non-abrasive and with neutral Ph is recommended. The Ph is very important; if you use cleaners with high acid index it will ruin your polish and damage the surface. Unfortunately marble is made up of calcium carbonate which reacts with acids almost immediately. 
Besides the cleaning detergent, there are many risks for your engineered marble ( cultured marble ) in your home, lemon juice spill, orange juice, wine, cola drink, etc. The list goes on, but one thing we quickly can determine is that the majority of these things are normally found in our kitchen. So I strongly advise you not to use engineered marble ( cultured marble ), as any natural marble, in the kitchen either as flooring, backsplashes or as countertops. To keep it beautiful you'll need to constantly be alert, and daily routine maintenance and care is essential. Engineered marble ( cultured marble ) is a good product to use on flooring (either than kitchen), stairs, washroom flooring, walls and vanities.
The porosity of the engineered stone ( cultured stone ) is much lower than most natural marble, however it does absorb, after spills make sure you clean up or you may stain your engineered marble permanently.

Here is a small list of some chemical common  products you may use to protect and beautify your engineered marble (cultured marble ):
  • Engineered marble sealer: you will find several types of stone sealers on the market; make sure you find one appropriate for engineered marble, which means products with low porosity. The sealer has to be specific as it needs to infiltrate a product with relatively low porosity; most natural marble has great porosity, so the common sealers used are not advised.
  • Neutral cleaning detergent: as mentioned before the recommended cleaning detergent should be non-abrasive and with a neutral Ph.
  • Engineered marble wax: this may only be necessary a while after you install you engineered marble. When first installed, engineered marble comes with a perfect factory shine, with time and usage this shine will gradually fade. To revive you floors shine you can contact specialized personnel to do a total surface regeneration or before that option just apply an engineered stone wax to improve your engineered floor's beauty.
You should never forget, as I have repeated before, that your engineered marble is greatly made up of natural marble (more than 90%); therefore it needs a delicate daily maintenance to keep it looking as beautiful as the day it was installed. Re-polishing the surface is always an option, although delay it as much as you can. Before you re-polish the surface make sure you hire a professional team that have dealt with this product before and read the manufacturers care and maintenance issues.
Before using detergents which you are not certain that they are proper for engineered marble, test it on a hidden part of your floor. If all goes well then carefully use it.
Any floor either natural marble or engineered marble looks beautiful, its colourful design and texture will give your home a unique and elegant look. Nevertheless, to maintain this beauty you have to dedicate some time and effort to it. But at the end I guess it's all worthwhile.


How to install engineered marble tiles or cut to size pieces?

Engineered marble needs to be correctly applied, the correct fitting of engineered marble will insure durability, beauty and ….   . Engineered marble unlike engineered quartz has a higher porosity which makes it slightly less technical in application, although most recommendations made for engineered quartz also apply to engineered marble.
  1.  Adhesive and cement instructions: according to the European Standards namely the prEN 12004 some manufacturers recommend a Class C2 cement based adhesives for engineered marble applications. Fittings where engineered stone is exposed to high temperature variations, a Class R2 will be advised. Applications of engineered stone on a non-cement base will need a suitable adhesive. Do read carefully the engineered marble manufacturer’s instructions regarding the proper adhesive to use, especially the part which talks about water addition and dosage.
  2. Preparing the base: the base should be clean and leveled. It should also not have a humidity index above 2%, if such index is higher you may need to do a waterproof surface treatment.
  3. Prepare the adhesive according to the instructions, mix thoroughly.
  4. Spread a thin layer (up to 10 mm) of adhesive on the application area, due to the relatively quick drying of the adhesive, your working area should be defined accordingly. Use a grooved trowel for better adhesion of the engineered stone, the engineered stone has a very flat and smooth surface, so proper gluing methods is advised
  5. Apply adhesive evenly on the reverse side of the engineered stone tile or cut to size piece, this will ensure a good adhesion between your engineered stone and the base.
  6. Grout Joint: leave at least a 2mm grout joint in between each tile, if the area has severe temperature variations during the day and/or if the size of the tile is greater than 400mmx400mm, 5 mm may be recommended.
  7. Use a rubber mallet to ensure that the fitting is perfect and that the adhesive is evenly spread underneath the engineered marble tile.
  8. Clean any excess adhesive which may be appear on the tile with a humid mop, this should be done before applying the grout in the joint.
  9. Wait 24 to 48 hours before applying the grout, be careful while choosing the grout, follow manufacturers recommended products, as the engineered marble may absorb/stain with some products.
  10.   Clean carefully the surface after filling the joints

You will need cutting tools during your engineered marble applications. Use diamond stone discs for the job, choose similar ones to natural marble and don’t forget the cutting process requires water to guarantee a perfect cut and higher durability for your diamond tool.
Grout joints between tiles are recommended as are area expansion joints, due to expansion index proper of engineered marble, you may not avoid these, read manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Most of the problems regarding engineered marble are due to application, in general most of them can be avoided by just following instructions.