What is in a sealer warranty?
By Mark Ortiz - Stone Restoration Specialist
This months subject is about Sealer Warranties. I have been sealing natural stone since 1990 and have read about 10, 15, 20 year warranties on bottles of sealer and wondered why there's such a wide range of "promises". Haven't you? I have been asked hundreds of times if I offer a sealer warranty and avoided it for various reasons, mostly liability. I have considered many times why would it be important or essential to offer 'The best sealer warranty in the industry."
Before I present to you my reasoning and our exclusive sealer warranty for the industry, I think it is best to split this subject into two parts: This newsletter will explain some truths behind sealer and sealer warranties and in the next newsletter I will present the PGS Sealer Warranty. I'm sure most readers have preconceptions about sealers and so let's get to the truth what sealers do and don't do.
DON'T HARM THE MESSENGER.
Even though there are dozens of sealers on the market, I have decided to examine 5 common sealers on the market here in Southern California and see what they offer. I won't mention names in order to avoid being roughed up by one of them or served a defamation letter. I do live in one of the most litigious states in the union, as many of you know. This could be the reason I avoid warranties. I've never been sued in over 30 years of business mainly because I avoid making promises I can't back up and and my wife would choke me like the this guy to the left.
WHAT MOST PEOPLE WANT SEALERS TO DO!
prevent stains from occurring.
prevent scuff marks on the stone.
make the stone last longer.
ensure it is protected from whatever might ruin it.
protect their investment.
keep it looking like the day it was purchased.
WHAT DO THEIR SEALER WARRANTIES PROVIDE?
To help understand what sealers do and don't do, we can look at some of the language in the warranties of sealer manufacturers.
WHAT MOST SEALERS AND WARRANTIES DON'T DO:
1. Impregnators cannot stop etching. Etching is when a stone such as marble or limestone is exposed to lemons, vinegar, wine or other acidic based foods, cleaners or liquids.
2. Sealers do not make stone impervious to staining; it reduces the water absorption
3. Sealers are not topical (on the surface) and therefore do not reduce wear or abrasion
4. Sealers do not last forever, it may be effective for 5, 10, or 20 years, but not forever
5. Sealers must be applied correctly or it won't work and the warranty may be voided. Some require a 'certified applicator'.
6. Sealers don't prevent moisture from discoloring or staining when a pan or pot is left wet under it for a long period of time ('long period of time' is never defined); if spills are left long enough it can still penetrate and leave a stain ("long enough" isn't defined either).
7. Sealers are not water-proof (100% water repellency...like rubber or tar) in order to allow the stone to 'breath' (breathing means allowing for moisture evaporation). 🤔hmmm.
8. Using our cleaning products such as... product X, are the only products you can use to "maintain" the stone...and maintain the warranty
SO THEN, WHAT DO SEALERS DO?
Sealers are proven to help maintain stone, but how? The manufacturers lay it out for us in their own words. (I'm paraphrasing some of them)
WHAT SEALERS ACTUALLY DO (according to "them")
1. Sealers create a barrier resistant to surface stain absorption while allowing 100% vapor permeability
2. Allow the surface to be cleaned with much less work as it prevents stains and dirt from penetrating so they can be easily removed; It's able to repel stains, graffiti and some food products making cleaning easier
3. It provides maximum protection against the toughest oil and water-based stains; it becomes more oil and water repellant
4. Minimizes freeze thaw spalling, efflorescence and chloride ion salt screen (Ok...you got that?)
And my personal favorite (and partially true) "It's the best choice for peace of mind."
I agree with most of these statements and understand completely what they mean. Sealers do offer the first defense against staining.
(If you are completely uninterested in what I've been talking about so far, I really don't blame you! There are more interesting things to swipe on Facebook or Instagram, but I'm really enjoying hearing myself talk. But for the rest of you, let's keep going!)
LET ME BREAK THESE WARRANTY PROVISION IDEAS DOWN FOR YOU...
We (ACME Sealer Manufacturer) will warranty the prevention of stains from common foods and liquids if it doesn't set on the surface for too long of a period; as long as you follow our care instructions and in most cases prove you bought our cleaning products; have your stone sealed by an accredited (60 minute trained) applicator; registar online within a certain period of time and buy all our stuff! ('buy all our stuff' I added...and most of my snarky comments). Our warranty does not include damage done by any acidic liquid or food including 90% of the what's in your fridge nor any land or flying animal feces.
AND WE WILL GUARANTEE THIS FOR 3, 5 , 10, 15, 20 YEARS!
It all sounds good (without my comments), but someone like me who has been sealing stone for 30 years, and has returned to inspect thousands of jobs done by us and other companies, it's a little naive to think these taglines about their warranty is sufficient to protect your stone or give you the assurance how to deal with it if it's not effective.
I haven't even commented on what they say will be done if stains do occur, which is summarized like this. "We will either refund your money, send you more sealer, possibly send one of our pseudo attorney / forensic inspectors to determine what exactly happened; and if it looks like our sealer did not perform then we may attempt to remove the stain, but in no way replace the stone or be liable for installation of new stone."
I'm not too far off here and there was only one company that said it would replace the material and pay for installation if the stain couldn't be removed and if it was proven their sealer was not performing.
Sealers are a 'great' thing and should be applied to most natural stone as these manufactures suggest. Avoiding sealer on porous stones will result in unwanted staining and discoloration! I am quite aware that the manufacture cannot control the exposure to improper cleaning chemicals and liquids; and not every one of their sealers work for all stone applications, but they do attempt to give the end user some peace of mind. But the proof is in the pudding as dad used to tell me. The small print and hidden disclaimers are to protect themselves from misuse of the stone surface which happens more times than not. We all want some kind of warranty but feel like some are taking advantage of us when they ask us to pay for an "extended warranty". I usually say "No" based on the "I hate to pay more" principle and then immediately think my purchase will probably break down right before my warranty ends. 😒
"So Mark, what warranty are you going to offer?"
Great question because there are no stupid questions. (except from some of our news correspondents lately)
I will provide the industry with a PGS Sealer Service Warranty, not a product warranty. It will be simple to understand, clear what it does and doesn't include and will give you confidence that your stone is protected properly and from a company that has been around Southern California for decades. A name that has a reputation for honesty, solving problems and not planning on going anywhere as long as there are stone lovers like us. Look for it in our next newsletter coming soon.
Mark Ortiz - Owner
“Many stone surfaces naturally will not stain and wear excellent under many years of heavy use, but we don’t always know which stone these are so we recommend sealing all natural stone after installation and consulting a stone maintenance company regarding your specific stone application. Sealers are intended to help prevent unwanted staining and aid in maintenance yet it's not the silver bullet to solving every stone issue."
Thank you for referring Perfect Granite Solutions, the stone sealing and restoration experts.
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