Editor's Note: When we heard Fred Hueston claim he could remove scratches from engineered stone and then polish the repair to blend in with the original finish, we just had to see it firsthand. So we traveled to Hueston's National Training Center for the Stone and Masonry Trades (NTC) in Asheville, N. C. for the ultimate proof. Not only did the repair perform up to expectations, the process was completed with almost no mess. This is truly a bona-fide repair procedure that can be performed in the customer's home in the course of an afternoon.
In the pages that follow, Hueston illustrates many of his secrets for repairing and polishing engineered stone. "The biggest secret," he confides, "is to be patient and not hurry the process."
Most engineered stone surfaces are scratch resistant yet, as many fabricators know, they are not scratch proof. When a scratch does occur, it needs to be repaired. The following are procedures I have developed to repair and polish most engineered stone surfaces. As with any polishing technique, it is wise to practice first on a scrap piece.
Most of the tools you will need to hone and polish engineered stone can be rented. They include:
Electric or air hand buffer. You need a small electric or air hand buffer. Be sure you use a machine that has a speed no greater than 3000 rpm. The slower the better. Many car buffers will work just fine. Do not use an angle grinder. These machines operate at speeds of 10,000 rpm or greater and are too fast for refinishing or polishing engineered stone.
Drive Pad. You will need a special velcro-backed drive pad to hold your diamond abrasives.
An alternative would be to glue some velcro to a white polishing pad to attach the diamonds.
Diamond Abrasives. If you intend to perform any honing you will need a set of diamond abrasives. The same diamonds that are used for granite are the ones you will need. Most stone tool distributors will carry theses abrasives. See the industry related links at www.ntc-stone.com for a list of distributors. You need to be careful with the type of diamonds you use on engineered stone. Some resins in the abrasive can gouge the engineered stone. When purchasing a set of diamonds, make sure they have been designed or tested on engineered stone. At the time of this writing the only brand I am familiar with is Alpha Professional Tools Ceramic EX and the Viper Elite. However, I have tried several other brands that seem to work well also. Check with your tool supplier and make sure their diamond abrasives have been tested on engineered stone.
Polishing Powder. Braxton Bragg is the only company I know of that has a polishing powder for engineered stone. However, I am sure there will be others with polishing powders coming soon. Make sure to use a dark powder for black colored stone and white powder for lighter stones.
The following procedure is a guide for refinishing of most engineered stone surfaces. It is a general procedure and may not be applicable to all types of materials. For refinishing and polishing procedures for specific types of engineered stone consult the manufacturer.