Travertine is an environment friendly building material that has been used in the construction even before the Roman Empire. It is an extremely durable stone that can survive not only freeze and thaw cycle but also withstand exposure to scorching sunlight. The strength of this stone can be seen in buildings like the Colosseum and Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. This stone has a unique striking appearance due to the pits in its structure which appear during its formation when carbon dioxide gets released. The aesthetically pleasing stone is quarried and taken to factories for cutting into slabs, pavers, tiles and mosaics.
Travertine stone is available in a large variety of earthy tones and shades that makes it quite popular among the homeowners and designers. It has two types of veining patterns i.e. cross cut and vein cut depending on the direction in which the stone is cut. It is an economical stone which can be used for interior and exterior decoration of any residential or commercial space. It is used for flooring, wall cladding both internal and external, bathrooms, pools, walkways, pathways, fire pits, fireplace surround area and gazebos. The applications of this antique looking stone are unlimited.
How to Keep Travertine New and Safe
Even though durability is one of the major plus points of travertine, it still requires proper care and maintenance if one wants to retain its original color and shine. Here we have listed all the necessary steps that you will need to keep your travertine new and safe for a long time.
Travertine can be kept in its best form for an extended time period if proper cleaning is done. Whether it is the tile or the paver, you can keep their appearance in brand new state by just adhering to the travertine specific cleaning guidelines.
- For daily cleaning, a dry soft dust mop can suffice for removal of dirt and debris from the surface. If you think the surface of your travertine product requires a more thorough cleaning then use a non-acidic cleaner made for natural stone. This balanced pH based cleaner will not only remove the pesky stain but will also keep the sealer in place. Sealed stone can get etched when acidic cleaners with ingredients like ammonia or bleach are used. This can lead to discoloration and permanent staining of the stone. Once the cleaner has been used rinse the area thoroughly and pat dry with a soft mop or towel.
- For weekly cleaning, you should first dry clean the floor with a vacuum. This will help in reaching tough corners and edges. Next damp clean the area using a soft warm water dampened cloth. Wipe the area with this cloth while applying light pressure. Afterwards dry the surface with a dry mop or towel. If you have unfilled travertine installed then a soft brush can provide a complete cleaning of the stone. Just dry the cleaned area to soak up any liquid dirt left.
- For monthly cleaning start with a light scrub of the surface by using a soft brush and a light stone cleaner solution. Scrub softly and work your way through the grout and pores of you travertine installment. Leave for 10-15 minutes and scrub again. Dry any excessive liquid by using a clean mop and make sure all of it is absorbed. Next rinse the surface with warm water and finish the job by soaking up the water using a clean towel.
- For yearly cleaning you need to first conduct a water test. Spill water on you travertine surface and let it be for 15-30 minutes. Dry the wet stone surface with a cloth and inspect the area. If the area where water was spilled has darkened then resealing of the stone is required. Professional stone cleaners can be hired for the resealing and re-polishing of the travertine installments.
Travertine’s distinctive look is caused by its porous structure. The timeless beauty of this structure comes at a price and that is absorption of liquid. This can lead to staining and wearing of the stone. However, if the travertine product is properly sealed with a good quality sealer then the stone retains its lustrous look for a long time. Sealers are of two types:
- Impregnating Sealers: These sealers are either suspended in spirit or water and help in sealing the pits and holes present in travertine stone. The sealer is absorbed by the stone just below the surface and the carrier (water or spirit) evaporates leaving only the sealer behind. These sealers are micro porous, stain repellent and moisture resistant. They can be color enhancing or provide a matt finish, depending on the homeowner’s choice. Usually these sealers are used near water bodies such as the bathroom, pool or saunas.
- Surface Sealers: These are the water based sealers that provide surface level protection to travertine stone. These sealers provide protection against stains, scratches and etching of the stone. There are two main finishes available in surface sealers i.e. glossy or matte. They can be used on their own or in combination with impregnating sealers for double protection.
The type of sealer that you require depends on the location of your travertine installation and your choice about the stone’s appearance. Travertine products should be resealed yearly and if their color is light then at least twice per year. This can ensure longevity of the stone. Sealing should be done by professionals in order to avoid any kind of damages to the stone’s surface.
Stains and their Removal
Stains can look annoying on the surface of travertine. There are many products available in the market that can be used for their removal. However, the first step is identification of the type of stain present. The accurate identification can allow homeowners in using the correct method for the stain’s removal which can in turn protect the stone from unnecessary treatment and yield optimal results. Following are the most common type of stains and methods required for their removal:
- Oil Stains: Any oil based product such as tar, grease, cooking oil and cosmetics etc. can cause an oil stain on your stone. The affected area gets darkened and can be fixed only with chemical treatment. To remove oil based stains first of all remove the remains of staining agent from the surface by wiping or chipping (only for tar). Next, gently clean the stained area with a soft liquid stone cleaner by using a cloth. Do not apply the cleaner directly to the stain as this will lead to dilution of the stain which will in turn allow seepage into the porous structure of the stone. Use a cloth to absorb the stain by placing the cleaner applied cloth over the stain for a few minutes. Alkaline de-greaser, household detergent and mineral spirits can be used as cleaners for these stains.
- Water Stains: Hard water’s accumulation on the stone’s surface can lead to water stains in the form of spots or rings. For removal of these stains use dry steel wool grade 0000 on the affected area.
- Organic Substance Stains: Juice, coffee, tea, wine, food in general, tobacco, bird droppings and urine etc. are the main sources of organic stains. These organic stains are usually of pinkish brown color. If the travertine affected is installed outside then by removal of the stain source, the stone can return to its normal color due to the natural bleaching by rain and sunlight. If the installation is indoors then it will be removed using a cleaning formula. You can buy any of the cleaners available in the market or use a homemade one by mixing 12% Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) with a few drops of ammonia (NH4).
- Paint Stains: Paint stains can be removed easily, if small area is affect, by scraping them off with any sharp object like a razor blade or using a lacquer thinner. However, if the affected area is large then use any liquid paint stripper available in the market. Never use acid or any flame based tools for the removal of paint stains.
- Ink Stains: Ink stains can be caused by permanent markers, fountain pens, ball points and even gel pens. These nasty stains can be removed easily depending on the color of the stone but take special care in not pouring the removing agents directly on the stains. Always use a cloth for drawing out the stain. If it is a light shade of travertine then apply hydrogen peroxide or bleach. If the color of the stone is dark then use lacquer thinner or acetone.
- Etching: When an acid comes in contact with travertine it leads to etching of the stone. Some acids only cause damage to the finish of the stone while others can not only etch the finish but also stain the stone leading to discoloration. To treat etch marks, remove the acid from the surface and wet the area with water. Next, rub marble polishing powder on the affected area using a buffing pad, polisher or by hand. Keep on buffing the area till the etch marks disappear and the surface starts to shine again. If the stain is deep then services of a professional will be required for honing of the stone.
- Fire and Smoke based Stains: These types of stains are usually found on travertine stone installed on the fireplace surround area or on fire pits. For removal of these stains first clean the stone thoroughly and then use smoke removal products available in the market.
- Efflorescence: Efflorescence is a white powder type deposit caused by water carrying mineral salts. This powdery substance appears on the travertine stone when the water evaporates. If the deposits are recent then simply dry mop or vacuum it off the stone’s surface. Repeat this till the deposit is completely removed. Under no circumstances should you use water to get rid of this powdery deposit as it can damage the stone. If the problem is not solved by this method then seek services of a professional.
Stain Removal with Poultice
Poultice can be used for removal of majority of stain types. Given below is the detail method of how to use poultice for removing stains off travertine:
- Prepping of the Stone: Before applying the poultice powder, strip the travertine from any sealer, wax or other coating layer using a sealer stripper. This will allow the poultice to penetrate into the stone’s pores and effectively remove the stains.
- Preparing of Poultice: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to mix the poultice solution. The powder is mixed with distilled water till a peanut butter type paste is created.
- Application of Poultice: The poultice paste should be applied directly on the stain in a layer of around ½ to ¼ inch thickness. Cover around ½ inch of the area with poultice paste on the stain surrounding area for complete coverage. Once the paste has been applied, wrap it with a plastic sheet and use duct tape on the edges to make an air tight cover. Leave the paste to dry for 48 hours.
- Removal of Poultice: Once the paste has dried, remove the plastic sheet and carefully remove the poultice using a spatula. Rinse the area with distilled water and pat dry with a clean cloth. If the stain remains then repeat the whole process again. Once the stain is removed or considerably light, seal the stone with a good quality sealer.
Travertine stone is a one-time investment which can prove to be quite fruitful provided the necessary guidelines are followed for prevention of any type of damage. The maintenance of the stone can be reduced by wiping spills immediately. Use trays and hot pads / coasters for bathroom and kitchen countertops respectively. Never use abrasive material for cleaning of travertine. Always opt for soft and clean sloth or mop. Avoid acidic based cleaners as they react violently with travertine which is from the family of limestone. By regularly cleaning, periodic resealing and yearly re-polishing of the stone, homeowners can enjoy the beauty of their travertine installments for a long time.