What is a sealer?
The word seal means to close an entrance or to cover a surface so that nothing can enter or leave the object.
Sealing is an important process for producing a smooth bond between the two surfaces. Sealing is the surface to surface joining technique of materials using a different type of substance. Stone sealing is the application of the surface treatment to products constructed of natural stone to prevent staining and corrosion. There are two types of sealings that are:
- The induction sealing
- The conductive sealing
The induction sealing is a process in which the sealing is airtight without any physical contact takes place and the conductive sealing is a process in which physical contact is required between the two surfaces which can slow down the process.
A sealer is a product to seal the object or thing. It coats the object to provide a layer of protection. A sealer is well defined as
“A coating of a substance that is applied to a porous surface as a basecoat to prevent the absorption of different liquids or subsequent coats and helps to protect from damage.”
The substance used for sealing is known as the sealer. Some sealers like adhesives can be used to assemble parts and many adhesives can be used to seal the products. Sealers basically block the pores of the objects that can change in composition due to moisture and chemical reactions.
There are a variety of sealers that are available in the market for natural stones. Some sealers create a barrier around the surface of the stone so that it cannot be damaged by the cleaning products. Some sealers provide a smooth surface for the following coats of finish. They also help to prevent the grain of the stone from rising. They may help to add color or depth to the stone.
Why Seal Travertine Stone:
Travertine is beautiful, bold looking, dazzling natural stone with many advantages yet it requires a lot of maintenance to keep its look everlasting. If you are searching for the perfect design and pattern for your travertine tiles for bathroom, kitchen, pool area or patio projects etc. then you must be concerned about sealing the travertine tiles because after some time you want the tiles to look as beautiful as you first saw them. Travertine is used in the kitchens, floors, bathrooms and dining rooms, walls, near swimming pools, patios, lobbies, facades and public areas. It is used for building as well as decorative purpose because of its strength and durability. It can be cut, split or divide according to the shape required. Travertine’s porosity may leave it prone to damage if unsealed.
As travertine is a porous stone, so it requires proper maintenance and cleaning. Because of its porous nature, it must be sealed to protect its natural beauty, design and color. Sealing helps to protect the travertine stone because travertine can absorb liquids that cause the stone to be stained permanently which will affect its design and natural beauty. The sealer is like a barrier between the stone and the stains.
Choosing the right sealer for travertine tiles is essential for the longevity and natural appearance of the natural stone especially in frequently used patios. And you don’t want to end up with a sub-standard sealer as it can lead to a disastrous and costly effect, by causing irreversible damage. Additionally, sealers are also quite effective in protecting against changing weather conditions as well especially in colder regions where the outdoor tiles undergo repeated freezing and thawing. The reasons for sealing travertine tiles are as below:
It is the most common type of damage. It happens due to the spillage of oils or other liquids which penetrate deeply into the stone. It is impossible to remove which will affect the natural beauty and appearance of the travertine. The only way to get rid of it is to destroy the stone.
- ACID ATTACK:
Acid soluble stone elements like calcite in travertine react with acid solutions on contact or on absorbing acid forming gases like oxides of sulfur and nitrogen from the air result in the stone damage. The acid rain is also a cause of damage for travertine. Acid destroys the travertine and it may create holes in the stone that is pitting. The mild household acids like vinegar, lemon juice, milk and cola can damage the vulnerable types of stone. The strong acids will cause irreparable damage in seconds.
- SALT ATTACK:
It happens when the salts present in water are brought into the stone. The two main effects of salt attack are spalling and efflorescence. Spalling is a result of water entering the stone and forcing it to break or pop out whereas efflorescence is a whitish powdery layer on the surface of the stone which is caused by mineral rich water that is evaporated on the surface of the stone.
- FREEZE-THAW SPALLING:
It is also a harmful condition for travertine in cold weather. In this condition the water freezes in the surface pores of the stone which results in water expansion that cause the stone to split, spall, crack, break or even crumble. This happens because of the stress caused by the freezing of water into ice.
- PICTURE FRAMING:
It is caused when the grout and water moves into the edges of the stone and create an unattractive and ugly dark outline which creates a border or framing effect on the stone. This type of harm is not pleasing to the eyes and it usually is irreversible.
Travertine Sealers Pros:
Travertine sealers are used around the globe for protecting travertine, however, they have their own pros and cons which should be considered before one go for selecting a right travertine. Let’s have a look on these Pros and cons of travertine pavers. There are many advantages of using travertine sealers for protecting travertine tiles and travertine pavers. Here are the top ones.
1. Weed and Mildew Protection:
Moisture, dust, and a suitable temperature allows mildews and weeds to grow just about anywhere and without sealers they grow into the tiles/pavers causing severe damage. By sealing the tiles/pavers weeds and mildews still grow but they do not go inside the space between the pavers and remain on the surface making it easier to remove them.
2. Beautiful External Appearance:
Sealers form a layer on the surface of the travertine, this layer reflects light giving the stone a shiny and glossy look which gives a clean appearance. They protect the surface from stains such as oil and grease. Sealers also prevent the color of the travertine from fading.
3. Enhanced Resilience and longevity:
Sealers promote resilience against corrosion and ensure longevity. They protect travertine in high traffic areas from wear and tear. They are responsible for increasing the life of the stone.
4. Weather Protection:
In cold regions unsealed travertine pavers can be damaged by ice and snow during freeze and thaw cycle. When ice melts, water can seep into the stone. When this water mixes with dust and sand in the stone it leads to the formation of mud puddle which can, in turn lead to cracks in the stone. Sealers prevent this dust and water from going into the pavers thus preventing such complications.
5. Protection against acidic substances:
Travertine is a natural stone made up of mostly calcium salts and it reacts easily with materials acidic in nature even the most innocuous foods items such as beverages and fruit juice can damage them and cause a permanent stain on the surface. Sealers prevent these substances from soaking into the surface allowing you to clean the surface with a simple broom. The most widely used sealers for protection against acidic substances are granite sealers.
Travertine Sealers Cons:
Although travertine sealers have their own benefits which we have discussed but there can be few drawbacks of using travertine sealers as well. Let’s have a look on these.
1. High Cost of Sealers:
Travertine sealers come in two qualities i.e. standard and premium. Standard quality is usually suitable for indoor installations like travertine tiles. Pavers on the other hand are installed outdoors i.e. in driveways and high traffic areas. Cheaper standard quality sealers are not much of a use in such areas because they form a thin film which wears off soon. It is better to go with the premium sealers. They are more reliable but might put a slight dent in your wallet.
2. Hazardous Chemical:
Certain sealers especially those which give a glossy look to the stone have chemicals that can reduce the coefficient of friction of the pavers thus causing them to become more slippery. There are also some acrylic based sealers which can become hazardous in case of fire.
3. Regular Reapplication Required:
Regular maintenance is reduced with the help of sealers however they do require reapplication after a certain period of time in order to maintain an optimum level of protection. On average the reapplication is usually in the span of 1-2 years.
Types of sealers:
There are many factors to consider when choosing a sealer i.e. the type of surface, daily wear and tear etc. These factors can help you decide the best sealer for the job.
Sealers are classified into three main categories.
- Penetrating Sealers
- Enhancing Sealers
- Topical Sealers
All of these sealers can be used on a variety of surfaces like brick, clay tiles, marbles, granite and travertine. Penetrating sealers give off a natural appearance and leave the surface unchanged after drying whereas topical sealers leave a glossy and shiny finish.
1. Penetrating sealers:
Penetrating sealers seep into the surface leaving the external appearance virtually unchanged. These sealers do not form a thin film on the surface of the tile and they do not flake or peel off thereby retaining the coefficient of friction after application. Penetrating sealers come in two qualities – standard and premium:
- Standard Quality: Standard penetrating sealers are used for protection against cold drinks, beverages and dirt. They become quite ineffective in environments like a commercial kitchen or food service area as these sealers cannot provide protection against oil-based stains.
- Premium Quality: Premium penetrating sealers offer high-quality protection against beverages as well as oil based stains and are perfect for use in commercial kitchens and food areas. However, they are quite expensive as compared to standard quality sealers.
2. Enhancing Sealers:
These sealers enhance the natural color of the stone without the glossy effect. They offer protection against beverages and the premium quality one’s can provide protection against oil-based contaminants.
3. Topical Coating sealers:
As the name implies these sealers sit on the surface of the stone and give it a glossy appearance. These sealers have one major drawback that they wear off from the surface over a period of time and have to be applied frequently especially for surfaces with high usage. For adequate protection more than one coating of topical sealers is required.
When to apply the sealer:
The sealing process of travertine tile is very easy. It should be done before or during installation and periodically afterwards. Sealing the travertine is required approximately after every three to five years. It depends on the usage of the tile, the cleaning agents used on the surfaces and the traffic on the tiles as well as the location of the stone. Strong chemicals used on the surface of the tiles for cleaning can damage the tiles because of them the sealer can disappear or wear away from the travertine tiles.
How do sealer work?
Sealers are not the topcoats on the stone, they are the basecoats on the surface of the stone to fill up the tiny microscopic pores of the stone. The lighter stones are more likely to be sealed because they are more porous than darker stones. Dark stones are not usually porous. Each and every stone is different in nature so it’s better to do a water test before sealing the stone. If the stone does not absorb water then it should not be sealed because if a sealer is applied to that stone it will create a plastic layer on the surface of the stone which will become dull after a passage of time that will affect the natural beauty of the stone. If the stone absorbs water then it should be sealed.
The sealer works by chemically reacting with the travertine stone to create a protective layer or barrier on the stone from water and oils. As the active components of the sealers are silicon, oxygen, carbon and hydrogen atoms. These molecules have two properties that are hydrophobic and hydrophilic. Hydrophobic is a property that tends to repel the water and does not mix with water whereas hydrophilic is a property that has the tendency to mix or dissolve in the water. When the sealer is applied to the travertine stone, the hydrophilic molecules react with the moisture retained in the base of the stone and breaks away to form another compound that reacts within the masonry lattice. This reaction forms a bond. The hydrophobic molecules change the surface energy. This is why water and oils do not absorb in the stone but repel as soon as they spill on the stone. The micropores of the stone are still open for moisture vapors to escape. That is why the surface of the stone is breathable.
Importance of sealing travertine:
Travertine is a porous stone which means it has interconnected capillaries through which liquids and gases can move easily. As porous stone, travertine acts as a hard sponge that can suck or absorb water and other liquids easily along with any minerals and salts and other residues within the liquids. Travertine must be protected from these stains and damage. This can be done by sealing the travertine stone with different types of sealers. The sealers are of three types that are topical sealers, penetrating sealers and impregnating sealers.
Topical sealers are stain repellant but they are not long-lasting, as they can wear off after some time on high traffic areas. Penetrating sealers are durable for long time. This sealer penetrates into the stone and protects it from damage. It allows the stone to breathe. The impregnating sealers are a type of penetrating sealers. They penetrate deeply into the stone. They repel water and oils within the stone. They protect the travertine against salt attacks for example efflorescence, freeze-thaw spalling, and picture framing.
Sealers are important for the travertine as they provide the long life and durability of the stone. They help the stone to get rid of any dust, dirt, moisture and chemicals that can penetrate into the travertine and damage it. They perform a joining function on the stone so that no leakage happens because of the proper adhesion of the sealer. They help to coat and protect the surface of the stone as they provide a layer on the stone which acts as a protector against different damages. The sealers help to improve the appearance of the travertine stone as they enhance the color of the stone and provide a finish to the stone. They contain a liquid or gas sealer. This function of sealer is helpful as a fluid can be a liquid or gas. Both can harm the travertine stone that is why it is good to repel the fluids containing both liquids and gas.
How to choose the right type of sealer for travertine:
Travertine is one of the most frequently used stones in modern architecture. It is naturally durable stone. If it is not treated properly it will be affected by staining, efflorescence, spalling and other salt attacks. This is why a sealer is required to protect the stone and its natural beauty as well as it provides the long life to the stone.
But how to choose a right type of sealer for your travertine stone? Here is a guide to choose the right type of sealer that best suits your travertine stone.
- PRIOR KNOWLEDGE OF THE SEALERS:
While choosing the right type of sealer for your travertine tiles, you must have prior knowledge about sealers that is, what a sealer is? Where to use it? Types of sealers that are penetrating, impregnating and topical sealers and the functions of each type of sealers.
- OVERALL LOOK:
It is also important to think about the overall look of the travertine before sealing because it should look attractive after installation. If you like the natural markings and design of the travertine then be aware that a topical sealer can alter its color and it may give a slightly unnatural and glossy look to the travertine stone.
- LOCATION CONSIDERATION:
While selecting the sealer for travertine, it is important to consider the location of the stone that is, where to install it because the topical sealer used on high traffic areas can be worn off after some time. So it is recommended to consider the location of the travertine tiles.
- WEATHER CONDITIONS:
While choosing the sealer consider the weather conditions of the area. As the freezing cold weathers affect the travertine stone by salt attacks like spalling and efflorescence, etc
How to seal your travertine tiles:
Travertine stone is usually used on floors, countertops, backsplashes and walls. These areas need to be sealed properly with the sealer. Sealing does not prevent light acids like lemon juice, vinegar, wine to leave their marks and stains but they can help against other scratches and stains. The polished and glossy travertine is naturally resistant to non-acidic spills and they may not absorb the sealer. There are two parts of applying the sealer. They are described as below:
- Preparing the travertine for sealing
- Sealing the travertine tiles
Preparing the travertine for sealing:
- Prior to seal the travertine tiles it is necessary to prepare them for the sealing.
- It is necessary to test the travertine tile before sealing whether it needs to be sealed or not. This can be done by the water test. Drop a few drops of water on an unnoticeable area of the stone and let it stand for a few minutes. Now dry it with an absorbent cloth or material. If the travertine remains darker in color more than a few minutes then it’s better to seal the stone. It will protect the stone from other liquids and their permanent stains.
- When travertine is installed, wait at least two to three weeks before sealing them. This is because the travertine may absorb moisture while storage and installation process. If any moisture is trapped in the travertine after sealing then it will not be effective for the travertine stone.
- Remove the old coating of finish or wax from the travertine as it is not needed with the sealing.
- Remove all the dust from the travertine with a soft broom or mop, vacuum or hand dusters before sealing.
- Select the cleaning solutions for the travertine. Only use soapy or alkaline solutions. Avoid acidic cleaning agents.
- Let the travertine wet for few minutes so that it picks up as much dirt as possible. Now use a mop or sponge to clean up the tiles.
- Now scrub the tiles focusing on stained or dirty areas until all dirt particles and stains are removed.
- Now rinse the tiles with warm water two to three times until all the dirt and cleaning solution are removed, otherwise, the sealer may not be absorbed evenly.
- Now dry the tiles with a soft cloth to wipe off the water from the tiles.
- The travertine must be completely dry before applying the sealer, so let it dry overnight or even up to 72 hours if the stone is unpolished or in a damp area.
Sealing the travertine tiles:
- Select a sealer for your travertine which is suitable for travertine according to your preference. Now decide whether the sealer, you will use, will be matte or glossy in appearance.
- Ensure that the space you are working on is well ventilated. Open the doors and windows.
- Now test the sealer by rubbing in a small amount of sealer on an unnoticeable area of travertine. Let it seal for 24 hours. This is because the final appearance and the level of protection meet your satisfaction. If not then change the sealer.
- Once you are satisfied with the sealer results, rub it across the entire surface of the travertine using a soft cloth. Do not leave too much or excess sealer on the surface of the stone.
- Clean up the puddles of sealer with a soft, dry cloth as soon as possible. If left to dry they as well may stain the stone.
- Most travertine surfaces require two coats of sealer. So let the first coat of sealer on travertine dry completely and then apply the second coat.
- Now wait for the sealer to penetrate in and dry. It should be given plenty of time to penetrate in and completely dry before the use and the flow of heavy traffic on the travertine tiles.
- If the sealer left streaks or trails on the travertine after it is dried, apply more sealer on those streaks and trails. Now buff the wet sealer with a cloth until all the puddles and excess moisture have been removed.
When to Re-seal Travertine Tiles?
Regardless of the type of protection provided by the sealers, it is essential to have re-application of the sealer periodically in order to maintain an optimum level of protection for the natural stone. The frequency of re-applying sealer is directly co-related to the amount of activity or foot traffic endured by the travertine tiles.
In order to determine whether it is time to re-apply the sealer just sprinkle a little water on the surface of the tile. If the water penetrates quickly then it is time to re-apply sealer if it penetrates slowly or remains on the surface then reapplication is not required.
Other Applications of Travertine Sealers:
Travertine tiles can also be used as decoration tiles by painting different designs on them. In order to properly paint the tile, increase durability and prevent paint absorption apply sealer on the surface of the tile with a brush. After sealer is dried, paint the tiles with unique impressions to increase its brilliance and make sure that your paint is moisture resistant. In order to protect the paint against dust and other external impurities another coat of sealant will give it the necessary defense.
Travertine Sealer Tips:
There are some tips to maintain the travertine sealers. They are as below:
- It is necessary to pre-seal the tiles before laying.
- Deep clean and reseal the travertine after every two to three years.
- Do not use a surface or topcoat sealer on travertine because they can scuff and come off or trap the air bubbles and dirt.
- Regular cleaning is required with dry soft dust mop or duster after sealing. Don’t use abrasive cleaners like hard brooms etc. on travertine.
- Wipe up the spill immediately from travertine.
- Try to identify the cause of the stain before cleaning.
- Use mild soapy or alkaline solutions for cleaning the travertine.
- Avoid using acidic solutions on the travertine.
- Don’t ever mix chemicals together for cleaning, they may react when combined and create a toxic gas.
- Properly clean the tiles before applying the sealer.
- Decide and take professional advice on the type of sealer to be used according to your preferences.
- If using impregnating sealer then don’t forget to wipe off excess sealer after 15 to 20 minutes.
- Don’t seal travertine if the weather is too hot and the tiles are laid outdoors like pools and patios.
- Use a rayon mop for sealing larger areas rather than cotton mop because it will soak up the sealer instead of spreading it.
Travertine sealers come in different types to cater a myriad of requirements regarding stone sealing. These sealers can help you in protecting your travertine product’s surface and increase its life in addition to maintaining its bold and timeless look. However, it is important to select right type of sealer in order to get the most out of them. Try to seek a stone professional’s opinion before finalizing any sealer type. And avoid going for the DIYs when it comes to sealants because if your stone is not sealed right then water, dust and other particles might seep into its structure and ruin the appearance of the stone.