Caring for your travertine floors
Travertine has been a favoured building material since the dawn of civilisation and was chosen by the Romans to build the Coliseum. Modern quarrying practices have made the production of travertine easier and more economical, and it’s now more readily available as a flooring option.
Travertine is very sensitive to acidic products
As travertine is made from water, it is great in a wet environment – so it’s ideal for bathrooms and wet rooms. One of its main characteristics is that it is full of holes. Travertine, like marble, is very sensitive to acids due to is calcium carbonate properties. This gives travertine the ability to be brought up to a high shine but also makes it more susceptible to staining.
Travertine will etch as soon as it comes into contact with an acidic substance, this includes many common household cleaners. The more acidic the substance, the faster etching occurs. Only polishing can remove these etch marks. Travertine when quarried is full of holes and resembles a crunchy bar when sliced in half. This of course renders it very porous.
BEFORE: travertine floors in need of restoration
Travertine can be ‘filled’ or ‘unfilled’
Unfilled travertine gives a wonderful rustic feel to any environment. Tiles are laid in a sporadic design and grout joints are larger than normal, conveying a natural stone look. Dirt will, however, get trapped in the holes and large grout joints. Unfilled travertine floors are a high-maintenance option and if you want your floor to be kept in tip top shape you will need to re-seal once or twice a year.
To help with maintenance, we recommend filling the holes with dust from the tile and an epoxy resin. Holes will bet bigger over time if not treated. You can seal with either a penetrating or topical seal. A penetrating seal will NOT alter the appearance of your tile, leaving the natural stone look. The topical seal gives a glazed finish to your floor but will help prevent dirt getting trapped in the holes and grout lines. We recommend a topical seal in commercial or high-traffic areas.
With filled travertine, the holes have been filled at the factory. They are laid in a more uniform fashion with much thinner grout lines. Filled travertine can be polished up to a high shine and is deemed easier to maintain. Filled travertine should only be sealed with a penetrating seal which gives you time to wipe up a spill before it has time to seep into the stone.
AFTER: travertine floor after it was stripped, cleaned and re-sealed by P Mac
Top tips on caring for your filled or unfilled travertine floor
- Dust daily with a dry mop or vacuum. More often in high trafficked areas.
- Wet mop with a pH neutral stone cleaner diluted in warm water once a week.
- Rinse with a separate mop until all remnants of the soap is removed.
- Buff dry with a white cloth
Test to see if your travertine floor needs to be re-sealed by pouring a small amount of water on your it. If the water disappears this is a good indication the seal has broken down.