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Travertine Cleaning Tips

Travertine Tile HallwayOne of the most common inquiries we get at our tile flooring showroom has to do with the maintenance of travertine tiles. Travertine tiles are an appealing design choice for any hard flooring application, but many homeowners may not know how to properly care for them.

Travertine is comprised of natural stone harvested from the earth and refined into a tile suitable for construction applications. The guide below will help properly clean and maintain travertine tiles.

Regular Cleaning For Travertine Tiles

Travertine tiles should be swept or vacuumed once per week to eliminate any dirt or grit on the surface. Given time, these seemingly harmless particles can cause abrasions in the surface of the stone that can damage its luster and protective sealant coating. Once the protective layer is compromised, contaminants may seep into the stone and cause discoloration, staining, and/or mold growth.

Travertine tiles may also be mopped as needed using warm, plain water. The mop or sponge utilized must be wrung dry to prevent the application of excessive moisture to the stone’s surface. Otherwise, water may penetrate the stone’s protective sealant and/or grout lines and seep into the stone itself, where it can stimulate mold growth, discoloration, and even damage the structural integrity of the flooring system.

If travertine flooring needs to be disinfected, a tablespoon of mild, non-acidic dish soap may be added to the mop water. It should be mopped a second time with plain water to eliminate any residue the soap left behind, and toweled dry to ensure that excess moisture cannot penetrate the flooring system.

Cleaning The Grout Lines Of Travertine Flooring

How to clean the grout lines of travertine flooring is another common question we get at our Anaheim tile store.

Grout is installed between individual travertine tiles to prevent them from rubbing against each other and cracking as natural temperature fluctuations cause them to expand and contract. However, this grout is a weak point that could allow water or other contaminants to get into the stone and cause dark mold growth, discoloration, and staining.

The best way to clean these grout lines is to make a gritty paste comprised of equal parts water and baking soda and scrub it in with a small brush. Scrubbing vigorously is acceptable, as the grout itself is not damaged by pressure. The small brush also prevents the inadvertent scratching of the underlying stone.

As a last resort, grout lines may be removed and replaced without ripping up the travertine tiles. The process is challenging, but cheaper than brand new flooring while offering the same visual appeal.

The Need For Sealant

Travertine has natural microscopic pores that retain liquids, which means that without proper care, travertine can be stained. Additionally, water penetration can compromise the integrity of the material and even encourage the growth of potentially harmful molds. Travertine tiles are generally treated with two different sealants to prevent staining and mold from happening.

The first is one that seeps deep into the stone to fill the pores, removing a structural vulnerability. The second is a surface coating that helps protect the stone from discoloration caused by everyday life. This surface coat wears away over time and should be reapplied annually to maximize efficacy.

The surface sealant is pH-based, meaning that chemical cleaners and other acidic substances (anything with a pH lower than 7) will destroy the seal and stain the stone on contact. This severely limits the quantity of cleaning solutions that may safely be used on travertine tiles.

There are also aesthetic considerations concerning how often travertine flooring is resealed. Fresh sealant lends otherwise mild-colored stone a glossier hue, so homeowners who prefer the glossier look should reseal their tile more regularly. If the homeowner is instead interested in a more weathered appearance, it may be better to put off resealing the tiling. Either choice is valid, but travertine tiles eventually need to be resealed regardless of the desired look.

If you need help choosing a sealant for your travertine tiles, call our tile store in Anaheim today! 714-284-0118.