Travertine floor polishing requires a different expertise than polishing a marble floor.
While marble is limestone changed under extreme heat and pressure and very hard, travertine is a soft sedimentary stone formed in mineral springs. The stone has large pores and fissures where water used to run through the stone. These may be filled or unfilled depending on the style of the travertine floor. Most are filled with either grout or an epoxy filler. This creates the most visibly differences between a travertine floor and a marble floor. These fill areas can look different then the natural stone and may be distantly visible after polishing. This is a nature of this stone and should be expected.
To restore an even consistent luster back to the floor, the travertine needs to be cleaned and polished with a travertine polishing compound. Travertine is a soft stone that responds very well to polishing powders. Small scratches and light etches can be removed from a travertine tile using an oxalic acid or Italian 5X powder polish. Medium or heavy scratches would require honing before polishing.
Most polishing powders or pastes use a combination of oxalic acid and aluminum oxide to clean and polish bymelting the edges from the small honing scratches on the floor. The oxalic acid is also a very effective grout cleaner. Before we start the travertine floor polishing we evaluate the surroundings for any delicate areas. Delicate areas are protected with a combination of delicate blue tape, plastic wrap, and duct tape.
Very sensitive areas get a layer of delicate surface blue tape covered by duct tape to provide abrasion protection and water resistance. By using Tampico polishing brushes we keep any abrasive edges away from the wall. It just gets brushed with soft brushes. This allows us to get right to the edge safely. After the area is properly protected, we apply the travertine polishing paste to the floor and work it into a slurry with a 175rpm polishing machine with a Tampico polishing brush.
This works the dirt out of the travertine tile and grout and smooth’s the surface to restore the luster. A travertine floor can be burned by being too aggressive with the polishing paste. It takes a skilled craftsman to know when enough isenough. The travertine polishing paste needs to be neutralized with an ammonia and water solution. This keeps the oxalic acid from working too long and burning the shine back off the floor. T
he floor is mopped repeatedly to remove all the polishing paste and dirt from the floor before sealing. The floor is sealed with a penetrating sealer that soaks into the stone and changes the chemistry so that water doesn’t soak into the stone. This helps keep the stone clean and protects from stains soaking into the stone.
Sealing doesn’t provide protection from acid etching. Acids dissolve some travertine floors and leave marks in the surface that need to be polished away. Always use care when using acids or acidic foods around a stone floor. Travertine floors can develop open pores or holes as it ages. These are from the fissures in the stone that were filled breaking down. Depending on the size of the holes they can be filled with either an un-sanded grout or an epoxy. Grout fills are used on small holes and are much cheaper than epoxy patches. Large holes get filled with a color matched epoxy that fills the hole and then gets ground flush with the stone.
After powder polishing, cleaning, patching, and sealing the floor we remove our protective coverings and clean the floor and surrounding areas of any polishing residues and wipe down the baseboards and trim work. The floors are repeatedly dry mopped with microfiber mops before being crystalized. The last step is to go over the floor with a 175rpm polishing machine with a steel wool pad to spray buff the travertine floor with a crystallizer. The crystallizer causes the stone to get harder and closes up the pores of the travertine. This gives the floor more shine and makes it easier to clean. After you have had your travertine polished we recommend you use a microfiber mop system to keep it clean. Microfiber cleaning technology works in two ways. Used dry they create a natural static cling that holds dirt and hair in the cloth. When used wet the microfibers cut and lift grease and oils using their minute triangular shaped fibers.