About travertine …
Travertine is a sedimentary stone that forms in and around freshwater hot springs. It occurs when calcite (calcium carbonate) is deposited in water and then compresses over time to a solidified structure. Travertine almost always has holes and channels through which hot water and gases escaped during formation. In most cases, these holes are “filled” during fabrication with cementitious products (such as grout) or resin (such as epoxy) to form a flat, uniform surface.
Travertine is one of the softest flooring materials, registering 2.5 – 3.5 on the Mohs 1 to 10 hardness scale. Due to its softness, it scratches and wears easily on harder composition materials such as dirt and debris dragging from the outside, unprotected furniture legs and posts, metal and hard plastics. Like its very close cousins, limestone and marble, it is also very reactive to all acids, even mild ones like orange juice.
Elements that affect the appearance and serviceability of travertine
The following items will affect the look and life of your travertine:
- The quality of the stone itself.
- Inadequate routine maintenance
- Exposure to chemicals
- Exposure to excess water
- Exposure to abrasives
The quality of travertine varies as much as where it is found. In general, higher quality stones will have a tighter (compacted) structure, fewer “fill” areas (especially wide and shallow areas where the “fill” has very little to adhere to), they will be filled on both sides (to avoid “punches” through “high heels, furniture legs, etc.) and will exhibit a quality workmanship finish (no saw marks, blemishes, or rough areas).
Unfortunately, poor quality travertine will release very quickly once it is installed. Rapid fill losses, “punctures”, pitting and discoloration will occur at an accelerated rate. However, the maintenance tips we’ll explore later in this document will help keep misbehavior to a minimum.
Inadequate routine maintenance
Improper routine maintenance is the main cause of travertine degradation. More travertine is damaged by improper care and maintenance than any other influencing factor, including the quality of the stone. These maintenance oversights include:
Wet mopping – Wet mopping is the leading cause of loss of “filler”, chipping (physical deterioration and pitting of the stone caused by water) and microbial growth (dark discoloration in holes, cracks and grout lines). Travertine floors should NEVER be mopped with a string mop (or any other type, for that matter); they should be thoroughly swept and wet mopped only with a microfiber sponge or mop.
Failure to keep surfaces properly impregnated (sealed) – Failure to keep the travertine properly impregnated (sealed) is the second main cause of travertine deterioration and plays even more if the surfaces are cleaned with a damp mop. Proper impregnation keeps water, oil, and other contaminants off the stone and helps stop loss of fill, chipping, microbial growth, and staining.
Every time moisture penetrates the surface of your travertine, it has a physical and chemical effect on the stone, both of which are negative. Wet stone expands, dry stone contracts. Multiple cycles of expansion and contraction weaken both the stone and infill areas, resulting in pitting and loss of infill. Remember when your teacher called water the “universal solvent”? Enough talk.
Use of unsuitable cleaning chemicals – I never cease to be amazed by the variety and variety of cleaning chemicals that people (and their professional cleaning staff) use on their travertine floors. I’ve seen everything from vinegar and water (“that’s what my grandmother used”), to heavy duty stone cleaners (“the guy at the tile store said this was the strongest they had”) and almost everything else. .
Rather than providing you with a list of things not to use on your travertine (it’s a very large list), for the sake of brevity, I give you the only solution you should use to routinely clean your travertine: a neutral pH (-7) , non-chelated cleaner specifically designed for natural stone. Nothing more. Always. Period. (Yes, “nothing else” includes Swifters and Windex!) For those of you unfamiliar with chelates (pronounced kee’-lates), they are chemicals that are added to detergents and cleaners (including many stone cleaners. routine) to “soften” the water. sequestering “hard water” minerals (such as calcium) from detergent so you can clean more effectively. Sounds good right? Incorrect! Remember what your travertine is mainly made of: calcium! Chelated-cleaned floors look dull, drab, and lifeless.
Not keeping floors properly swept or vacuumed – Earlier in the document we touched on the Mohs hardness scale and determined that the travertine was located between 2.5 and 3.5, in a classification of 10 points. Unfortunately, the sand and fine gravel that reach your floors from the outside rate 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale – twice as hard as your travertine. If not removed routinely, they act like sandpaper on your floor. Every time someone walks on them, they are wearing down and scraping the surface.
Do not replace missing padding – When your travertine loses padding, the area immediately around the hole is no longer physically supported and becomes much more susceptible to further damage. Also, the hole left by the missing filler will absorb water, cleaning solution, dirt, or anything else that gets into it. This will eventually result in chipping, microbial growth, and internal stone damage.
Exposure to chemicals – Your travertine should not be knowingly exposed to any chemical agent other than the non-chelated neutral stone cleaner and impregnant mentioned earlier in this document. Using high intensity alkaline cleaners is acceptable for deep cleaning surfaces prior to sealing (impregnation), but only then, and certainly not routinely.
However, life passes, and sooner or later something will spill out. How you respond to the spill will depend on whether the spilled substance is water-based or oil-based, alkaline or acidic. If your surfaces are properly impregnated (sealed), you have nothing to worry about oil and non-acidic, water-based spills, as long as you clean them up in a reasonable amount of time. If your surfaces are not properly impregnated, you will get a stain, especially if the spill is oil-based.
Acid spills (orange juice, lemon juice, wine, vinegar, Margarita mix, certain cosmetics, “tile cleaners,” etc.) are an entirely different animal. They will etch the surface immediately, whether it is properly impregnated or not. Etchings appear on your travertine as stains or areas that are much more opaque than the surrounding stone and do not improve with normal cleaning techniques.
You should do everything possible to ensure that these items (and others like them) do not come into contact with your floor. If they do, remove them immediately from the surface by rubbing them inward to prevent them from spreading to uncontaminated areas. The good news is that you can remove small watermarks and watermarks yourself without any special tools or knowledge. The bad news is that serious engravings should be professionally removed. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Compression damage – Compression damage in travertine manifests itself in two ways: “drilled” holes in areas where the “fill” or surface is weak, and by scratches that compact the stone (the technical term is “stunning”) to the point leaving a visible mark remains, even after the scratch has been physically removed.
Large drilled holes (under normal use) are generally indicative of poor quality stone, workmanship, or both. If the stone or filler breaks frequently under normal use or foot traffic, it’s time to have a conversation with the people who sold it to you. However, it is not unusual for even good quality travertine to have the occasional hole from a high heel or heavy object that concentrates its weight in a small area (pointed table leg, sofa leg, etc.). In either case, you should replace the missing filler as soon as possible to avoid further damage.
Stunning occurs when a heavy object falls or falls on the surface, resulting in a mark or scratch. Upon impact, the travertine compresses, leaving a physical scratch or mark and a scar. Even after the physical scratch has been removed, the scar will still be visible because the underlying stone is now much denser than the uncompressed areas that surround it. There is no simple solution to this problem after it happens, so the best course of action is to put felt pads on all heavy items (chair legs, table legs, etc.) to prevent scratches. by compression.