Cleaning Grout & Sealing Travertine Problem

by Kelly
(Brooks GA)

QUESTION:

I just had a travertine floor honed surface laid and the installer grouted the tiles and then put an impregnating sealer enhancer on the tile. It looked great for a while but when it dried all types of streaks appeared. He came back and wiped the tiles down with something that made some of the streaks go away but lots of dull places on tile now. what can I do to fix the tiles? Do I have to remove the sealer and reseal with the enhancer again? I am thinking that he did not clean off the grout haze enough before he did the enhancer.


ANSWER:

First, I need to clarify something. "Honed" travertine is not shiny. It can have a sheen and so it's possible to get dull spots when exposed to acids, but this is typically a problem with "polished" marble.

The causes of your problems and the solutions for a honed surface vs. a polished are different, although in this case the solution may end up being the same... professional restoration and/or replacement.

Travertine floors should not be sealed for at least 3 weeks after installation. You need to make sure the tiles are completely dried out and you need to clean the floor several times to make sure no dust or grout haze is going to get trapped by the sealer.

I think you are right... the installer did not clean the grout haze properly. He applied enhancer over the top which accentuated the grout and then came back and used an acidic grout release that etched your travertine.

If the dullness and streaks are basically covering your whole floor, the only reasonable solution is to have it re-surfaced/re-honed by a marble restoration professional or simply tear it out and start over.

If indeed the travertine is polished and not honed then it could have been just the enhancer sealer that was causing the streaks. Polished travertine is not absorbent making the sealer very difficult to apply if you can do it all. The result is a streaky haze.

Hopefully, you had this installed by a real company with some money and not your neighborhood handyman.

Obviously, it is the installers fault and he should pay to fix it, but if he doesn't have the financial resources, you are out of luck. You could sue him and maybe (probably not) get some compensation.

One other solution.... You could possibly have him come back and apply an acid cleaner again and again until you have a uniform look to the floor.

He needs to really agitate and work it though... not just wipe down with a rag.

The floor will look more rough than it did originally, but you'll probably like it just fine. More of a rustic look than a high honed finish... and really easier to take care of regarding etching.

If you do this you will want to seal it. If you want to enhance the color, apply the enhancer first and then apply a regular impregnating sealer.

But don't do it for a few weeks after you get everything removed from the surface... and test the enhancer-sealer combo on a small area or sample tile that you use the acid cleaner on too.

I like this last idea the best really. Cheapest and easiest to accomplish and your floors will still look great. More like a tumbled travertine than honed.

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