Travertine Floor Sealing Fiasco

Hazy Film on Travertine Tile After Sealing

Hazy Film on Travertine Tile After Sealing

QUESTION:

I am trying to correct a travertine sealing fiasco.

I sealed my travertine floor tile with this "sealant" that now looks over-sealed and thick.

I just want them to be shiny and protected.

How do I fix this mistake?

ANSWER:

I'm guessing that "over-sealed and thick" means some sort of film or haze on the surface of the travertine flooring.

A streaky haze left after applying a sealer indicates one of two things:

1. The sealer was (incorrectly) left to dry on the surface. The haze is the dried sealer residue.

The most important step when applying a sealer is to remove all excess before it dries.

2. A sealer was applied to a stone that did not need it.... in fact could not even be sealed.

One of the biggest myths and misconceptions about natural stone and sealing is that "all" stone "must" be sealed and often.

This is absolutely false. Many stones are naturally dense with very low absorbency. Meaning liquids simply do not absorb unless exposure is maintained for hours or days, which almost never happens.

On such dense stones liquids will evaporate before they absorb and stain.

Thus, no sealer is needed.

And of course, since a sealer is a liquid, it cannot absorb anyway meaning such a surface cannot be sealed even if you wanted to.

Many granites are super dense and cannot be sealed. The same is true of many types of marble and travertine. When polished, these stones are virtually non-absorbent, stain-proof and cannot be sealed.


A simple way to determine if or when to seal any stone at anytime or see if it even could be sealed is to perform the water test for sealing.

Most likely your polished travertine is just to dense to absorb liquids or stain and didn't need to nor could it be sealed.

The sealer was applied... did not absorb... and the remaining residue dried to a haze that must now be stripped off using a solvent like acetone, but probably something stronger like methylene chloride.

So, really whether the stone sealer was left to dry or was applied to a stone that didn't need it, the mistake is.... incorrectly applied sealer.

You'll find complete and correct information regarding marble/travertine and granite sealers, how to apply, how to stip, etc. in the All About Sealing e-book.

If none of the above seems to match or explain the "over-sealed and thick" appearance, then I'd say you probably applied some type of topical coating that forms a film over the stone (instead of absorbing into the stone).

Most topical coatings are bad news for stone and should never be applied to a stone floor since they can trap water in the stone leading to major problems.

So, you'll either have to strip off the improperly applied impregnating stone sealer or you'll have to have the topical coating mechanically removed and the floor re-finished by a marble cleaning and maintenance professional.

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Grease stain on newly sealed travertine!
by: Anonymous

This morning I had a new Travertine tile backsplash installed in my kitchen. They sealed it and then grouted it. 20 minutes after they left I stupidly made pancakes on my stove and later noticed that some margarine had splattered on the freshly sealed and grouted tile.

I tried to blot the stain off with a slightly wet paper towel, but it did not do much.

Will the stain be permanent now? Did I remove any of the sealer by using the wet paper towel?
Can I fix this later?

Any suggestions? Thank you.

==== ANSWER:

Stains in travertine or any stone are rarely permanent. Only very deep and old stains and sometimes rust stains can be permanent.

A fresh stain from butter splatter on a newly sealed travertine tile backsplash shouldn't be any trouble to remove.

The process for removing stains in travertine tile is simple, but the exact method depends on what did the staining.

Complete instructions for removing all types of stains are detailed in the Removing Granite & Marble Stains e-book.

Or use this Stain Removal Absorber, which is very effective on grease and oil stains.

Good Luck!

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Stripping & Re-Sealing Travertine Floor

by Bob
(Pocatello, Id)

QUESTION:

I applied a sealer and then a color-enhancing sealer to my giallo smooth travertine floor.

After using a stripper, much elbow grease, and scrubbing to remove the color-enhancing sealer from , there is a dusty film on top of it.

Any idea what it is? Did I scrub too hard?

What is the best way to restore the shine before I reseal it?

Does phosphoric acid or something else work?

ANSWER:

Bob,

So, I guess you are saying that when it was originally installed it was a polished finish that was reflective and shiny.

You applied the two sealers and now it is smooth, but not shiny?

So, a floor that was once polished gets dull from:

-- foot traffic, which will create a pattern
-- using the wrong cleaning products that etch the travertine
-- incorrectly applying a sealer

Etching is corrosion of the stone itself, which removes the polished layer exposing the more dull layer underneath.

A color enhancer will make a honed or otherwise non-polished surface look wet all the time. It's not "shiny" or reflective, but it will give it a bit of sheen and darken the color some.

An enhancer is not designed for use on a polished floor though... only honed.

Sounds to me like the enhancer did not absorb and that is the dusty film you are seeing.

It didn't absorb probably because of the impregnating sealer applied first (naturally a sealer will prevent absoption) and the fact that the travertine was originally polished.

Polishing makes travertine virtually stain-proof and really doesn't need to be sealed except maybe on a kitchen floor (if testing shows it "can" be sealed).

If fact, color enhancers are supposed to be applied BEFORE you ever seal the stone.

If the whole floor is dull and you want it to be shiny, then you'll need to hire a marble/travertine restoration professional to re-polish the floor.

This will also solve the enhancer problem you are having now by simply removing the top layer when refinishing.

The only other option would be to try a stronger solvent like methylene chloride and have another go trying to clean the enhancer off.

You may even get enough of the old sealant off to be able to re-apply the enhancer, but most likely it would still apply unevenly and with difficulty. And it won't be "shiny" it will just make the travertine look wet.

If the floor is a small area and after you solve the enhancer/haze problem you may have some luck restoring the shine using ETCH REMOVER / Marble Polishing Paste.

This is specifically for repairing etch marks on polished floors (meaning they were polished at one time, but the etching has made them dull).

Personally, I'd call in a pro to at least have a look. Based on what you've told me, my assessment is probably pretty accurate, but far better to have someone see it in person to determine what your options might be.

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/enhanser/sealer not wiped off within minutes
by: Anonymous

Just had our new, unfinished travertine floors enhanced & sealed, (one step process), with the Aqua Mix Stone Enhancer, yesterday by the installer.

The excess enhancer/sealer was not wiped off as directed by the instructions, and as of this morning the floor is not dry and has wet patches all over.

This was done on over 2000 s/f of travertine floor! We are sickened by what has happened and the installer who has been installing tile for years said he has never seen this happen before.

The temp was not that cold overnight as we live in AZ and the heater was set at 65 degrees.
What should we do at this point??? PLEASE HELP!!

Enhancing travertine problem
by: Ryan

Of course, the enhancer will make the stone "look" wet, but from your comment that it is "not dry" then just wipe up the excess and see what you get.

So, far you haven't described anything that sounds like a problem. Yes, unusual for it to still be wet over 12 hours.

If you have a blotchy look, then it just may be that some areas did not get as saturated as other areas and need more sealer applied.

You should perform the water test (links above and below)on several areas to make sure that the travertine can still absorb sealer.


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Trouble Sealing Travertine

by Lloyd
(ST. Pete, Florida)

QUESTION:

We are having travetine tile installed, for the 2nd time. 1st install had spots, sponge marks and a dirty window sealed in.

The installer tore up the just installed travertine flooring and now has installed new floor.

We took a piece and tried to apply sealer and it still has some appearance of a dirty window look.

What do we need to have the installer/contractor do to prepare and properly prepare the floor?

What are the best products?

ANSWER:

Sealing travertine isn't always necessary. Travertine is not very absorbent despite what you may have read or been told that is stains... not true.

Travetine tile can etch (corrosion from acids) leaving dull light spots that people often mistake for "stains", but it's a completely different issue and sealing won't prevent it.

In fact, when polished, travertine is essentially stain-proof... non-absorbent and cannot be sealed... sealer won't absorb.

You didn't tell me if the travertine was polished or honed.

When honed, travertine can usually take one coat of an impregnating sealer. However, if it is honed and your are getting the "dirty window" look (I assume you mean a hazy film) then the procedure was done incorrectly.

If the travertine floor tile is polished, then there's your problem. Polished travertine cannot be sealed. The sealer just sits on top and dries into a dull haze. It can be stripped off, but you just tore it out.

So, if polished... problem solved. Don't seal it. You don't need to. In fact, you can't as noted.

But of course no worries... it won't stain except in some extreme circumstance where a substance has remained on the surface for days.

If honed, then perform the "water test" (as linked to above) it to see if sealing travertine is necessary.

If it is, I'd recommend using SenGuard or these sealers.

Also, you must apply it properly. You can't let the sealer dry on the surface.

Another thing to consider is the risk of staining. If the floor is in the kitchen, then sealing travertine makes sense... IF testing shows it needs it.

And seal countertops (if needed), but everywhere else in your home is at very low risk for staining and whether or not to seal becomes a judgment call.

Maybe sealing a travertine dining room or main bathroom floor is a good idea, but for living rooms, bedrooms, family rooms it's typically unnecessary.

Consider how often you spill something and leave it on the floor for 10-15 minutes or more. Remember, it isn't carpet. It won't stain on contact. It will take many minutes for anything to absorb into honed travertine.

Now if you spill something acidic like wine, juice, coffee, soda the travertine can etch almost instantly and once etched it will become more absorbent and possibly stain more quickly.

However, stains and etch marks can be removed, so nothing is terminal.

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Hazy backsplash
by: Anonymous

So how do you "clean" and/or remove the haze? I had a kitchen backsplash installed and have the same problem. At first I thought it was a topical problem but now I am thinking it's much deeper in the tile. Is there a way to get rid of it. I have tried cleaners and car polish and other things but nothing helps.

=== Countertop Specialty reply:

If the haze is from sealer residue, then it is on the surface. Regular cleaning won't remove it. You'll need to use a solvent. Acetone may work, but often you'll need to use something stronger like methylene chloride (found in paint strippers).

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Sealing Travertine

by Jeff Kiene
(Littleton, CO)

QUESTION:

Just had my Travertine tile installed and I have some older maybe 8-month old Stone Tech enhancer sealer. I was told not to use because it has expired? True?

Some of my decorative tile installers said to not use a solvent-based sealer on their stone. What is the difference?

The Stone-Tech I have is a solvent-based sealer.

Thanks,
Jeff

ANSWER:

Regarding the "expired" sealer... I have never noticed an expiration date on any sealer product, however, I am not a chemist and I suppose it could be true that sealers expire... well they will if the lid is not sealed tightly. But I highly doubt that it would do so in as little as 8 months unless the bottle has been repeatedly opened.

You note that it is solvent-based. Well, solvents evaporate much more quickly than water and if the bottle has been opened a lot it could possibly affect the quality of the product.

If un-opened, I imagine it would keep for years.

Just to save yourself a lot of extra work, I'd call Stone Tech and ask them. (I called today, but it was after hours for them)

Solvent-Based Sealers

Solvent-based sealers have been the norm until recently several states have started to pass laws against the use of "volatile organic compounds" (VOCs). Solvents are included here. VOCs are toxic to you and the environment, so manufacturers have started to produce water-based sealers.

Using a water-based sealer is much more pleasant because solvents have powerful odors and fumes.

There are some technical differences too... solvents are thought to penetrate a bit deeper into the stone and form a more repellent barrier. However, some of the water-based sealers are incorporating new barrier technology. There is some difference in application, but both will provide the desired protection.

Again, I'd call the person who made the suggestion and ask why. You say "decorative tile." What type of stone/tile is it? Does it have some coloring agent or design applied? Possibly the salesperson knows something about that particular tile where solvent-based is not good, but I honestly cannot imagine what it would be.

Most likely the suggestion was made out of concern for you (toxic fumes) and the environment (disposal and polution issues).

Testing Sealer Before Application

I'd test that Stone Tech Enhancer Sealer on a left over travertine tile and note the results. It will probably change the "look" of the stone since it is of the "enhancer" variety.

Really, I'd recommend you use an impregnating sealer for your initial application rather than the enhancer. Enhancers are more topical and not as durable. I'd recommend using SenGuard (solvent) or this Impregnating Sealer (water-based).

One more note: It's a good idea to stick with the same "base" for any future applications.

Water-based sealers can be re-applied over a previous solvent, but solvent-based cannot go over water. That's the "general" rule anyhow.

However, the "base" compatibility issue often becomes a non-issue 2 to 3 years after the last application. Meaning.... if you applied a water-based sealer 4 years ago, you will likely be able to now apply a solvent-based sealer without any problems.

It's always best to test, of course. A preliminary method is to spill a bit of solvent (like acetone) on the surface and see if it absorbs (creates a dark spot) without anything weird happening.

The dark spot will disappear as the solvent evaporates.

So, the above is not an "absolute" rule in every case. It's just easiest to decide which type base you want to use and stick with it.

Hope this helps,
Ryan

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Re-Sealing Travertine Shower

QUESTION:

I have a year old honed off white travertine walk-in shower that needs re-sealing.

The installer initially didn't seal it properly (many streaks and areas left that absorbed water) so we were instructed by a sealant company to remove it with mineral spirits and re-seal it.

Now 1 year later, areas are absorbing water.

My question... Do we need to go through the stripping of all the old sealant off again to re-seal?

Also... Is it necessary to strip before resealing any of our other stone surfaces?

We have antiqued grey virginia mist granite island top that has darkened near the sink area. Thanks for your help!

ANSWER:

You may need to strip any remaining sealer from the travertine tile... but maybe not.

To start, you should know that it is entirely unnecessary to apply a sealer to travertine (or any stone) in a shower.

It takes some explaining, so just click the link to learn the reasons not to seal travertine showers.

To answer your specific questions....

If you perform the water absorption test... and if water is absorbing in 5 minutes or less... and it's been over a year since a sealer was last applied, then you shouldn't have much problem re-sealing without stripping off the old sealer.

The main factor is that the sealer simply needs to be able to absorb over the entire surface in a timely fashion.

If it takes more than 10 minutes to absorb, then you should strip off the old sealer (or just forget this whole job altogether).

Regarding applying a granite sealer to your kitchen island... essentially the same deal.

Test first to see if it even needs re-sealing. If water absorbs quickly then whatever sealer was originally applied is no longer effective and won't impede a new granite sealer application.

If it takes a while to absorb, you'll have to strip off the old sealer or just wait until the sealer degrades more and liquids are absorbing more easily.

A general rule for most stone and granite sealers is that if it was applied two years or more ago, then it's unlikely that you would encounter any compatibility problems with any other sealer (water or solvent-based) as long as the surface is absorbent enough to allow the new sealer to soak in.

However, it is best to try an stick with one brand and/or type of sealer (water/solvent) for re-application.

SenGuard sealer is currently tops on the market. It forms permanent bonds and does not degrade, so you won't have to re-seal again.

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Sealing Restored & Polished Travertine

QUESTION:

Hello......I'm receiving bids for restoring my Travertine floor tile.

I would like it brought up to a shine.

I'm getting mixed reviews, as some want to use a sealer afterwards and some are telling me it won't be needed.............who is correct????????? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Despite what you might read or hear marble and travertine are not very porous.... even less so when polished.

Typically polished travertine is essentially non-absorbent, thus sealing travertine isn't necessary when polished.

Let me explain...

A sealer helps protect against staining by drastically reducing the rate of absorption of liquids, etc.

Many stones are dense enough and have such slow rates of absorption that most any substance will evaporate before it ever absorbs or stains.

Obviously, these stones do not need sealing. In fact, they cannot be sealed since the sealer itself won't absorb. (And applying a sealer anyway "just to be safe" will only create a problem with the sealer drying on the surface in a dull haze.)

Polished travertine is almost always falls in this category.

Luckily there's a simple water test (noted above) that you can perform yourself to definitively determine whether or not you should be sealing travertine after it's polished.

And even if the test shows that the travertine could absorb the sealer, you still may not want to do it.

Why?

You need to consider the risk of staining. Is the travertine in a kitchen, dining room or bar? If not, then your risk of staining a floor is minimal.

Plus it's travertine, so even if testing shows it will absorb... it won't do it quickly and won't stain quickly or easily.

But as noted, 99% chance that sealing travertine is not needed in your case.

One other consideration about a polished floor. Understand that a polished travertine floor will require periodic re-polishing as foot traffic wears away the polished layer.

Also, it requires more care and travertine maintenance to keep a polished floor looking good versus a honed floor.

A polished floor will readily show dust, dirt and any stuff on it, so you'll have to sweep, mop and buff far more often than with a honed floor.

Remember too, that travertine is sensitive to acids, so although the wine you spill won't stain... it may etch, which will leave a dull spot on polished travertine.

Etch marks can be removed on polished travertine using SCP: Marble Polishing Paste, but etching is far less noticeable (often unnoticeable) on honed travertine.

Some things to think about.

If you do decide to leave it honed or have it re-honed, then the travertine will probably take a sealer.

As noted above, I'd recommend SenGuard Sealer (link above). But still test first.

Also, you may rule out any contractor that suggests sealing polished travertine... obviously doesn't know as much as he should about the job.

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Travertine Sealer Streaking

by Terri
(Ft. Myers, FL)

QUESTION:

I sealed my new travertine floor tile and I see streaking. The product recommended by the tile store was Etch N Seal. Can I buff w/ a rotary soft attachment hand held buffer? It has cured for 48 hours. How do I minimize the existing streaks?

ANSWER:

Terri, the streaking is most likely the result of letting the sealer dry on the surface.

The most important step in applying a sealer is to completely remove any excess sealer (that has not absorbed) from the surface BEFORE it dries.

Once it dries you will need to strip it off... probably with methylene chloride.

Although, at this point I would call in a pro to make an on-site assessment about what should be done. Highly unlikely a buffer will do a thing.

You may need to re-polish the entire floor.

I'm assuming that it is a polished travertine floor or at least satin honed otherwise the sealer probably would have absorbed without a problem.

And if it is polished, then I'd go back to the tile store and blast them for recommending that you seal it in the first place.

Why? Because polished travertine tile is essentially non-absorbent. You really don't need to seal it and shouldn't try because the sealer simply won't absorb, leaves a residue even when wiped up and you get the streaks.

Good Luck,
Ryan

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streaky travertine tile shower
by: Dinz

My builder installed travertine tile in my shower and around the tub. I believe from the experience that the "tile guy" was more a painter and learned at my expense.

The polished travertine was sealed and not wiped off leaving dirty looking streaks everywhere.

He says that we need to clean and reseal...I am so grateful for your web site that gave me guidance.

What is my best solution to this problem. The sealant has been on for a week.

==== Admin Comment:

As the article suggests you'll need to strip the sealer off the travertine shower tile using acetone or methylene chloride.

If the acetone is not strong enough, then use the methylene chloride.

Sometimes you can solve the issue by using the actual sealer itself by wetting the surface again with the sealer and wiping dry, but usually this only works when the stone sealer was applied less than 24 hours ago.

You'll find complete info about stone sealers and stripping sealers in the All About Sealing Granite & Marble e-book (links on this page above).

Oh... and don't apply another sealer to the tile. Polished travertine tile is very dense and usually won't absorb a thing and cannot be sealed.... resulting in the exact problem you describe.

Also, natural stone and travertine showers don't really need to be sealed. The risk of staining is minimal.

Sealant on Travertine tiles
by: Louise

Hi

We had our bathroom covered in one wall with travertine tiles.

Our builder then used a sealer to keep them waterproof as we have a bath/ shower.

He then sealed the bath- however the sealant will not stick to the tiles (probably due to the sealer used on the tiles) hence we now have a shower that leaks.

We have tried resealing it but normal silicone doesnt work. Is there any sealant on the market that will stick to the travertines tiles?
thanks

=== Countertop Specialty comment:

First, making travertine tiles "waterproof" isn't necessary. The reason a sealer is applied is to protect against stains.

Pure water does not stain stone and any water that may absorb during a shower will be minimal and quickly evaporate. It's not an issue.

Rarely is there any need or reason to seal travertine showers. However, if/when a sealer is applied to a shower or floor, the standard is to wait 2-3 weeks after install or you risk trapping moisture in the stone, grout, etc.... no bueno.

I think you are referring to a "caulk" when you say "sealant". Or at least I'm guessing so, because I'm confused using both terms sealer and sealant for seemingly different issues.

Whatever the case may be... the shower leak isn't due to a lack of stone sealer, but could be because of a lack of grout or caulk.

A typical impregnating stone sealer won't cause any issues with caulk/grout adhering to travertine since the sealer (if applied correctly) resides below the surface of the stone.

But maybe a different type of sealer was used? Like maybe a topical sealer. Or maybe the impregnating sealer wasn't applied properly and was allowed to dry on the surface. If so, this should be stripped off.

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