Removing Streaky Travertine Sealer


I installed polished travertine flooring (Jinshan Carmel P/F) which my installer sealed with an unpolished sealer.

The results were streaked even though he used a sponge as well as a paint brush.

How do we solve the streaking problem?

We bought the sealer from LOWE's and this was the sealer they said we should use.

However after it was applied I read on the bottle that it was for unpolished stones. Now what do we do?


Travertine tile is not as absorbent as most people (including most salespeople) think.

When travertine flooring is polished it is essentially non-absorbent.

So, usually it doesn't need sealing and in fact, often cannot be sealed... meaning the sealer simply won't absorb into the travertine, dries on top and leaves a streaky mess.

That's why you always want to water test any stone surface to see if it even needs sealing and if it does then apply sealer only to a left-over or sample tile or to a small area first.

Too late now I know, but for future reference.

To remove the sealer clean the travertine tile with acetone. This won't harm the travertine and should remove the sealer.

Pour a bit of acetone on a small area and agitate with a soft bristle brush. Let it sit for a few minutes while agitating, then wipe clean and dry completely with a clean cloth.

Again, test a small area first. If it works, do the whole floor. If the acetone doesn't do it, use methylene chloride.

Obviously, you don't need to seal
your floor. If the sealer won't absorb, neither will anything else.

True, there are different types of sealers, some that are more effective on (or "for") polished and/or dense stones, but in general an impregnating sealer can be used on any stone (porous enough to need sealing) no matter the type of surface finish.

But again, I wouldn't worry about sealing it.

A sealer only slows down the rate of absorption so you have more time to clean up a spill. It doesn't provide absolute protection.

And since polished travertine tiles are near impossible to stain anyway, why bother especially when it will be difficult to get any sealer to absorb and you may just end up right back where you are now.

Another FYI... you should not seal floor tile or wall installations for at least 3 weeks after intallation to let the stone and grout dry out completely. Also, make sure (after several cleanings) that it is free of dust and dirt.

You don't want to trap moisture under the sealer and a dust/dirt free floor simply allows for better sealer coverage.

You may want to check out our Cleaning Marble Secrets e-book to find out how to properly maintain your travertine flooring. (Travertine and marble are essentially the same for maintenance purposes)

Obviously, advice from Lowe's won't cut it. Some salespeople at big box stores can be very knowledgeable, however, there are many myths and lots of bad advice regarding stone and travertine maintenance passed around by stone "pros" even, so expecting expert advice from Home Depot, etc. is a stretch.

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Yellowed Polished Travertine Coffee Table
by: Anonymous

I have a 700-pound mid-century modern travertine coffee table that I bought secondhand.

The top is yellowed more than the base, which is "cappuccino" (light tan).

I suspect that improper cleaning agents may have been used, however, it could be years of old sealer— not sure, but there’s no etching.

I did a 24-hour acetone poultice treatment which has not removed any yellowing, but it has slightly taken down the sleek polished surface, which is only visible through pockets of light reflection.

The poultice has clearly done something. Do you suspect the treatment etched old sealer?

My next step will be to buff and polish. Not sure what I can safely do to remove the yellowing.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

I suspect the yellowing is due to discoloration of an old topical product or sealer or wax. There are topical products that can add shine to a stone surface.

Modern stone sealers will not cause yellowing, but perhaps a coating or other type of sealer was applied many years ago and it has yellowed.

This would explain the effect of the acetone slightly dulling the area where the poultice was applied.

Acetone does not harm travertine or stone and would not (under normal circumstances) damage or dull the finish.

Using the wrong cleaner (like a caustic cleaner or common household cleaner) would etch (dull) the surface. It would not make it yellow.

However, if say only water was used to clean for many years it could be possible that dirt, dust, and debris just became embedded into the stone a bit and now looks a uniform yellow.

Honestly, it is difficult to say exactly why the travertine has yellowed on top without knowing a lot about its history. A photo would have helped some.

To restore the travertine table to its natural color you'll have to remove whatever is on the surface and/or embedded in the surface.

Here are a few options:

Option 1: Clean and scrub using the Heavy Duty Tile & Grout Cleaner.

In this case, I cannot guarantee that it would remove the yellowing that may have developed over many years or might be due to some applied product.

But this is the easiest to try.

Option 2: Wash and scrub the table with acetone to remove as much surface residue as possible.

Then use the Marble Polishing Pads - DIY Kit.

These pads will first sand down the surface a bit hopefully removing the yellowed top layer. Then progressing through the pads will bring the finish back up to a shine (or to a honed finish if you prefer).

Option 3: Mix a diluted bleach solution (12 parts water to 1 part bleach). Apply to the surface. Allow to dwell a few minutes and then scrub.

Be sure to protect against drips off the surface. And I would test this on a corner or a small area first.

This will almost certainly etch (remove the shine) of the travertine table, but it may remove the yellowing too.

Then use the above-recommended Marble Polishing Pads to bring the finish back up to a shine.

Yellowing of marble or travertine can happen for many reasons but usually refinishing is needed vs. only "cleaning".

Travertine table top streaks from cleaner
by: Steve B.

I purchased a table with a travertine top and told the stone was sealed.

My cleaning lady used 409 to clean the table and now has many streaks, how do I get rid of the streaks?

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Based on your description the 409 cleaner has etched the travertine which is physical damage to the surface akin to a chemical burn.

Sealers do not prevent this. Sealing travertine will help prevent stains (liquid absorbing) but not the dull spots or streaks from etching.

To remove the streaks and restore the finish use these Marble Polishing Pads - Etch Remover Drill Kit.

This pads can be used by hand as well and it will restore the finish to either a honed (matte) or a polished (shiny) finish to match the current finish type.

How to Remove sealer from exterior poorly applief sealer
by: Anonymous

The travertine is french pattern, unpolished tumbled unfilled travertine, The tiles were a tight fit.

The installer put silica sand in the joints, swept it, applied a water soluble high solid content sealer to stabilize joints and seal tiles.

He sprayed it on and had a worker use a squeegee to remove excess as he sprayed.

The result was shiny streaks everywhere, areas with no sealer, areas with blobby sealer and sand.

The once smooth tiles have a gritty feeling where the sand was pulled onto the tile with the squeegee. There are spray marks, drops of sealer,etc.

The installer says it's just because the tile is porous and absorbs differently in different areas of the tile and suggests reapplying.

Will this fix it or make it worse? Any suggestions?

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

The sealer (if a standard stone impregnating sealer) should not have made the travertine shiny. Certainly should not look streaky or blobby.

However, it is necessary to remove excess sealer and buff dry or else sealer residue can leave a haze which may make the surface look odd and splotchy.

But it could be that the sealer he applied was more like a coating.

I would not apply more until you understand what happened or the exact type of sealer.

Try washing with acetone or mineral spirits to see if you can remove the sealer and restore a normal look to the tile.

How to remove sealer enhancer from travertine back splash
by: Anonymous

I used sealer enhancer on new travertine.

Unfortunately, the customer doesn't like how it looks. Brought out more color than they want to see.

I know now I should have used regular sealer. Can you help.

Should I use acetone to clean as well. Will it effect granite that travertine set's on?

===== Countertop Specialty comment:

You may be able to remove the color-enhancer sealer scubbing with methylene chloride. It will not harm the granite.

But I'd highly recommend you test this on a sample first. It may not remove the sealer or may not remove it evenly which could be worse.

In other words, apply the same color-enhancing sealer to a left over piece of travertine and then scrub with methylene chloride to see if this procedure is effective.

Streaks due to Topps Tiles Advice
by: Anonymous

Sadly I was advised by the sales person in Topps Tiles to apply their sealer (Fila Honed/Tumbled travertine protector) with a roller and as per the instructions, to leave it on for 4 hours. When I then came to remove this it had formed terrible patches of sealant that now remain as horrible streaky areas on our Travertine floor. The stuff from Topps was an inpregnator and having tried various stone cleaners am unable to remove these streaks so guess we will also need to strip the stone back with somthing like acetone and start from scratch?

Just to confirm, our sealant streaks are mainly visible when looked at from a certain angle in the light and hence are not grout or white areas, more like far more reflective areas of the travertine where the pools had formed from the roller - so wish I'd seen this forum before applying this sealer :-(


Yes, travertine is very dense and often doesn't need/cannot be sealed (especially when polished). Honed travertine will usually take a sealer, but of course it must be applied correctly. Letting it dry for 4 hours was the likely mistake. But if the stone is too dense to absorb the sealer in the first place, then the first mistake was applying a sealer at all.

How Long To Leave Sealant on Tile Before Removing
by: Anonymous

How long should you leave sealant and enhancer on travertine before removing it? My husband has been told from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. I've read online to leave it on 30 minutes. Which is correct?


Well you should read the bottle instructions for a start. And the enhancer must be applied first.

There isn't a set time to leave it on. Since stone is a natural product there can be lots of variation.

You need to apply the sealer to create a film over the area being sealed. Let the stone absorb as much as possible, without letting it dry on the surface.

Once you see areas drying you need to add more until it appears the stone is not absorbing more, then you need to completely remove all sealer residue from the surface.

This process can take between 2 and 10 minutes depending on the stone. Definitely NOT 30 minutes.

You'll find complete info on sealers and how to seal properly in the Removing Granite & Marble Stains ebook.

Good Luck,

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