Northern Ireland’s Leading Specialists in Travertine Cleaning
Cleaning Travertine in Northern Ireland
(Honed & Filled )
Here we want to outline some of the problems encountered in cleaning honed and filled travertine in Northern Ireland and some easy to use guidelines to sort out these problems. Firstly though a quick description of honed and filled travertine : it’s a very soft calcium carbonate stone which has had the inherent fractures and spalling holes filled with stone glue or two – part epoxy resin before it is mechanically honed by using diamonds. The reason I want to describe this type of travertine is because its close relative, tumbled or bush – hammered travertine is treated very differently, having very different characteristics and a whole other set of charms.
So now to that short guide:
- 1/ Problem : Spalling or holing in Travertine . This is where the intrinsic ‘honey-comb’ nature of the tile gives way under foot traffic and a hole forms in the surface of the tile. This can start as a tiny pin hole and develop into a large unsightly fist – size hole in a very short time.
- Solution: The first thing to say is that this is characteristic of your tile choice and unless it is very widespread should not cause undue alarm. In some cases in Northern Ireland honed and filled travertine has been sold not fit for purpose. That is to say that honed and filled travertine comes in various grades from the lightest and weakest grade which is wall grade to a much more dense, heavy and hard material which is typical of flooring grade travertine.
- So the solution is to clean any and all holes with detergent and try to vacuum out any loose materials. Next and importantly ensure that you allow sufficient time for the area to completely dry before the next step as failure to do so can cause a failure of the filler to adhere to the wet surface. It is possible to use a domestic hair dryer to dry out small areas but for larger areas time is best for drying. Next you must try to colour match your filling material which is normally a two part epoxy resin, mixed with dye or colourant which are readily available on line ( ebay ). Then apply the hardner to the colour matched preparation and overfill the holes slightly. If you don’t have access to a hand polisher or sander just wait until the epoxy has partially set and use a Stanley knife blade to carefully cut away the excess. If you have access to a hand polisher, sander or grinder just start with a 100 grit resin diamond or 40 grit sandpaper and work your way up the grits until you have the desired honed finish. Honed and filled travertine is normally finished at approximately 320 grit sandpaper or 500 grit resin diamond. And you’re done!
- 2/ Problem: Scratches and Scrapes in Travertine. This is probably the most common problem encountered in maintaining honed and filled travertine as it is a very soft stone. This is caused by a various combination of pebbles in shoes, general grit, unshod table and chair legs and moving heavy furniture.
- Solution: There is only one reliable solution to this very common problem and that is to diamond grind the floor using resin bond diamonds. These effectively remove the surface of the stone around the lowered scratched surface. Effectively what you are herein doing is lowering the floor to the same level as the bottom of the scratch. Although this sounds to be a very extreme measure the fact is that the depth you need to go to rid yourself of an average scratch is only a fraction of a millimetre so don’t worry that you will wear out your floor! After diamond grinding and polishing remember to seal the floor with a good quality sealer for ease of use and peace of mind.
- 3/ Problem : Dirty Travertine floor. This is where you have an on-going problem with keeping the travertine floor or walls clean. The causes of this are as varied as are the colours in your tiles!. Common among these causes are that the surface has not been sealed and protected properly. In Northern Ireland as well as the UK and Ireland in general it is common for the tiler to install the tiles and then walk away with no attempt at protecting the floor. The other general but poor practice is to throw a bit of shop supplied low quality sealer and walk off feeling they have done their part. At Old 2 New Tiles we have a number of effective solutions to sealing the floor depending upon usage and traffic types.
- Solution: You must ensure that the floor is deep – cleaned to remove all the dirt, grime and contamination. Then let the floor dry thoroughly and choose the correct sealer for protection. We have surface or topical sealers as well as penetrating sealers which are very useful for different types of use. To Deep – clean the floor we would suggest that you hire or borrow a wet vacuum as it removes the dirt as you loosen it from the floor instead of merely moving around with a mop.The other thing to think about is that because you have a calcium based tile you need to be careful about using aggressive cleaners without the ability to restore the surface whenever the chemicals etch or dull it. So our suggestion is to use a mild neutral cleaner but use it in conjunction with very hot clean water. The heat acts as a useful carrier for the effectiveness of the cleaner and will greatly enhance the results. As this is a periodic deep – clean don’t be afraid to use a little elbow grease and scrub those joints with a firm grout brush or small scrubbing brush. Remember this is only an occasional endeavour so as long as you don’t go over – board you will get great results and will not damage the surface.
At Old 2 New Tiles we have over a dozen years of experience in cleaning and restoring natural stone floors including honed and filled Travertine. We hope this short guide has been useful in informing you generally about the issues surrounding Cleaning and restoring Stone Floors but we realise this far from exhaustive. For further guidance or expert service please contact Old 2 New Tiles.