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Know Your Stone

by JonesRichard

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Many people are choosing to install travertine tile in their homes but do they really know anything about it or how to care for it properly?

Travertine, a form of limestone, is a sedimentary stone that is formed in mineral springs, especially hot springs, and is composed of calcite calcium carbonate. Travertine often has a fibrous or concentric appearance and exists in a variety of warm tones: white, cream and tan-colored varieties. It is often used as a building material. The Romans used travertine for building temples, aqueducts, monuments, bath complexes and amphitheaters such as the Colosseum, the largest building in the world constructed mostly of travertine. It is one of the most frequently used stones in modern architecture, commonly used for facades, wall cladding and flooring.

Travertine is characterized by pitted holes and troughs in its surface. Although these troughs occur naturally, some tile installers use a grout to fill the holes, whereas others leave them open. Travertine can be purchased "filled" or "unfilled". It can also be polished to a smooth, shiny finish which is referred to as "honed". In order to prevent holes from enlarging and collecting debris, you can fill them by using either epoxy filler or by filling them with grout. Epoxy fillers will better match the smooth texture of the factory installed travertine filler. If you choose grout as your filler, it is important to use the sanded version as it will provide more substance in order to fill the areas so they do not crack or break apart. The sand in the grout will give the filled area a course texture that won’t completely match the smooth texture of the travertine tiles but it is the easiest method. The relative softness of the stone, combined with its holes and troughs, make travertine flooring difficult to finish and maintain. Before you make the decision to have travertine tile installed in your home, educate yourself on some of the simple steps it takes to keep it looking gorgeous.

General cleaning involves removing any loose dirt, dust or debris from the travertine surface with a dry, chemical-free dust mop, sponge or soft towel. Avoid using a vacuum cleaner, especially models featuring a plastic beater bar, as this can damage the flooring and leave behind scratches.

When a more thorough cleaning is necessary, use a mixture of warm water and a pH neutral, natural-stone cleaner. Add the cleaner to water according to the directions before working it into the travertine with a microfiber mop. Once complete, thoroughly rinse the flooring with a wet mop. Rinsing the travertine is crucial to ensure no stone cleaner remains, which can cause unwanted streaks and residue. Finish by removing any remaining liquid from the travertine with a separate dry mop or towels to further prevent streaking.

Travertine is a naturally porous material, allowing liquids and other products to seep into its surface and leave behind unwanted stains. To remove the stains, begin by dabbing at the liquid to remove the excess and clean the travertine surface with a mild or pH neutral cleaner. Work a product specifically formulated for travertine stain removal into the affected area according to the directions. Avoid acidic products or those that contain ammonia, vinegar or bleach as these can permanently damage or discolor the travertine.

You may have heard the term "etching" in regards to natural stone including travertine,limestoneand marble. Etching refers to the small scratches and imperfections that occur when the travertine is exposed to an acidic compound including wine, tomato sauce, pet urine or even fruit juices. Clean up stains immediately and if minor etching does occur, work the pH neutral cleaner into the affected area with a soft cloth.

As travertine is a natural stone product, it is recommended that it be sealed to extend its longevity. Due to the nature of the tumbled finish, a penetrating stone-enhancing sealer will help to accentuate the natural colors in the stone that may be subdued after going through the tumbling process and help to provide a barrier from spills.



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