In The Nick of Travertine
If you follow our newsletter closely, you should know by now that travertine, marble, and limestone are all very similar in physical and chemical composition. That means cleaning and care procedures are essentially the same for all three stones.
There are other things which can affect your stone’s resistance to stains. For example, a honed or tumbled finish is more susceptible to staining and dulling by etching than polished stone. These finishes leave the porous stone in an “as-is” state. However, many times a sealant is required to safeguard stain dangers encountered during general and daily use. All it takes is stepping into a drop of oil in the street to transfer a potentially staining material to your not-in-expensive beautiful floor and creating a difficult to remove mess.
1. Seal. Seal. Seal.
These stones are less dense and more porous than granite, so they are more sensitive to damage from acidic liquids such as wine, juice, and coffee and errant colorful and oily staining spills. Seal your surface with a stone-safe sealer like MARBLELIFE® Stone Sealer. By sealing, you are creating a protective barrier to prevent staining materials from entering your stone’s natural pores. It is far easier to clean up a mess that is sitting ON your stone than IN your stone. If your stone’s pores are a test tube, cleaning the mouth of the tube is easy, but try to clean the interior walls and you have a much more difficult time. Factor in the fact that oils like to spread out across a surface, and you have the very pesky problem of literally seeing a spill return as the oil seeks to re-equilibrate (spread out) over the area you just cleaned. Very frustrating, particularly if there is a lot of material sitting in there. Seal the surface and avoid the headache and expense.
That said, the second issue then arises, don’t make the mistake of thinking because you have done it once, you are protected forever. Even an excellent seal has its kryptonite, and in most cases it comes in the form of acid drinks and spills. Cut a tomato, rest a lime, wipe up with vinegar, dribble a cola and you have introduced acid which will begin to dissolve away your seal. For this reason, one needs to set a schedule to re-apply every year or two. A quick wipe on wipe off application is generally all you need to replenish your protection after your first seal has been applied. The surface must be re-sealed at regular intervals to ensure continued protection.
2. Dust mop
We recommend using a clean, dry, and non-treated dust mop along with your regular cleaning to keep surfaces particle and dust-free. Most people think it is spills that do the most damage to your stone floors, but in reality it is the lose stuff, the sand, dust and hair that is ground under foot that creates the abrasive material needed to slowly scrape, and micro-scratch away your gloss finish. It is often so slow a process, you do not notice it until that visit from a long lost relative comments on the change from the new glossy appearance they remember. Oh that’s embarrassing. An alternative would be to use a damp (not wet, as we want the dampness to allow the dust and dirt to stick to the mop) with hot water and a stone-safe cleaner like MARBLELIFE® Marble & Travertine InterCare. Avoid vacuuming stone floors as this can lead to chipping or denting the stone. The vibrating brushes are in fact wearing the surface of your floor faster than the dirt was going to do underfoot.
3. Rugs and coverings
Invest in some QUALITY doormats and carpet runners. These can help minimize the amount of dirt brought in by foot traffic and other debris that might damage the stone. The key word is QUALITY. Most doormats are nothing more than something to print “Welcome,” on. A quality matt is designed to allow dirt to fall into it after being removed from underfoot so it is no longer available to be tracked in to do its damage underfoot. Sure we want to also remove some moisture to avoid slipping. A quality mat allows water to run THROUGH it, and dirt to fall into it. This is the most overlooked protection and investment in one’s floors. Learn more by visiting MARBLELIFEPRODUCTS to understand how this simple change can reduce the cost of restoration by thousands fo dollars. For countertops and baths, always use coasters, and for cosmetics and toiletries use decorative trays to help protect the stone from any harmful chemicals and substances.
4. Make a poultice for stubborn stains
If (and when) you do notice a stain and your stone-safe cleaner doesn’t help, try a poultice. Form a paste by combining the cleaner with baking powder. Apply over the stain and cover with clear plastic wrap for at least 24 hours. Remove the poultice with warm water and buff with a cotton cloth or chamois. This simple straight forward application creates super dry area to attempt to draw or suck the moisture from the stone while it is still wet. If this fails, secure a copy of MARBLELIFE’s STAIN REMOVAL guide to research your stain based on color or if you are fortunate to know what caused it – chemistry. Do not attempt to clean with any cleaners without first researching an appropriate approach as you do not want to make things worse should the cleaner and stain interact.
5. Call the professionals
If you can’t remove a stain on your own, you’ve noticed some other defect in your stone, or you would like some free guidance on how to best protect your investment, call the Expert Stone Craftsmen at MARBLELIFE. Never attempt to repair your stone in the event of damage on your own, without first securing guidance, as the medicine may prove to be more expensive than the original damage. 20% of stone restoration work is the result of application of an inappropriate cleaner. Stone restoration demand soars after advertising for hardwater removal solutions, as these strong acid cleaners will dissolve marble surfaces creating more damage than the original stain they were seeking to remove. If you’d like more tips on how to clean travertine, marble, or limestone contact your local MARBLELIFE office and a knowledgeable stone craftsman will be happy to assist you.