How to Clean Travertine Tile Floors

Travertine tile is very attractive. It offers soft, rustic, Tuscan-style tones, but it's also known for being a durable and low-maintenance tile and is popular for kitchen and bathroom flooring. However, be sure you do a little research before you install it. Travertine tile can serve you well for decades, adding warmth and beauty to your living spaces, but that's only going to happen if you care for it appropriately. Travertine tile cleaning is slightly more complicated than care and maintenance for other types of stone flooring.

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How to Clean Travertine Tile Floors

Travertine Tile Floors

Travertine is a beautiful type of stone with swirling, natural patterns that are the result of its veining characteristics. People love the sensuality of its gradations in density and color, and it always fits in well with a Tuscany-design theme.

However, there are a few things about the stone you need to know. One important fact about travertine is that it often forms near bubbling hot springs. That's why the natural rock has various pits and pores in it that contribute to its rustic look and charm. Those pits and pores can and should be filled before you get the tile installed. Otherwise, they attract dirt and prove to be a real maintenance problem. What do you use to fill holes in travertine? Generally, epoxy resin is the filler of choice.

Travertine Tile Cleaning

Travertine tile cleaning is not difficult, but you have to take care and proceed gently. It's easy to scratch the surface or to dull the finish of the stone if you use aggressive chemicals or scrubbing sponges. You'll find several types of finish with travertine: hone-finished tile and polish-finished tile. For floors, many homeowners prefer the former since hone-finish stone offers a satin surface but little light reflection. Polish-finish is high gloss and shows wear more readily.

Start your travertine tile cleaning with dry dust mopping. This removes dust and other dirt before you do any scrubbing. Once those are out of the way, you can wash the travertine floor tiles. Pick a pH-neutral mild cleaner, ideally a soapless cleaner for best results. Soap can leave streaks on the tile. Phosphate-free, biodegradable liquid dishwashing soap is perfect, and stone soap also works. Mix the product with water according to the label directions. Never use an acidic product on the stone. Wash the tile gently, making overlapping sweeping motions. Change the water regularly and rinse often as you go.

If the tile is quite dirty or the area is large, you can use an automatic scrubber fitted with a disc brush. This is great for deep travertine tile cleaning. You can also use a wet vacuum to help you get some contaminates from the travertine.

Travertine Floor Cleaner for Stains

Deal with stains on travertine tile only after identifying the source of the stain. Note that any product containing acid can etch or dull the tile, so try to protect against food and beverage stains with coasters or trivets. You'll also want to consider applying a sealant, although many tiles are sealed before they are sold.

If you are removing oil-based stains like cooking oil, wipe the area and then clean it gently as described above. Don't pour the cleaner directly on the stain since this can cause the oil agent to thin out and seep further into the tile. If the stains come from some organic substance like coffee or dog urine, use a few drops of ammonia mixed with 12 percent hydrogen peroxide.

For paint stains, scrape the dried paint off with a razor blade or use a liquid lacquer thinner. Do not even think about using acid. For water spots or rings, do regular travertine tile cleaning and then buff the stained area with dry #0000 steel wool.


Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler

From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.