How do you keep stone floors clean?
Travertine is among the oldest floor types, and you can easily tell why. The neutral and earthy colors of travertine floors make you feel closer to nature.
As time passed, such building materials became less common. Now, people tend to opt for tiles and hardwood floors. However, some homeowners still prefer travertine due to their natural accents.
If you have travertine flooring at home, how do you clean it? How do you care for it? Most people think these floors don’t require much maintenance because they’re so robust. But they couldn’t be more wrong.
Since travertine is a porous material, the floors are prone to get damaged by dust and liquid spills alike. That’s why you must know how to clean travertine floors. In this guide, I’ll discuss an easy way to do so.
Travertine, much like marble and granite, is a natural stone that doesn’t have a lot in common with most other stones. It forms when calcium carbonate condenses in hot springs. The high temperature hardens the stone, making it durable.
The porousness of travertine is also due to carbon bubbles. Think of Coke or any other soda. The bubbles form due to the presence of carbon dioxide. Now, apply the same principle to travertine. As a result, you get a hard stone that is also porous.
The porosity is important to mention because it raises the need for travertine floors to be cleaned regularly.
Like any other floor, you have to vacuum travertine floors daily. You can also mop or sweep the floors as required. Every month, it’s also good to disinfect the floors to remove pathogenic bacteria(1) from the house.
As for the grout lines, you should clean them every few months. However, the duration could be more or less depending on how soiled your floors get.
Stone flooring experts also say that you should seal your travertine floors every few years, at least after three years. If you use harsh cleaning chemicals on the floor, you may have to seal it much sooner.
Travertine floors have been used around the world for centuries. Thus, there must be something about the stone flooring that makes it so popular even today.
Here are some reasons to choose travertine over other flooring types:
If you have a bigger family or your home gets a lot of traffic, consider getting travertine floors because they do not show signs of wear and tear quickly. Also, if you’re using high-quality travertine, it won’t chip or crack quickly.
Over time, travertine floors undergo weathering. Now, this may be a good thing for people who like to see things age naturally. However, it’s not appreciated by all homeowners because weathered travertine has a distinct color, much different from the unweathered one.
You can choose polished travertine floor tiles for your home if you want its shine and finish to last longer.
For most people, travertine is ‘nature’s artwork, and I certainly agree. You can’t get the same touch with any other type of stone.
While the brown and tan color palette soothes your eyes, the natural texture makes you feel as if you’re on a private hike.
Also, you can buy the flooring in tile form. Therefore, if a tile or two are damaged, you can replace them easily without having to cut a section out of the floor.
Most importantly, the earthy colors camouflage most scratches.
If you have the right supplies, you can start cleaning your travertine floors now.
Keep in mind to never use harsh chemicals for cleaning travertine floors because they can erode the upper surface of the travertine. Similarly, don’t use commercial chemicals with any kind of acid in it, even if mild.
Since travertine is naturally alkaline, you should only use a basic cleaning solution on it. Acidic solutions can stain the material.
First off, it’s crucial to clean the floors regularly to remove dirt, grime, and grit particles from the surface. If these particles are allowed to sit on the material for a long time, they can wear it down and diminish its luster.
Additionally, they make the stone more susceptible to staining and discoloring. Thus, regular maintenance is the most important step in keeping your floors clean.
You can either use a broom or a vacuum cleaner to sweep the floors as required.
When mopping travertine floors, use only warm water and a wet sponge. Don’t use any surface or tile cleaner for this step.
Remember not to saturate the tiles as water can move through the holes in the surface and damage the underneath stone. With time, this can cause discoloration and may invite mold growth.
Dip a sponge or mop in water. Wring the excess water out and then use the mop on the floor.
When you come home with dirty shoes, you’re not just bringing dust with yourself but also bacteria. Likewise, your pets also bring pathogens inside the house.
Use non-acidic dish soap to clean the floors. Mix a few drops of the dish soap in a bucket full of water. Clean the floors with a damp mop.
After this, go over the floors again with clean water. Doing this will remove the dish soap residue. Lastly, you can use towels to dry the floor.
You don’t have to disinfect the floors weekly. Disinfecting them every month is suggested by most experts.
The grout lines are often the hardest to clean, and most people tend to ignore them. However, this is mold’s favorite place to thrive, so you must clean it regularly.
Since grout lines allow for travertine to expand and contract with temperature changes, they are the weak points in the whole flooring. Thus, they’re prone to discoloration, staining, and watermarks.
You’ll find commercial grout cleaners in your local store, but I’d suggest not using them. These cleaning agents mostly contain bleach that can etch the travertine. Instead, make a cleaning solution at home.
Mix baking soda in equal parts water to make a paste. Apply the paste to the grout and use a scrub brush to remove stains and mold.
If the grout lines are too dirty to be cleaned with simple household cleaning methods, you can replace them to give the floors a new look. Of course, it’s harder than merely cleaning the floor, but it’s cheaper than replacing the whole flooring.
As mentioned earlier, travertine has tiny pores on the surface. Thus, it can soak liquids and allow mold growth. The best way to prevent this is by sealing the floors every few years.
Experts use two kinds of sealants to seal travertine floors. One of them is a penetrating sealant while the other is a surface barrier sealant.
The penetrating sealant clogs the pore in the travertine, stopping water or other materials from seeping into it. Meanwhile, the surface barrier sealer creates a coating on the tiles, preventing them from getting discolored.
Another benefit of adding sealant is that it makes the tiles look glossy. Naturally, travertine tiles have a dull look. But when you seal them, the coating makes them look shiny and deepens the stone’s color.
Initially, while the floor is being installed, you can apply a penetrating sealant to the tiles. After that, apply surface sealant every three to five years.
However, if you don’t like the glossy finish and would rather keep the floors looking earthy, reduce the frequency of sealing. Doing this will give the floors a weathered and rusty look.
I’ve already emphasized the importance of cleaning travertine floors regularly and how it’s good for their longevity. In this section, I’ll discuss how to maintain the floors by keeping a few dos and don’ts in mind.
Along with the tiles, the grout lines also absorb acid cleaners. So, you must not use any commercial acidic cleaner on travertine. Instead, I’d suggest using dish soap or making a cleaner at home.
Even when using homemade cleaners, you have to be careful because some of them are acidic. For instance, vinegar is an acidic cleaner(2), and you must never use it on travertine floors even if it’s in a mild form.
Similarly, do not use citrus or citrus-based cleaners on travertine floors as they’re also acidic.
On the contrary, baking soda is alkaline. So, you can use it to clean travertine floors without damaging their texture or shine.
You should test the product in a corner of the room or under a furniture item to check for discoloration. Only proceed with a cleaner if it doesn’t have any diminishing effect on the floors.
But that’s not the worst part. The bigger concern is mold growth, which is common in floors with an excess of moisture. If your floors are wet, they’ll be a hotbed for mold growth.
Mold is harmful to health(3) since it can cause breathing problems. If you have kids or allergy-sufferers at home, this is an even bigger concern because mold can cause asthma in kids.
You can use a dust mop for removing larger debris particles from the floors. If you don’t remove them, they’ll scratch the floors when you drag your feet around.
For an average home, you can sweep three to four times a week. But for busy homes, you may have to clean daily.
Secondly, you can use a vacuum cleaner to clean the floors. Make sure you’re using the vac on hard floor settings as these are the lowest pressure and speed adjustments. Also, use a soft brush tool to clean the floors to avoid scratches.
If your vacuum has a brush roll, turn it off to prevent it from scratching the floors. Similarly, remove any tool with hard bristles as it can cause unremovable scratches on travertine floors.
However, if you keep the furniture on wet travertine floors, you’re practically inviting mold inside the house. Similarly, do not place carpets or area rugs on wet floors as they will be filled with mold in no time.
You can either wait for the excess water to evaporate naturally or use dry towels to soak it up. Additionally, turn on the fans to hasten the process of drying.
If you forget to tend to a stain and it settles on the floor, you can remove it using a poultice. A poultice paste normally contains an absorbing agent and another chemical. They suck up the stain from the floor, leaving it spotless.
You can buy poultice from the store or make it yourself at home. If you’re using store-bought poultice, make sure to ask the seller if it’s safe for travertine floors.
When making one at home, check the recipe instructions to see if it can be used on stone floors. Apply an even layer of the paste on the floor and let it stay for up to two days.
In some cases, if the stain is too big or dark, you may have to apply the poultice for a few days. Start with two days. If the stain doesn’t come off, then leave the poultice on for a long time until the stain goes away completely.
First off, put a doormat at all entrances of the home. If a doormat captures most of the dirt stuck to your shoes, you’ll have a lesser mess inside the house.
Also, place a carpet in the living room or where you spend the most time in the house. You can also keep a shoe rack outside and instruct everyone to take off their shoes before entering the house.
Lastly, place a rug under the dining table as this is where most spills are likely to take place. It’s little practices like this that can save you from a lot of work in the future.
You can buy travertine flooring as tiles. So, if one tile is damaged, find the same kind in your local hardware store and replace the damaged tile to give your flooring a honed finish.
Whether you think it’s time to deep clean your tiles or you’re merely giving them a regular sweep, here are a few tips and warnings to keep in mind.
Travertine floors can truly elevate the look of any room, making it look more earthy and decorous. However, just because a floor is natural doesn’t mean you don’t have to clean it.
Although not as high-maintenance as marble floors, travertine flooring still needs to be maintained well to ensure a longer lifespan.
In this guide, I’ve given step by step instructions to clean stone floors inside your house. Also, I’ve talked about the proper way to maintain the floors and make them last for years to come.
Finally, I’ve mentioned some tips and warnings that homeowners often miss or forget. Make sure you follow them correctly to prevent damaging the floors.
Now, it’s time for you to get your mop – a soft one – and start cleaning.
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