Improperly Sealed Travertine [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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03-22-2006, 12:19 AM
Hey, all! I redid my master bath in honed travertine. It's beautiful! But I made a mistake.

I redid a downstairs bath in slate, and used a sealer that was gorgeous. It had a matte finish, enhanced the color just a bit, and was fantastic. I tested the sealer on a piece of travertine, and when I brushed it on, it looked gorgeous, too.

It was a small piece of travertine, and after drying, it looked fine. So I sealed the entire bathroom floor with it.

The floor ended up streaky. I figured it just needed another coat, so I brushed on another coat. It looked better, but still very streaky. I opted against another coat.

I'm a caver, so I know what happens when calcium carbonate meets any kind of acid. So I'm not sure whether or not it's even safe to strip the sealer off the travertine. Has anyone had experience "stripping" travertine? Could I "polish" it off?

It's very hard travertine, does it even NEED to be sealed?


Ben in Dallas

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03-22-2006, 12:43 AM
Hi Ben, I'll move ya over to the Restoration forum. Those guys can help you over there.

03-22-2006, 12:44 AM
I would avoid being hasty first and foremost. we have some pros on the boards who are experts on subjects like this. i myself am not but i would check back tomorrow night. by then if your question hasnt been answered
you should bump your thread to bring it back to the top. refinishing your floor may be an option. i would think strippers would cause more damage than good. hang tight for someone with specific knowledge.

you may want to read through the liberry, lots of good info although im
not sure if your particular problem is coverd.

good question i do alot of travertine im going to put this thread on watch
and follow along. good luck

03-22-2006, 12:44 AM
For natural stone applications, I use a high quality sealer used for outdoor applications over acid-stained concrete. What I use has to be applied in very light layers, otherwise I get a haze. That could have been the issue, to thick of a coat.

03-22-2006, 04:03 AM
Hi Ben,

If you used a solvent based impregnator you may be able to use mineral spirits followed by acetone to remove hazing. ( White cotton towels )

You may also consider a powder polishing for your installation if your solvents do not do the trick.


03-22-2006, 06:46 AM
Hi Ben

IMO using a topical sealer on travertine is almost like putting a vinyl cover on your leather couch (just in case, 'cause you never know, right? :suspect: )

Anyway - chances are your tile never needed sealing in the first place. Travertine is, as you spelunkers know, formed in a wet environment and does just fine in nature. What might need sealing would be the grout and fill (the "spackle" they put in the tile to fill the naturally occurring holes)

Get a hold of the tech department of the manufacturer of the topical sealer and see what they recommend to remove it with.

If you decide the shininess factor on your tile needs to improve, get a stone restoration pro like Mike to have a look at your floor. They specialize in mechanically polishing stone. The floor would need to meet certain criteria, though for this to happen, though (narrow grout joints with unsanded grout would be one of them)

For sealing the grout and fill, use a good quality impregnating stone sealer, applied in light applications (NOT coats) and buffed off as per manufacturer's instructions.

Good luck!

03-22-2006, 02:37 PM
FYI in case anyone else is following this forum, Custom Building Products has a product called Heavy Duty Cleaner and Stripper that is alkaline-based and safe for use on calcium carbonate stones like limestone, travertine, and marble. Coincidentally, they also produced the sealer that I used incorrectly. They say that Heavy Duty Cleaner and Stripper will remove most finish sealers and will not damage honed or polished finishes on acid-sensitive stones. This info is from their senior tech.

Ben in Dallas

03-23-2006, 07:40 AM
Hi Ben :)

Thanksfor the update. Have you tried removing the sealer yet?

What is your current plan of attack? :shades:

03-23-2006, 11:53 AM
I will post here when I've attempted the stripping. I'll take pics, as well, and hopefully I can accurately capture the haze.

03-28-2006, 09:00 PM
Ben, one thing we have not established. Is this a topical sealer, like a wax or varnish?

Or an impregnating sealer, like Bulletproof?

You said it darkened and added a bit of shine. That is the exact definition of an enhancer.

Impregnating sealers and enhancers are made to be wiped on and then wiped off before drying, so they don't form an ugly film.

Topicals are meant to be brushed or painted on and then NOT wiped, so they can form a topical film.

Which is it? I believe Ms. Granite Girl assumed it was a topical, but y'all didn't really say that. Maybe a brand name would help us know?

03-29-2006, 08:57 PM
The sealer was Custom Building Products Matte Finish and Sealer for Tile, Stone, and Grout, and it was NOT an impregnating sealer for sure. Supposedly it is pretty simple to strip with their Heavy Duty Cleaner and Stripper. I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

03-30-2006, 07:06 AM
Ben -
I looked at the description of that product, and it looks like it is topical as you said.

But stripping topicals is never simple or easy. I grant you it isn't rocket science, but unless you have done it so many times you could do it in your sleep, you won't find it easy to do right.

Use a wetvac.

03-31-2006, 01:14 PM
Thanks for the suggestion. I have never stripped a topical sealer. If it's anything like stripping cabinets, I'm terrified! Wet vac?


03-31-2006, 08:15 PM
Yes. First you isolate the area - tape and dropcloths. Then flood the floor with alkaline stripper. Then dwell 20 minutes. Then use power buffer low speed with scratchy pad, but not too scratchy for your floor. As you agitate, you look at the goopy mess trying to tell if the film is dissolving into gooey sheets. If so, good! Now get out the wet vac and suck it up before it dries right back down onto your floor. Then quickly damp mop. Then do corners and edges the same way, without benefit of power scrubber. It's very very slippery, so don't fall. When it dries, you will have the joy of noticing that you did not get all the places you thought you did and so you re-do spots.

Yeah, kinda like stripping furniture or paint.

04-06-2006, 10:10 AM
Use a Penetrating Sealer and you will have no streaks. I had one of my installers do the same EXACT thing. He was at my shop and took the wrong sealer, he put two coats and it looked good from a distance but there was streaks. That specific sealer does not penetrate the marble it just puts a top coat. so I had him remove the sealer and use a Penetrating Enhancer and Sealer. This was also on Travertine.