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Old 09-12-2017, 05:03 PM   #1
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Contractor may have ruined new travertine

I stumbled upon this forum last night and I hope to get some advice on our new floors. We had water damage in June (4 months after buying our house) and hired a professional contractor to rebuild our kitchen.

I picked honed and filled silver travertine, and it was beautiful when they installed it last week. Then they sealed it (I don't know what product they used), but it ended up looking cloudy and you could see the streaks as if the product had dried while puddled on top of the tile. I brought this up to the contractor, who said they would fix it.

They came out again yesterday with the products to "fix" the floor. I didn't ask a lot of questions, which was a mistake on my part. I just assumed that they knew what they were doing. When I came home last night I saw that they had stripped the floor, but it now looks absolutely horrible. There is no shine at all, and the best way I can think to describe it is that it reminds me of primer paint. I remember seeing a container of the chemical they had brought with them, which I thought was "muric acid", so I have to assume it was muriatic acid.

I contacted the contractor this morning, and he is going to come out to take a look at the floors tomorrow, but I am trying to understand what happened so I know what I am talking about when we discuss how they are going to fix the floor.

Some of my questions:
Did they use the correct sealer the first time?
If so, did they use the wrong technique?
If not, what should they use on honed travertine to avoid streaks?

Everything I have read says to not use acid on travertine. Did they ruin (etch) my floors? Is there anything they can do to restore them to the honed, slightly shiny surface that they had before the sealer?

Am I responsible for the additional labor costs of their mistake?

Thank you so much for this forum by the way. I spent several hours last night reading through a lot of the posts related to my problem. I'm just worried sick about the floors, so much that I couldn't sleep.
A in OC
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Old 09-12-2017, 05:19 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum.

1- Unless we know what sealer they used, we can't say.

2- Probably, but see #2

3- My guess is they used either the wrong application method and/ or the wrong sealer.

Muriatic acid was a horrible sin. If you're lucky, you can bring in a polishing crew to restore your floors. Once that is complete, send the invoice for the floor restoration to the installers.

A word on muriatic acid - The fumes alone will permanently etch chrome and electronics. CHeck everything in the house including the air conditioning coil.

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Old 09-12-2017, 09:57 PM   #3
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The good news is, your travertine can be restored. There is little that can cause permanent damage.

I would not let the contractor touch the floor again though. Hire a stone refinisher, hold off final payment to contractor until the refinishing is done and paid for.

Like Houston said, your duct work may be the thing that is permanently damaged due to muriatic being used, if that is in fact what was used?

Where are you located? I may be able to give you a few names of competent stone guys in your area.

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Old 09-13-2017, 10:04 AM   #4
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SongSparrow, sorry about your floors. It sounds like your sealer wasn't properly applied to begin with. Like others have said, if it's eched, the floor can be repaired by a good restoration guy.
Rey Rodriguez
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Old 09-13-2017, 03:32 PM   #5
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Thank you so much for the speedy responses!

The contractor came over this morning and agreed the floors don't look the way they should. I showed him a spare tile with the original shine. He seems to think that just applying sealer over the tiles might make them look nice again. When I told him I think they used acid on the floor, he said he wasn't sure but he would find out.

I'm apprehensive about the sealer, because it seems like it would just be covering up the problem, even if it does look fine. I told him I would feel better if they tried the sealer on a small part of the floor in case it doesn't fix the problem. He also said that if I wasn't happy with the way it looked, they would bring someone out to refinish (buff?) the floor. I'm not sure what the proper term is for the process involved.

The floor installers will be the next people that come out, hopefully tomorrow. Unfortunately the guys that stripped the floor were the same ones that installed the hood, sink, etc. Perhaps they don't possess adequate flooring knowledge. Either way, I will be interested in what the flooring guys think.

Thank you again.

p.s. is there a specific type of sealer that works better on honed/filled vs tumbled? Does impregnating sealer work with honed/filled? Nothing against the guys that installed it, but I just don't want to go through this again when they seal it the second time.
A in OC
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Old 09-13-2017, 06:18 PM   #6
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Sealer will not fix the issue. Contact a stone restoration company and do not let the contractor do anything else.

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Old 09-13-2017, 06:26 PM   #7
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Do you know the brand and type sealer that they used? Are they planning to use the same sealer again? Like the others said, a restoration company needs to be called.

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Old 09-15-2017, 09:37 PM   #8
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Don't let that guy experiment on your stone. It sounds like it was a beautiful floor. There are no shortcuts with stone and although it isn't rocket science, even to the few of us in number who restore it, there are times even really experienced stone restorers can't get shine or even hone so that guy has no chance. Although it's usually true what azcleanfreak says, there is little that can cause permanent damage, there are ways to diminish it's integrity, certain sealers can't be stripped out and there isn't a product that will make your travertine shine the way you remember. Any sealer that might give travertine a glossy appearance is topical which suffocates the stone, gives a plastic shine if any, is prone to scratches more obvious than the travertine would show bc it's not as hard as the travertine and he said there Is little, but you are letting them do the most.
How big is your floor? Depending on where you live you are looking at $2-5 sqft just to undo the damage already and polish it back up. I heart silver trav. It's so beautiful!

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