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Unread 01-28-2015, 01:39 PM   #1
slapappy
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restoring travertine

I laid a honed travertine floor for a client about 12 years ago, and was recently contacted by him about doing some restoration work. There's about 250 square feet of 9" x 18" tile in a herringbone pattern. There are a few things they'd like addressed:

1) There are hundreds of holes, mostly tiny, but some about 1/4", where the filler popped lose. Some were caused by dropping things, table legs, etc. I don't want to use grout because I feel like it will stain easily, and also not match the honed tile. Not too crazy about the idea of epoxy filler, because of the fumes. I found a product by a company called My Stone Care, which claims to be durable, easy to apply, and non-toxic. Anyone ever used this product before? Or any other suggestions for products which best resemble the original filler?

2) Restoring the discolored grout. I used unsanded grout, kind of a beige color, approximately the color of the tile. Despite thoroughly mixing the boxes, the grout came out blotchy. I used a product I think made by Aquamix, which was an epoxy-based colorant which was brushed on the grout like paint. It looked great, and sealed the grout well. But that was 12 years ago, and now the grout is nearly black in the high traffic areas. I'll try cleaning first, but if that doesn't work, can I simply reapply another layer over the original, or does the colorant first need to be removed? I'm hoping not, since it would be extremely time consuming.

3) Cleaning and resealing. After the holes and grout are dealt with, I'm wondering how to rejuvenate the tile. They are honed, and originally had just the slightest sheen, not quite matte, but definitely not highly polished. I was called back about 5 years ago to fix some scratches, and was able to buff them out with high grit wet/dry sandpaper. Years later, the tiles have lost any sheen that the buffing accomplished. Will a thorough cleaning, and regular cleanings and sealing from now on keep the floors looking good? My client doesn't want to spend a ton of money to buff the floor if it's just going to look like it does now in a few years, which I understand.

I've laid miles of tile over the last 30 years, but stone restoration isn't in my bag of tricks, and any advice from you guys who do this for a living would really be appreciated. Thanks!
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Unread 01-28-2015, 09:26 PM   #2
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Easy Fix

Hey John, I have had tremendous experience in jobs to the exact detail of what your explaining.

1. Get some Spectra Lock Pro Epoxy Grout - This is your best option for stain free hole filing if you do not want to use a travertine filler. If you have never installed it just follow the directions exactly. Laticrete has charts you can have for free and pull a few samples to match the color exactly.

2. Color seal will not stick to unsanded grout for a long time, but you can keep applying it over the old grout or old color seal (I have been color sealing with the best product on the market for 10 years now. However I would rec. high pressure steaming the grout first to remove any dirt and any loose color seal. (check out youtube and type in prestige grout & tile) check out my steam cleaning video and you will see what I am talking about. Also grab yourself a good alkaline cleaner (Viper Venom is awesome) to use as a pre treat for the grout - It will not hurt the stone.

3. For a nice rejuvenation of the tile you really need some gorilla pads (hogs hair) You can run a 400 and 800 on it and be done (after a good cleaning) I would then suggest getting a good sealer enhancer (aqua mix - home depot) or Ager.
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Unread 02-02-2015, 06:43 PM   #3
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Thank you for the reply, Justin.
A few questions:
1) Does the epoxy grout look similar to the original travertine finish? They want the floor to look like it did a dozen years ago when I layed it. I'm not too concerned with color matching, since the travertine has so much color variation to begin with. I will deal with the fumes from the filler if need be, and that looks and wears better the sheen matches the original filler better.
2) That's a pretty slick-looking little steam machine you have there. Any idea where I might rent one? If they're not too much, I'd consider buying one, but tile rejuvenation isn't really my business, I wouldn't want to plunk down too much. If that little steam machine will remove the grout paint, maybe the can live with the blotchiness of the grout underneath, and just do a better job of cleaing and sealing in the future. Less maintenance then cleaning and repainting every few years.
3) Did you mean literally "hog's hair" for the pads? Much of what I've read recommends diamond pads, not only for grinding down the filler, but for buffing the stone. You suggested 400 and 800 grit. Is that first pass and second? These are honed tiles, and they don't want a high polish, which really isn't an option anyway.
4) Last question is about type of buffing machine. High speed, low speed? Round pads vs. square? This is a kitchen, with a lot of inside corners, which would be easier to get to I'd think with square.

I appreciate the tips. (Great website, by the way)
John
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Unread 02-02-2015, 07:01 PM   #4
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If you don't want to deal with smelly resin, then you won't get the same look or durability, but you can get close.

The way a lot of factories fill the travertine is they use a special liquid resin made by Tenax, and they mix that with the slurry from cutting the slabs. So the resin is clear, then the slurry gives it the color. This is then ground down and finished.

Tenax filler is the easiest to use out of all the 2 part adhesives and fillers out there. It spreads easily and cleans up pretty easily with acetone or denatured alcohol. It does stink though.

Traverfill and other fillers that you add water to are similar to non sanded grout. They will look good, but aren't as durable.

I have never used epoxy grout, so I can't help there. It does sound like an interesting idea though.
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Unread 02-03-2015, 07:22 AM   #5
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Hi John

Can you post a photo of the floor you're want to restore?

I would TEST clean an area of the stone and grout with a tile and stone specific high alkaline cleaner. Depending on the bond, the Aqua Mix Grout Colorant can be very durable. I have current clients that I've applied the Aqua Mix Grout Colorant to that are 15 years old and still holding strong.

I'm not familiar with using epoxy grout to fill holes. My methods are very similar to Cameron's.
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Unread 02-03-2015, 09:28 PM   #6
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Epoxy grout (spectra lock pro premium)...to be exact...will not be the same look as travertine but it is super durable and can be done very quickly. It does not shine either so that is the downside.

I do not know if you can rent a steam cleaner but you can purchase one of those for around $1000. Search www.cleantile.com. If you have any questions about different models let me know I have used them all.

If you are not filling with resin just use the gorilla pads, that is what I meant by hogs hair. 12"-17+" diamond pads but they are easier to work with and you can get great results with those two or three steps. They contour to the tile and lippage will not get in the way. You can use diamond resins to grind the filler down if you want but I think that is overkill for this job especially if they do not want to spend the money. I never used a square pad on the high speed buffer either. Always round and for the edges you can just use a hand machine with a smaller gorilla pad cut from the larger ones to save money!
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Unread 02-05-2015, 12:41 PM   #7
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I've decided to go with the Tenax travertine filler, fumes be damned. I think this will give the best result. How thoroughly do the holes need to be cleaned before filling. Lots of people folks are recommending acetone, but because it evaporates almost instantly, where does the dirt inside these holes go? Some are not much bigger than a pinhead. Would a stiff nylon brush and travertine cleaner do the trick?

Stone Dude, I saw a post you listed years back which suggested overfilling and then scraping off the excess right before it's completely hard. Seems like a great idea. Since I'm going to buff the floor after filling, can I just leave the holes overfilled? Will the same grit for buffing take down the Tenax, or is it much harder than the stone. I was thinking of several passes with increasingly fine grits of wet/dry sandpaper. I'd be doing this with a hand random orbit sander. I'd rent a floor buffer, but since it's just a kitchen and powder room, it seems like overkill. Any thoughts on grit? First to flatten the Tenax and buff out minor scratches, and then a finer grit to get that nice honed finish the tiles had originally. Not concerned about lippage, because I know the guy who laid the floor, and man he did a good job!

PGT and DoitRight--Can't find anyplace here in Chicago that rents those Ladybug pressure steam cleaners, and I don't want to spend a grand for a tool I'll probably only use a few times. So I guess we'll stick with the grout colorant. Other than a good cleaning, and special prep needed before re-applying?

Thanks, John
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Unread 02-07-2015, 04:29 AM   #8
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I would absolutely not leave the resin there and try to buff it down. That is specifically why I scrape it before it cures 100% Trying to buff it down with a machine after is a nightmare.

If you have a few little spots here and there, and orbital with 80 or 220 sandpaper will be fine, but if you're filling a lot of areas, forget it. The sandpaper gets clogged too fast and it won't be fun. Even if you wait too long and it's cured, take the time to shave it down with a razor blade. That will make the rest of the job easier.
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Unread 02-08-2015, 08:21 AM   #9
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Hi Justin

I don't suggest purchasing a steam cleaner for cleaning your stone & grout.

Where in Chicago are you located?

I have a friend that I work with who has a truck mount (in his trailer) that will clean up your floor in no time with a nominal fee. All that would be required is a nominal fee for his services.

As Cameron said, please do not overfill the holes and let cure. If you do, you'd rather tear out the floor than remove the excess.
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Unread 02-08-2015, 11:06 PM   #10
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Cameron, thanks so much for the advice regarding sanding down the overfill. I kind of thought sandpaper clogging might be an issue. This was a very expensive kitchen remodel (100 grand 12 years ago). Radiant heated floor, top of the line everything, etc. I'd like for these clients to be happy with the results. Like Paul Simon wrote, "just trying to keep the customer satisfied". First a thorough cleaning, then filling and scraping overfill? Followed by cleaning off the filler residue with thinner before sealing? And before sealing, I'd like to buff the floor to remove some light scratches and scuffs. Was thinking of starting with 220 grit, and moving up to 400 to restore the tiles to that low luster honed sheen that they had when I laid them. Maybe I should do the majority of the buffing before filling the holes? Even if I'm careful to remove the overfill and residue, would sanding over the filled holes be problematic?

John--what do you suggest for cleaning before filling the holes and preparing the floor in general for sealing? Also, best method of cleaning the grout before re-applying grout colorant? Justin had a great video on his website of a pressurized steam-cleaner for cleaning up grout joints. Were you suggesting not steam cleaning altogether, or just not buying the machine? It's not cost-effective for my to buy, and I can't find anyplace to rent a machine which has a suitable attachment for cleaning grout joints. Is steam cleaning what your friend does? My client lives in Wrigleyville, 2 blocks from Wrigley field, and I'd be open to subbing out the cleaning. Because I live an hour away, I'm trying to figure out some way to not have to make multiple trips. One trip for the initial cleaning, another for filling holes, another to clean again, another to apply the grout colorant, another to seal, etc.

As of now, my plan is:
1) Cleaning, steam or another method
2) Buffing floor, and vacuuming
3) Filling holes with Tenax, cleaning off residue
4) Re-applying Aquamix grout colorant
5) Sealing

Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated.
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Last edited by slapappy; 02-08-2015 at 11:15 PM. Reason: not finished
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Unread 02-09-2015, 11:27 AM   #11
doitright
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Hi John

Here's a YouTube video of a similar process that we use for both the stone and the grout. After this process you may not even need to apply grout colorant to the grout, just seal everything.

Truck mount cleaning process
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Unread 02-11-2015, 11:04 PM   #12
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I have used Steam Cleaning for mostly all of my jobs in the last 8 years. I have never had a problem and one thing great about it is how it opens the pores in the grout so a color sealant can bond better. I also have a truck mount set up. I do use this a lot but always end up steam cleaning before we color seal. Also trying to remove the old color seal (if it was a bad product or is just filthy) you can use some stripper and then steam it. Just be careful with the stripper and make sure you can use it on the surface.
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Unread 02-12-2015, 08:44 AM   #13
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Justin, if you're in the tile trades in some capacity please put some biographical information into your User Profile so our members can see what sort of fella the information is coming from, eh?
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Unread 02-12-2015, 07:39 PM   #14
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Is that better? I did not even think to add to my profile when I joined. Hope that works.
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Unread 02-12-2015, 09:02 PM   #15
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Yep, thanks.
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