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Unread 12-31-2007, 08:04 PM   #1
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Question Pre-installtion efflorescence..or something else?

I have recently installed travertine (filled and honed) on the floors of my downstairs bathroom and laundry room. When I purchased the stone I notice that many of the pieces had a white crystalline film on them. It seemed more concentrated around the perimeter, but some tiles had it across the whole surface. When I rubbed the tiles with my thumb the crystalline formation seemed to powder a little bit and start to come off. I figured I would clean the stone real well after I installed it and that would take of the problem.

Well...I don't think it's going to be that easy. I have already installed the tile (not grouted yet) and tried to clean one of the tiles. You guessed it, it doesn't come off. It looks like it disappears when it gets wet only to return when the tile dries. I have not tried any cleaners but I did try superfine steel wool (#0000), which does seem to help quite a bit. Not perfect, but then again I didn't scrub for very long.

I read the Liberry article on efflorescence and what it describes seems to be what I have. The only reason I question it is because it was on the tiles when I bought them. Can efflorescence form just from the tiles being stored in a moist location? If it's not efflorescence, what else could I be dealing with?

Also, assuming that it is efflorescence, mechanical agitation seems to be the best way to go since it is travertine and I don't want to use an acidic cleaner. So, should I scrub before grouting or just wait until after grouting so that I can remove any grout haze also while I'm scrubbing?

Thanks for all the help
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Unread 12-31-2007, 08:08 PM   #2
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I think that what you are referring to is the make up of the trav stone. I doubt if you will ever get ride of it. It is not effervescence.

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Unread 01-01-2008, 12:43 AM   #3
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Eric -
Many things are done to stone tile in the process of production that are detrimental to the stone surface or its appearance. Stacking them wet, right out of the tile processing line is a common culprit in surface issues. Your problem could be one of those.
Efflorescence forms from dissolved minerals being deposited on the surface of masonry as the moisture that carried them evaporates. Usually those minerals come from the cements used in setting and grouting forming white powdery efflorescence. If stone tiles are stacked wet, the efflorescence that forms has only the calcite from the stone itself to form from. Calcite efflorescence tends to look like fine, clear crystals that can "powder" when abraded.... and it is even harder to clean off because it is the stone...
If the stone looks better wet you may want to consider using an enhancing sealer. Enhancers tend to lock in a color of the stone similar to when it is wet... and it might hide most of the efflorescence too...
George T. O'Regan
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