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Case StudyTravertine

A new look for your old travertine tile floors

By March 11, 2016August 27th, 2019No Comments

Case study: We received a call from an interior decorator who asked us if we could do anything about the look of one her client’s travertine tile floors. So I asked “May I ask why?” The interior decorator said that her client’s travertine tile floors had been installed for over 20 years and that her client felt that they just looked too plain and they were too light and they stained too easily and they were not easy to clean and she just wanted a different floor. “She wants to rip them out and start over.” I suggested a consultation to discuss the options and subsequently set up an appointment to meet with “Lyn.”

After meeting with Lyn, and having heard and understood the concerns with why she wanted a new floor, I asked “If we can change the appearance of your honed (no shine)  tile floor such that they would have a deeper breadth of color variation and that they would look absolutely positively clean, and that they would not stain as easily and that the floor would be easier to clean, would you be willing to invest in a transformation rather than a major renovation?” Lyn was up for the challenge.

Let’s share a few things about this stone so you can get a better idea of why we were confident we’d create a new look that the homeowner would be very happy with:


  1. Is a type of limestone that forms in hot mineral springs around the world. Limestone is a sedimentary rock made of calcium carbonate, a primary component of shells and very responsive to color enhancement. In North America, the most notable  formation is Yellowstone National Park.
  2. Most is imported to the US from quarries in Italy, Iran, Mexico, Turkey, and Peru.
  3. When you look at it, you’ll notice what makes it unique: naturally occurring holes and troughs on the surface. Travertine is also porous. Both of these characteristics result from how the stone forms over time.
  4. It comes in a variety of colors including white, tan, brown, cream and gold. Some  has black veins running through it.
  5.  The most common tile sizes are 4×4, 6×6, 12×12, and 18×18 and tile trim pieces.
  6. It can be used inside or outside.
  7. This type of stone is softer than granite as an example and it is very porous requiring a protective element otherwise known as sealer in order to prevent staining and allowing the material to be cleaned easier. You’ll find a number of sealer options available today and the subject of sealers will be a dedicated blog post for another day. The most common are Enhancing and Natural sealers, and as they relate to natural stone, the classification of penetrating sealers is important. Penetrating sealers (as opposed to topical or surface only sealers) are as they sound, thus; they penetrate the surface (porosity) of the stone. Enhancing sealers deepen the contrasting colors of stone within the tile whereas natural sealers offer the same protection (water repellency and certain sealers- oil and water repellency) without changing the stone’s appearance. The fact that its porous, has varying color and depth quality and its excellent response to enhancing sealers is exactly why we anticipated a good result for Lyn, although the travertine floor she had was of a lighter variety. Ok, back to the story.

The first thing we did was uncover a sample of the original tile which was in the garage. We cleaned it and then transformed it by employing a penetrating enhancing sealer which would also repel both water and oil. We used two coats of the sealer as per the manufacturers recommended application rates and application protocol. After cleaning it and prior to sealing it, we ensured the moisture level of the tile was within acceptable limits by using a moisture meter which is a best demonstrated practice of Santa Barbara Stone Masters. Touché! We had a homeowner who recognized something transformative and understood that enhancing the stone was going to make the floor look different. In order to make the floor truly “pop” we also recommended a little diamond polishing to close up the stones pores a little bit so as to allow for greater reflectivity and thus give the floor a shiny surface. Not too much polishing mind you, just enough to have a decent amount of reflection which creates a nice surface luster throughout the floor space. Continuity and consistency is a key element for a uniform finish and if it’s not dull; it looks cleaner.

So here’s how we went about it based upon the scheduling:

Monday: move furniture and commence with machine cleaning and machine extraction of slurry followed by adequate drying time.

Tuesday: two coats of penetrating enhancing sealer as per manufacturers specified application rates and procedure.

Friday: two coats of additional permanent penetrating sealer as per manufacturers specified application rates and procedure. After the appropriate amount of dwell time (several hours) diamond abrasive machine polishing was used to create just the right amount of shine.


Photo A) is of the floor after cleaning it but before the restorative work. Photo B) is after our professional expertise at work.

before-after floors

Before and after photos are often times difficult to properly depict as lighting has changed over several days particularly if we are relying on natural light. We acknowledge this but just the same, these pictures do in fact show a clearly different color and shine element from before any work was conducted to the final product. Of note, the sealers used were Dry-Treat STAIN-PROOF Original™ and Dry-Treat INTENSIFIA™. *5 year Performance Warranty when INTENSIFIA™ is applied by an Accredited Applicator and *A 15-YEAR PERFORMANCE WARRANTY is offered when STAIN-PROOF Original™ is applied by an Accredited Applicator. Santa Barbara Stone Masters is an accredited applicator of Dry-Treat products.


We were thrilled to see our client very happy with the results. We understand some homeowners just want something completely different. However, in this case we made a substantial difference to the “look and feel” of Lyn’s home with minimal disruption and at a far greater cost savings than had she decided to go in the direction of a complete floor renovation. Should you have any questions or need any help with anything similar to this project please feel free to contact us. Check out our marble restoration video.

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