Travertine Polishing and Maintenance

Travertine is popular natural stone in central Texas because of its price point and options with color, surface reflection and texture.  Because it’s a relatively soft stone the surface reflection or level of shine can be easily manipulated.  The main problem with travertine is etching due to its acid sensitivity and there are many acidic products in the typical house that can cause etching.  It is this etching that generates the majority of maintenance problems with travertine flooring.

A common description we get from homeowners regarding the etching is that the travertine has “water spots.”  I am frequently asked if it can be cleaned off.  Unfortunately etching causes physical damage to the surface of the requiring travertine polishing to restore it.  There is a number of travertine polishing processes we can use and can usually restore damage caused by etching it to a factory hone with 1 honing step.

In addition to etching problems travertine is subject to wear patterns in traffic lanes.  The higher the polish, the more visible wear patterns and etching are and the more frequent maintenance work is required to maintain its desired look.  Typically wear patterns can also be removed with 1 honing step just like etch removal.  We can achieve a high polish with depth and clarity from a factory hone condition.  This means travertine can be restored and polished with just 2 steps.  Travertine polishing is generally needed every 3 to 5 years.

before and after travertine polishing


The depth and clarity of travertine polishing is greatly affected by the quality of the stone.  Travertine resembles Swiss cheese in that it’s full of holes.  Those holes are typically filled with cement or grout based product that will not take a polish.  Higher quality travertines have fewer holes and the holes are filled with polymer based product that will take a polish.  Regardless of the type of fill, no travertine will polish evenly like marble or granite.