You just moved into a house with travertine floors that have seen better days. You decide to hop on the ‘ol world wide web and have a look around at pictures of what travertine flooring should look like. You know, just to see if yours is supposed to look like this… Immediately you see a picture of a beautiful shiny travertine tile floor and you want yours like this too! So you call a couple of stone cleaning company’s in the area to get an idea of the cost to clean and polish your travertine. Once you find out the price is just a bit more than you thought it would be, you decide to take a trip to your local big box store. Invariably, they have JUST WHAT YOU NEED!!!! The ‘very knowledgable’ store associate, whom just started working there last week, walks you to the sealer isle and shows you a bottle that promises to make your floors sparkle like the late afternoon water at Saguaro Lake. “OMG SCORE!!!!” You think to yourself as you stroll to the checkout counter with a few bottles of this little miracle maker. After all, you ARE a do it yourselfer! As you make your way to your car you’re contemplating the events of the day and you just can’t believe you considered hiring someone to do this! “Phfff. A thousand dollars to clean and polish my floors. Puh-lease, I only paid $30 bucks for these babies! What a rip off! Shiny tile… I mean really, how hard could it be?”
STOP!!!!!!!! The shine in a bottle sealer you are about to use is going to ruin your stone floors and THE COST TO RESTORE them will now cost you twice as much!
We get asked all the time, “I want shiny tile. The sealer will make my tile shiny right?” or “Do you think we should seal our natural stone floors, showers, counters, walls and what should we seal them with?” My answer varies based on the type of surface you want to seal but travertine, marble, limestone, terrazzo, flagstone, slate, and porcelain tile are all very different surfaces and must be treated as such. Overall, I am an advocate of sealer. Solvent based, penetrating sealers do not give you shiny tile. These merely help in stain resistance. If you want shiny tile you will have to hire a professional to polish your floors.
There is one “sealer” on the market promising a quick and cheap shine that continually shows up on our jobs…a topical gloss sealer. I will NEVER, and have NEVER, recommended this type of sealer as it is a nightmare to remove and not a true sealer. Natural stone such as travertine, marble and limestone do not respond well to topical coating sealers and should be shined up, or polished, using a diamond polishing process done by a professional stone cleaning company. Hiring a professional stone cleaning company is a must as there are many in the business that will tell you they know how to work with natural stone when in fact, they don’t.
The shine in the picture, at the beginning of this blog, cannot be achieved using a $30 dollar bottle of acrylic milky sealer and a mop bought from Home Depot. In fact, I don’t even like those gloss coatings for flagstone or slate though it’s more reasonable to find a topical type of sealer on those surfaces. Reason being, flagstone and slate are more porous and take in a topical sealer better than travertine, marble or limestone would. Topical sealers are those that form a “film” or “top layer” over your stone or porcelain surface. Many of these types of surfaces are not porous enough to soak in and hold these coatings so you wind up seeing scuff marks and often times, peeling of the coating as you move furniture, slide your chairs in and out, vacuum etc… These scuff marks happen because the topical coating you put on your floor is, at it’s core, a wax coating.
Topical coatings trap the dirt making it very difficult to clean your stone or tile flooring using just a simple mop. The picture below shows what a topical sealer looks like after only ONE YEAR of use! Can you believe how dirty it is!!!! OMGOSH!!!!
These particular clients use a cleaning service once a week to vacuum and mop their floors but it doesn’t appear to make much difference. They cannot remove this dirt using a mop because it is now stuck to the topical coating that was applied last year.
Originally, you couldn’t see the mop strokes where they tediously applied their little miracle in a bottle.
Now that a year has gone by, dirt has attached itself to the sealer making it clearly visible where each brush stroke was so lovingly applied. Bless his heart, he just really really wanted shiny tile.
Our client, like many others, mistakenly thought they were doing the right thing. Many people use these types of sealers as a way to add shine to the floor or countertops without having to hire a professional stone cleaning company. After reading about how horrible topical coatings are for your natural stone floor why would anyone apply one of these urethane or acrylic based sealers?
There are a number of reasons why a topical coating exists on a stone or porcelain floor. Expense, Ignorance, and Pre-existing Condition.
Number 1: Expense. Let’s not beat around the bush here. Professional stone cleaning and polishing services are expensive especially if you haven’t been maintaining the floors along the way. This problem of expense is compounded once a topical coating has been applied as an additional step is now necessary before the polishing can begin.
Number 2: Homeowners have no idea what they should be using on their natural stone floors so they refer to an associate at a big box store who walks them to the sealer isle and tells them they can magically have shiny floors by using this stuff! UGH!!!!! WRONG!!!!
Number 3: The coating, or sealer, was applied to by the previous homeowners. The new homeowners have no idea why the heck they can’t get their floors cleaned even though they mop it weekly. Many times when a house is flipped, the flipper applies the topical coating to hide imperfections from installation as well as to give it that instant shine without having to fork over the big bucks to make it look good.
So what do you do if you find yourself in this situation? You want a shiny floor but can’t afford it. Well, wait and save up the money until you can afford to have it professionally done. Trust me, it will be worth it in the end. What do you do if you have a coating on the floor already and you can’t get it clean. Call us!
If you really really want to seal your floors, showers or counters this is what we recommend 511 Impregnator. Be aware that this WILL NOT give you shiny tile. This will merely seal your floor and/or grout. Also, we recommend that you buff off any residual sealer from the tile before it dries using a rotary machine.
Natural stone is beautiful but delicate and if you are easily annoyed by dull spots and inconsistent finishes on your counters, floors and showers it may not be the surface for you. Marble, Limestone and Travertine all react quickly when an unsafe product comes into contact with it. You may not even realize that you accidentally over sprayed an unsafe product onto the counter while you were cleaning the sink faucet and now you have little marks all over the counter. Same goes for the shower door. You are wiping it down using something like Meyers Clean Day Tub and Tile Cleaner which does awesome on glass by the way, and now all of the sudden there are spots all over the floor under the shower door. A day or two goes by and all of the sudden the light hits just right and you see the dreaded spots. “What the heck? Where did these come from” you ask yourself. Unfortunately you just created your first etch marks. Those are etch marks are now on there until you can call a professional out to remove them with machines. Those pesky spots were made instantaneously when the acid in the cleaner came into contact with the calcium carbonate in the natural stone. “GREAT!!!! So now what?”… read more to find out which natural stone safe household cleaning products I recommend to be safe on and around your travertine, marble and limestone surfaces.
So, to avoid this type of fiasco in the future you should try and only use natural stone safe household cleaning products on all the surfaces in your home. So what type of household cleaners can I use? I have compiled a small list and documented most of the tests I did in this youtube video. Basically it all comes down to chemistry… Alkaline’s and Acids. Alkaline soaps are safe to use on your natural stone while acids are not.
Tile Girl’s list of safe natural stone household cleaning products and my findings:
SAFE Natural Stone Household Cleaning Products:
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
Windex is fine to use on your windows and mirrors. If it comes into contact with your stone it appeared to be just fine maybe a very slight dulling but it was inconclusive.
Soft Scrub- Safe to use in your sink and toilets and will be safe around your stone surfaces that are near the sink and toilet.
Baking Soda and Water- This is meant for stone countertops
Home Depot- Aquamix Marble, Travertine Limestone and Slate Cleaner
Home Depot- Grout Deep Clean
NOT SAFE- Natural Stone
Melaluca Tub and Tile Cleaner
Meyers Clean Day Tub and Tile Cleaner
Meyers Clean Day Dish Soap leaves a small etch mark
NOT RECOMMENDED even though it didn’t appear to leave a mark.
Tilex with bleach
Home Depot- Heavy Duty Tile & Grout Cleaner – This helps to get wax off your travertine and is safe to use on y our natural stone though it does appear to dull the surface just a bit. If you have wax on your travertine, marble or limestone floor it’s best to leave the removal to the experts. Call us for your free estimate on removing wax from your natural stone.
I hope that this list help you to determine the cause of you etch marks and to prevent further etching in the future. Get Free Estimate
What’s the deal here? You just had your carpet or tile cleaned and now you notice you have a few swollen baseboards. You always assumed you had wooden baseboards! Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you that you don’t. In fact, what you have is a cheap wood alternative called MDF. MDF is short for Multi Density Fiberboard which is basically another name for pressboard or particle board. MDF is made of sawdust and resin which is then formed into moldings, panels and baseboards. MDF is used because it is more cost effective than using real wood, it’s appealing to the eye due to it’s lack of imperfection and it’s ease of use.
MDF is great in applications where moisture will never be an issue such as decorative trim work, fireplace mantels, crown molding and column wraps. Unfortunately, in order to cut costs, contractors and DIYers are cruising down the molding isle at their local home improvement store and choosing this cheaper baseboard alternative.
When MDF gets wet it acts like a sponge trapping the moisture and swelling your baseboards. Sometimes they will even start crumbling back into saw dust! For this reason, MDF should not be used in applications where it comes into contact with water.
So what can you do if you have MDF or you move into a home with MDF baseboards? First, take notice of any gaps between the tile and the baseboard as well as any small nicks in the paint. These gaps MUST be caulked to seal the space between the bottom of the baseboard and the tile. If there is even the smallest opening, water WILL get in there while you are mopping or having your floors cleaned and you will have swollen baseboards.
If you have decided to install MDF baseboards in your home to save money then you must take all the precautions necessary to make sure you don’t end up with a house full of swollen, crumbling baseboards. First, make sure to paint the entire baseboard, front-top-bottom-sides and back. Also, occasionally check that the caulk is holding tight where the baseboard sits on the tile. It literally takes the smallest amount of water to ruin this type of baseboard as it is basically made of paper. If you can’t tell, these baseboards are our nemesis. We can usually spot them straight away and when we do we discuss the options with our clients regarding cleaning near these type of baseboards. Other times, these MDF baseboards appear to be caulked, very well, and so we go about our business cleaning the tile. Most of the time it’s not a problem but like I said earlier, even the tiniest separation in the caulk, or a missed caulk line, can lead to a swollen baseboard.
It’s almost impossible not to get moisture near the baseboards when doing a restorative type of cleaning. We really try and stay away from these type of baseboards during our cleaning process but there are times when water runs down a grout line toward the baseboard, or the buffer pushes water towards the baseboard, where there is either no caulk or a gap in the caulking. It happens and we don’t always know that there is a crack in the caulk until it’s too late.
If you have MDF baseboards and they are not properly caulked or painted you may be replacing a few pieces after the fact.
Read more about swollen baseboards here.
Stone Cleaning Professional Checklist:
Are you considering hiring a stone cleaning professional to restore or maintain your natural stone surfaces? This is a big deal because maintaining natural stone is not cheap and not every cleaning contractor is knowledgeable in natural stone. Also, it is very important to make sure you are comparing apples to apples when comparing estimates from different stone cleaning professionals. Here is a list of a few things to consider before making your final choice.
- Referrals, are they offering to give you any? Always good to actually talk to a previous client and not just rely on written reviews.
- Is the price in line with the industry. If it seems too good to be true it probably is…
- Are they offering a discounted price? If so, does this also mean a discounted service or will you be receiving a full service treatment for that discounted price?
- Will they be using a rotary machine?
- Will they use a pad or a brush on that rotary machine? Each has its purpose.
- Will they be scrubbing the grout lines with a nylon brush?
- Have they recommended sealing?
- Do they mask off your appliances? Put tarps down to cover the carpet, corner guards to protect your baseboards etc…
- Do they move furniture?
- Did they discuss with you the possibility that the sheen or shine may change with cleaning?
- Who will be coming to do the work? Owners will always have a deeper interest in customer satisfaction.
- How long have they worked on natural stone?
- Are they licensed, bonded and insured? If so, get that information.
- And finally, what is your personal feeling regarding this person and their company? Do you feel comfortable with them? Do you get a good feeling from them? Do you feel like they’ll come back and stand behind their work should something go wrong? Generally you have a gut feeling about people. Go with your instincts if you
I hope this stone cleaning professional checklist has been informative and will help you in making an informed decision regarding your next stone care professional! 🙂
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Are you asking yourself, “How do I clean my travertine shower?” Well for starters, and the number one most important thing, DO NOT use an acidic cleaner. That means no vinegar, no CLR, and basically no shower cleaning products sold to you at Target, Walmart, Grocery Stores etc… So what can you use? You can use any neutral PH balanced cleaner. What is that you ask? Well, first, you need a little chemistry lesson. All cleaning solutions are given a number on the PH scale. The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14 and is a measure of a solution’s acidity or alkalinity. A pH of 7 is neutral; a pH less than 7 is acidic; and a pH greater than 7 is alkaline, or basic.
Now that we know what a pH scale is and that you must use a NEUTRAL pH cleaner (7) I will give you some examples of cleaners that you CAN use for cleaning your natural stone shower. If you are looking to go the more natural route then dish soap may be an option for you. Dish soap comes very close to 7 on the scale. You can also use a little baking soda and water mixture to scrub down the walls. The baking soda has a bit of a gritty texture making it a bit easier to clean off rust buildup and mold. If you want something a bit more powerful your local home improvement store will have a neutral pH cleaner in their tile section. Here is a link to a neutral cleaner at Home Depot. Neutral Cleaner.
It is important to keep in mind that travertine and marble showers are really hard to clean and maintain because they are so susceptible to etching. You really need to use a professional stone cleaning service, like ours, to get your natural stone walls cleaned up.
Are you sitting there on the couch looking at your natural stone floors and thinking… “Gee, I sure wish my travertine…marble…slate…limestone was shiny! There has got to be a way I can do it myself!”. So you take to the internet, browsing how-to articles, looking for any information on making your travertine shiny without calling in a professional stone restoration company. After all, who really needs that bill?!? “Not me!” In your series of searches, you’ve stumbled upon the perfect solution… Dun da da da…gloss sealer! And the crowd goes wild!!! Whooooo gloss sealer! “That looks like an excellent idea! It’s cheap, easy to use, and best of all I can do it myself!” Off to the home improvement store you go! Not so fast… der der der.
Unfortunately I have some bad news for you. Awwwww 🙁 Gloss sealers and topical coatings are THE absolute worst idea for making your natural stone floors shiny! You will want to think twice before using any product that tells you to mop shine onto your stone floors! Over a period of time gloss sealers turn gray, sometimes yellow, and begin to flake off. They act like a magnet, collecting dust from the air and dirt from your shoes. Even mopping a stone floor with a gloss coating will make it dirtier! But the number one deterrent for applying a gloss sealer to your floor is the cost to remove it. Gloss coatings are VERY costly to remove and it almost always winds up costing twice as much as if you would have hired a professional stone cleaning company to polish it properly in the first place. See our Stone Polishing Page for information on how to properly polish your natural stone floors.
There is no comparison between the shine from diamond polishing and the shine your receive from gloss. Whether you want to add just a little shine or alot of shine, call a professional Stone Restoration Company. Make sure they are licensed for stone restoration and if possible try and get some references to call. If you are in the Phoenix Metro area and are in need to stone restoration services we can help. CALL Scottsdale Travertine Polish today for your free estimate. #topicalcoatingonstone #glosssealerontravertine #tilegirl #pvinteriorstilecleaning #shinystonetile #howtomakemytravertineshiny
Professional stone cleaning, or natural stone cleaning as some may call it, is a necessity every few years as mopping does not and cannot give the same results as those achieved through the use of big machines. Stone floors get dirty over time leading to a cloudy, hazy looking floor with no character. Cleaning stone floors with a heavy duty alkaline cleaner and big machines will leave the stone a bit dull and chalky looking. This is why we generally polish the stone after cleaning. Polishing the stone floor will not only bring out the color in the stone but also closes the pores in the tile, giving additional protection from stains. Virtually every stone floor out there can benefit from having a professional stone cleaning every few years.
Be very careful who you hire to work on your stone floors as not everyone in the cleaning business is knowledgeable about stone. Different stone surfaces require different types of cleaners and can easily be damaged if cleaned incorrectly. Choose a LICENSED stone professional for your next stone floor cleaning project! 🙂 CALL TODAY for your free stone cleaning estimate. We would love to hear from you!
Tile Cleaning Tools of the Trade
Today on our job I decided to show a couple of the must have's if you are going to professionally clean tile. Obviously a big truck mounted machine is needed but besides that what else is there really?
It is SO important that each and every grout line be scrubbed down using one, if not both, of these grout brushes. The rinse extraction machine and the sx12 tool work great but the grout comes cleaner if the grout lines are scrubbed first! Also, as I explain, the machine can only get so close to the wall and will leave about a half inch line around the edges that needs to be scrubbed by hand, washed again and wiped up with a rag or sucked up with the vacuum hose.
To make life easier, we spread the soap around using a pump sprayer. These pump sprayers don't tend to last too long in our line of work, even the really expensive ones so we have quite a few laying around in the trailer 🙂
I also use booties. Yes, that's right, booties even when I'm cleaning. I don't want the soap to wreck my shoes. I have never done any scientific testing but I'm pretty sure the chemicals used for cleaning tile everyday aren't that great for the rubber soles of the shoes and in my opinion wear the shoes down faster. The booties are not a necessity for cleaning but they are nice to have around especially when the job is complete. We never walk on a clients floor after it has been cleaned even if it's dry.
What does it mean & how does it affect the cleaning of your stone surfaces?
This is a great article I found on http://www.aboutcleaningproducts.com It explains the differences in PH and finding a PH Balance. A ‘7’ on the PH scale indicates neutrality. This is what you want for general purpose stone cleaning.
Acids and Bases – What is pH?
If you watch TV, you’ve probably seen commercials for products claiming to be “pH balanced.” But what is pH, anyway? And how does pH affect cleaning?
The basics of pH
pH is a measure of how acidic or basic a solution is. Water based solutions range from a pH of zero to a pH of 14. The mid point of the pH scale, 7.0, is considered neutral. Pure water is neutral.
Low pH = Acidic
If a solution has a pH that is lower than 7, that solution is considered acidic. Acids are usually sour or bitter – coffee, cola, and lemon juice all have an acidic pH. When used in cleaning products, acids help to break down difficult stains like rust or mineral deposits.
Some common cleaning products that have an ACIDIC PH are:
- Hard water/mineral deposit removers like CLR
- Toilet bowl cleaners
- Rust stain removers
- Tub and tile cleaners
- Mold removers
Acidic cleaners attack and dissolve these types of stains, breaking them down and making them easier to remove. These are NOT good to use on your travertine or marble tile! When diluted in a large amount of water and spread all over the floor, counter or shower, they will merely dull the surface of your stone. However, if spilled in a concentrated amount they will damage the stone leaving behind a dull, rough spot known as an etch mark. These etch marks can only be removed through grinding the stone down and polishing it back up. $$$
High pH = Basic (alkaline)
A solution with a pH that is higher than 7 is basic (sometimes referred to as alkaline). Products with basic pH values are useful for removing fatty and oily soils from surfaces – including your hands! Your average bottle of hand soap has a pH of 9 or 10. Bleach, which is useful for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in your home, has a pH of 12.5.
Some common cleaning products that have a basic pH include:
- Oven cleaner
- All purpose cleaners
- Laundry detergents
- Dawn Dish Soap 9
- Windex 1o
- Amonia 11
- Bleach 13
- Drain Cleaner 14
Alkalinity attacks fatty and oily soils breaking them into component parts that are easier to remove from the surface or fabric.
Striking a balance
Most products are pH balanced – this simply means that the pH of a solution has been raised or lowered in order to get the job done. For example, a product designed to remove rust stains would have a pH that’s low enough to dissolve tough rust stains, but high enough to leave your bathtub’s enamel surfaces unharmed.
These products all have a neutral PH Balance of 7 and can be used safely and effectively on your stone surface.
From all-purpose cleaners and glass cleaners to tub and tile sprays, cleaning products are formulated to have the most effective pH for the job.