Travertine stone and tile provide timeless beauty. Unfortunately, the porous surface leaves the stone extremely vulnerable to staining and etching, and unfilled travertine can quickly take on a worn and dirty appearance that's hard to renovate. Prevent the maintenance headaches travertine can bring by using a high gloss acrylic sealant that will protect the surface of the stone. These floor sealers are easily purchased and can be applied by any do-it-yourself homeowner.
Select a suitable sealer. Because of the chemical and physical properties of travertine, not all floor sealers will work. Concrete seal, for example, is poorly suited to travertine's porous surface and the high calcium carbonate of its chemical make-up. Take care to select a sealer formulated to work with travertine.
Prepare the floor surface by vacuuming or sweeping. Before sealing, the floor should not be treated with any other cleaner or sealer, as these substances are likely to interfere with proper absorption of the sealer.
Protect any non-stone surfaces. Painter's blue masking tape should provide sufficient protection for baseboards. Any adjoining carpeting can be protected with plastic and masking tape. If any sealer does get onto a surface where it is not wanted, it can be removed with lacquer thinner once dried.
Use proper protective gear, and work in a well-ventilated environment. Because the vapours from most acrylic sealers are flammable and harmful to the health, keep the area clear of heat or open flames, and keep it well ventilated.
Apply the sealer using the "pour and push" technique. Pour a puddle of liquid sealer onto the travertine surface and allow it to sit for 5 to 10 seconds. Using a squeegee or clean broom, slowly push the puddle across the floor to spread the sealer, again providing a few seconds on each section of the floor surface. This technique allows the liquid to properly penetrate the surface of the stone, filling the pores and voids in the surface.
Allow time for the sealer to dry and cure. While the density of the stone and the humidity of the air will cause some variation in drying times, the sealed portions of the floor should be dry to the touch within an hour or two. Wait at least three additional hours after the initial drying before walking on the surface. The sealant will continue to cure over the course of the next three days, and it is best to limit traffic over the surface during that time.
Test the stone before sealing by putting a drop of clean water on the surface. Untreated, unsealed travertine should absorb the drop quickly. If you find that your travertine floors have already been treated with a sealer or surface treatment, consider calling stone care professionals.