Travertine is a sedimentary limestone which is formed by the chemical precipitation of the calcium salts in the watersheds. It mainly constitutes of calcite which is around 99% of its concentration.
Calcite is the crystalline, white porous structure formed out of calcium carbonate. Travertine is characterized by its spongy, vacuolar structure which is due to the inclusion of organic matter i.e mostly vegetables and gas emissions i.e carbon dioxide during the formation process.
Calcite which is the main mineral component in travertine is completely white. However, certain impurities such as the inclusion of sulfur, ferry compounds, or some organic pigments can change its color. That’s why it can be found in varieties of colors such as walnut, yellow, red, and many more.
The deposits of this limestone can be found all over the world in various corners such as Iran, the U.S, Mexico, Italy, and many other nations. Italian travertine is the most famous because of its great historic importance and it’s closeness to Rome.
In Italy, travertine has been used in the building of many monuments, including the Coliseum, the Trevi fountains, and the Saint Peter’s Colonnade.
Travertine usually requires the following types of finishing: polished, honed, and split-faced finishing. Travertine polishing is one of the most widely used types of finishing in travertine limestones.
The physical characteristics of travertine make it very suitable for using it in construction in adverse climatic conditions. Therefore, this gives the limestone a wide range of applications, ranging from external wall facings to interior flooring or from urban furnishing to constructing funerary monuments.
The main problem which is associated with the protection and care of travertine is the cavities in its structure. Travertine is a limestone that has a vacuolar structure. This means that it has naturally formed cavities throughout its structure. These cavities can accumulate dust and dirt, no matter what the limestone is being used for.
It is therefore advised to plaster or fill the travertine to prevent any problems with cleaning and to maintain its polishing as well as finishing. That is why this has been a common practice for decades.
Insights on travertine polishing:
Just like with marbles and other polished limestones, travertine is used for special purposes such as bathroom and kitchen flooring. When used in these cases, the protection of the limestone is mostly taken care of by special water and oil repelling products. These products protect the surface without changing its look.
The issue with travertine arises when surface residue builds up after the application of the mentioned products. This is further improved by drying the flooring, which usually takes about 4-24 hours after the treatment has been done on the travertine floor. The hours required for the product to dry up will depend on the type of solvent that has been used in the protective product.
Another widely used polishing fro travertine is waxing. In the case of home floors, traditional polishing wax is used. This traditional wax is applied with a cloth or a polisher after the application to give it a shine. Waxing on travertine can be carried out anytime to protect its surface materials.
These were the basic ways that travertine polishing is done. Other materials can also be used for polishing such as crystallization, de-waxing, stain removal, and aggressive chemical reactions solvents.