How to Refinish Travertine

F.R.R. Mallory

Travertine is a soft, beautiful stone that is often favored for its textural appearance. Travertine has a high sensitivity to acid products (like citrus dish soaps) and because the stone is porous, it is vulnerable to staining. Sealing travertine protects the surface from accidental stains.

Travertine floor in a bathroom.

Periodically refinish (reseal) your travertine to restore its original luster.

  1. Remove everything on or near the travertine's surface. Vacuum the travertine with a canister vacuum cleaner to remove any grit or loose dirt. Loose dirt is the primary material that scratches and wears stone floors.

  2. Tape off the edges of the travertine, such as baseboards and the transitions to walls, cabinets and other types of flooring. Lay down plastic sheeting, and keep in mind that the scrubber will throw some splatter.

  3. Scrub the travertine using a mild dish soap or pH neutral stone cleanser. Make sure your cleansing solution contains no acids, as acids will eat at the travertine's surface.

  4. Remove stains by forming a ring with towels and pouring water ¼ inch deep inside the ring. The objective is to saturate the stone (if the sealer is worn off) so that the stone will not absorb the stain when it is reactivated with cleanser. When the stone is saturated, the water within the stone blocks the stain and keeps it on the surface. After 10 minutes, use the towels to mop up the remaining water.

  5. Use a steamer on the stain. Heat is excellent for stain removal. Use dry towels to mop up the stain as it lifts. Use a bristle brush and straight (undiluted) stone cleanser to help, as necessary. Continue working the stain until it is removed.

  6. Mix sealer stripper with water (according to your scrubber manufacturer's directions). Plug in and activate your scrubber. Use rolled towels as bumpers if the scrubber hops around while you are getting used to it. Make even passes in two directions. Go slowly so that the bristles can work. Some scrubbers may dry the floor as you work, otherwise towel the floor dry so that no water sits on the floor. Water can mineralize on the surface and cause discoloration.

  7. Scrub the corners and edges using the same stripper (wearing gloves) and a bristle brush. Clean and wipe the surface dry as you work. Check to see if the sealer has been removed. Any sealer left on the stone may be visible when you reapply the new sealer.

  8. Mop the entire floor again with new cleanser and water. Rinse the floor with distilled water and vacuum the floor thoroughly. Anything left on the floor surface will seal onto the floor.

  9. Apply the travertine finish sealer per the manufacturer's directions. Allow each coat to dry between applications so that the finish doesn't cloud up. This may take several coats, depending on the manufacturer's recommendations.

  10. Tip

    Finish top coats like Gel Gloss or a car buffer can make your floor or countertop shine. Use products designed specifically for travertine, as it's sensitive to acid, and some products may leave stains.


    Always wear eye and glove protection when handling chemicals such as strippers and sealers.