Saturday, September 15 2012
Pet Urine on Travertine Floors:
Almost a week doesn't go by when someone is calling me, emailing me, or checking my website because Rover went pee on their travertine tile & grout floor. Depending which expert you want to believe we Americans love our pets. I recently read one study that stated that Americans have over 130,000,000 pets in their homes, and that is a lot of pee.
Travertine tile & grout floors are considered "soft stones" because they etch very easily and they contain calcium carbonate. When I use the term etch I mean "scar," these acidic liquids like coffee, tea, lemon, citrus juices, and of course pet urine are all examples of acidic liquids that can etch and/or dull your once beautiful stone. Dog urine, for example, has a pH level of anywhere from 5.5 to 7.5 depending on the size of the dog, what the dog eats and drinks, and what type of medication the dog takes, if any. It is believed that small dogs have the most acidic urine probably because of what they eat and what medicines they take. If you recall your high school chemistry 7.0 on the pH scale is neutral, anything below 7.0 is an acid and anything above a 7.0 is an alkaline. If you clean your travertine tile & grout with a high alkaline cleaner you can and will dull the stone.
So, what can you do to protect your travertine floors? First let me recommend that you clean your floor with a pH neutral cleaner and then seal the floor with a high quality sealer. Sealers are made from acrylic polymers or sticky plastic. This sticky plastic is a non-slip protective coating. Some sealers will enhance the color of the stone and give it a more 'wet' look while others are almost untraceable. This is when a real expert is going to come in handy. Not all sealers are alike. There is a lot of cheap stuff out there that can cause more problems than they solve. The second is to dust and clean your floors regularly using a pH neutral product. Dust is like sand paper and will wear down your sealer and stone at a fast pace. Mopping your floor at least once a week and removing the grease, oils, and dirt will also go a long way into maintaining your floor.
Thirdly keep some white terry cloth towels handy with a little dish soap in a spray bottle. If Rover should have an accident IMMEDIATELY BLOT up the pee and then spray surface with dish soap. The soap, which has a pH level of 8.0 will neutralize the acid in the pee and prevent etching. Rinse thoroughly with clean water, again BLOT, BLOT, BLOT. Avoid rubbing because this may spread the pee and cause more damage to the stone. The longer the pee stays on the floor the better chance it has to eat through the sealer and etch the stone. If your stone has already been etched you will need a professional tile & grout cleaner, who specializes in travertine, to help restore the stone. If the pee has been on the travertine for an extended period of time you should test the floor to see if the sealer is still present and working. If you do not know how to test your sealer please give me a call or email and I will walk you through it.
Travertine is a beautiful stone and with a little bit of effort you can keep it that way for years to come.