I was recently approached to restore 2 restrooms , a lunch are and hallway that had Travertine floors installed probably 10 years ago. The restrooms had Marble walls going up about 4 feet and were a gray Marble. The project is located inside a super market. The Travertine floors have never been maintained and the butt joints between the tiles are black, whereas they should be gray. The Marble walls in the restroom also have butt joints and are severely dMrkened by lack of maintenance. The marble tiles themselves are very dull but luckily unscratched.Upon meeting with the owner , I explained that the Travertine floor was in pretty bad condition and ultimately should be diamond ground then paste polished and sealed. I told him , I could steam clean the Marble walls in the restrooms with my hand spinner and then paste polish the walls with a grinder and then apply a penetrating sealer.
The Travertine floor also has probably a 100 holes that I would fill with an epoxy.Tile layers like to use grout to fill holes because it is fast, cheap and easy. The down side to filling holes with grout is that it won't polish and is no where as durable as epoxy. The first thing I plan to do with this job is to fill the holes in the Travertine with epoxy. They cure in a matter of minutes, so you better be able to do fills as they are referred to, fast. Secondly, you can't leave epoxy outside the holes on the Travertine as this makes for a lousy , spotchy finished fill. I have many years experience with epoxy and am pretty darn good at it.
Second step: I would hook up my truck mounted unit and spray both the Marble walls and Travertine floor with a concentrated cleaning alkaline solution at 200 degrees at 500 p.s.i.. Then, I would hook up my 10" hand steam cleaning spinner tool and up the pressure to 2500 p.s.i. to steam clean the Marble walls. Next, I would use my upright steam cleaning tools to steam clean the Travertine floor including the grout lines.( Most companies try to do this with just a brush, which is just no comparison to what I do.) These tools are commonly referred to as spinners. ( Look up my exterior masonry sercive to see them in action.)
Next step is tedious, but no other way. I would use a hand grinder and polish the Marble walls in the restrooms.After I finished polishing the vertical Marble walls, I would switch to my floor machine and meticulously paste polish the Travertine floors. (Some companies refer to this as powder polishing.)
Finally I would use a V.O.C. compliant penetrating sealer liberally to both the Marble walls and to the Travertine floor. I would buff off the excess sealer as it is not meant to dry on the exterior of the stone. It is meant to dry inside the stone and takes up to 72 hours for full cure but can be walked on within a couple hours. Penetrating sealers unfortunately will only repel organic materials and will not repel acids from sodas , liquor, urine, etc,. So if you so have any acid spillage , clean it up quickly, otherwise it will etch the stone and have to be Diamond ground out. You can do Diamond grinding with a hand grinder to get out spot etches as, opposed to doing the whole floor. You just have to be good at feathering and blending it to match the rest of the stone.
One final note on this job. The customer does not want to put a small fortune into this job. He wants it clean, hygenic and shiny. I suggested Diamond grinding to the Travertine , but it exceeded his budget. I told him I could give it a meticulous paste polish to save him money. I told him that only Diamond Grinding the Marble and Travertine would take out the deep wear. He said to me." It's a market and I don't need it to look like a palace."
I always explain and use pictures with my customers , so that way they will no the limitations, expectations and cost in advance.