travertine, tile floor, stone restoration, fairfax, virginia, great falls

Waxing Natural Stone Floors

A problem on natural stone floors we often encounter is black grout lines, black spots in the floor and general dinginess. This is from wax being applied to the floor. Never apply wax to the top of a natural stone floor. Unfortunately, this is a mistake too many homeowners have made. Let’s discuss why this happens, and how it can be fixed.


First, there are some floors where applying wax is appropriate. In the kitchen, wax used to be applied on linoleum floors. The floors looked great, but it was a very labor intensive process. The result was a no-wax linoleum floor. This is probably the reason we see wax applied in kitchens. Wood floors used to be waxed and buffed. This has fallen out of use in favor of more permanent polyurethane finish. On the commercial side, there is Vinyl Composition Flooring, or VCT tile. This is in many grocery stores. It looks great when waxed. Unfortunately, many janitorial companies think applying wax to any floor is a good idea.

At first, it looks like a great idea! It will make the floor look shiny and highly reflective. Then people begin using it. High traffic areas get walked on, and dirt gets trapped in the wax. The grout lines turn black first, then the pores of the stone turn black. Finally, nearly all of the shine fades away. The result are the black grout lines, black spots and dinginess explained above.

The problem is compounded when more coats of wax are applied to the top. They temporarily lighten up the black grout lines, but then turn black again.


    First we need to determine if the natural stone floor has sanded or unsanded grout. If it is unsanded grout, the wax can be stripped from the floor. This will make the floor look better instantly. The grout lines will return to their original color.


    Once the wax is stripped from the grout, the floor can then be honed and polished.


    For sanded grout, the fix is more complex. Sometimes the wax can be stripped from sanded grout, other times the wax is stuck in the grout lines. The typical result is removing 90% of the wax, and having discolored grout lines on the remainder.


    The ultimate fix removes all the sanded grout with a grout saw. Then the grout is reapplied and allowed to cure. Then we can grind down the floor, hone and polish.


    Stone Cleaner:

    A pH neutral stone cleaner maintains a floor best. I recommend against using a spray mops on natural stone floors. The spray chemical has very small amounts of wax in it, and this builds up over time.


    If you are in Northern Virginia, and you think wax was applied to your stone floor, give us a call at 571-488-1892 to discuss.