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Old 05-10-2007, 11:59 AM   #1
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Travertine on cement in basement?


My basement is currently being finished by a General Contractor, but my wife and I have opted to handle the flooring ourselves. There is a main room with approx. 750 sq. ft., a small bathroom and another room, approx 250 sq. ft., that has access to the backyard.

After deciding against hardwood or laminate in the basement we are now looking at 18x18 Travertine tile.

The current floor is concrete. It is in very good condition, only 2 hairline cracks which are each about 4 ft long. I am completely inexperienced but the floor seems to be level. Is there anyway to determine how level it is or if it is ďlevel enough?Ē

What tools, equipment would you suggest?

What do I need to do to prep the floor?

Where can I find the best info on how to set the tile (Iím completely new to this)? Is there a DIY book any of you would recommend? Is there a web site with step-by-step instructions and lotís of pics?

Finally, is this something a completely inexperienced person should attempt to take on? Itíll cost about $4000+ to have the work done by a professional, but if thatís what it takes to get it right then thatís what Iíll do. I donít want the project to drag out over weeks and I donít want to do it twice.

Thanks all!

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Old 05-10-2007, 12:14 PM   #2
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Travertine on cement in basement?


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Finally, is this something a completely inexperienced person should attempt to take on? It’ll cost about $4000+ to have the work done by a professional, but if that’s what it takes to get it right then that’s what I’ll do
Honestly, I am all for helping a DIY'er. But in this case this is a REAL challenge. You have many factors that can make this look really bad....you will save 4 grand but potentially lose whatever the cost of the floor and your time is.

Concrete needs to be EXACTLY flat...Travertine is unforgiving. A laser or a straight edge will help you determine how unflat or level you really are. Any slight ups or downs will show instantly on the tile because it is milled perfectly.
You will also need to lay an anti-fracture membrane as well to prevent movement in the concrete from affecting the tile.

Hopefully more will chime in on this one....

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Old 05-10-2007, 12:21 PM   #3
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Travertine on cement in basement?


So if the cement is not completely flat what's the remedy? Does that mean no Travertine in my basement weather I do it myself or not?

EDIT: After reading as many tile laying and basement flooring threads I could find I'm guessing I will likely need to use a SLC of some sort if I find that the floor is not exactly level. Is that correct?

Last edited by Helpless; 05-10-2007 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 05-10-2007, 12:23 PM   #4
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Travertine on cement in basement?


I can't help you, but I would like to ask Florcraft if
ceramic tiles are more forgiving, in terms of the concrete floor being level? I do have to level mine at certain spots.

Do you think that would be a do it yourselfer using just plain ceramic tiles?

I'm the client and I not looking for perfection.
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Old 05-10-2007, 02:50 PM   #5
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Travertine on cement in basement?


I guess this is a comment for the professionals to review, but wouldn't the thinset help level things out. Meaning that if it is spread to be level, shouldn't that keep the surface the tiles are on level?
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Old 05-10-2007, 03:20 PM   #6
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Travertine on cement in basement?


It does NOT need to be level. Just flat (Thats what florcraft mean I'm sure).

I am not a pro but have done lots of tile work. I am not a fan of self leveling concrete. I find it creates more problems than it solves. Also, isolation membranes are not usually required unless you have an actively moving crack.


The point is, tiles made to tighter tolerances need more care in lining up from one to the next. An irregular stone would be the most forgiving. Marble, granite, etc are made to exact tolerances and imperfections in the floor or installation will show up as unevenness from one tile to the next.

Large tiles are harder to cut without bigger cutters but go down faster. Small tiles take longer to install. Large tiles can bridge small dips in the concrete as long as they are filled with thinset. Small tiles will be more prone to follow the contour of any unevenness.

Regardless of what you do, I would recomend the tile goes in before the trim. The trim carpenters can the cut to fit. If you do trim first it will be a pain.

I would say go for it if your floor is flat. Get the longest, most accurate, straight edge you can find and more it around to check for dips and ridges. 6' or 8' level would be fine. Ridges and bumps can be ground down, small dips can be tiled over with extra thinset (or SLC if you want).


Read up and do not get too worried about the isolation stuff or making sure things are level, just flat is what you are after.

Now, if those cracks are bad and continuing to move then you need to isolate. If your floor is crappy uneven you will need to flatten.
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Old 05-10-2007, 04:02 PM   #7
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Travertine on cement in basement?


Well as far as I can tell the floor is flat, no noticable dips or high spots. I will go around and check with a level (the contractors have been leaving a very large level sitting around). The house is 6 years old and the cracks don't seem to be getting any worse. I've been in the house a little less than a year.

Does anybody have a link to the thinset manufacturer so I can figure out what you're talking about?

Other than that is there anyplace I can go to figure out what else, besides the tile, I'm going to need to get this done. When I say I am completely inexperienced I mean it. I'm a fairly smart guy though, so as long as I have all the info I feel like I can probably do a good job.
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Old 05-10-2007, 05:20 PM   #8
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Travertine on cement in basement?


Helpless, Personally I would go with a travertine look ceramic it will hold up better but for more information from a bunch that will walk you through it go here; http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/index.php?
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Old 05-10-2007, 05:49 PM   #9
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Travertine on cement in basement?


Yea, John Bridge forum is a wealth of information. Sometime they get too techie and over engineer things in my opinion but still a good group.

Thinset is the mortar you use to adhere the tile to the concrete with. Its put down with a notched trowel.
The size of the notch varies depending on the size of the tile. The larger the tile the larger the notch.

More on thinset
http://www.floorstransformed.com/choosethinset.html

One vendors product you may see at the home center
http://www.unicorpbrunei.com/Product...s_mortars.html
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Old 05-10-2007, 06:51 PM   #10
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Travertine on cement in basement?


What is it about ceramic that makes it so much easier to install?
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Old 05-15-2007, 07:56 PM   #11
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Travertine on cement in basement?


OK, not going to write a book on it now, but stone is a whole different animal to install, if you have never attemped it without learning from someone, good luck, the larger the tile, the flatter the floor needs to be, with stone there can be NO lippage, with a bevelled edge ceramic, this isn't as noticable.

Also, you say there are some cracks in the floor, now, if any levelling is needed, do it first, then you WILL need a crack isolation membrane over the entire floor, believe me, those cracks move and can cause issues in the future, install the membrane.
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Old 05-16-2007, 11:58 PM   #12
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Travertine on cement in basement?


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Originally Posted by R&D Tile View Post
OK, not going to write a book on it now, but stone is a whole different animal to install, if you have never attemped it without learning from someone, good luck, the larger the tile, the flatter the floor needs to be, with stone there can be NO lippage, with a bevelled edge ceramic, this isn't as noticable.

Also, you say there are some cracks in the floor, now, if any levelling is needed, do it first, then you WILL need a crack isolation membrane over the entire floor, believe me, those cracks move and can cause issues in the future, install the membrane.

Membrane for sure. definately good insurance.
Any various looking tile as others have said will make it more forgiving.
Less issues become visable.

Just like a seam in a berber VS a seam in a thick plush.... there is more in the plush to help hide the seam. Berber is unforgiving.

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