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Old 09-07-2011, 09:19 AM   #1
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Travertine Tile Help


I am having some flooring installers quote me on the price to install travertine tile (not honed) and 18 x 18. I keep receiving different information about how the install should be done and would appreciate some feedback.

1.) Does travertine tile need to be sold in batches since there is a natural variation with each tile. The reason I ask is I need to return some of the broken tiles that were delivered from Lowes. When I spoke to the sales person at lowes I asked if they had the same batch at the store. He said it is not necessary with travertine because it is a natural varying stone.

2.) The back of the travertine tile has pits. When the tile is installed, should the installer fill the holes on back of the tile with thinset before laying the tile. One installer told me it is necessary to prevent the tile from breaking and having the filled holes breaking through on the surface.

3.) Does the slab need to be floated level prior to installing the travertine. One installer told me yes, the other installer tole me they will use 1/2 inch thick thinset to apply the tile.

4.) Does it matter if an enhancer sealer is used or just a sealer from the standpoint of a quality good looking job. The tile we have has some real dark brown/black spots. My wife would also like the tile to appear darker, which would help with the natural occurring dark spots in the tile. However, one installer told us you should never use an enhancer/sealer on the floor because it causes residue to adhere to the tile surface. He recommended using a water base sealer, two applications, instead. The enhancer/sealer we currently have is made by DuPont and is a slovent based enhancer/sealer combination.

5.) We want to use a 1/16 inch grout line. Some installers tell us it is too difficult and others have agreed. I just want to know if it is a problem using a small grout line. We like the look of a minimal grout line.

6.) The tile we currently have around the fireplace is attached to the wall and floor, surround the fireplace box which is mounted on the wall about 12 inches from the floor. I would like to build a box below the fireplace out of 2x4 and plywood and then tile on top of the box. Does anyone have a recommendation for materials? Should cement board be used? Also, when we removed the tile that surrounds the fireplace box the drywall came off with the tile. Would it be okay to replace that wall board with drywall or should cement board be utilized. If cement board should be used, what method of installation would be preferred. For example, would screwing it into the wall be sufficient or would thinset need to be placed under the board and then screwed into the studs?

Thank you all for your assistance.

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Old 09-07-2011, 10:43 AM   #2
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Travertine Tile Help


Quote:
1.) Does travertine tile need to be sold in batches since there is a natural variation with each tile. The reason I ask is I need to return some of the broken tiles that were delivered from Lowes. When I spoke to the sales person at lowes I asked if they had the same batch at the store. He said it is not necessary with travertine because it is a natural varying stone.
He is correct about that. The problem is the replacements. If they don't come from the same quarry-run you could get an entirely different lookingtile. Wht can't the broken tiles be used for "cuts"?

Quote:
2.) The back of the travertine tile has pits. When the tile is installed, should the installer fill the holes on back of the tile with thinset before laying the tile. One installer told me it is necessary to prevent the tile from breaking and having the filled holes breaking through on the surface.
The pits should be filled. In fact the entire backside of each tile should also be skim-coated before placing it into the combed thinset that has been spread on the floor. Be careful what color thinset is used because the grey can telegraph thru to the surface if the pits are deep enough.

Quote:
3.) Does the slab need to be floated level prior to installing the travertine. One installer told me yes, the other installer tole me they will use 1/2 inch thick thinset to apply the tile.
"Level" and "plane" can be two different things.
The substrate should be "plane" (flat) to withing 1/4" in ten feet in all directions.

Quote:
3.) Does the slab need to be floated level prior to installing the travertine. One installer told me yes, the other installer tole me they will use 1/2 inch thick thinset to apply the tile.
That's a crock. Thinset is gauged by the size of the trowel used. Even a 1/2" trowel doesn't allow for a 1/2" of thinset under the tile after the tile has been seated. That would offer some adjustment however. The problem with that concept is that thinset is notorious for shrinking. Shrinking thinset will take the tile with it and cause some serious lippage at the tile edges. Using thinset to build is fine but the installer must know what he is doing.

Quote:
4.) Does it matter if an enhancer sealer is used or just a sealer from the standpoint of a quality good looking job. The tile we have has some real dark brown/black spots. My wife would also like the tile to appear darker, which would help with the natural occurring dark spots in the tile. However, one installer told us you should never use an enhancer/sealer on the floor because it causes residue to adhere to the tile surface. He recommended using a water base sealer, two applications, instead. The enhancer/sealer we currently have is made by DuPont and is a solvent based enhancer/sealer combination.
You are mixing terms. There are enhancers and there are sealers. Enhancers are also sealers but sealers are not necessarily enhancers. Yow I know...confusing. In my opinion the solvent sealers will give you the deepest penetration and in turn the best protection. But, they won't necessarily change the appearance of the stone when they dry.

Enhancers on the other hand will also penetrate but they will bring out the true beauty of the stone.The problem is they will also develop a shine when applied in multiple applications. I doubt that only two coats of anything will be enough. I think blotches will develop with only two coats and more will be needed to enhance the stone.

I can recommend a great sealer if you want.

Water based sealers are fine but they tend to be more topical than penetrating.

Quote:
5.) We want to use a 1/16 inch grout line. Some installers tell us it is too difficult and others have agreed. I just want to know if it is a problem using a small grout line. We like the look of a minimal grout line.
Of course you do. Beware of any installer that agrees to providing you with a 1/6" grout line throughout. It really isn't practical. The stones may not be all of the same exact size and that will cause offset corners and problems. I realize a smaller grout joint is the "soup du jour" but a 3/16" joint is a lot more practical.
Quote:
6.) The tile we currently have around the fireplace is attached to the wall and floor, surround the fireplace box which is mounted on the wall about 12 inches from the floor. I would like to build a box below the fireplace out of 2x4 and plywood and then tile on top of the box. Does anyone have a recommendation for materials? Should cement board be used? Also, when we removed the tile that surrounds the fireplace box the drywall came off with the tile. Would it be okay to replace that wall board with drywall or should cement board be utilized. If cement board should be used, what method of installation would be preferred. For example, would screwing it into the wall be sufficient or would thinset need to be placed under the board and then screwed into the studs?
I would build the box (hearth) from 3/4" plywood only.
Cement board is fine for that application.
Drywall is okay for the walls.
You cannot use thinset to install cement board on a wall stud.

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