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SatManager 02-08-2011 06:40 PM

Sealing Travertine Tile

What is everyone's recommendation on sealing travertine tile. They are going to be installed over concrete, the tiles are 12x12, and I am guessing that the surface is honed as it is very smooth but with a satin surface.

I am going to have a tile company install them due to time constraints but I rather be aware of what they should or shouldn't do.

This will be going over the entire first floor so I am going to have it in the kitchen, 1/2 bath, and family room.

Any advice will be appreciated.


Bud Cline 02-08-2011 06:43 PM

A fifteen year penetrating sealer would be best. Several coats to start with. Then reseal periodically based on your cleaning habits and cleaning frequency.:)

The kitchen will require special attention.

SatManager 02-08-2011 06:58 PM

What special attention to the kitchen are you speaking of? Extra cleaning or a different sealer? The way I cook I should just cover it in plastic. Actually, I like to keep my area clean and wipe up spills as it happens.


Bud Cline 02-08-2011 07:11 PM

In my thinking kitchens and travertine can be problematic because travertine can stain easily and is susceptible to everyday kitchen acids like is found in juices. Grease is a major issue, or can be.

So by "special attention" my thoughts are; it is totally necessary to be sure the initial sealing is done correctly with no abbreviations. Then later sealing may be required if the travertine is mopped or scrubbed with frequency. Cleaning causes friction and friction equates to wear on the sealer.

I use a commercial sealer on my travertine installations. It is actually less expensive (more reasonably priced) than the sealers sold today for tile but like any sealer it requires routine maintenance.:)

SatManager 02-08-2011 09:17 PM

Thanks Bud. I appreciate the information.

I'll make sure that the installer is sealing the tile and I'll get what they used so I have the same stuff.


JazMan 02-09-2011 01:39 PM

Since you're in Las Vegas can we assume the first floor in on a slab? If so, you need to address any cracks and control joints if any. Place expansion joints in the perimeter & a few other considerations.

If it's a wooden subfloor, there's other even more important things to know and do.


Bud Cline 02-09-2011 04:11 PM

...and if you are on concrete I would definitely recommend you use an isolation membrane under the stone.:)

There is more than one way to do this. I'm surprised the contractor hasn't suggested this.:)

SatManager 02-09-2011 06:19 PM


Yes, the slab is the floor here in North Las Vegas. Home is 4 years old and I haven't seen the slab yet (carpet is still over it). The installers haven't yet seen the place to do the final measurements so they haven't had a chance to talk about an isolation membrane. But talking to others, it doesn't seem to be used around here. What is the pros and cons about using an isolation membrane?

They did say that they would be using concrete backerboard for the master bath tile install as it is upstairs and the floor is a standard wood subfloor.

Thanks for all the advice.


Bud Cline 02-09-2011 06:29 PM

A concrete substrate as compared to a wood structure substrate are two entirely different animals. Get a look at your concrete and then decide.

A house slab only four years old in the Las Vegas area is going to be a house that was built in high-gear and I would expect issues with the slab, if not now then in the near future. The isolation membrane will separate the tile from the slab and allow the slab to move separately from the tile installation with seasonal changes. Las Vegas experiences enough seasonal changes that you should pay attention to what goes on there.

Travertine is also a product that requires a little extra installation effort. Travertine is soft and susceptible to fracturing under stress situations when installed on concrete.

Over a wood structure travertine requires double the strength of the substrate that is required for ceramic tile and I can assure you your upstairs structure does not meet the necessary criteria. Again, extra effort is required there also in the form of a double layer of plywood subfloor before the tile backer and travertine.:)

SatManager 02-09-2011 06:40 PM


Thanks for the information. I guess that I should look at a different tile for upstairs like a ceramic or porcelain tile instead of the travertine. I wasn't here when the homes were built, but I can imagine that they were put together pretty quickly. What I am buying is a HUD home and I need to paint and replace all the flooring and install appliances as the old owner took them. But then I am getting it for 80k (sold back in 2007 for 275k) and new ones are going for 125k in the same subdivision. So I feel I am getting a pretty good deal, just have to put a bit of work into it.


Bud Cline 02-09-2011 08:46 PM

I am usually in Las Vegas annually for floor covering exhibitions and I always drive around there and Henderson to see what the home building industry is up to there. Huge developers build houses (tracts) very fast and inexpensively. That's not a bad thing but it does create issues from time to time.:)

I can also add that porcelain IS ceramic tile but it is created with a slightly different (superior) recipe. Porcelain is the better of the two. Porcelain is available to mimic every stone there is that is used for flooring and there is some porcelain tile out there that you can't tell the difference between the two.

Stay out of the home centers and shop your tile from real tile stores. The prices can be very competitive believe it or not.

I would strongly suggest you use porcelain both up and downstairs, you can't go wrong with it.:)

Tile Pro 02-09-2011 10:43 PM

Stone vs Porcelain
Bud Cline is right about travertine. It was all the rage 5 or so years ago. It's cheap and it's "stone". I have builder clients who refuse to use it period. There are some very realistic stone-looking porcelains out there.
As an aside... I knew a home owner who decided to tile upstairs hallways and baths. His $300,000+ house was thrown up in no time by a realtor turned contractor. The added weight of the tile exceeded the weight limits engineered into the upper story floor and bowing destroyed all the floor tile.
Travertine and all stone tile needs a top quality sealer. Porcelain and ceramic do not, though the grout does.
I generally use a water based high end sealer if a neutral finish is desired. Solvent based sealers have the disadvantage of a strong, chemical odor, which requires a serious chemical face mask to avoid getting poisoned. Aqua Mix Sealers Choice Gold works well and lasts pretty well.
Different areas will wear differently. If the sealer is working, drops of water on the grout joints should bead up, not soak in. It's best to reseal with the same product used the first time. Seriously clean first, probably acid and water and an acid brush and vacuumed with a wet vac if the grout has discolored.

SatManager 02-10-2011 12:01 PM

Bud and Tile Man,

Thank you for all your time and knowledge. You have given me quite a bit to think about, but whatever my decision is, I am going to make it with my eyes wide open.

Thank you again for your advice.

Bud, I am going to be up on the very north side of North Las Vegas, near the beltway. I was looking at Henderson, but the sale didn't go through with the short sale as the lienholders on the property couldn't get their act together.


tweetofam 02-20-2011 07:02 PM

don't buy tile from home stores?
Hi- I'm just reading through all the conversations trying to learn what I can before we tackle our tiling project. There was a comment by Bud Cline to avoid buying porcelain tile at home stores. Can you help me understand why? thanks!

Bud Cline 02-21-2011 01:10 PM


There was a comment by Bud Cline to avoid buying porcelain tile at home stores. Can you help me understand why?
You have taken my comment out-of-context and it would be nice to know where and when I made that suggestion. I would have had a reason at the time I'm sure.:)

In general I can tell you that home centers in an effort to stand behind their "lower prices" crap will lace substandard products in with better quality products. Tile is one of those areas where this is done. If you are familiar with tile grades and qualities then you won't likely be duped. If you are looking at tile in a home center that is selling for ninety-eight cents a square foot when a very similar tile is being sold in a real tile outlet for five dollars per square foot then common sense should tell you there is something going on.:)

In addition...home centers will import tile by the container full. This of course lowers the price. If you don't buy the full amount you need the first time around you aren't very likely to match it later.:)

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