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Thread: Questions about travertine

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member SpoonyLove's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008

    Default Questions about travertine

    Hello Everyone-

    First post- Let me first say thanks to the community for this forum- It helped me a ton during my first big bathroom remodel.

    I am about to begin my second bathroom project, and I'm intending to install travertine on the floor and 2 walls of the bathtub surround. I was wondering if there are any particular gotcha's I should be aware of when installing a natural stone like travertine, instead of a plain-jane ceramic floor.

    First of all, I'm planning on demoing the existing floor down to the 1992 plywood subfloor, and building it back up with a layer of mortar, then hardi-back cement floor.

    We are looking at 12" square tiles for the floor, and perhaps 16" tiles in the tub surround.

    The last tile job I did, I used rough-edged ceramic tiles, and it was a little forgiving with variation in the height of the cement board. I goofed a little in a few spots, and the cement board joints had raised spots, which transfered through the tile. Because of the nature of the tile, it was pretty forgiving, and looks fine. I'm afraid with a polished stone like the travertine we're looking at, it will be less forgiving. Is this the case?

    Any incite or tips would be greatly appreciated!!


  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    New England


    People often like and want small grout lines on polished stone tile to make it look more monolithic (like a slab). The smaller the grout line, the greater any flaws in the install show. The flatter the surface, the easier it is to make it look good.

    First, stone, especially travertine which can have more internal flaws than some other stones, requires a subfloor twice as stiff as one for ceramic. On an older house, the joists are rarely set up for this. Then, the subfloor for a stone install requires two layers of ply, ideally the first 3/4" T&G, and the second at least 3/8". Each must be C faces or better on both sides and with exposure I (waterproof) glues. There's rules on how the second layer needs to be installed.

    For great tile help, try www.johnbridge.com. They have a deflection calculator and a lot of help to determine if what you have will work, or if not, how to tweak it so it will.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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