This page is designed to provide information and answer general questions about Ceramic , Porcelain and Travertine Tiles. The article will cover the differences in the materials as well as recommended tools and installation supplies for each product.
Travertine is natural stone that is mined from the earth. The two largest exporters of Travertine are Turkey and Mexico. Travertine comes in many different shapes sizes and surface finishes. Travertine is a very durable stone and is suitable for floors, showers and back splashes. However it does scratch fairly easily which makes it a poor choice for kitchen counter top installations. There are no two pieces of travertine in the world that are identical. The natural variation from piece to is part of what makes the stone so beautiful. Depending upon the product, the variation may be so extreme that the floor might look like it has several different types of travertine on it, even though they may have come from the same batch and are considered to be the same tile.
There are several different types and styles of Travertine, such as filled and honed, unfilled, chiseled, tumbled and polished. Trav also come in several different shapes and sizes such 1x1, 2x2, 3x6, 4x4, 6x6, 8x8, 12x12, 16x16, 8x16.18x18,16x24 and 24x24. It also comes in many decorative molding styles such as 2x12 chair rail,1x12 pencil rail, 4x12 in and 6x12 in. baseboard style moldings. The most common sizes for floors are 16x16 and 18x18. The smaller size pieces typically are used for shower wall installations, bathroom wainscoat, and counter top back splashes. Most travertine is 3/8 of an inch thick but some other larger stones may be a 1/2 inch thick or more. 24x24 is usually 1/2 in thick an can even be as thick as 1in. 24in Travertine is extremely heavy , some pieces can weigh as much as 50 pounds. Thus making it very difficult to install and cut. Our pricing of $4.50 per square foot covers all sizes up to 18x18. We charge an additional $1.50 per square foot ($5.00 sqft ) for 24x24 stone installation.
Sometimes trav is sold in pattern sets such as a versaille pattern (French pattern) the set includes 4 different size tiles they are sold in specific quantities that are designed to be laid in a specific pattern.
Types of Travertine
Installation tools and techniques
We typically install travertine with a 1/8 in grout line, per special customer request and an additional charge of $.25 per square foot we will use a 1/16 in grout joint but only if the calibration (consistency of size from piece to piece) of the stone permits the use of a 1/16in grout line. Most stones vary slightly in size but some low quality products may vary 1/8 in or more and possibly be out of a square or lopsided (example 16in wide on top and 15 7/8 on the bottom) Poor quality stones need to be set with a larger grout line. We only use Medium bed latex modified thin set on our stone tile installations, Medium bed thin set is a special blend of thin set that is designed to have less sag when troweled in order to help support the additional weight of travertine. Thus making the tiles much easier to keep flat. Medium Bed also is designed to be applied in thicker coats than regular thin set, which allows for additional leveling of the floor. We typically set our travertine, granite and marble floors with a 1/2in x 1/2in square notch trowel. This size trowel uses a lot of mortar(35sqft bag) but allows for much better leveling of the stone. We use Custom building products or c-cure grout on all of our installations. Non-sanded grout must be used on grout lines less than 1/8 in and Sanded grout on grout lines above an 1/8 in. Travertine, Marble and Granite can only be cut with a diamond blade wet saw, unlike porcelain or ceramic tiles that can be cut with a snap cutter or cutting board. The fact that a wet saw is required for every cut adds a lot more labor and time to the installation and is major reason why the labor costs of natural stone tile are much higher. We install all of our floors to ROC guidelines, which means there will be no more than 1/16 in of lippage between tile on 18x18in and smaller tiles and 24x24in products may have up to 1/8in lippage.
All travertine and natural stone tiles are very porous and must be sealed to be help prevent stains. Ceramic and porcelain tiles do not require a sealer because the surface glazing very stain resistant. There are several types of sealer, such as penetrating sealer also known as a impregnator because it dries below the surface and maintains the original appearance of the stone while providing stain protection. Stone enhancer is an oil based sealer that darkens the color of the stone, similar to a wet look, while still providing a matte finish. Sealer also come in a high gloss surface coating sealer. I do not recommend using a high gloss surface sealer because they tend to show a lot of streaks and make imperfections in the stone much more visible. Also they tend to wear off much quicker .Overtime areas that are exposed to higher traffic will not have the same sheen as low traffic areas and will require frequent resealing. If a high gloss is desired I recommend buying polished stone and sealing it with a penetrating sealer. A polished stone will maintain its shine for a lifetime because the actual surface has been altered not just coated with a chemical that will eventually wear off.