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 a natural stone that is mined from the earth. Mexico and Turkey are the two largest exporters of Travertine in the world.. Travertine comes in many different shapes, sizes, and finishes. Travertine is an extremely durable stone and is appropriate for installation on floors, in showers, and as backsplashes. Though very durable, Travertine does scratch fairly easily which makes it a poor choice for countertop installations. Travertine is very unique as there are no two pieces in the world that are identical. The natural variation from piece to piece is part of what makes the stone so different. The variation of the tiles may be so extreme that the floor might look like it has several different types of travertine on it, even though the tiles have come from the same batch.
There are several different types and styles of Travertine: filled and honed, unfilled, chiseled, tumbled and polished. Travertine tiles also come in several different shapes and sizes like 1×1, 2×2, 3×6, 4×4, 6×6, 8×8, 12×12, 16×16, 8×16.18×18,16×24, and 24×24. Travertine also comes in many decorative molding styles such as 2×12 chair rail,1×12 pencil rail, 4×12 in, and 6×12 in. baseboard style moldings. 16×16 and 18×18 are the most common sizes for Travertine… Smaller size pieces are typically used for shower wall installations, bathroom wainscotting, and backsplashes. Most travertine is 3/8 of an inch thick but some other larger stones maybe 1/2 inch thick or more. 24×24 inch Travertine is usually 1/2 in thick and can even be as thick as 1in.. 24×24 inch Travertine can be extremely heavy, with some pieces weighing in as much as 50 pounds, making it very difficult to install and cut.
Travertine is often sold in pattern sets such as a Versaille pattern (French pattern). The Versaille Pattern 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 & techniques
We typically install travertine with a 1/8 in grout line, per special customer request. We do offer a 1/16 grout joint for an additional charge of $.25 per square but only if the calibration (consistency of size from piece to piece) of the stone permits the use of a 1/16in a grout line. Most stones vary slightly in size though some low-quality products may vary 1/8 in or more. Low-quality Travertine can be out of a square or lopsided (for 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 exclusively use Medium bed latex modified thin-set on our stone tile installations. A medium bed thin-set is a blend of thin sets that has less sag than a traditional thin-set to help support the additional weight of travertine. A medium bed thin-set makes the tiles much easier to keep flat. Medium Bed also is designed to be applied in thicker coats than regular thin sets, which allows for additional, even leveling of the entire floor. In most cases, we set our travertine, granite, and marble floors with a 1/2in x 1/2in square notch trowel. The ½ square notch trowel uses a lot of mortar(35sqft bag) but allows for better leveling of the stone. At Kennedy Tile, 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 1/8 in. Unlike Porcelain or ceramic tiles that can be cut with a snap cutter or cutting board, Travertine, Marble, and Granite can only be cut with a diamond blade wet saw. Due to the fact that a wet saw is required for every cut, this adds a lot more labor and time to the installation and is a major reason why the labor costs of natural stone tile are typically much higher. We install all of our floors to ROC (Registrar of Contractor) guidelines, meaning 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.
Travertine and natural stone tiles are very porous and must be sealed to help prevent stains. Ceramic and porcelain tiles do not require sealing because the surface glazing is very stain resistant. There are several types of sealer, such as penetrating sealer which is also known as an impregnator because it dries below the surface and maintains the original appearance of the stone while providing stain protection. A stone enhancer is an oil-based sealer that darkens the color of the stone, similar to a wet look, while still providing a smooth, matte finish. Sealers also come in high gloss surface coatings. Kennedy Tile does not recommend using a high gloss surface sealer because they tend to show streaks and make imperfections in the stone much more visible to the eye. They also tend to wear off much quicker. Over time, areas that are exposed to higher foot traffic will not have the same sheen as low traffic areas and will require frequent resealing. If a high gloss look is desired we 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.