Tag Archives: flooring

Tiling a Kitchen with Travertine Tiles

December 12, 2012

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The light pastel shades and subtle pattern of travertine tiles has made them a popular choice for kitchen interiors. Travertine tiles can be used to good effect in creating the classic farmhouse style kitchen decor, in which they are usually complemented by other natural materials like wood and stone. You can eliminate the cost of acquiring the services of a professional tiling contractor by tiling your kitchen yourself. With the correct planning and preparation laying a travertine floor or wall splash back is not as difficult as you may think. Firstly, it’s good to know a little bit about travertine tiles before you use them on your walls and floors.

A little about Travertine Tiles

Travertine is a sedimentary rock formed near hot natural springs. It is a type of limestone, with both these varieties of natural stone sharing similar characteristics including the occurrence of fossils and a porous nature. Travertine tiles are extracted from quarries in large blocks. To counteract the holes in travertine it tends to be ‘filled’ making it a suitable wall or floor covering. Travertine tiles are usually filled with an epoxy resin to give them a greater level of porosity. The next step in making them a practical choice for kitchens and bathrooms is called ‘honing.’ Travertine tiles are honed through an abrasive process which helps to make its surface smooth and even. The extent to which the travertine is honed will determine the finish of the tile. A medium hone creates a matt finish. Travertine tiles with a matt finish are the most popular for kitchen and bathroom floors, where they provide a high level of slip resistance. More extensive honing will result in a high polish. Travertine paving for outdoor areas is tumbled with the use of rock and debris to produce a chipped edge finish and incredibly rustic appearance.

Laying Travertine Tiles on a Kitchen Floor

Preparing the surface

Honed, matt tiles like the Light Travertine Floor and Wall tile are a very good choice for kitchen tiles. Your kitchen floor needs to be prepared first before you lay a single tile. You should ensure that the surface of your floor substrate is flat and even and that the adhesive you are going to use will easily adhere to it. The floor may require priming to make it suitable for tiling on to. The floor must also be fully cleaned with all dirt and debris removed so the adhesive can set evenly.

Marking out and dry laying, cutting tiles

With a tape measure and piece of chalk mark the mid points on all four walls. With the chalk draw lines across the floor from each mark to the mark on the adjacent wall. This should leave you with a grid containing four sections. Dry lay a row of travertine tiles from the centre to the wall of one of the sections. Use tile spacers to establish grout lines. You should then be able to work out the cuts you need to make. Tiling from the middle will ensure that the cut tiles are only used on the outskirts of the floor. Travertine tiles usually require cutting with an electrical wet saw as they have a greater density than standard ceramic tiles. Travertine, however, provides a harder wearing surface than ceramic.

Tiling with Travertine tiles

Choosing the correct adhesive is important in ensuring your tiles adhere to the underlying floor securely. For travertine tiles on a kitchen floor a flexible adhesive is recommended. Tiles can contract and expand with changing temperatures and a flexible adhesive will make breakages and cracks less likely on such occasions. Spread adhesive from the middle and lay the tiles just as you did in the dry lay you had carried out earlier. If you have little experience of tiling or this is your very first DIY tiling job then it is recommended you choose a standard adhesive opposed to a fast set variety. Standard adhesives take a lot longer to set than fast set adhesives which will enable you more time to carry out the job. Remember to start in the far corner opposite to the entrance of the room. This will ensure that you don’t box yourself in and end up having to walk back over tiles you have just laid. Standard adhesive can take around 24 hours to set. Once the floor is set you can seal the tiles. Sealing travertine tiles will prevent the surface from absorbing moisture and staining. Read the instructions on the sealant packaging carefully. Sealant can normally be applied simply with a spray bottle. Once this has dried you can grout the gaps created by the tile spacers. Waterproof grout is the best choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Once the grout has dried this can also be sealed by the same method but any excess grout on the surface of the tiles must be cleaned away first.

Travertine Mosaics

You can complement your travertine kitchen floor with a travertine mosaic wall design. Travertine mosaic tiles create a stylish backsplash above worktops and oven hob areas. Travertine mosaics are attached to mesh sheets which can be easily cut and installed. A travertine tile backsplash provides kitchen walls with far greater protection than wallpaper or paint.

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Comparing Steam Cleaners

October 5, 2010

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Steam cleaners are the “new-fangled” cleaning appliances today. I have only heard of them recently, in the past year. I think of them as something akin to an electric mop! They are light-weight, energy-powered machines designed to steam floors. They do not use chemicals or cleaning agents to clean floors– only steam. It’s a very unique concept, I think. I dislike using bleach and other toxic chemicals in my home, so the steam cleaners sound like a marvelous idea.

We received a free Gruene Steam Cleaner and the Haan Steam Cleaner in exchange for a review of our opinions on the products. We made a video; here’s what we found:

Steam cleaners are only for certain floor types. You CANNOT use steam cleaners on vinyl plank floors (which is what I recently installed in the kitchen and dining room). And technically, you should not use steam cleaners for laminate flooring, although I do steam clean my laminate floors VERY lightly. I haven’t seen any problems. Steam cleaners are terrific for sheet vinyl flooring. Some steam cleaners even come with special attachments to clean carpets, windows, furniture, etc. The goal is not to saturate the fabric.

Anyway, I like the steam cleaners, and we will be using them on our vinyl floors (we have one dedicated for the dog room now!).

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Photos of the New Flooring

September 21, 2010


I was still too tired after the installation to take any photos, but my daughter graciously snapped a quartet of pics, some of which I uploaded. May I present to you our new dining room floor!

DR flooring2


It’s the same flooring as the kitchen: TrafficMaster Allure, in teak. The stuff is very durable, easy to install.. well, as easy as crawling around on your hands and knees for hours and hours, lol.

My muscles are throbbing. Holy cow. I’ve been doing renovation for over 4 months now, when are my muscles going to stop complaining? But they are definitely bigger and bulgier, whew.

With this flooring, once you begin, you must continue until you are finished. The vinyl planks have sticky edges, and dust or foot traffic will make the sticky edges less adhesive. However, I ran out of flooring at 2am last night (the same thing happened when I did the kitchen– I planned accurately!?). I covered the edges with tackless paper… I got more flooring today, but have not had ANY time to finish the install. Ugh.

I am nearing desperation now, wanting to finish this renovation. My living room (which is my office) is an absolute disaster, as it has become the repository for all the furniture and supplies necessary for the kitchen and dining room. Right now, it’s full of chairs, a china cabinet, bookshelves, boxes, rolled up rugs, guitars, desks, and tons of other stuff! I must have an organized area for my desk, or I am late for appointments and bills. I need my bills perfectly arranged, my papers in order. You should SEE my desk– looks like a tornado hit it. 🙁 No wonder I’m always late for everything. Ugh.

BUT. The end is near!!! It is!! Now that the floor is in, we have to paint the crown moulding once more, install the baseboard moulding, and MOVE IN! Yes! I’m hoping the entire process with be done in a few days.

Oh it will be so glorious to have ou normal life back again! And with a clean, modernized house, to boot! Yay!

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Frantic Floor Installation

September 21, 2010


Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are STILL not moved into the dining room yet. I can’t believe it! This project has been dragging on for months. The loose ends are seemingly insurmountable… whew!

I pushed myself and got the remainder of the dining room trim installed. Well, MOST of it. I still have to rip out some old door jambs and replace them, and reinstall our French door. And then late last night, I finished (most of) the flooring installation. Here are some before photos. You can see the finished trim in these pics.

DR FLoor 1

DR floor2

DR floor3

Those big white spots on the red walls are spackle, the battle scars of my crown moulding struggles. :-p Drywall is a fabulous product, but geez, it’s touchy. One LITTLE budge with a crowbar, and BLAMMO! Through the wall ye go! I’m not used to such delicate wall surfaces! I’ll have to change my roughhousing habits…

So I spent roughly 6 hours installing the TrafficMaster Allure plank flooring (the same as in the kitchen). Oy, my aching hands and knees! The stuff is pretty easy to install (relatively speaking), but all that hunching over is a real back-cracker.

I’ll have some “After” photos later, when I can drag myself out of bed (yes, I am blogging in bed! Ah, the comforts of technology!) and snap photos. Thank God the kids can handle the laundry and cooking… I’m bushed! Thank God the floor is mostly done (I had to get more planks to finish the closet). One of the kids has been painting the crown moulding… I hope to finish the closet and finish the painting.. and on Thursday move in! But then again, I said that last week. :S

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A Terrific Weekend! The End is Near! Well, Nearer…

September 6, 2010


We are ACTUALLY talking about MOVING BACK into the kitchen this week!!! Oh my word!!!

We had a great weekend– very hectic, and I’m still sore as anything– but the room is beginning to look like a kitchen again.

Firstly, I got the flooring installed.

Vinyl Flooring

It’s TrafficMaster Allure flooring. It’s “OK.” It installed very easily (it took me a while to figure out how to do it– but once I ignored the advice of the “experts” and did it my way, it went much smoother). It took me about 10 hours to do a 12 x 23 square foot room. Yeah, I’m still sore. :-p A soak in a warm bath would help. Oooo, my knees and hands!

The bummer is that before I had even finished installing the flooring, it got a tear in the surface!! I was pretty upset. We have a small refrigerator (one of those tiny things) and it has caster feet, but there must be a sharp piece of metal poking down somewhere. Because when I pushed the fridge a little, it snagged on the floor. 🙁 Now I have to fix the plank. But it is fixable, thank God. I’ll have more on our adventure with that, as well as a review of TrafficMaster Allure, in the near future.

We also got half the sink installation completed!!! Hurray!!!!


We’ve been without a kitchen sink for over a week. It is no fun doing dishes in the bathtub. NO FUN. My poor kids. But today, we hope to finish the sink installation, and maybe even get a dishwasher rigged up!!!! *happy dance*

The faucet we have is the Delta Touch20 Technology faucet. The kids LOVE it. You touch it to turn it on. The faucet technology is brilliantly designed.

Delta Faucet almost installed

Delta gave me this faucet, to show you all how it is installed and how it works. I’ll have a more thorough review of the faucet in an upcoming post. Right now I’m so excited that I couldn’t keep myself from mentioning it! We’re almost there!

Delta Faucet almost there

In other great news, our lighting electrical problem is solved. If you recall, two weeks ago, we accidentally broke through a wire while laying the flooring underlayment (the subfloor is more narrow in that section of the kitchen, and the screw *just happened* to go through the wire at that EXACT spot! Grr). That caused a short circuit, and the lights went out. But we fixed it that evening, or so we thought. It worked briefly, then went out again. ??? I was fretting that we would have to tear out our freshly-installed walls to re-wire the circuit again….. *shudder* … but yesterday, we found the problem— when we repaired the wire last week, we drove in the clamp too tightly, and broke through THAT wire. :S It must have been because we were so tired and in a hurry (it was late when we tried to fix it). So everything is fixed and working again. But I admit that I do now have a phobia about drilling into the walls and floors! :S

So the end is nearing. This week, we hope to get the stove, sink, dishwasher, and fridge in the kitchen and running. Next week, I have to work on all the trimwork (and there is a TON of it, especially in the dining room), and install the flooring in there.

To Do:

Laundry Alcove
Finish trim work in laundry alcove
Install shelves in laundry alcove
Install clothes dryer vent
Install gas line to dryer
Install washing machine

Install remaining four cabinets
Install toe kicks for cabinets
Install baseboard moulding
Touch up walls with paint
Install window pediment trim to both windows
Apply polyurethane to window trim
Paint other window
Apply Waterlox sealer to butcher block countertops
Install countertop for beverage area alcove, and treat with Waterlox
Install stove range
Install Delta Touch20 sink
Install dishwasher
Read instructions to learn how to use dishwasher
Clean out large refrigerator, and bring back into kitchen
Clean out small refrigerator, and plug in
Install telephone wiring in kitchen
Install network control panel/ethernet cabling in kitchen
Build large cabinet area under the stairs
Finish the pantry closet under stairs (paint, install shelves)
Install trim around cabinet area and pantry under stairs
Install gas space heater and gas line to heater

Dining Room
Install trim around four windows and six doorways (gulp)
Install crown moulding
Install baseboard moulding
Install shelves in coat closet
Install trim work around broom closet
Install flooring in Dining Room and coat closet
Install gas space heater and gas line to heater

The Rest of the House
Move furniture out of Living Room and back into Dining Room (china cabinet, bookshelves, sideboard)
Move bookshelves out of kids’ bedrooms and back into Living Room (including boxes of books)
Install gas space heater in Living Room, and gas line to heater
CLEAN EVERYTHING!!! Windows, walls, floors, furniture, curtains, linens, carpets…
Move my desk back into position and thoroughly clean and organize the disastrous mess of papers and junk all over the place….

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I’ve Chosen My Kitchen Flooring

January 7, 2010

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Years ago, when I first dreamed about gutting the kitchen, I found this stuff called Trafficmaster Allure resilient flooring. I just may do the entire downstairs of the house with it, I love it that much. When I was at Home Dept a few years ago, a worked snapped off a piece of it for me to bring home. I have cherished it as a coffee coaster since then. I am GETTING this stuff!!!

You see, this is my current kitchen flooring. Pretty bad, huh? Those tiles are over 40 years old now. They are busted up and UGLY as all get out. Underneath the tiles is some kind of nailed-on cement board. Mostly. Yeah, *just* mostly. Because underneath in the hidden areas of the kitchen (pantry, under the cabinets and stove) there’s the old linoleum from the 1930s. And that, dear reader, is DISGUSTING stuff.


Ah, but this is the Allure resilient flooring. *sigh* I love it.


It’s probably the easiest flooring to install, too. We installed laminate flooring planks in our living room two years ago, and that was a little tough (lots of corners in there). I think this Allure is better. I’m going to install it in my kitchen and then in my dining room when I renovate that. The Allure is waterproof. The company says you can install the flooring even before your new roof is on:

Go ahead and install Allure before the roof is on in a monsoon. You will miserable but your patented GripStrip will be happy!

Whoa, that’s some promise.Well, I don’t live in monsoon- or hurricane-prone areas of Outer Banks or anything… and I’ve *still* got my roof on… so no worries for me. The stuff does have a 25-year guarantee, which is very nice.

The flooring comes in planks. They have sticky strips on the bottom. You cut the planks to measure, remove the tape backing, and secure the sticky sides. Easy.


I did wonder if the adhesive would REALLY stick… this is from the installation guide:

Once the adhesive sets, it will never come apart. We have a “controlled environment” for the adhesive– it simply cannot fail.

So I love this stuff even more. I am really looking forward to it. It is waterproof; it’s a “floating” floor which means you can install it over bump, uneven surfaces; it’s a little pricey, though. It will probably cost me about $750 to cover the entire 12 x 24 foot kitchen floor. :S Unless I can find a sponsor who will give me a discount for some blog coverage about the product! 😀

Anyway, my floor is chosen. Now it’s on to planning the electric, plumbing, and walls. Oh and a new window opening or two.

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A Room’s Best Friend

September 23, 2009

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I whole-heartedly believe that a room’s best friend– especially an older home with lots of old rooms with old floors– are high-quality area rugs. I just LOVE area rugs. They conceal a floor’s many blemishes and unevenness, and look so classy at the same time. I am not a big fan of wall-to-wall carpeting. I used to like it, and it does have a warming effect during our long, cold winters here in Upstate New York… but wall-to-wall carpets are difficult to clean, bland, rather ugly, and require professional installation (or advanced DIY skills). I much prefer area rugs. Whether the house is old or new, area rugs just ooze CLASS and beauty.

I think rugs are a room’s best friend. Rugs add warmth, style, and comfort to a room. Area rugs are an excellent choice for all types of flooring.

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Laminate Flooring Update

November 8, 2008


We’ve had our laminate flooring in our living room for over a year now. It was my first experience installing a laminate floor. I’d bought the ultra-budget-clearance-no-name-brand for a great price, and the color was marvelous. Installing it was an OK experience. It took longer than expected and we had a few bumps along the way (like a slanted, bumpy sub-floor of 150-year old pine). You can read about our experiences with the installation here and here and here.

We put down an area rug in the room.

Laminate 1

Laminate 2

I’m hoping this will protect the flooring somewhat. Since installing, we’ve incurred a few scratches, mostly due to people wearing shoes (tracking in grit) and vacuuming. We no longer vacuum but sweep, and I’m still working on the tracking of grit.

The flooring is, overall, still in good condition. The drier winter weather causes the flooring to shrink a little, which is good. Over the summer, the humidity made the boards swell so much that a few started to buckle (it was barely noticeable but I noticed). We’d left plenty of space around the perimeter of the room as the manufacturer instructed, too, so the swelling was surprising. I think the differences between the bargain brands and the name brands are due in part to how much the boards swell. So if you use the bargain brands, leave a lot more space around the perimeter, even more than is specified in the instructions. Baseboards will cover the gaps.

I really like the color of the flooring. In the winter, when we’re inside all the time, it’s great to have things look cozy as well as be cozy. The flooring color is tawny and warm, very nice.

So so far I am happy with the laminate. It had cost us over $400 for materials for a 15′ x 17′ room. I think it’s been worth it so far.

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