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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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Backsplash Dilemmas

August 23, 2010


WE GOT THE FIRST SECTION OF CABINETS INSTALLED!!!! Woohoooo!!! This is a monumental day. 🙂 Thanks to some VERY cool dudes who are swift with measuring tapes and miter saws, my kitchen is– for the first time in a decade— looking like a KITCHEN! I’ll have photos and more gory details later.

I am currently in the “dilemma” mode. After all the meticulous planning for this project over the years, we have found that some things need tweaking. For example, the backsplash. I always planned for a laminate countertop, but at the last moment, we discovered that a stock laminate is not available for the length required (most stock counters come in 10′ max, ours is 11.5′). So I got maple butcher block at a phenomenal price, GREAT! But now that creates a new dilemma– the backsplash. I’m trying to stick with all wood in the kitchen, but suddenly I find myself thinking about tiles for the backsplash. I have always avoided tile because a.) my house is more crooked than a Washington politician, and still shifting, and b.) I don’t have a tile saw, nor do I want to use one. However, I find the small tiles and medium-sized subway tiles very attractive (very glossy and so “retro” looking), that I am reconsidering. I need a backsplash, definitely. I make a lot of Italian meals with sauce and cheese and pasta, and I tend to toss everything around in a very Italian-like manner. My old backsplash was riddled with the results of my Latin exploits. I need a hefty backsplash.

Another alternative is wainscoting, but I shudder to think of having to install ANOTHER thing in the house. I already have a huge laundry list of small jobs to do. Adding another is loathsome.

Another option is self-stick vinyl flooring tiles. Heck, the stuff is so easy to install… and the quality of the tiles has REALLY improved since my mother’s cheesy imitation parquet flooring. What do you think? I’m not afraid to be unconventional. This WHOLE HOUSE is unconventional. I’m using sawn-in-half table legs as corbels for trim and wallpaper for ceilings; I may as well get quirky with the backsplash, eh?

I don’t know what to do just yet. ANOTHER decision. ANOTHER thing to do. *sigh*

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