Flooring and Carpeting/Tumbled travertine


I just purchased my first home.  I have 2 showers and 2 bath floors, a kitchen backsplash, and kitchen floor all tiled in tumbled, un-filled travertine.  I have no experience in grouting whatsoever.  I have spent considerable time online reading advice on whether the natural crevices in the stone need to be filled, and have come to the conclusion that it is pretty important to fill the crevices in both shower stalls.  I am inclined to purchase an epoxy grout to fill the holes with.  Do you think that I, someone without any experience can do this job well, or do I need to seek someone with experience to do it for me?  I have read that epoxy is a tad more difficult to work with.  Do you think epoxy would be a good choice for the fill?  

I have read conflicting information on whether tumbled travertine showers should be sealed--some say that wet environments should NOT be sealed...what do you say?  Will I damage/reduce the life of the tiles by sealing them?
Should I seriously consider filling the crevices on the bathroom floors & kitchen, or will regular cleaning, and sealing keep them in good shape?
Thank you for your time & advice.

ANSWER: Vera forgive my tardiness with my reply to you. Been out of town for the Holidays...

Ok lets get to your questions..so you have purchased and installed an unfilled example of Travertine Stone. I am suspecting that the tiles themselves have only a "honed" surface or finish to them? Your suspicion's are correct that this material will need to be filled or in your case grouted. Are the grout joints currently filled and the body of the tiles "un"filled?..or is the whole assembly/install not grouted or filled? To be honest Vera the only time I have spec'd or left an unfilled Stone is for a Fireplace installation and nothing else. The avenues for failure for a floor or certainly within a designate wet area is a recipe for disaster and a quick one at that. If you have a large format material, meaning a tile size in excess of a 12" example then the tiles may be a bit thicker than a smaller example so getting the porous material fully filled/grouted would be better off done by a Professional experienced with such material. Typically you can't even purchase an unfilled material unless it is special ordered or perhaps a previous customer may have defaulted on the purchase and it was simply sold to get the material off the books so to speak. It is not your everyday example set for installation.
     Now the sealing aspect....I always without fail will seal a Natural Stone material no matter where it is employed either walls in a shower or on a floor somewhere. The natural tendency for a natural material is to be porous and open celled which will let in dirt/dust/debris even oils from your skin or products introduced to the space. So a quality sealer is a must and a maintenance plan that will "re"coat the Stone annually. You will not damage the stone by employing a sealer neither will you shorten the life of it so no worries there Vera. Keep in mind though that you will need to be very careful with the "cleaning products" that you use to clean the Stone. I have a very simple program/product used to keep things tidy and fresh and that is very hot water and Baking Soda. You can simply vacuum the floor and then do a light rinse of the Stone, if there is any spot residue or dirt that does not come loose you can then take Baking Soda and sprinkle over the area and use a sponge to apply enough force to loosen and remove the offending dirt and then rinse again. You will need a rubber glove of course so that your hand can stand the usage of very hot water. Using hot water will reduce the streaking typically left behind from using cold water. I do not recommend using "any" of the proclaimed floor cleansers as they can/will leave a film behind which will act as a magnet for dirt and grime to gather...follow me? Ok Vera...I hope this helps you with your project, forgive me for being so late. If you have any more questions feel free to return anytime and I will try to be quicker with my reply. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year...

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QUESTION: Perry, thank you very much for the response.  I hope you're having a wonderful Holiday season, and I appreciate your getting back to me this quickly.
I think I need to further describe the installed travertine I have.  
It is tumbled travertine (I am unsure whether it may be classified as "honed"); there is sanded grout in between all the tiles, and the larger, natural crevices in the stone appear to have the same, sanded grout in them (the crevices are not filled to the point at which the tile & crevices are level & smooth; there are shallow valleys in these "filled" crevices).  When I imagine having these tiles filled, I envision that the addition of the grout/filling agent then makes the tiles even & alleviates any valleys in which water, or dirt might sit.  
Does it sound to you like I have "filled" travertine installed?  
When I look at the tile closely, I notice teeny-tiny holes in the stone which do not have any "sanded grout" in them.  Should I get these filled, along with futher filling the crevices which contain some sanded grout in them?
Thank you for the cleaning advice.  How do I clean the showers, and any mold, or soap scum, or hard water which may arise?  Do I scrub everything with Baking Soda?  Is there any way I can prevent mold, soap scum, or hard water from forming in the showers?  I have squeegees handy, but they'll only work on removing water from the smoother parts of the stone, and not the grouted valleys.  Do you have any further suggestions on regular cleaning/maintenance?

Thank you very much for your time & advice.  

Welcome back Vera,

    I am very familiar with tumbled stone installs and I know what you are concerned about. The reason there are still pin-holes throughout the field of tiles is the "sanded" grout is simply too large to get into and remain in the small cracks and pin-holes. The larger voids and cracks that are inherent with a tumbled material are easily filled with the sanded grout the remaining unfilled spaces can be filled with a "NON"-sanded grout of the same color. Having some shrinkage of the grout filler is not unusual and some can and most likely will over time come loose and fall out requiring you to refill at some point so having some of the grout handy for this future event will be handy. With the smaller voids just mix up the color matching non-sanded grout and apply with your "gloved" finger, working the stuff into the void/crack and lightly sponge away the excess and rinse clean. You are going to want to carefully inspect this condition within any wet area so as to stop any water from migrating through the tile to the wall behind through the cracks or voids. Do you have a ventilator fan in your bathrooms? How about a window?...these options will help to reduce the opportunity for mold/mildew to take hold over time but another way to greatly reduce the chance for it is to simply take a dry towel and quickly wipe down the shower space after you are done and not worry about it. Over time if you begin to develop soap scum residue then you can employ the Baking Soda/Hot water solution as a remedy. A quality sealer for this stone should also be incorporated asap and then redone annually at least. This will help to reject water making any progress through the stone and will make it alot easier to towel down the walls...ok? That's it Vera, thanks for coming back. Come again anytime...Happy New Year.


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Perry Vellenga


Ceramic Tile/Marble. I can answer questions about floor preparation, tile selection, layout questions, performance of products, expectations of finish, compatabilities, questions about grout and epoxies, evaluating an installer, asking the right questions to check competence...more? 33 years this August 2012/ many years in commercial application from exterior finishes to Mall store fronts/ interior finishes like floor packages in stores inside Malls examples: The Limited, Lerner/NY, Lane Bryants, Bombay Co., Now involved in Residential new construction covering all types of interior finishes and designs.


I worked in an exclusive field of floorcovering called "Tenant Development" which is by invitational bid only, by way of a National bid list. These are large floor packages usually over 3500 sq. ft. of 18" x 18" Marble and Granite and many other types of Marble and sizes. They are specialty stores where the floor package can cost upwards of $50,000 for one store. I have also done "Structure" stores and J. Riggins stores, Lane Bryant,Express and Body Shop stores where wood flooring is used. Presently work for a National Flooring Company in the Residential new construction arena that covers most interior design elements..Granite Slab tops/wood flooring both job finished and prefinished ect..

My response's are published all across the Internet and picked up by multiple Interior Design sites and Industry related web sites where people have questions...

too many most of which don't count...

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