Flooring and Carpeting/Travertine


Hello Perry,
My name is Deane im writing from Naples Florida.  My wife and I are planning to have travertine installed on both floors of our 2008 home.  My concern is the weight and flex on our second floor.  Cement board will be installed on top of the plywood then a thick layer of mud then the heavy marble tile.  Should i be concerned with all that weight on my second floor?
Thank you for your help.

Thank you for your question Deane,

  My simple answer to your question is a definite "yes"...you need to be very concerned with "any" dead load additions to your home where the primary area to be covered is on the second floor. Most folks just naturally assume that a well built home can accommodate any addition without structural shoring or consideration. That could be a very costly mistake and potentially dangerous. Now I'm not "ringing the warning bell" here but I am waving a "red flag". There have been, and still are, unscrupulous contractors who do not care if "you" have done your homework or not. They come to town, set up shop for 10-12 months and move on fleecing unsuspecting folks as they go. Do not be one. With your home being constructed under a fairly current "Code Book" you also may think that you are positioned to just move ahead with the project just by that understanding....not a good idea either. The standard "minimum code level" does not mean at all that what you are looking at is good enough for what you are wanting to do....please make note of the word "minimum". It basically is equal to "good enough" in most cases except...."dead loads". Deflection and structural movement have long been the enemy of secure and stable tile installations, and for the obvious reasons. Your concerns here are well founded and tells me you may not have practical experience with this issue but you do have common sense which is equally valuable. So let me also point out that your home was built during a very sensitive time during the "housing bubble". It was just about the time the bottom had fallen out and folks were overnight "upside down" with their mortgages. Construction practice around then was already starting to suffer and the profit margins for Builders were dangerously close to a negative for them. They were building houses that cost more to build than they could possible get with it's sale. It's why so many Builders went out of business in short order. So one of the ways Builders were able to cut costs was to "widen" the span of the typical floor joist assembly. Sixteen inches on center was the standard span for way longer than my life so soon after the economic trouble started Builders went to a "19.2" span for the joist and then to "24" span. Once there, the only acceptable/approved material that could/should be spec'd for that is carpet and vinyl...(maybe a lightweight laminate or engineered wood as well). If you have a 24" joist span then I could not in good conscience recommend you move forward with your project. The deflection, based upon the install assembly you have provided, could be significant. And while the second floor may not "cave in" you will have constant cracking grout and or the constant threat of tile breaking bond with the sub-strate which isn't good either...follow me? So first you should consult with your builder to see (if you have floorplans of your home you can look yourself) what joist span he employed...16"o/c great..19.2" o/c ok but not great...24" o/c carpet or vinyl or laminate and engineered wood, should be the only materials considered. Installing a layer of cement board that is glued and screwed will certainly "help" with having a more rigid sub-strate but when you load up with a mud job plus an adhesive and Marble I would not be confident that your money will be well spent. A simple call to your local engineering firm can tell you if you are safe or not given your current spanning and the estimate of deflection based upon your dead load install, ok? That's it Deane I hope this helps you with your project, feel free to return anytime...

Perry V.

Flooring and Carpeting

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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...

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.