If you’ve read my previous flooring or tiling posts, I’m sure this one does not come up as a surprise, Laying Travertine tile in the bathroom floors was planned since day one.
Well, I didn’t know it was going to be Travertine tile, but I was completely sure I was replacing the existing flooring with a nicer tile option. In other words, you can basically add the bathroom floors to the list of items I noticed immediately, the first time I went look at the house.
REMOVING THE EXISTING FLOORING
Before I tell you about my install, I would like to ask you a question: would you be able to guess what type of flooring I was about to replace?
If your answer was Vinyl, That is absolutely right, Vinyl.
For the second time in my life as a homeowner, I was determined to get rid of the ugly Vinyl floors in my bathrooms.
Unfortunately for me, this time, I was not able to use the floor scraper I’ve used before. I did not want to damage the wood sub floors with it. On the other hand, since this is a newer house, it was way easier to remove the Vinyl flooring using the head gun and hand scraper method. It was still a pain, but not as painful as it had been at the other house.
LOOKING FOR DITRA OR BACKER BOARD ALTERNATIVES
After completely removing the Vinyl flooring and cleaning up as much of the mess as I could, the next step on the project was installing some kind underlayment for the tile installation.
If you’ve ever had the need, I’m sure you’ve either researched or at least heard about the most popular underlayment options for tile installation, they are Ditra or backer board (cement, fiber cement, and others).
None of these options appealed to me, for two reasons: price, I consider them way too expensive, and the fact that they increase the floor height by about ¼ of an inch. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but once I added the thin set and the Travertine tile, if I used either option, the bathroom floor was going to end up being about 1-inch higher than the rest of the house. I needed a better alternative.
What did I do you may be wondering? I ended up installing a DIY underlayment for a fraction of the cost.
To do this, I got a few steel laths and stapled them to the floor using my pneumatic stapler gun and ½-inch staples. Some of the would not penetrate the floor completely so I would complete the job hitting them with the hammer.
Once this was done, I went ahead and covered them with thin set.
This DIY underlayment ended up being less than 1/8 of an inch thick, and although I don’t remember the exact cost, I’m sure, as I said before, that it was just a fraction of what I would have paid for the other alternatives.
LAYING TRAVERTINE TILE IN THE BATHROOM FLOORS
As usual, to lay the Travertine tile, I followed the exact same steps I’ve explained before:
- Measure and mark the center of the room, use a chalk line if possible.
- Lay the tile from the center mark to the walls, using tile spacers, to make sure you have tiles about the same size on both sides of the room. However, don’t forget that sometimes, due to the position of doors, cabinets, et cetera, it may be easier to have slightly smaller tiles on one side than the other than having to make difficult cuts. I would say that as long as you don’t have a complete tile on one side and a 1 to 2 inches one on the other you should be OK.
- Once you are happy with the positioning of the tile, you can go ahead and start setting them in mortar.
For this installation, I use some fancy tile spacers. This was because the tile has rectified edges, making the installation a bit more difficult because they have to be properly leveled. I can tell you that I’m not a huge fan of them, but they did the job.
I also, for the first time, used epoxy grout. I figured it was a better alternative for the bathroom, although at this point I believe it is the same thing, just a more difficult to work with alternative.
This is because it dries really fast, and if you are not careful about keeping the tile a bit wet while spreading it, you risk getting a crazy amount of haze that will, later on, be very difficult to remove. Take your time and do it right the first time, otherwise, you’d have to spend a long time cleaning up your mess.
I started doing it the way I usually do it with the standard grout. When I realized I was leaving marks with the float, I decided to read the instructions (something you are supposed to do BEFORE using the product, obviously), that’s when I learned that you are supposed to keep the tile wet, but even then, you still can leave marks, so as I said, take your time, keep the tile wet and clean them up really good before it completely dries.
DOES TRAVERTINE NEED TO BE SEALED?
Once the installation was completed I went ahead and sealed the Travertine tile. I actually didn’t do any research to find out if they had to be sealed or not, however, it was obvious, even during the installation that these tiles were extremely porous, I was sure it would not hurt.
Before I sealed the whole thing (this time following the instructions), I first tried the sealer on a piece of remnant tile. This was to make sure it didn’t discolor or somehow damage it. It worked well, and to this day the tile looks great!
Readers, have you ever laid Travertine tile in the bathroom or any other rooms? Please share about your experience.
Laying Travertine tile in the bathroom floors or any other room in your own house? This is what you need:
- Screwdrivers and hand tools (always useful)
- Heat gun and hand scraper (in case you need to remove Vinyl floors)
- Steel Lath
- Pneumatic stapler and staples
- Chalk line
- Framing square
- Tile and tile saw
- Tile spacers (optional, but make the job way easier and accurate)
- Notched trowel
- Thin set
- Rubber Float
- 5-gallon bucket
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