Choosing and Installing Travertine Pavers

Travertine is a stone which has been used as a building material, tile ,and paver for centuries. In fact, in ancient roman times it was very common as the original travertine quarries were within 60 miles of the city. The great Roman coliseum is the largest structure in the world composed of mostly travertine stone. Often called travertine marble or travertine limestone this building material is actually neither. Marble is a metamorphosed rock which has spent considerable time underground at high pressure and temperature. This causes a structural change in the minerals making the stone very dense and hard. Travertine is actually a sedimentary rock from the limestone family but it has many other minerals present than pure limestone does. Thus, the term travertine marble paver and travertine limestone paver are actually just names and do not imply any geological truth.

Travertine Pavers

Tumbled travertine pavers are usually used in driveways and around pools because of there porous textured finish which allows water to be ejected and offers good traction. A chiseled paver is often times used on the driveway because it offers a tighter fit and is more easily supportive of an automobile. The French pattern or mini-French pattern is usually used around pools as it offers a very nice alternative to a floor made with pavers all the same size. A French pattern consists of 16”x24”, 16”x16”, 16”x8”, and 8”x8” pavers arrayed in a pattern which covers 16 square feet. This pattern is then replicated over and over as the pavers are laid out.

Another pattern for travertine patio pavers is the mini-French pattern which is similar but covers a smaller area. It covers an area of 8 square feet per pattern and is composed of 8”x12”, 8”x8”, 8”x4”, and 4”x4” pavers. This method is usually used on smaller areas in order to get a good feel for the pattern. Also, it can look very busy on a large application because of the many lines and angles formed from the smaller pavers.

Some people wonder about sealing travertine pool pavers. This is not necessary because the colors will not tend to fade like in a brick product. The colors come from the actual minerals in the travertine stone and thus are part of the structure. Sealing around a pool in not recommended because this can cause water to stand on the surface making them more slippery. You are better off to let the water naturally permeate the pavers and keep the surface with more friction. Sealing does tend to bring out the natural color and depth of the pavers so it is really a matter of choice.

Travertine pavers are very tough due to their natural stone structure. They are very good in climates because of their ability to weather many freeze and thaw cycles without breaking or cracking. Since a paver surface is able to give and take these applications actually are longer lasting than concrete which will crack and break under heaving conditions. The natural resiliency of the stone paver will allow them to keep there appearance.

This stone is also recommend for humid and tropical areas. In fact, until recently the majority of travertine installations were performed in Florida. The natural structure will withstand extreme heat, in fact most pavers come from high temperature areas such as Italy, Turkey, and Mexico. They are also very pleasant on bare feet because the natural color does not absorbed head like a darker brick or paver would and the tumbled surface allows for air pockets to form under the foot. They also naturally repel mold and mildew so you don’t need to bleach them several times a year like some sufaces.

Travertine can be found in many different colors from ivory to walnut and even reds. The color variation in the pavers is one aspect that makes them so appealing. Since they are a natural stone no two travertine pavers will be the same. Thus your project will have a very nice variation in it and your patio or pool surface will in no way be matched by anyone else. You can specify that all the pavers have the same general hue or you can mix and match for a more variable and appealing look. It really depends on your own desires.

A travertine paver will generally have one of three finishes. The most natural and most most popular is the tumbled finish. This gives a textured and porous surface which is great around pools because it dissipates the water and gives good footing. This is what most people refer to as a classic travertine paver or tile. The next type of finish is the honed. This gives a smooth matte surface. This can also be used outdoors as it also is good for water control and the matte surface gives adequate traction around pools and other outside areas which often times become wet. Lastly, you can have the polished surface finish. This is smooth and shiny and although very beautiful to look at can offer a slick surface when wet. This is only recommended indoors or in covered outside areas which are protected from moisture. The polished surface really brings out the colors and hues of the pavers but they are not as functional because of the low friction value.

How To Install Travertine Pavers

The installation process, whether for gold travertine pavers or some other color, is very simple as a do-it-yourself project. It takes some work to get the surface prepared, and the pavers are fairly heavy but it definitely is something which can be accomplished by any one with a few skills and muscles. The subsurface for the pavers is really the most important aspect of the installation.

Start by laying out the area you want to cover. The best results are obtained when you calculate the actual size of the patio or pool surface and set the edges so there is no half pavers needed. That is, determine the width and length of the pavers laid side by side and make your edges to allow for only full tiles to be used. If this is not possible then start the layout process at the most noticeable area of the surface and leave the partial tiles for the far sides and back where they will be less noticeable to the eye.

Travertine pavers installation is started by preparing the subsurface. This should be compacted with a mechanical compactor to be sure it is solid and will not sink over the years. The moisture content of this sub-surface is very important as if it is too dry it will not compact properly and will stay loose. If it is too wet it will tend to mud up when you try to compact it and bring the water to the surface.

Once the surface is compacted, form your border. This is often times done by laying stones is a soldier pattern set on a concrete border. As stated above, be sure to try to set the border so you can use only full pavers and not have to cut any. No matter what pattern you use for the center of the surface, a nice looking border with stones laid lengthwise end to end will give a nice appearance.

Next, a thick layer of gravel should be spread over the subsurface. This will allow for water seepage away from the pavers and also, when compacted, will give a hard base on which to set the stones. This gravel should also be mechanically compacted. The thickness of this gravel base can be determined by your local building codes as the possibility of frost heaving makes a thicker base necessary. Finally a thin layer of sand is spread evenly over the gravel base and this is what the travertine pavers are set on. It is best to start out in the most noticeable corner of the area and then work toward the least noticeable. This way if you do end up doing a cutting it will not be as easy for people to see.

After laying all the travertine stone pavers you can fill the edge voids with sand. This gives a very nice firm structure to the surface and limits the amount of shifting. Often times it is necessary to brush sand over the pavers several times to work it fully into the joints.

Travertine Tiles

Another option for flooring is to place travertine tiles directly over a concrete surface with mud set. The concrete acts as the base and the tiles are set in a mortar solution which hardens and locks them in place. All of the surface and color possibilities mentioned above are found in travertine tiles as well as pavers. Tiles are less expensive because they are only one half in thick as opposed to the one and one half in thick pavers. This also cuts down on shipping costs per square foot of surface also.

If you want an old world, natural look then you can’t get any better result than by using travertine tiles and travertine pavers.