Travertine works great as a floor tile because of the nature of the surface. Unlike a fired tile, a cut travertine tile has natural voids which offer much better footing and a very interesting floor covering. Travertine tiles have been used since Ancient Roman times and in fact the name Travertine comes from the name of a town about 60 miles from Rome where there was a massive quarry during the hey day of the building of Rome. Many buildings, both private and public, were constructed of travertine tiles and blocks. The Roman Coliseum, for example, is the largest structure in the world composed almost exclusively of travertine building stones. So installing travertine floor tiles will give your entryway, kitchen, or bathroom a very strong ancient Roman feel.
When travertine tiles are laid on the floor you need to be sure to seal them because of the fact that they are a sedimentary stone and thus porous. If you spill a colored liquid on the tiles it can possibly stain them because it will soak directly into the tile. A good tile sealer is all that is necessary to keep your tiles looking great for years to come.
In an entry way a very nice way method is to lay travertine mosaic tiles in a pattern. This is pleasing to the eye and also covers up any errant dirt that may have been tracked into the entryway. When someone walks onto a floor laid in the mosaic style there is an awareness of the flooring material which isn’t present with a more traditional floor or even a tile floored laid with fired ceramic tiles.
Travertine pavers can also be used for the entry way but this is not really necessary if the area is covered and projected from the rain and snow. If you are doing an outside area with a lot of heavy traffic and you live in a very harsh climate you may want to consider this but tiles work fine as long as there is a good base to lay them on.
Usually tiles are laid on a concrete slab if outside, and sometimes inside an enclosed entryway if they are planned for in advance. This gives the best base for the tiles which means a couple of things. First, they are very easy to lay on a concrete slab that has been finished. Just mark out your starting point and your cross lines with a chalk line then apply the motor in a thin setting. When the tiles are set and grouted in the concrete should offer a very good, long lasting subsurface for support.
If you are looking at installing tiles in the house, and there was not a slab poured, then you will use a cement backer board as the base. Most likely the floor is flake board or plywood about 1 1/8” thick. Flake board, also called OSB or oriented strand board has become the rage for construction because it is cheaper than traditional concrete but I really don’t think it is as good. It can cause problems with swelling if moisture is present and it does not handle sharp blows well. If you have the choice, I would use plywood for the subfloor, I think over the life of the home you will be more happy. The cement board is place on the sub-floor and nailed down with ring shank nails. Usually these nails are on 6” to 8” centers because you want to be sure the board does not move and thus squeak or crack the tiles or grout line. Once the backer board is prepared you just move on with the laying like you would over a concrete subfloor.
As I said above, travertine is a sedimentary stone which means it has not been crushed and heated as much as a marble, for example, which is a metamorphic stone. The sedimentary stone has natural voids and air pockets which must be sealed if they are going to be used on the floor or anywhere in the bathroom. This travertine floor tile sealer can be found in a either a flat gloss, semi-gloss, or high gloss. For a floor, the flat is usually recommended and you need to be sure to apply it yearly to keep a good protection. If you don’t protect the floor tiling then water or other materials can seep in and cause damage. In particular, if a colored drink is spilled it can stain the tile for good and then you have a heck of a problem to deal with.
Travertine floor tiles are very popular for their historic appeal as well as their beauty. If you are looking to redo your entry way, or you are building new, find out why so many people are talking about travertine.