Installing & Sealing Travertine Kitchen Backsplash

by Pat Curran
(Oak Lawn)

QUESTION:

I just purchased travertine tiles (several tiles set/spaced on mesh)and plan to use it for my kitchen backsplash design.


The travertine tile appears porous (some more than others) and I want to know what my next step should be.

I don't want to grout in any "holes" in the tile and have heard that they make grout release for this purpose. I am also concerned however if I don't grout in the holes in the tile that bacteria/ food could end up in these holes.

Basically, I am wondering if I can keep the porous look of the tiles by using a grout release product during installation and then use a good sealer to keep the tile looking good and free of food (with regular maintenance). Thank You!

ANSWER:

You need to fill in the holes or you'll just get a build-up of dirt, bacteria and fungus. Sealing travertine in the holes won't protect against this at all.

And travertine is actually a pretty dense stone and sometimes doesn't need sealing at all. But usually this is only with a "polished" finish, which makes the stone far less absorbent.

A "tumbled" finish IS much more porous though and a tumbled travertine backsplash will most often take a sealer.

There's differing preferences about using a grout release or sealing prior to installation of a kitchen tile backsplash.

Some think it's the only way to do it, but often it doesn't really work (or not completely), so it just ends up being extra work.

And if you mistakenly use an acidic grout release, then you end up etching your travertine backsplash.

The better plan is to simply use a grout remover product formulated for safe use on marble and travertine tile like this Soap Scum / Hard Water Remover after installation.

Sanded grout is typically used for tumbled marble backsplash or travertine to match the rustic look of these tiles and the wider grout lines,

Non-sanded grout usually works better to fill the smaller holes though.

Wait 2 weeks for whole thing to cure and dry out and then seal it.

I recommend SCP: Impregnator or SenGuard Sealers.... SenGuard being the most advanced and durable currently available. It's a permanent bond sealer.

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