Grouting & Sealing Tumbled Travertine Backsplash
We have 4" tumbled travertine backsplash tiles installed over our Ubatuba granite countertop and have several questions. I need advice on grouting the holes in the travertine, grout color, and sealing the backsplash
The travertine tile appears porous with large holes and I want to know what my next step should be.
I love the rustic look and don't want to grout in any "holes" in the tile and have heard that they make grout release for this purpose.
Bacteria is a concern, though, too. If I don't grout in the holes food could end up in these holes. So... can I 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)?And grout color...
we tried the Sauterne grout by Laticrete on a small sample but not happy with the results. Too light.
I'd like your suggestions for grout colors that don't make the spaces look dirty but still dark enough to highlight the travertine tiles.How do we seal the tile and clean off the excess grout?
We love the rough look of tumbled travertine backsplash tiles especially when wet and want to maintain this look.
That's a lot of ground to cover, but we can do it! You DO want to fill the holes
when installing a travertine backsplash or you'll just get a build-up of dirt, bacteria, and fungus.
Filling the holes in the travertine tile isn't nearly as critical as on a floor or in a shower, however, there's plenty of dirt, grease, grime, and moisture in a kitchen that can accumulate in the holes over time leading to mold or otherwise unsightly appearance and cleaning hassles.Sealing travertine
in the holes won't protect against this build-up at all since these things grow or accumulate on the surface and sealing protects from absorption of liquids.
Of note... 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. Regarding sealing a travertine backsplash...
Apply a color-enhancing sealer
to get the "wet look".
You could then also apply an impregnating sealer over the enhancer, but likely not necessary on a kitchen backsplash.
You really don't get too much staining on
a backsplash and the color-enhancer has sealing properties as well. Using a grout release
or sealing prior to installation of a kitchen tile backsplash has pros and cons.
Applying a sealer before grouting can sometimes be beneficial to help clean off the excess grout, but often doesn't help at all.
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 for cleaning grout
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
Just spray it on, let sit 5-10 minutes, and scrub with a soft-bristle brush to clean off. And yes... it does work great for cleaning off grout haze as well as soap and hard water films.Choosing a grout to use... Sanded grout
is typically used for a tumbled travertine backsplash to match the rustic look of these tiles and the wider grout lines.
This can be used to fill the larger holes in the face of the tiles.Non-sanded grout
usually works better to fill the smaller holes, though.
Note, if planning to use a darker grout color for the grout lines you probably want to use a different grout to fill the holes in the travertine tile face.
Generally, the holes are filled in with a grout color that matches the color of the travertine.
After finishing all the grouting...
Clean off the excess grout haze, but don't seal it right away. Wait 2 weeks for the whole thing to cure and dry out and then seal it.
The grout color is a personal preference. In my opinion, a tumbled travertine kitchen backsplash over an Ubatuba granite countertop is quite a contrast, so personally, I wouldn't want the grout to stand out too much. When you have too many colors
, textures and patterns the look can become too busy and unappealing.
While I can't recommend a specific color without seeing the entire set-up I'd suggest you minimize the contrast between the grout color and travertine tile color.
In other words, try simply to match the travertine color (or just slightly darker), so the grout is not a prominent part of the design.
There you have it! Quite a project with a lot to consider but you should have a good handle on it now.