Sealing Travertine Tile Showers

by Melissa
(Ponte Vedra Beach, FL)


Ok, I know this is a subject that comes up often, I just want to make sure I have this right from everything I've read. I am installing a shower and master bath floor. The floor outside the shower is honed & filled travertine.

In the shower, the floor is 2x2 unhoned/unfilled travertine, 2/3 of the wall is the honed & filled travertine and then the inserts are more of the 2x2 unhoned/unfilled & 6x6 unhoned/unfilled. The tub surround is all of the same materials.

The countertops in this master bath are the venetian gold granite. From what I'm reading, I don't have to seal anything but the granite countertops? Because you said never to seal stone in a wet environment and honed tiles on the floor probably don't need sealing as long as it passes the water test (which mine did). Is that correct?

What about the grout we use in the shower, that doesn't need sealing either? Also, can you tell me about the effects of toothpaste on granite or quartz countertops in a bathroom? My kids are getting granite and I know they won't worry about spilling that type of thing.

One last issue, I have noce travertine unfilled/unhoned that I would like to enhance. Since that is in another shower situation, should I enhance and
not seal or seal & enhance? Should it be done before grouting to prevent the grout from getting darker, too? Thank you so much!


First, you should fill your un-filled travertine. If left unfilled, it will accumulate dirt and mildew and will be impossible to keep clean.

And correct, sealing travertine showers is not necessary. Sealing in a wet environment is not recommended since it can contribute to trapping water beneath the tiles and decomposition of the stone.

Also, sealing only helps deter staining, so it doesn't make much sense to seal an installation that really isn't exposed to much that will stain stone. Plus all that water is constantly washing everything down the drain. Staining risk is minimal in a shower.

I'd recommend sealing the countertops if the water test for sealing granite countertops shows it should be sealed.

We recommend using SenGuard or Stone Sentry Sealers.

Toothpaste won't harm the granite. Some toothpastes and other bath products can be acidic enough to etch marble and travertine, but granite does not etch (except in rare instances). So, no worries about the kids bath.

Regarding enhancing the noce travertine... yes you should apply the color enhancer to the tiles only prior to grouting if you don't want the grout color affected.

We recommend using SCP: Color-Enhancing Marble & Granite Sealer.

Comments for Sealing Travertine Tile Showers

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Well I am just at a loss.
by: Anonymous

I have 2 baths that have ceramic tile around the bathtubs. In the middle, there are 4x4 porous picasso travertine.

They installed them then used the laticrete permacolor mix. The light has been bad since all electric work hasn't been done. Today I got some light in there and noticed that he grouted the whole darn thing.

The middle band of travertine and the band across top and down sides so all the holes have grout color in them.

Not porous anymore but what a waste of natural stone I paid so much for. How was this suppose to go?

Seal the travertine so the holes would have been protected before they went up and then let them grout normally?

This was the small bath and with so many projects going on I didn't catch it while in progress. They have put the same set up in another bath but it hasn't been grouted yet.

What do I do, take it down seal it, or just grout those porous travertine stones as well? Seems they should have known or asked or something. I could have gotten much cheaper tile than this natural porous stone just to find it filled with grout.

===== Countertop Specialty comment:

If I understand correctly, you installed travertine tile which naturally has holes of various sizes and shapes. It looks very rustic and organic.

And then the installers filled all these holes in the travertine tile surface with grout. Correct?

Well, that is standard procedure and exactly what they should have done especially in a wet environment.

All those rustic-looking holes will only gather dust, dirt, grime and mold if left unfilled.

It may not be what you expected, but filling all the holes in travertine tile with grout is the correct method.

REsealing Travertine Tile Shower
by: Howie

My travertine tile shower walls were sealed when it was built 2 years ago.

The tile used was polished 12x12 tile with about 1/16 grout line. Should it be resealed?

The floor is 2"x2" unpolished tiles. The floor is dull and lifeless. Can I use color enhancer/sealer on the floor or is there something else I could use.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Showers don't really need sealing. The risk of staining is very low and sometimes complications can arise when sealing natural stone in a wet environment.

The one exception is white marble that can get rust stains due to the embedded iron deposits rusting from water contact. White marble like a Carrara marble shower should be sealed.

Polished travertine is a different story. It is practically non-absorbent to begin with so sealing really doesn't help or improve the stain-resistance and you don't need to protect against water absorption.

So, the answer is no.... it almost certainly didn't need to be sealed in the first place, so no need to re-seal it.

The floor tile is honed for good traction. A honed natural stone tile doesn't have the depth or intensity of color of a polished tile. This is normal.

A color-enhancer could be applied to darken the color a bit. This is the best option to enrich the color.

Possible staining in travertine shower
by: Diane B

Hi, I have read with great interest this string about sealing the travertine in a shower.

We are going to be installing travertine in our new shower - and I have a specific concern. While I understand that normal use does not expose a shower to much risk of staining - what about hair dyes?

After my hair is colored (red) the first few times I wash it there is a significant bleed of the dye.

Yes, it is diluted by the shower water, and I'm always careful to rinse my shower down afterward - but what is the risk of this staining the travertine if we don't seal it?

===== Countertop Specialty comment:

Hair dye will certainly increase the risk of staining your travertine shower.

If you are very diligent and completely rinse all hair dye down the drain each time you shower, then you will likely avoid staining.

However, if exposure to hair dye will be a common occurrence, then I'd bet eventually you'll end up with a stain or a generalized discoloring.

So, in this case I'd definitely apply a sealer. Why worry yourself every time you shower? Apply a sealer and enjoy your shower. I'd still make a little effort rinse the hair dye down the drain, but you won't have to be maniacal about it.

Installed travertine for a shower and steam room.
by: New to Travertine

Ok, so I have read that sealing in a wet area is a waste of time and money besides which sounds like the stone really should breath so that it dose not keep moisture trapped behind it.

I have a combination of polished and honed travertine. I used a combo of sanded and un-sanded grout. To the quality of the tile I can't tell. I know it has fill.

I just finished grouting on Sunday 7-13-14. I would like to enhance only and I believe I need to seal the grout lines.

Probably the shower pan the most. When and what should I use for both and how long should I wait before doing it. After its done will use your stone cleaner.... no box or store cleaner. Just need tips to keep it looking good for years. Sincerely t

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

You should wait at least 2 weeks to apply a color-enhancer to travertine shower tile.

The color-enhancer also has some sealer properties, but not a full-fledged impregnating sealer.

Whenever installing travetine tile on a wall or floor you need to wait 2-3 weeks to allow all moisture from the tile and grout to evaporate (from the exposed surface) prior to applying any sealer or enhancer.

Applying only the enhancer will likely be sufficient for the grout as well, but after applying the enhancer, you could go over the grout with an impregnating sealer if you like.

Cleaning mildew from shower
by: Sharon

Our shower is travertine tile and we are struggling with mildew. What is best way to get rid of mildew without damaging the tile?

===== Admin Comment:

You'll find a detailed answer for cleaning travertine shower mildew on this page:

Cleaning Marble Tile Shower Mildew.

Marble, travertine and limestone are all cousins. You clean and maintain all three stones in the same fashion.

Good Luck!

by: Anna

I am planning to install 2x2x12 Chiaro Tambled Marble sheets (antique stone looking) with unfilled little holes in the shower. But my contractor insists that I do not use this tile because the water can penetrate in those little holes even though the tile will be grouted, and damage the tile. But I see a lot of people, as well as the luxury hotels have this type of Tambled Marble tiles installed in the shower. Is it true that this type of tile in the shower can become eventually a trouble for me?

Thanks a lot in advance!



No, it's not a problem if installed correctly. Tumbled travertine is used in bath and shower applications all the time. Great stone. You just have to fill all the holes with grout just like you do the grout lines between the stones.

Use un-sanded grout for small holes, but for large holes and grout lines use sanded grout, which looks better with the more rustic tumbled surface. And its typical to use wider grout lines with tumbled surfaces and sanded grout holds up better with wider lines.

But your contractor is right IF you just left the holes unfilled. They'd collect dirt and get moldy right away... just can't do it that way.

Good Luck!

travertine tile over travertine tile?
by: Melissa

Ok, my shower has been installed and the installer did an incorrect pattern. His solution was to tile another floor on top of the first floor (he's already done it without telling me first). It's a 2x2 unhoned and unfilled travertine mosaic. My question is, does this affect the travertine at all, is it safe to do, or should I make them tear it all up and start from scratch with one layer of tile? None of the tile or grout was sealed but it was all grouted.

===== ANSWER:

While it is possible that no problems would result, I don't like the idea. A shower get so much use and with all that water you really want the floor especially to be perfect.

If it was me, I'd make them tear it up and start over. I'd even consider firing the contractor for trying to hide his mistake.... can you really trust they will do their best job for you?

by: Melissa

Ok, new issue regarding the enhancing. If I'm to enhance before grouting, how do I get around the fact that you say not to seal before 2-3 weeks after tile installation so everything will be completely dry? I can't find an enhancer that isn't also a sealer.


Install the tiles, allow to dry for 2-3 weeks, apply the enhancer, let cure 48-72 hours, grout.

Or you could let the tiles dry inside for 2-3 weeks, apply the enhancer to the loose tiles, install tiles, grout.

All enhancers have mild sealing properties also. Here's our recommended color enhancing sealer.

Grout Release Needed?
by: Melissa

Thank you so much for the answers and the wonderful & informative website. I just have a follow-up question. I told my contractor I do not want my shower sealed, but wondered if he used a grout release so as to not have all kinds of grout caught up in the grooves of the stone(but not in the holes so they will be filled), and he said he doesn't use a grout release because they do that with sealer and since I don't want sealing, it won't be done. Do you think I should ask him to specifically use a grout release or do you think it will be fine just grouting and wiping the grout down? Thanks again!


Just let him install it without release. If you have lots of grout residue, then using PRISTINE Hard/Water Soap Film Remover is usually effective.

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