Travertine has for many years been a popular choice for homeowners as a choice for their bathroom and kitchen decor. The material provides the deluxe finish of granite and marble, at a much more affordable price. In more recent times the use of travertine floor tiles has become a common sight in gardens in the form of small patio areas and larger features. Whilst this may initially seem surprising to those that don’t really know too much about the material; travertine is actually very durable. A point well illustrated by the fact that the Coliseum in Rome, which was built circa 70-80 AD, is made from travertine. However, if you are intending to install travertine floor tiles in your outdoor area, there are a few steps you should take to improve safety and simplify the job of maintaining them.
Choosing the right tiles
Most suppliers of travertine floor tiles will offer four different types; honed, polished, brushed and tumbled. The first three options all have smooth surfaces and are suited to indoor application. Tumbled travertine tiles are literally placed in a large container and tumbled together, which results in rounded edges and an imperfect surface finish. This provides a rustic and aged feel that many homeowners seek. In addition the uneven surface makes tumbled tiles the perfect choice for outdoor travertine use as it provides additional grip when wet, thus increasing safety. The rounded edges also protrude less than on other alternatives; reducing the likelihood of tripping.
Another important factor to consider when choosing your travertine tiles is the thickness. Tiles used indoors tend to be 12mm thick, with outdoor options usually available in 20 and 30mm thickness. If you intend to lay them in an area that is somewhat protected from the elements then 20mm will be fine, with the thicker 30mm tiles more suited to exposed areas.
You should never undertake the task of laying travertine floor tiles below the temperature of 10°C as the adhesive will not dry properly. To avoid the chances of pooling, lay the tiles in a fashion that will allow surface water to run off. Once the tiles have been laid be sure to seal them with a suitable product. This will help to make cleaning easier and reduce the likelihood of mould forming.
Keeping them clean
Dependant on how exposed to the elements your travertine floor tiles are and the surrounding climate; it could be that eventually mould will form on them. In such instances you should use a power washer with a solution of water and a natural stone mildew removal product. Mix the solution 2 parts water to 1 part cleaner, set the pressure washer to no more than 600 PSI and start cleaning, holding the nozzle about 2 inches from the surface. Whilst you may see some initial difference as muck and mould are cleaner away, the main changes will come at a later stage as the chemical needs time to get to work. Whatever you do, be sure not to use a cleaner product that contains acid, which could leave your travertine with unsightly stains.
Once you have removed the mould and given your travertine tiles a good clean, you have the ideal opportunity to reseal them. You should never reseal before removing mould, otherwise you are creating a barrier which will make mould removable at a later stage extremely difficult.
John Richards has learnt from experience that anyone utilising travertine floor tiles in an outdoor environment should invest in the right materials during installation and maintenance.