How to fill Holes, Cracks and Voids in Travertine Tiles
Travertine Restoration Tips
By Troy Cantini
Travertine tiles in their natural state have many holes and voids in them. When travertine tiles are processed at the factory the holes and voids are filled before the tiles are ground flat and polished. Many times this travertine filler can come out of the travertine and these holes and voids need to be filled. In some cases the holes in the travertine was never filled and filling the holes will make cleaning and maintaing the traverine much easier than before.
There are two ways to fill holes in travertine tiles. An epoxy filler manufactored specifically for filling holes in travertine is the prefered way for filling travertine. Epoxy fillers for travertine will match the smooth texture of the factory installed travertine filler. Travertine epoxy fillers are generally colored to match the lighter beige colored travertine tiles. For darker walnut colored travertine's you can still use the beige travertine filler but you may want to add a colored tint to the travertine filler to darken the color.
The second way to fill travertine is to simply use sanded grout. Using grout to fill travertine is much easier and cheaper to do and can often give you satisfactory results. The problem with using sanded grout is that the sanded grout will have a sandy texture that does not match the texture of the travertine. Additionally the sanded grout will create a divot in the tiles that is lower than the surface of the tiles. This divot can or can not be distracting depending on the type of travertine tile used and the nature of the travertine tile installation.
To prepare the travertine tile filler you need to follow the manufactures instructions. In general the travertine filler needs to be mixed with a small amount of hardener. The travertine filler will usually set in about 7-10 minutes so you will have to work quickly to fill any holes and voids before the travertine filler sets. If you are filling many holes then it is best to mix multiple batches of travertine filler with the hardener. It is good to have a smooth flat non porous surface for mixing the travertine filler. A spare tile works well for mixing the epoxy travertine filler.
You can use a putty knife to apply the filler to the travertine. It can help to tape up the areas around the hole so you are not required to clean up a lot of overflow of the travertine filler from the surface of the tiles. You can then remove the tape and use the putty knife to gently smooth down the travertine filler so it is even with the surface of the tiles.
You can use acetone to clean up any excess fill off the tiles. It is important to remove this excess filler before it has set so you will have to remove the hardened filler later. You do not want to disturb the filled portion of the travertine so that the filler retains its flat and even texture. The filler will dry in an hour or so but it will take up to 24 hours for it to totally set.
Another easier way to fill travertine tiles is to use normal sanded grout. Do not try using unsanded grout because it can easily crack and get dislodged from the holes. The sand in the grout will give the grout more substance to fill areas of tiles without cracking or breaking apart. The sand in the grout will give the filled area a course texture that does not completely match the smooth texture of the travertine tiles. Still in many cases filling the holes with grout is a simple and easy way to fill the holes and voids without having to use with an epoxy filler.
For filling beige colored travertine tiles a "bone" colored grout works best to match the color of the beige colored travertine tiles. Custom Polyblend's Bone colored grout from home depot works well in these cases. For darker walnut colored travertine tiles a darker colored grout like Custom Polyblends Linen colored grout from home depot works well. Odd colored travertine tiles may require you to use an odd colored grout to match the color of the specific travertine tiles you have. The good thing about travertine tiles is that there are usually many shades and colors throughout every travertine tile so slight shade variations in the filler material will not be noticed.
When using grout to fill holes in travertine tile you should try to mix the grout to a thick consistency with only a small amount of water. You can use a grout float to force the grout into the hole and leave the grout slightly higher than the face of the tiles. Then you can use a grout sponge to gently smooth down the grout so it is even with the tile. You should wring out your grout sponge as much as possible and use as little pressure on the grout as possible. This will ensure that you do not remove too much of the grout from the hole. There will always be some divot created when using grout to fill travertine but this divot can be minimized with carefull grouting techniques.
After you fill the holes in the travertine tile with grout then you should use a terry towel or cheese cloth to remove the grout haze around the surface of the travertine tile hole. You do not want the grout haze to set on the surface of travertine tiles because it can harden up and be extremely difficult to remove later without damaging the surface of the travertine tiles.
When using grout to fill the holes in travertine tiles you should seal the grout 72 hours after applying the grout to the travertine tile holes. The epoxy travertine filler does not have to be sealed but when using grout to fill holes in travertine tiles you will want to seal these areas of grout. Grout will be extremely porous and these filled areas can become extremely dirty and stained over time if they are not properly sealed.
Filling holes in travertine tiles will never give you a 100% factory finish and look to the travertine. If you want the travertine tiles to look perfect after filling them then you will be required to hire a stone restoration pro to restore your travertine tiles. Stone restoration professionals will be able to match the color and look of the travertine filler to exactly match the color of the existing travertine tile filler material. Also a stone restoration company will over fill the holes in the travertine tiles and then use a diamond polishing system to grind down the excess travertine filler giving you a near perfect look to the filled hole. Stone restoration professionals can also take out any scratches and polish your entire travertine tile floor to make the travertine tile installation look like new again.
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