Travertine Paver Durability - Sealers-Mold-Installation

by Jay
(Sunnyvale, Ca)




Hello Susan,

First, let me say that your site deserves an award, if it hasn't received one already, for the outstanding public service that it provides!

After stumbling across your site, my wife and I abandoned our plan to replace our concrete patio with concrete pavers, in favor of travertine pavers (400 sq ft). This is not a covered patio, but fully exposed to the sun. At the same time, we'll be putting in a small lawn area (250 sq ft), and a 3 foot plant border between the travertine and the fence. The patio will need to be graded to slope away from the house, since currently water can accumulate near one house wall adjoining the patio.

One installer cautioned us that travertine gets easily stained outside, but we don't expect more than a few occasions every year, when food will be served on our patio. He also said that travertine can get moldy if it stays damp, or water is retained in the holes.

A few questions: Would using the Dupont sealer help to prevent molds and staining? And also, what are the chances that the travertine will crumble in a few places, or get otherwise damaged in a 5-10 years? And finally, is it better to put in the plants and lawn first before the travertine, or vice versa?

Thank you!
Jay

ANSWER

Hi Jay,
Thank you so much for you very nice compliments about my site. I'm glad you have been finding it helpful. I think you are making a great choice. The first time I used travertine pavers was on a pool project. Once the pool was installed, the landscape contractor and myself marked out the exact curves for the pool paving. I was project managing the project and was there quite often. To make a long story shorter, one day I left the project while they were getting pretty close to installing the travertine pavers. The next day I came back and they had layed quite a bit of the area already. All I can say is that it was literally breathtaking! I never saw a more beautiful stone. This is the project, although the photos do not do it justice. Swimming Pool Designs

What I am trying to say, is that I am sure you will be thrilled with this paving material. To answer your questions...

1. I have never seen or heard of mold appearing with travertine pavers. I suppose it's possible if you are in an extremely shady area and it stays very wet, but this will happen with any modular product, ie. bluestone, brick, etc. You are already addressing your water problem by grading the patio away from the house, so wetness should not be an issue. You want to buy first quality travertine pavers. They will have fewer holes, not that the holes will cause mold to grow. Travertine with fewer holes have a better look to them. Your contractor might want to supply them himself. If he does, I would insist on knowing what company they come from and seeing lots of samples. If he will allow you to purchase them yourself, you can contact either of these two suppliers.

The Travertine Group, Tampa Florida
Ask for Chris. I have samples of their pavers and they are very nice, but tell him you want first quality, minimal holes and that you would like samples. You will pay somewhere around $5/sf + shipping.

Andes Collection, Pennsylvania - nice travertine pavers, but much more expensive.

Regarding staining, the sealer will help to prevent stains and bring out the color. Wipe a damp rag over a piece of travertine. You will see how it darkens a bit and the colors are more pronounced. That is what a sealer will do. I wouldn't worry about staining.

2. Travertine is a strong material. It should last a very long time. However, as with any hardscape material, it should be installed correctly. If your soil has been disturbed, this will compromise the patio. If it has been disturbed, you must tamp it in 12" lifts or fill it with stone. Then, lay it properly. See these two pages on installations of pavers. They are written for concrete pavers but it is the same for travertine pavers. By the way, I have decided recently that I do not like polymeric sand as a joint filler, so use stone dust.

Building A Patio

Paver Installation

3. Definitely do the travertine paver installation before the plants and lawn!

Regards,
Susan


QUESTION

Tell me about using Travertine in Kansas. With the freeze thaw condition can I pour a concrete pad and mortar the travertine to eliminate weeds and shifting of the tile? Can I mortar the travertine to concrete steps out from the house?

I spoke with a landscaper that told me he did a travertine job and many of the stones turned to powder and had to be replaced. He did not recommend using travertine in Kansas. Maybe he used a cheaper grade of paver with larger holes that took on water then froze. He said the last job that demanded using travertine he sealed each stone before laying the stone. I have been told to dry lay the stone.

I have spoke with travertine Mart in Florida and they told me stone + shipping was around $5.00 sq. ft. I am afraid to spend $5,000.00 plus the cost of dry laying the stone, gravel+ limestone chat and sand and end up with a weed infested eyesore. Any advise would be much advised.

ANSWER

I will assume you are referring to travertine pavers, not travertine tiles,which are thinner. You should only use the pavers in your area.

There is no reason to set this paving material in concrete. It is more costly and there will definitely be chances of the concrete joints cracking. The preferred method is dry laid. For proper travertine paver installation methods, please see the links in the above Q&A.

Travertine pavers are set very close together, particularly if you get the ones that are not tumbled. The tumbled ones have a wavy edge, while the non-tumbled have a smoother edge. If any weeds get in the paver joints, you just have to give them a spray a few times a year or pull them out.

As far as laying the pavers on your concrete steps, first this will raise the height of each step as you go up. The contractor could chisel out some of the existing concrete to make it lower, but it would have to be quite a bit. Although I said dry laying is the way to go, if your porch is existing, you might consider this. Of course, your steps must be in excellent condition...no cracks, settling etc.

Please see the above question and answer regarding holes in travertine (and the quality) and sealing travertine pavers.

Good luck!

Comments for Travertine Paver Durability - Sealers-Mold-Installation

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Jul 07, 2014
How I maintain
by: Deb George

We have travertine on our pool deck, and yes, it can mold, and especially in any of the holes. A good scrub once a year, after spring, with a soap and 20% bleach, will get rid of it. Also, the cracks between the tiles, can grow mold as the sand gets more and more dirt mixed in it. It can also grow weeds. Round up becomes your friend. Each year, I blow out some of the dirty sand with the hose, I don't get over zealous about it, so as to dislodge the tiles. I then resand. It makes the patio look like new. We sealed our tiles, but felt it made the tiles more slippery, and were not happy with it.It says the seal lasts two years, but the Florida sun wore ours off in less than a year. You can tell when it has worn off , when the water no longer beads up on the tile, Staining has not been a problem, but then, our tiles are not white, and we rarely eat outside.

Aug 02, 2013
Regarding project in Kansas
by: Susan

I am so glad it worked out well for you. I would love to see some photos!Thanks for letting me know.

Susan

Aug 02, 2013
Thank you for the advice
by: Anonymous

Hi Susan,

I have asked you a question about travertine paver installation in Kansas. Thank you for the installation advice. We have purchased the travertine pavers from Travertine Mart. All in all it costed us about $4.15 per sqft including shipping.

As per your suggestion we have installed them dry-set and we are glad we did. Products look great and dry-set installation is the way to go.


Aug 22, 2011
Premium Quality Travertine Source
by: Anonymous

Here is another premium travertine source got over 3 million sqft available in Tampa,Florida.

STONE-MART
Tampa,Florida
813-885-6900
www.stone-mart.com

Jun 17, 2011
Travertine, Polymeric Sand and Sealers
by: Susan

Hi Jay,

I once did a pool project where the travertine pavers had many holes. The contractor used polymeric sand. I know they did not specifically fill the holes because I saw the project after the rain and I could see some water droplets in the holes here and there. But everything was fine. So that's a positive for using the polymeric sand.

I am assuming Sandlok is a type of polymeric sand. I have come to prefer stone dust as joint fillers in hardscape applications for various reasons. The disadvantage of polymeric sand is that if any of the travertine pavers need to be removed, the joints are hard and it's more difficult. If you have any heaving, I would imagine it could be a mess. I have also seen cracks in the joints when the joints are wider. I don't know how "wavy" or straight yours are. So that's a negative for polymeric sand.

If it were my own project, I would not fill the holes and I would use stone dust and hose it down well after the stone dust is applied. This is only my opinion and what I would do personally.

As far as sealers go, you'll have to decide which would be best for you. I explain the differences on my page Travertine Sealers. I would probably use the Heavy Duty Exterior Sealer simply because it's water based.

Jun 17, 2011
Stone dust in travertine paver installaton
by: Jay

Hello Susan,

My installer is almost done dry laying travertine pavers and I have a few questions:

1. About 30% of the pavers that I received have more holes than the samples that I received earlier. Is it necessary to fill large holes with grout, and if so, what kind of grout should one use?
2. What sort of stone dust do you recommend using, and why is is it better than sand with an additive called SandLok?
3. I am concerned about the finishing sand hardening in the holes, once the pavers are sprayed with water. How can one prevent this?
4. Which of the Dupont sealers/enhancers do you recommend for the pavers?

Once again, many thanks for your advice!

Jay in Sunnyvale, California

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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
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