Travertine Pool Deck Installation on Concrete and Sealing

This homeowner has problems with her travertine installation on concrete decking and questions on sealing the stone.


We had a complete pool remodel and chose travertine for the pool deck. We already had a concrete deck so the travertine was laid right over the concrete. When it rains the stones loosen and after it dries the stones for the most part tighten up but we find uneven edges. We currently have two or three loose stones in different spots too. The contractor was back twice to fix uneven areas but now says he won't come back anymore because we can never be satisfied. I don't think the stones should be loose or uneven, am I wrong about this?

I watched the whole project and I am pretty sure the stone was laid over the deck dry, no sand base over the existing concrete. What is your opinion on the loose and uneven stones?

ANSWER

Hi Nancy,
I am assuming you used travertine tile, not travertine pavers, although it would be the same for each type. I am not a mason although I know the general procedures for hardscape installations whether it be wet laid (set in concrete) or dry laid. It sounds as if the travertine was not installed properly, unless your existing concrete decking was not in good condition. If there were any cracks or settling in the concrete patio/decking, then this would not have been an appropriate base for the travertine.

Some other possibilities I can think of that are creating your problems:
1. The concrete used to adhere the travertine was not the right mixture. This might explain why the stone loosens and tightens up after a rain.
2. The concrete mixture was not the correct thickness...ie., too thin.
3. The travertine was not levelled correctly upon installation.

Here is a page showing a picture of correct patio installation methods. Hardscape Installations

These are just logical assumptions on my part. Unfortunately, since the travertine tiles or pavers are set in concrete, there is no easy fix, other than re-doing it all over again which would be a huge expense. I am sorry I can't provide an answer for you to rectify things.


Next question:
We did not use coping but laid the stone to the pool edge and someone came and bull nosed the edge which looks very nice. When the skimmer cover was installed a yellow mustard colored stain appeared around the skimmer cover and bled into the surrounding stone. The contractor first tried using muriatic acid to remove it but it did not disappear. Then we had the guy who bull nosed the edges come back and sand the area. At first it looked like the stain was gone but it came back after 24 hours. What is your opinion about the stain?

ANSWER

This is a mystery! Can you send me a photo of this area? A cover usually just sets on top of the skimmer and the top of the cover is flush with the paving. Typically no other material such as concrete is added since the cover just rest there for easy removal. Was by any chance another material (concrete, silicone, etc.) added further down?

One more thing (unfortunately):
The deck was sealed with a water based sealer. This was done by the guy who did the bull nose. He said the sealer wouldn't interfere with repairing the loose or uneven stones. He said he was using a water based sealer. He mixed a product called Shark with the sealer but the deck is much more slippery than we thought it would be when it's wet. Is there a way to help that? And would an oil based sealer have brought out the colors even more? It looks nice but I still think the color looks the best when the tiles are wet and that is what I thought it would look like when sealed.

ANSWER

Travertine should not be slippery. Some sealers have a high shine, some a low/medium shine, and some no shine at all, so it depends on the sealer that was used. When you seal it again, you might use a different one to produce more of a shine and bring out the color more, if this is the look you are going for. Here is a page I wrote on sealers. Enhancer Pro is solvent based and probably the one you want (or a similar one). As with any product, try it on a small area first.
Travertine Sealers


And here are lots of other Q&A on travertine sealers and installation.
Travertines Questions and Answers

Comments for Travertine Pool Deck Installation on Concrete and Sealing

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Nov 16, 2011
Solution
by: Anonymous

It sounds to me like you tried to save money by not removing the concrete and installing a new base. The stone could have been installed on new concrete or dry laid on a compacted aggregate base as shown on these pages.

Why was the concrete not removed if it had cracks????? I know the real answer is cost and now you are unhappy with an improper installation that initially saved you money.


Furthermore, you bullnosed travertine paver stones instead of buying 2" traverine bullnose pool coping. The bullnosed pool coping is more expensive, but it is suited for the application. Again, these cost saving measures are counter productive to a long term quality installation.

The real answer to your problems is to remove the travertine and install a proper concrete or compacted aggregate base. The old travertine can be re used and installed correctly.


Sep 12, 2011
Incorrect Paver Installation Method
by: Susan

Hi Nancy,

This was an incorrect paver installation method, whether it be for travertine pavers or concrete pavers.

First of all, a paving material should absolutely not be laid on top of existing concrete if there are cracks in it. This means that the base is not stable. Shifting, further cracking of the new material, and settling can occur. One of the most important aspects of any hardscape installation is to have the correct base.

You can visit these pages which shows helpful pictures of both dry laid and wet laid (set in concrete) installations.
Building a Patio
Paver Installations

Second, let's assume this was totally ignored. I can't imagine why a contractor would just lay the travertine pavers on the concrete without using mortar (for a wet laid installation) or sand/stone dust (for a dry laid installation). He just "rested" the travertine on the concrete? Not good.

Third, the sand in the joints will just trickle down over time since there is nothing directly beneath the travertine pavers, except for the existing concrete which has cracks in it.

I can see why you are having problems. If you want to rectify the situation (I know it will be an expense), I would strongly suggest removing the travertine pavers. This should not be difficult or too time consuming since they are not set in concrete, although it is probably a fairly large area if they are around a swimming pool. Then I would have someone come in and remove the concrete. You will never have a good project if the concrete is cracked.

I would then start over again with a dry laid application of the travertine pavers as shown in the links above.

I am sorry I can't give you a quick fix. As far as the discoloration, I don't know, but it sounds like something in the adhesive (whatever it was!) is not reacting well with travertine.

Sep 12, 2011
Follow up
by: Nancy

Thank you for your answer. Just to be clear our project was done with travertine pavers. They were laid directly on the existing concrete pool deck which did have cracks. No sand or other base was put down before the pavers were put on the dry concrete. After the travertine pavers were laid sand was brushed into the cracks and then the deck was hosed down. Nothing was done to level the deck. When we first complained about the uneven areas the contractor said he followed the pitch of the existing deck.

As far as slipperiness: are you saying the sealer can make the pavers slippery? You say travertine should not be slippery.

And , as for the stain around the skimmer, the top of the skimmer does come. And off but the skimmer base itself was glued or affixed with something and we can't get an answer as to what was used. The contractor had trouble with it I remember because he couldn't get it to sit flush, which makes sense because the deck isn't even!

Thanks

Nancy

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