Travertine - dry set or on concrete in California

by Jeff
(Alhambra, CA)

We are redoing our 50-year + pool and have decided on travertine for around the pool and the patio. We are located in Los Angeles, CA and are trying to decide between 3/8" travertine tile over concrete, or 1" thick travertine dry set. There is no freeze/thaw issue here so it seems either method may work. Your opinion would be very appreciated.

Also, do you have an opinion of bringing the grass line up to the coping rather than using an additional two feet of deck around three quarters of the pool? My concern is damage to the coping from gardeners edging the grass. Also wonder if there are issues with soil right next to the coping.

Sorry if I snuck more questions in there.

Great site!

Thank you,


Hi Jeff,

In your situation due to your location, as you said, you can use either type of travertine. Some things to consider are the following.

  • If you use the tile, it will have to be mortared with a concrete base, and you will need/see the joints. They do not have to be that wide, but even so they are there. This is not a bad thing, just different than dry laid travertine.

  • With the travertine pavers, it is a dry laid application, and many types have very smooth edges. This allows for very tight, or almost no, joints. So these are different types of looks.

  • The dry laid travertine will also be much less expensive. Dry laid travertine should run
    around $20 per square foot. Wet laid can run $50 per square foot...these are approximations, but you can see there is a large difference, especially if it is a large area.

  • Even though you don't have freeze-thaw conditions, dry laid paving is very forgiving. If you ever have to replace a piece of stone, it lifts right out. Mortared stone is more complicated.

I would lean towards the 1" travertine,dry laid, as you might have guessed!

Lawn Up To Coping

This can be a very nice look and save you money also. I have seen this done on estates and it is very elegant. However, here are the main drawbacks.

  • You must still make sure that the lawn slopes away from the pool at 1/4" per foot so that drainage problems are not created. This of course is the same for any hardscape along the pool. Because of the way grading is done, this might entail more grading to make things look right than if you had paving along the coping.

  • Grass clippings are more likely to get into the pool while mowing.

  • Mowing or edging issues - care must be taken not to hit the coping, as you already mentioned.

  • Fertilizer can easily get into the pool.

You might consider a happy medium. Place only a 12 to 18" border of travertine adjacent to the pool coping. That way you will have a similar look, but your maintenance will be easier.

Good luck...and it's ok that you snuck in other questions!


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