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Travertine Floor Problem

 
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Old 09-30-2011, 11:43 PM   #1
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Travertine Floor Problem


Ok guys need some help. I'll give you my problem and then my qiestions
Installed a travertine shower about three years ago for a homeowner. They moved about two years ago and therefore there is a different homeowner now. They called for me to look at the shower floor, and said the tile is crumbling. I took a look at it and it looks like the filler in some of the tiles is coming apart. When I say filler I'm talking about the material that they use to fill the voids in the travertine before they hone it down. It is the two inch square travertine that comes on a mesh sheet. The finish is honed. When I got down for a closer look, I could scrape the material off the tile with my fingernail. I've never seen travertine do this. Was wondering if anyone else has seen this, and so what would cause it.
The customer would like me to fix it at their cost. So my next question is the following:
Has anyone removed and replaced travertine tile on a mortar bed base shower before. Is it even possible to get the tile off the mortar bed, or the top half of the mortar bed off of the liner and replace that, or do I have to tear out the entire mortar bed to fix this. Obviously, it would be quite expensive for them to have me remove the entire mortar bed from this shower. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
JHC
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Old 10-01-2011, 08:09 AM   #2
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Re: Travertine Floor Problem


Any chance the material that is removable with your fingernail is in fact the adhesive off of the mat?

Many Travertine tiles we see have almost an epoxy like material on the back of them and make finding thin set options hard.

If the fill is coming out from the face I would think this shower is ready for a new floor. Should be not that hard to pop them off I would think.

JW

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Old 10-01-2011, 08:31 AM   #3
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Re: Travertine Floor Problem


I watched a program about this a while back...when they make/cut travertine in the quarry, the stone has small holes in it which is created from water pockets that have formed in it over thousands of years. This holes stay there after the tile is cut/tumbled... so they fill the holes with this mixture made from the residue that comes from the cut tiles and they mix it with cement to create a filler that sticks to the stone and it makes a perfect color match. By what you describing, it happens to some of tile eventually over time and you have to replace them.
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Old 10-01-2011, 08:53 AM   #4
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Re: Travertine Floor Problem


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Originally Posted by greg24k View Post
I watched a program about this a while back...when they make/cut travertine in the quarry, the stone has small holes in it which is created from water pockets that have formed in it over thousands of years. This holes stay there after the tile is cut/tumbled... so they fill the holes with this mixture made from the residue that comes from the cut tiles and they mix it with cement to create a filler that sticks to the stone and it makes a perfect color match. By what you describing, it happens to some of tile eventually over time and you have to replace them.

Greg I would imagine that some companies do this but at least for me it is more common to see an epoxy like fill. You can smell the epoxy when cutting the tile.
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Old 10-01-2011, 10:49 AM   #5
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Re: Travertine Floor Problem


From what I'm hearing from you guys, the material that is coming off is definitely the epoxy filler. It is on the face of the tile. Not on the backside of the tile. One question I raised is about cleaning the tile with harsh cleaning products. I'm wondering if the present homeowner or the previous homeowner ever cleaned the tile with some harsh cleaning product that affected the epoxy filler. Since most people have no clue how to properly maintain a natural stone shower, could they have used something harsh to clean things up. We always educate the homeowner on maintenance when we are through, but this house was sold two years ago. Maybe the current homeowner did something to the tile.

Now it is back to the second question. Would you guys remove the whole mortar bed to replace the tile or would you try to take the tile off the mortar bed. Obviously, removing the whole mortar bed involves taking out the bottom row of tile on the walls since the liner goes up the walls about six inches. In addition we poured a solid mortar cueb that has the liner going up the middle of the curb. On the other hand I don't want to recommend just removing the tile from the mortar bed if it justs sets me up for a problem later by damaging the integrity of the mortar bed.
JHC
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Old 10-01-2011, 11:00 AM   #6
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Re: Travertine Floor Problem


Maybe the HO was extensively using a citrus based cleaner, which to my understanding will break down epoxy over time...
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Old 10-01-2011, 11:38 AM   #7
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Re: Travertine Floor Problem


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Originally Posted by JohnFRWhipple View Post
Greg I would imagine that some companies do this but at least for me it is more common to see an epoxy like fill. You can smell the epoxy when cutting the tile.
Yes John, some companies use different methods to fill voids and holes, especially when a company have the equipment to do the finishing at theirs plant, they will buys raw cut tiles to save money and in most cases they would use the epoxy to fill voids during quality control before going in into the final stages of production, because it saves time and the curring process is much faster, not to mention less space and less equipment is needed to produce quantity...
With that said, I would never recommend using Travertine in the shower, because its to much maintenance in the long run to up-keep.
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Old 10-02-2011, 06:52 AM   #8
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Re: Travertine Floor Problem


Quote:
Originally Posted by jhcontracting View Post
From what I'm hearing from you guys, the material that is coming off is definitely the epoxy filler. It is on the face of the tile. Not on the backside of the tile. One question I raised is about cleaning the tile with harsh cleaning products. I'm wondering if the present homeowner or the previous homeowner ever cleaned the tile with some harsh cleaning product that affected the epoxy filler. Since most people have no clue how to properly maintain a natural stone shower, could they have used something harsh to clean things up. We always educate the homeowner on maintenance when we are through, but this house was sold two years ago. Maybe the current homeowner did something to the tile.

Now it is back to the second question. Would you guys remove the whole mortar bed to replace the tile or would you try to take the tile off the mortar bed. Obviously, removing the whole mortar bed involves taking out the bottom row of tile on the walls since the liner goes up the walls about six inches. In addition we poured a solid mortar cueb that has the liner going up the middle of the curb. On the other hand I don't want to recom
mend just removing the tile from the mortar bed if it justs sets me up for a problem later by damaging the integrity of the mortar bed.
JHC
The travertine used could be of inferior quality too. Like it was mentioned, any harsh cleaners or acids can damage fillers, grouting and stone even when it has been sealed. There is a lot of crappy travertine out there and only a premium grade should be used in a shower. The travertine showers I have done were with unfilled stone. If you redo the shower in travertine consider using this. Unfilled travertine is usually considered premium because of the limited holes in the stone. It is not sold with holes going completely through it like H/F is. Then when you grout, it can be filled with a quality product then sealed.

I don't really see how you can remove the tile without doing some damage to the mortar bed unless the bond is weak. If it was me, I would explain that you may need to do a new mortar bed and what that entails if simply removing the tile fails. If travertine is used again, then maybe make up a product care sheet so they or the house cleaner don't use damaging cleaners in the future.
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Old 10-02-2011, 08:38 AM   #9
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Re: Travertine Floor Problem


Thanks for the help guys. I will give her two quotes. One to r&r the tile The other will be for replacing the mortar bed if I can't get the tile off without damaging the mortar bed. I agree, after three years that tile may be very difficult to remove without damage to the mortar bed
Jhc

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