Should you strengthen your subfloor before travertine installation?

If you recently decided to embark on a travertine installation project, there’s a lot you need to do in preparation. Before you start thinking about the best layout for your travertine tiles, you’ll need to ensure that the flooring underneath the tiles – whether it’s in your bathroom, basement or kitchen – is sturdy enough to support the weight of this stone.

Because travertine tiles are made from mineral-infused limestone that’s been exposed to extreme heat and pressure in the earth, it’s a compact and heavy natural stone. After all, if it had stayed in the ground a bit longer, it would’ve turned into marble! Therefore, you’ll need a subfloor that’s built up to withstand the weight of these tiles.

Cement and wood layers

Your best bet is a subfloor that’s made of both cement and wood layers. If you don’t already have a cement floor, setting yourself up with one isn’t very difficult, but it does take some work. Your first step will be laying down one layer of cement and smoothing it out over the surface of the clean subfloor so that it’s completely flat.

Once that’s dried, you’ll need to cover the floor with a layer of plywood for added strength. On top of this, you may want to add a layer of polythene plastic, which will protect the floor and any pipes underneath from water damage over the years.

When that’s set up, lay down one more layer of cement. Before it’s dry, add another layer of plywood on top. You’ll have to wait a while for the floor to dry, but once it’s done it’ll be very solid!

A level surface

Since travertine tile needs a completely flat surface to sit on, you may need to take an extra step to sand down the top layer of plywood if it’s not totally level. Look for high spots in the floor and take care of them with a power sander. When you’re satisfied with the levelness, sweep up any wood shavings.

Underlayment membrane

Your final step is applying an underlayment membrane on top of the subfloor. This may be a liquid membrane or a felt-paper membrane. If you’re using liquid, you’ll need to spread it over the floor until it reaches the desired thickness. Felt-paper membrane will need to be placed on top of a layer of floor glue.

Once your subfloor is strengthened, smoothed and prepped, you’ll be ready to get started on your travertine tile installation!

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