Is Travertine supposed to look like this?
bostonstyle
February 3, 2014 in Design Dilemma
I am having a house built 100 miles from my current location. I check on progress once a week. Yesterday, I turned on the under cabinet lights and this is what I saw. Very crooked travertine backsplash! Is travertine supposed to look like this? Shouldn't it be a flat and even as traditional subway tile? I want to be prepared if the builder says: "It's supposed to look like that." Many thanks!
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ndavison
It looks as tho they haven't done grout yet? One they fill in with grout it should even it out, but to me a little bit of imperfection is good with a natural stone.
February 3, 2014 at 5:20am     
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PRO
Krogstad Construction Inc.
NO
February 3, 2014 at 5:23am     
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efedyk
I believe this method is called "stacking". By laying the tiles directly against on another and skipping the grout. Just another look.
February 3, 2014 at 5:25am     
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Patricia Colwell
I don't think the grout will fix that, even if the tiles are not the same thickness a good til layer can adjust so they are all level and by the way why is the plug on the wall if the grout has not been done (just asking)
February 3, 2014 at 5:27am     
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February 3, 2014 at 5:28am     
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inna1975
That is just such a poor job
February 3, 2014 at 5:30am     
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bostonstyle
If it is a new way of stacking tile, I should have been advised. And they were grouted. Will update you all....
February 3, 2014 at 5:30am     
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okdokegal
I'd say the tile has been put on too raggedly, it should be a lot more even, not sticking out like that. A no and make them redo.
February 3, 2014 at 5:31am     
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jn3344
I would never agree to that kind of installation.
February 3, 2014 at 5:34am     
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bostonstyle
Thanks, everyone! Will it be difficult to remove this tile? It was installed last week. Worried about granite and surrounding cabinets. What's involved in the removal process?
February 3, 2014 at 5:45am   
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Giuseppina Kilgallon
A bad tiler installed those tiles get him to remove them and get another installer don't accept that job. I have just had mine done and it should be completely flush.
February 3, 2014 at 5:45am     
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Rachel H
I used this same travertine (it's possibly a different color, but the same type of cut) in a bath in my previous home and it did not look like that. Sorry!!!
February 3, 2014 at 6:09am     
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saratogaswizzlestick
The tiles should be flush with one another, not raised and uneven. Very poor job. I would not the the same guy re-install or you will just have more ruined tile.
February 3, 2014 at 6:43am     
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ajrmcr
All I can say is this looks hard to clean. I would have it pulled and redone with grout and made level.
February 3, 2014 at 7:13am     
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sunnydrew
wow... I would be very upset to find that. the tiles should all be smooth and flush as you run you hand across them.
February 3, 2014 at 7:17am     
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PRO
ProSource Memphis
Remember that a good tile job begins with a FLAT wall behind it. It looks as though that might have been an issue, and the tiler didn't put the brakes on and insist that that be addressed before beginning the job. And then didn't know what to do once he started down that road. This is an issue to bring up with your builder, and let him solve the problem. It's what he's being paid to do. :-)
February 3, 2014 at 7:36am     
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Marilyn Wilkie
Since this is a new build, it doesn't look like an uneven wall situation to me. It actually looks like the tiles are different thicknesses almost like slate tiles. I don't think this type of installation would use grout in between the tiles either. Did you see the tiles before installation and did they leave and tiles after? I'm not familiar with travertine installations and whether some would use various thicknesses. I Googled "stacked travertine" and some stacked installations do indeed have tiles on a different plane than others.
February 3, 2014 at 7:47am        Thanked by bostonstyle
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PRO
Design Distinctions
Your tile should absolutely NOT look like that. The face of the tile should be flush. These tiles are tipped. Even if he thought he was being creative and was trying to step some of the tiles out, which he should have OK'd with you first, they shouldn't be tipped. That just looks amateur an messy.
February 3, 2014 at 7:54am        Thanked by bostonstyle
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nrb263
Travertine is a natural stone and has natural variations in the thickness. This has to be taken into account when installing. We recently installed Travertine in the laundry room as well as a guest bathroom. We paid someone to install the floor tile in the laundry room and had the same uneven effect. We then decided to install the bathroom tile ourselves and it turned out much more even but it is a time consuming process and almost impossible to get perfect (even we had some unevenness). Whoever did this installation obviously did a poor job. I would have it redone.
February 3, 2014 at 8:01am        Thanked by bostonstyle
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John Whipple - By Any Design ltd.
The tile lippage shown is most likely the fault of not having finished lighting in place prior to installing the tile.

Or it can be because the installer used a glue or mastic setting material to place the tile in position and pressed them tight to the wall.

Specifying your standards and what is an acceptable tile lippage is key to getting what you desire in the end.

The lack of knowledge in this industry is alarming. Tile setting is a skilled trade - not something anyone can do well. Make sure you understand what you want and then specify it.

Always include things like


"All work to include the latest specification details of the TCNA or TTMAC." Then let your tile installer look up what these are.

Proper thin-set choices.

Acceptable lippage

Truness of walls

All of the above and hundreds of other details mentioned in these guidelines.

With out a proper specicification you can get what you got.
February 3, 2014 at 8:09am        Thanked by bostonstyle
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bostonstyle
Learning a lot about tile today....thank you....you think you can trust your nationally known builder!
February 3, 2014 at 8:13am   
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John Whipple - By Any Design ltd.
Trust your builder? Seriously.... You need to outline all the spec sheets. What is happening now is that the **** **** answers tradesmen give people can now be goggled.

Spec details looked up.

The world is full of a more educated client and the hacks need to raise their game.

Did you see my discussion on "Spot Setting Tile"
http://www.houzz.com/discussions/832015/Tile-Failures--Understanding-why--Spot-Setting-
February 3, 2014 at 8:29am        Thanked by bostonstyle
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Rachel H
John Whipple, are you blaming the homeowner for not specifying how he/she wanted this tile to be set?
February 3, 2014 at 8:36am      Thanked by bostonstyle
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Marilyn Wilkie
The only way to make tiles of different thicknesses be in the same plane is to build up the mastic (or other adhesive) on the back of the thinner tiles. This, of course is a more time consuming process. Others may chose to not have them all on the same plane which would simplify the install. Your tiles look more uneven because they are so large. Larger than most tiles on a backsplash. That is why I asked you if they were varying thicknesses before they were installed and whether they left any for you to see. When you specified the tile installation did you discuss what the backsplash would look like? I'm thinking some assumptions were made. Easy to do. I think this is a communication problem, not a craftsmanship problem.
By the way, the University of Michigan had a beautiful modern psychiatric clinic built a few years ago. They had slate floors put in. Unfortunately the slate was very uneven and people were constantly tripping over the edges. A very expensive mistake. They had actually done it before and ended up having that floor ground down for a more even surface. Even huge entities can have these communication problems.
February 3, 2014 at 8:44am        Thanked by bostonstyle
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saratogaswizzlestick
Any tile guy worth his salt would let you know prior to installing if there are issues with your tile; I would consider it a craftsmanship problem. Since the homeowner has contracted a builder to build her house I would expect the builder to tell the tile what to do since he would be a subcontractor to the builder. This however is basic tiling 101. I also see other issues with the layout of this tile and the way joints are lining up.
February 3, 2014 at 9:10am        Thanked by bostonstyle
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mhteb
Looks like a DIY job by a first timer. If you live in an area with a lot of building going on there may be a shortage of skilled professional labor. Stand strong, its your money and your home. This is your contractor's responsibility not yours. It is why you hire a general contractor.
February 3, 2014 at 9:36am        Thanked by bostonstyle
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Marilyn Wilkie
On reading more about travertine tile setting, some installers recommend different methods and types of thin set to set the tiles. Lippage seems to be a common problem with natural stone installations and some even end up grinding them down. Another commenter mentioned that grout lines were lining up which should not happen. They are right about that. You see it in the far right of the photograph. Please let us know what your contractor says about this.
February 3, 2014 at 11:29am      Thanked by bostonstyle
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travisinteriors
No I dos not look like this. Installer was lazy.
February 3, 2014 at 2:40pm   
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Trish
I like it
February 3, 2014 at 3:49pm   
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PRO
Glass Tile Store
No..the contractor needs to answer for this..
February 3, 2014 at 7:09pm     
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juudean
I like the look, and it does look intentional. Harder to keep clean I suspect...
February 3, 2014 at 7:21pm   
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PRO
Toro-Lombardo Design Build
The tile has not been installed properly. Sorry about it.
February 3, 2014 at 7:28pm     
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bostonstyle
Update! Thanks everyone for the quick education in tile laying. I forwarded my photos to the Project Manager and expressed my disappointment in the tiles/installation. The backsplash will be corrected!

Lesson: Always speak up for what you want and what you paid for! Even bigger lesson: Make sure you see what you selected installed in another home BEFORE you select it for your own home. Photos to follow!
February 4, 2014 at 5:29am     
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indianpatti
awesome!
February 4, 2014 at 5:32am        Thanked by bostonstyle
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sunnydrew
yes, the tiles on the right side of picture all have the same vertical grout line, at least 5-6 rows worth. I know that is not correct.
February 4, 2014 at 5:36am        Thanked by bostonstyle
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PRO
John Whipple - By Any Design ltd.
Rachel - I am. In todays world the client needs to be better educated and yes they should know what they want and specify it.

So many times this happens and the home owner is "Shocked" that the job is not perfect when they have not asked for perfection.

If you want it perfect - say so. Specify the lip page. Specify the lay out. Do your homework.
February 4, 2014 at 8:24am      Thanked by bostonstyle
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John Whipple - By Any Design ltd.
Remember the lighting needs to be in place.... "While Tiling" Not AFTER
February 4, 2014 at 8:25am   
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saratogaswizzlestick
John Whipple, I acted as the GC when my husband and I built our house and did provide spec sheets, lay out ect. She is 100 miles away and had hired a builder to oversee things. The builder is responsible for seeing that his subcontractors do their job. Bostonstyle did notice an issue and consulted with others to have her facts lined up before approaching the builder. It sounds like her builder stepped up to the plate and, quite rightly, is correcting the issue. You cannot reasonably expect everyone who hires a builder to be an expert in all the disciplines, that is why they hire a builder. If you want perfect say so? Who doesn't want perfect? By the way she does have lighting in place but the tile guys I hired did not count on lighting provided by me, they brought their own.
February 4, 2014 at 11:01am        Thanked by bostonstyle
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PRO
Decorating Den Interiors-Dana Johnson
No, it should not look like that at all. Also, if it is a "stacking" stone design, it will not be grouted. Grouting this would not smooth it out anyway. I would have them bust it out. They can do it and protect your countertops accordingly and if they say they can't, you need a new contractor. Terrible craftsmanship here.
February 4, 2014 at 11:08am        Thanked by bostonstyle
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Lynnie
Stacking stone design is interesting however, I am wondering if they discussed it with you before doing the work. Often times people will assume that you understand what they are thinking and that is unfortunate. If this is done wrong, then you need to tell them flat out, it needs to be re-done.
February 4, 2014 at 12:24pm      Thanked by bostonstyle
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Marilyn Wilkie
She's got a resolve folks. Check a few comment up before posting. I'm happy things are turning out for them, though this will hold things up a bit.
February 4, 2014 at 12:58pm        Thanked by bostonstyle
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bostonstyle
Update: the builder tore out the backsplash to appease me but refused to install new tiles. I had my painter paint the backsplash area for now. I think I am going with San Miguel Osso tiles ( elongated bone colored subway tiles). What do you think of off white tiles with antique white cabinets and St. Cecilia Light granite? I am so done with busyness! Trying to keep it simple.
February 16, 2014 at 3:48pm     
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bitterswt02
To your original question - NO- that is a BAD install - his grout base was probably uneven and he prob failed to use a level. The builder should not refuse to install new tiles if you paid for it. He should redo the work correctly.
February 16, 2014 at 3:55pm   
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bitterswt02
Th white tile looks nice.
February 16, 2014 at 3:56pm   
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saratogaswizzlestick
I attached a photo of your proposed backsplash so you can get better feedback. I like it very much. I think it is for the best if you get someone else to install the tile as it is obvious that person just does not know how. It would have been poor work for a DIY person, inexcusable for a professional. To every cloud is a silver lining. I like this backsplash much better, simple is classic and won't date.
February 16, 2014 at 3:57pm        Thanked by bostonstyle
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PRO
HomeScapes San Diego
I like the tile saratogaswizzlestick just posted but for cleaning if you can find a little larger tile you won't have the grout lines to worry about maintaining - they can stain easily in a kitchen especially near the cooking area - you might try a larger subway tile in white - just stick with a porcelain or glass tile so that you don't face the uneven issues from natural tiles. With that said, I've used natural stone tiles in several home remodels and never seen anything remotely as uneven as what you originally posted - every job we've done with natural stone turned out great. Good luck and post what you decide on!
February 16, 2014 at 4:19pm        Thanked by bostonstyle
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Lynnie
It looks nice. I would go with subway tiles. A few pictures below:

Laurelhurst Traditional
I especially like the seafoam green
Seafoam Green 3x6 Subway Tile
Love the Patina look as well:
Patina Green 4x8 Subway Tile
You might want to go with the jeweled or shell look, very pretty:
Beveled 1/2" x 1/2" White Kitchen Glossy Shell
February 16, 2014 at 9:48pm        Thanked by bostonstyle
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eoosullivan
No! Fire installer and find another.
February 16, 2014 at 10:07pm        Thanked by bostonstyle
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Michael Moynihan
I've seen many travertine tile walls look like this. It's natural stone, so sometimes they will very in thickness. If your going for a cleaner smooth finish, then specify that to your contractor. Travertine can be a beautiful tile, but I prefer it on the floor.
February 16, 2014 at 10:18pm        Thanked by bostonstyle
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bostonstyle
Ecosullivan-Installer is long gone! :)
February 17, 2014 at 1:38am   
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bostonstyle
Follow-up: The new backsplash was installed yesterday and grouted today. What a difference! We got the color we selected and a tile person who knew his craft. Thanks for all the advice on travertine, tile installation, etc. BTW, this is San Miguel 3x9 tile. Color: osso.
March 6, 2014 at 1:32pm     
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PRO
HomeScapes San Diego
Looks great! so much better
March 6, 2014 at 2:04pm   
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Marilyn Wilkie
Hooray! It looks amazing. Glad it's fixed.
March 6, 2014 at 2:46pm   
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