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Old 02-11-2005, 08:13 AM   #1
mrsmiley
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Laying a Travertine Versailles Pattern

Hi everyone,
Yesterday, my wife and I fell in love with the noche travertine tile on the versailles pattern. This will be my first tiling project. Here are a few concerns I could use some help on.

1. I have a pictire of the Versailles pattern, but could use some help in laying it out as there are no continuous straight lines to start the pattern.

2. The largest tile is 16x24. These are very heavy tiles. What is the best trowel size? Do I butter the floor or the tile?

3. How do I keep the grout out of the tumbled edges and the cool looking holes in the tile?

4. Any other hints and tricks from someone who has done this before would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 02-11-2005, 10:28 AM   #2
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Morning Smiley.

Right, the Versailles pattern can be a bear to work with. Actually I've seen a few variations of this patten, not only tile sizes but layout. Here is one in this Thread For Versailles Click me . Is this the one you are working with?

For more information and discussion reading on using the Versailles pattern, do a Search here on the Forum, using Versailles as the argument. You might find some good tips on working with this pattern.

You might as well fill those holes up with grout because if you don't they will just get filled up with something else that you most likey don't want in there. I hope your floor is very flat. Different techniques in laying those large tiles. Yes I would back butter the tiles and the trowel size will be whatever it takes to achieve full coverage.

If this is a wood floor and not a slab, we should talk more about your joists and sub-floor to see if it's up to specs in order to support natural stone tile.

Slab or wood Smiley?
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Old 02-11-2005, 12:51 PM   #3
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Hi Mike,
Thanks for the info. That looks like the pattern we will be using. It is going onto a slab of a new build. The travertine is a tumbled/polished with tumbled looking edges. The grout joints will be 3/16. The floor was ground before construction started, but not filled. How flat does it need to be?
Thanks
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Old 02-11-2005, 01:49 PM   #4
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Question for you? It it Mr Smiley or Mrs Miley? Ah the heck with it, how about a first name?

Flat is like within a 1/4" variance over 10'. Takes a long straight edge to check that out. The flatness of the floor and tile goes a long way toward determining the trowel size which was another question of yours. I'd probably start on the skimpy side with a 1/4 X 3/8", (backbuttering the tiles too), lay a few down, pick em up checking for coverage. If not complete, then a 1/2 X 1/2" trowel might be needed.
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Old 02-12-2005, 07:51 AM   #5
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The name is Steve


Why would I use the smaller versus the bigger notch size on the trowel?

Steve
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Old 02-12-2005, 08:53 AM   #6
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Steve, The larger trowel will enable you to lay the tiles flat easier. BTW you should lay out some of the tiles dry first. The size of the tiles will dictate the size of the grout joint. Usually with natural stone the tiles are butted up to each other with minimal grout joints. I have this in my house. I left the holes empty also. Looks great. When you grout, it is easier to use a grout pastry bag. Good luck, Jerry.
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Old 02-12-2005, 09:50 PM   #7
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I started laying today. I used the 1/2" trowel. This is a tumbled travertine in a Versailles pattern that requires 3/16" grout joints. The nice thing about this stone is that with the tumbled edges, it does not need to be perfectly flat to look good. This is very good as this is my first project. It took me 5 hours to lay 80sq feet, and it looks awsome! Only 440sq ft to go. I was buttering each piece and then laying it on the dry floor. I am getting faster with the buttering of the smaller pieces, but the 16x24 pieces are quite akward. I got reasonably good coverage, but I did have to lift up and re-lay a couple of pieces because they were a little thin on the thinset. Any hints that would help speed things up would be appreciated.

Thanks
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Old 02-12-2005, 10:00 PM   #8
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Tell us more about that part of laying it on a dry floor (slab) Steve.
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Old 02-12-2005, 10:31 PM   #9
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I am laying the tiles on a slab. I butter the tile but not the slab. (Based on advice I was given.) Then I push the tile onto the slab. I pulled up two of the 16x20's and the slab coverage looked ok to me. However, later I had two tiles that looked too low, so I pulled them up, and the coverage was not that good. I added more thinset and put them back down. They where then at the right height. I have been using a 6' long board to level the tiles with respect to each other, but I have not been pushing on each tile as I lay it. I was told that the weight of the heavy tiles will push for me, and I am concerned about pushing the small tiles below the level of the large ones.

Any advice would be appreciated!
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Old 02-13-2005, 02:38 AM   #10
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Mike: I would burn some thinset onto the "dry floor" with the flat side of your 1/4 by 3/8ths trowel, then comb the thinset with the notched side of the trowel. You might want to lessen the amount of thinset that you are back buttering. You must be putting alot on the back to get good coverage with putting any on the floor. Try this. Thinset really needs to be burned onto the concrete floor along with backbuttering each tile.
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Old 02-13-2005, 05:16 AM   #11
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Steve, backbuttering means spreading thinset on the floor with the notched trowel, (always done), and skimming the backside of the stone with thinset with the flat side of the trowel. Thinset is generally a mechanical bond. Thinset is forced into the surface of the floor and forced into the back of the stone and then you have two freshly thinsetted surfaces bonding into each other. The method you're using is not forcing thinset into the floor, which needs to be done.
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Originally Posted by mrsmiley
I have not been pushing on each tile as I lay it. I was told that the weight of the heavy tiles will push for me, and I am concerned about pushing the small tiles below the level of the large ones.
The weight of the tiles is not enough. If you push the small tiles down and they are too low then pull it up and add some thinset.
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Old 02-13-2005, 08:03 AM   #12
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Thanks guys for the help. If I understand what Dave, Jerry and Mike are all saying, I need to use a 1/4 x 3/8 notched trowel on the floor. Then, when I back butter the tile, what I am doing, is just smearing a thin layer on the tile to wet it, not using the notches on the tile. Then as Mike said, if that is too thin, then I need to use the 1/2 x 1/2 on the floor, and still just add a thin layer to the tile? Does this sound right?

Thanks,
Steve
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Old 02-13-2005, 11:19 AM   #13
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Steve, whatever you do follow Dave's and Jerry's advice and "burn" a thin layer of thinset mortar on the slab. Laying them down on a dry slab is not a good idea for the reasons already mentioned.

Now for the second step (which admittedly get's into personal preferences and techniques): Is there a particular reason why you are not combing the thinset onto the floor? Instead you are combing it onto the tile backs, correct?

As far as the trowel size is concerned, some might be tempted (as I would) to begin with a 3/8". Others (and you got one reply as such) would start right off with a 1/2". Coverage and being able to lay these large tiles flat is what really counts. However you can get there...
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