Before installing travertine tiles or flooring, it is a good idea to prepare the subfloor to hold the extra weight of the stone. Travertine is a porous stone, so it might also be a good idea to protect the floor from any water damage by installing a polythene sheet. Protecting your subfloor against collapse will help to prolong the life of your flooring, and also protect water and electric pipes running below the floor from becoming damaged by subsidence. Strengthening your subfloor in preparation for a travertine tile installation can be done in a few days, following some simple step-by-step rules.
Step 1 - Preparing the Subfloor
You probably haven't spent much time on your subfloor, but when you are preparing to strengthen it, it is a good idea to sweep it clean before you make any improvements. Remove any dirt or debris from the surface of the subfloor, and give it a good scrub. This will help to ensure that any cement or board laid down will be able to stick to the floor. At the same time, you should examine the joists of your subfloor, and consider whether these will need to have additional supports installed to prevent collapse. A support every 10 inches should be applied if the joists are small.
Step 2 - A Layer of Cement
Mix together some cement, and spread it evenly over the entire floor. Make sure that the cement is completely smooth, and laid without air bubbles or pooling. Leave the cement to dry overnight, and then return to it the following day. Assuming that the cement is completely dry, you can proceed.
Step 3 - Backerboard or Plywood
Your next layer should be one of either plywood or backerboard. Backerboard is usually thinner and cheaper, but it will not provide as much strength to a floor as plywood. Whichever you decide to install, lay it evenly across the first layer of cement. Once it is completely down, mix some more cement. Before pouring over the plywood, add a layer of polythene. This will help to protect your subfloor, and any pipes beneath it, from water damage. Your polythene should cover the entire floor, with room for around six inches of material stretching up the walls. Take a little cement, and use it to caulk around the sides of the polythene, fixing it to the wall. Leave to completely dry before continuing.
Step 4 - A Layer of Cement
Make sure that the polythene is completely sealed into the walls and floor, and then pour a second layer of cement. Like the first, this should be completely even, and free of air bubbles, it should also not pool to one side. Before this layer has time to completely dry, place on top a layer of backerboard, and then a layer of plywood. Leave to dry.
Step 5 - Finishing Off
Once the floor is dry, you should inspect it thoroughly for strength and stability. Movement in the floor can cause problems with installing the travertine, as it will lead to inaccurate placements. Instability could indicate that the floor is not completely dry, and you may have to wait a week or so before it is ready for the stone tiling to be installed. Once the subfloor is ready, however, you should be able to place your heavy stones upon the subfloor without fear of it collapsing.