The Best Way to Grout Travertine

Unlike ceramic or other stone tiles, travertine tile is porous, so much so that you can often see holes in the surface.

These stones aren't damaged, but they are naturally soft and absorbent. The rustic look of travertine makes it a favorite option for homes with an outdoorsy décor, but grouting the tiles offers a problem, as the large pores can actually absorb the grout and become discolored or filled in. The best procedure is to seal the tile before grouting.

Clean all dirt and debris from the travertine surface. Any material that you leave on the travertine will be sealed in and can result in damage or staining. Mop the tile with clean water; you can use a little dish soap as necessary to remove stains. Dry the surface with a lint-free towel.

Cover the travertine surface with grout release stone sealer. Apply the sealer with a paintbrush, roller or sprayer in a thin, even coat across the entire surface. This sealer will prevent the grout from filling the holes and staining the travertine. Allow the sealer to sit on the stone for 15 minutes, so it has time to sink in.

Dry any areas of grout release still wet on the surface, using a towel. You applied too much sealant to those areas, and if you let the excess sit on the surface if can cause discoloration or damage later. Once you have removed excess sealant, allow the sealant to settle into the stone for at least four hours.

Mix grout and water per specific product instructions. Use only unsanded grout for travertine, as sanded grout can scratch the surface. Mix the grout until it takes on the consistency of creamy peanut butter.

Spread the grout into the gaps between tiles with a rubber grout float. Wipe away any excess grout that gets onto the tile surface with a damp sponge. It's OK to get some onto the tiles as long as you don't allow it to dry there. Fill in all joints with grout and allow the grout to dry overnight before exposing the surface to any moisture.

Seal the grout a week after you apply it. Clean the surface and then seal the entire travertine surface with stone sealer. Spread it in a thick, even layer over the surface so it penetrates the tiles and the grout. Allow the sealant to sit for 30 minutes and check the surface.

Spread any puddles of sealant over the surface evenly, or wipe up excess sealant with towels. Allow the first coat of sealant to dry for an hour.

Apply a second coat of sealant if necessary to achieve a fully uniform sealed surface. When the final coat has dried for 30 minutes, dampen a towel in the sealer and wipe up any residue on the surface. Allow the travertine to dry for 48 hours before using it.

Things You Will Need

  • Mop or rag
  • Dish soap
  • Lint-free towel
  • Grout release stone sealer
  • Paintbrush, roller or sprayer
  • Towels
  • Unsanded grout
  • Mixer
  • Grout float
  • Sponge
  • Stone sealant

Tip

  • Only seal and grout travertine when the surface temperature is between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, the sealer and grout will not dry correctly and can lead to staining or damage.

About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.