Restoring Travertine Fireplace Surround

Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9bApril 16, 2013

Our remodel project has a double sided fireplace and has beige/white travertine on the surround. Each tile is unique and has many pits and rough areas into which smoke from the fireplace has settled.

We have tried everything to clean it, but it looks really bad. A chimney sweep told us that there were at least 2 fires in that chimney previously, and he fixed all that so now we don't worry about that part.

He suggested that we get some beige grout, and grout each tile, filling in all the pits, and wiping it off. We will try that, but if that doesn't work, can we paint it?

If so, any suggestions on paint?



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Travertine is relatively inexpensive. Replace it. It's a simple matter and you can DIY it relatively easy if you have a mind to.

Or, I'd personally replace it with something that wasn't so porous and easily damaged by smoke. Almost every insert that I've ever seen leaked a bit of smoke upward to damage the brick or tile. And that's why I'd prefer something less porous like a bulletproof granite or porcelain or even glass.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 4:35PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I guess I should have mentioned that replacing this is LAST on our list. The costs for this remodel exceed $100,000, so we'd rather get all the important things done, make this surround liveable, and then replace it in a year or two.

Our current home has granite, and is beautiful. The upstairs fireplace in the remodel is stone, and we'd love that downstairs, but we priced it, and it doesn't fit our budget at this time.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 5:06PM
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Sophie Wheeler

You can use granite tile and probably do the whole thing for under $150. It's not hard.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 9:46PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

But isn't grout and paint much cheaper?


    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 10:40PM
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Grout is a great solution. That's what I would do. Pick a color that is already in the travertine, and grout away. It's easy to clean off the surface of travertine, just be sure not to get a grout with additives, since they are harder to clean off of surfaces.

I wouldn't paint it. The grout should do the trick. It will cost about six bucks and you should have grout left over. You'll want to buy a rubber grout float thingie too- and that might cost up to fifteen bucks.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 1:56AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

hosenemesis! Thanks so much!

$21.00 is so much cheaper than hiring the labor to do two fireplaces plus materials! We do NOT DIY (except I think I can manage grout)!

The entire house and many view decks will be stunning when finished. It's got good bones! But the remodel is already costing well over what we figured, and if we can make these fireplace surrounds look good with a little grout, then that will be first on the list.

Thanks for the suggestion of no additives, and the grout float thingie.

There are shades of beige and white in the travertine, so we'll look for a good color of grout and get that party started!


    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 9:46AM
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If that travertine has ever been sealed (very likely) you will need to deep strip it for the grout to stick in the holes. It won't stick to the rest of it at all. You'll need a lot of acetone to remove whatever stripper is on it, and VERY good ventilation.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 1:09PM
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I doubt they sealed unfilled travertine used as a fireplace surround...

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 10:03PM
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