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Grouting natural stone

Doing a small border as a backsplash in a bathroom. The tile is 1"x1" pieces of travertine amd marble on mesh, I'm going to cut it into 4" strips and then use a travertine chair rail to finish the top. Do I seal all the tile before I put it up or after it is glued up and before grouting? I have read the natural tiles must be sealed before grouting so the grout doesn't bleed into the tile or stain it. Also, how do I keep the grout from filling the holes in the travertine pieces? Or is there a way to get the grout out afterwards?

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Posted 2012-02-26T23:52:52+0000  by bb512 bb512

Good morning bb512,


Thanks for your question, and welcome to the community!


It sounds like you've done your homework when it comes to preparing your natural stone tiles for installation.


You are absolutely right regarding sealing your tile before grouting, as omitting this step (like you said yourself) can and will bleed into the tile. Of all natural stones, travertine is a very nice choice, but it takes careful prep work to ensure it will install correctly and look like a professional put it in.


Anytime you are installing any natural stone tile, it is imperative you seal the tiles tops and sides before you even install them.


In fact, all tiles that are quarried (natural stone) require you to seal before installation. I know it may seem like an extra step, but you'll thank yourself when you aren't doing back-breaking cleaning and removal of mortar/grout on them afterwards.


If mortar or grout gets into natural stone tiles, it is next-to-impossible to get them out, leading to more time and money invested in your backsplash.


Therefore, sealing tiles before guarantees no tile adhesive, grout, or dirt will seep into the those areas of the tile. The 2nd time you seal your tile, is after the grout is dried, just like any tile install job. And just like other tile installs, make sure to clean the mortar/adhesive as quickly and effectively as possible as soon as the tiles are set.


You asked about preventing grout from filling the holes in the travertine, and really, it is up to you if you desire them to be filled in or not. For floors, most professionals fill them in with a high-quality grout. Women in high-heeled shoes don't fare very well with holes in a tile floor :smileysurprised:


Since this is for a backsplash, you can make a decision to leave them as is or have them filled in, the choice is entirely yours.

Travertine Tile


While I will say it would look good to fill the holes if you choose a nice grout color (if it is analogous), keeping the holes intact will show off the natural look of the tile.


To keep the holes in the travertine, the simplest way to do this is to very carefully install the grout joints with a small grout float and work in a small section at a time, making sure the holes aren't being filled. While I'm aware you may have some holes being filled near the edge of the tile, you can make a choice of how much to leave in or out. If any grout has accidentally filled in a hole in your tile, simply use a small brush and warm water as soon as the grout was applied.


Have good lighting in the area you are working, to ensure no grout has dried up and you discover it later. While I've heard of people using caulks and petroleum jelly to cover the hole temporarily, this may stain the tile. Therefore, just play it safe and grout in small sections to ensure you have a nice clean surface you want.


If any grout haze or residue is still on the tile, and you didn't catch it in time, using a grout haze remover works great for sealed travertine tiles. I hope this isn't a product you'll be using, since travertine has more nooks-and-crannys than typical tile, you'll be giving added attention when removing the grout as soon as it dries.


Shown below, use this only if any remaining excess grout is on the tiles.

Grout Haze Remover


It sounds like you going to have a very nice backsplash for your bathroom. If you have any further questions or would like to show off your updated wall, show us or tell us here on the community! We're here for you for all your home improvement questions.




Posted 2012-02-27T15:45:50+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL

thanks aboveaveragejoe

thanks for the information which you shared with us. i think it is a good idea to seal it before grouting.


indian sandstone

indian sandstone
Posted 2012-07-27T06:15:48+0000  by kevin889
just wanted to say that though the advice given was good, not ALL natural stone tile NEEDS to be sealed before installation. There are certain types that when sealed make life a little easier, but it is simply not a necessity. Natural stone tile has been being installed for THOUSANDS of years without any sealer.
Posted 2012-08-10T02:12:06+0000  by RyobiTileGuy


I'm buying a natural stone backsplash for my kitchen. They stone pieces are small in different shades of white and not smooth at all, and has lots of pores.. I know it will be very difficult to clean. I'm worried about the area that will be behind the stove, since we cook everyday. is there anything I can coat the stone and grout with that will keep it from getting dirty? can we seal it? will that do the job you think?



Posted 2012-08-14T19:32:10+0000  by elieslinv

Hello elieslinv.  Welcome to the Community!


In this case I would definitely want to seal up a natural stone backsplash.  Since installing the grout will cause some to get into the stone pores, I would seal the tiles before installing them.  There are a number of sealers available.


Tile Sealers.jpg

After grouting, you will also want to seal the grout as well.  There is no way to keep a stove backsplash from getting dirty, but you can make it easier to clean and more stain resistant by sealing the tile.


I hope this helps,




Posted 2012-08-14T19:52:06+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI

I recently installed some natural stone tile layed out kinda like small bricks. Each piece was 12"x12" and had a mesh backing holding the individual pieces together.


Needless to say, a lot of grouting to be done. Grouting the normal way with a grout float would surely fill in all the holes and imperfections in this tile that makes it look natural so I was scratching my head to come up with a way to avoid filling in everything on these beautiful tiles that a float would surely do.


So my wife suggested that I might be able to use use a cake decorator to apply the grout into the cracks and crevices...kinda like a caulk gun. We found one at Wal-Mart for $12 that included the gun portion and various tips. It has a plunger and trigger similar to a caulk gun so worked really well. I used to tip with a larger round hole since I had difficulty getting the grout to dispense out the end of the smaller one.


The only other issue I had was to make sure to mix the grout slightly thinner than normal for easier application. Let the grout set up about 15-20 minutes to slake (activate), then apply via the cake decorator...allowing another 15-20 minutes for it to set up in the cracks of the tile. You can then take a sponge to remove only the excess, then wipe it down the normal way. No way to really avoid filling in some of the holes no matter how careful you are, but this method is much better than trying to trowel the grout in as you do with a float on normal tile. It worked perfect!

Posted 2012-09-05T13:06:12+0000  by Dberg

Hello Dberg.  Welcome to the Community!


Interesting solution.  Grout bags are often used for this purpose.  They look like this:

Grout Bag.jpg

It seems to me that a caulk gun type tool might even work better, if you can load it successfully.  You found a way to make that work.  Kudos!


We are glad to have you join the forum.

Please keep us updated on your projects and feel free to join in helping others.






Posted 2012-09-07T19:29:01+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI

Will this grout haze remover damage colored glass tile. I installed a mesh glass tile and rock style backsplash but did not remove the grout in time now the rock is covered in grout, and now has changed the overall look of the backsplash. I'm currently just using water and a scrub brush to try and remove the grout but this is very tedious and does not seem to be working very well. I want to try this product but I do not want to mess up the glass tile part.

Posted 2012-09-18T17:43:26+0000  by zenmcginn

Hey zenmcginn.  Welcome to the community!


The TILELab Grout Haze Remover is a mild acid formula which will not damage your glass tile.

Use it for scrubbing, then rinse it off well with water.

However, you do not want to use this product if it has been less than 10 days since you installed the grout.


One way to make the cleanup less tedious would be to use a kitchen scrub pad.  Dampen it with water and sprinkle baking soda on it.  This adds enough abrasive cleaning power to make removing the haze much easier.


If it has been 10 days since you put in the grout, THEN I would use the above mentioned Grout Haze Remover.  Since it is an acid try to keep it off any metal surfaces.  Otherwise it also works great.


I hope this helps,




Posted 2012-09-18T19:44:43+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI

I am getting ready to tile my kitchen backsplash with travertine tiles and would like to fill the holes in the tiles with grout.

It sounds like the tiles should be sealed prior to grouting, but will this prevent the grout from sticking in the holes of the tile? I am going to use tile setting mat as opposed to mortar or quick set. I was told to install all of the tiles and then to spray  them with grout & tile sealer prior to grouting and then again after the grout dries. On the spray bottle of the grout & tile sealer that I was sold it says to allow grout to cure for 48 hours prior to applying or to use as a pre-grout/grout release to prevent grout from staining porous tile. Will the grout stain travertine tile if not sealed first and if so will applying the sealer prevent the grout from filling the holes which I want to do?

I would appreciate any advice.

Posted 2013-03-05T01:01:23+0000  by Madison
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