How to Paint Travertine Tile

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How to Paint Travertine Tile. Travertine, a type of limestone, forms through crystallization after water seeps through and dissolves portions of highly porous calcium carbonate containing stone. As a result of the stone's porous composition, not only does the stone experience damage, but fading, wearing and cracking of any painted areas can and often does occur, as well. By painting and sealing travertine tile, it will be easier to maintain for years to come.

Things You'll Need

  • Travertine tile
  • Resin fill (optional)
  • Sealant
  • Paint and brushes
  • Rub-on stencils (optional)

Buy travertine in the cut, size and color of your choice. Select matching glossy or flat paints. Keep in mind that the paints should have a low water content (no watercolor paints) as water can dissolve travertine surfaces.

Decide on whether you will paint directly on the travertine surface or fill and/or seal the stone first, paint and then reseal. Given travertine's porosity, polishing and sealing the stone prior to painting can reduce the amount of paint needed and provide a more even and flat surface on which to paint.

Polish and completely seal the tile. Paint on its surface as you would on any flat polished surface and reseal with one to two coats of sealant after the paint has dried. Make sure to fill any holes with resin or sealant before painting so the holes do not collect moisture from the air resulting in larger holes or cracks.

Apply a first coat of background paint, if not using sealant, directly on the surface of the travertine tile. If you have decided the travertine will act as a backdrop for your painting, use a simple design you can repaint easily after the first coat has dried as the travertine will "soak up" the first coat of paint and cause the painted area to appear faded or dull.

Seal between coats of "wet looking, but dry to the touch" paint, when working with more complex or detailed paintings, to reduce fading and create a uniform surface on which to paint. Keep in mind that although travertine's porous nature often results in fades, wearing and cracking, travertine porosity benefits those trying to create certain forms of art (cracked oil painting illusions, faux aging or antiqued paintings). For these forms do not fill or seal the travertine at all or until you have finished painting.

Add one final coat of sealant to the painted travertine tile when finished handpainting the tile.

Rub on pre-made stencils, if all else fails, instead of hand painting your travertine tile. Pre-made rub-on stencils allow you to create the illusion of a handpainted surface without the time and expense of hand painting. Once you have rubbed on the stencil, fill and then seal the surface with two to three coats of sealant.

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