Travertine paver joints filled with polymeric sand or not

quantase

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2018
77
Central Virginia
I’m having my 1.25” thick travertine pavers installed on a dry set base. The PB is planning to use spacers and then fill joints with polymeric sand. The pavers are pretty smooth on the sides, so I would think they would fit tightly together without having to add the spacers and the polymeric sand. Thoughts whether to go with the PB’s plan or without the spacers and polymeric sand? Pros and cons? What are others’ experiences/preferences? I want a durable pool deck that will last for decades. I live in Virginia, so we do get some frost/thaw moments. Thanks.
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
407
Gilbert, AZ
Out here in AZ they lay travertine pavers without spacers...and then sand or polymeric sand to sweep into the gaps (which should be very tiny) so that there is little or no movement. I think that polymeric sand can make its way free eventually so filling it into large gaps would be a big problem in my opinion.

Ive never seen it laid with spacers, unless the gaps are to be filled with grout. An example would be for the travertine coping around a pool perimeter, of for perhaps an "outside" border edge.

A concern I would personally have is that they are planning to use those "gaps" to help maneuver and fit tiles that may have problems in a design that may not be laid "square" (90 degree corners, etc). Also, it allows them to make fewer and less accurate cuts at angles and curves (if you have any)...a way to compensate for sloppy workmanship. Travertine pavers should be laid like a puzzle, everything is tight and constrained by the outside, fixed edge perimeter.
 
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quantase

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2018
77
Central Virginia
Thanks for the comments. Yes, I am concerned that the polymeric sand would Eventually flake out of the spaces over time, which means more will need to be placed in continuously. Does the polymeric sand help with expansion and slight movement between joints of pavers? I will have an expansion joint between the pool beam and the beginning of the deck pavers, so I thought that would be enough for potential movement. I am leaning towards them not using the spacers and place the pavers tightly together. If others have pictures of travertine pavers without polymeric sand in between and those with it, that would be helpful. Thanks.
 

quantase

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2018
77
Central Virginia
They didn't use spacers on my tile but they did use sand as the tiles don't have a perfect finish along the edges. Here is a section without any sand
Are you getting polymeric sand or regular sand in between joints? If this is a older pic, do you have any issues with weeds coming in between the joints? Do you have a recent pic of the same section you can share. Thanks.
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
407
Gilbert, AZ
I decided against poly sand in my install for reasons which I don’t recall anymore (haha), so I probably shouldn’t have included them in my reply. Your reason could have been one of them beez...the concern I have is that because the pavers are on sand, large gaps would allow them to move (depress into the sand). Temporarily you possibly could stop that with the poly sand and its tight bond within the gaps.

But over time, and I would worry that it wouldn’t be that much time, stepping on those tiles is going to cause significant compression and tension on those joints, and that they would start giving. With tight travertine placement (and sand fill of any gaps) the compressive forces are simply transferred laterally to an adjoining travertine paver. There wont be any tension forces (ex pulling a poly sand bond apart). What kind of gaps are necessary to allow the poly sand in...spacer size gaps...1/8 inch perhaps or smaller?

My sand does come out, especially since I blow my patio to clean it (also compressive forces will tend to grind it into dust. In a couple areas I have put more sand on top, swept it “in”, and then cleaned off the excess. Might be harder to do (or maybe unnecessary?) with the poly sand.

Anyway, I didn’t use poly sand and I am probably overthinking this...I think the same process I went through when I installed mine, haha.

Quantaze you posted “over” me...I do occasionally get small plants growing IN the sand/dirt/dust that is between the pavers...very small and not really viable. To my knowledge I have never had a plant grow through them but most of mine was laid over existing patio. You can see pictures of my build in my signature.
 

quantase

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2018
77
Central Virginia
So it sounds like having the tumbled travertine pavers installed without spacers and no polymeric sand would be best? Lower maintenance ( not having to refill the joints annually and less potential polymeric sand getting into water when it cracks). Does anyone see any issues with not having spacers and polymeric sand in joints for potential heaves?
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
39,816
Tallahassee, FL
I will say I don't think I have ever seen them laid with spacers. I wonder why he is wanting to do that? They are laid like seen in the pic above, up close and personal, then sand brushed in to finish tightening them up. My gut says the space made by the spacers then sand is a bad idea as the sand may get washed away over time AND weeds could grow up in spaces easier. I am going to ask @bdavis466 what his thoughts are. He has done high end builds so should know the whats and what nots for this idea.
 

jimmythegreek

Bronze Supporter
TFP Guide
Aug 10, 2017
1,038
Morris Cnty NJ
Its just a different look with spacers than tight laying them. Some quality issues make it so you have to space them a little. Poly sand is like tile grout it is very durable if good poly is used. No weeds grow thru it and it's pretty maintenence free. Personally I would talk to the crew installing and see how square cut your travertine is. If your base moves the tiles will move regardless what's between them especially if you have frost in your area. Spaced is more traditional look tight is a more modern look. Easier to repair something with the space you are able to pull tile up easier. If you do poly sand keep a half bag or full bag somewhere so color matches should you need it down the road
 

quantase

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2018
77
Central Virginia
I will say I don't think I have ever seen them laid with spacers. I wonder why he is wanting to do that? They are laid like seen in the pic above, up close and personal, then sand brushed in to finish tightening them up. My gut says the space made by the spacers then sand is a bad idea as the sand may get washed away over time AND weeds could grow up in spaces easier. I am going to ask @bdavis466 what his thoughts are. He has done high end builds so should know the whats and what nots for this idea.
Yes, I was thinking the same way. Yes, please ask for @bdavis466 input as well. Thanks.
 

Don_TLR

Silver Supporter
Feb 19, 2018
181
Apache Junction AZ
Are you getting polymeric sand or regular sand in between joints? If this is a older pic, do you have any issues with weeds coming in between the joints? Do you have a recent pic of the same section you can share. Thanks.
Mine is recent so no weeds and also like jonpcar part of mine is over a patio. I can get the same shot that now has sand and a few weeks of walking on it.
 

bdavis466

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 4, 2014
4,673
San Clemente, CA
Never seen them installed with spacers. Either way they should be filled with poly sand. Personally I wouldn't want the wider joints the spacers would create.
 

quantase

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2018
77
Central Virginia
My travertine is 1.25” thick, laying a dry set ( 4-5” gravel; 1” sand). Yes we get frost in the winter; although it has not been too bad recently. Ground temp probably in the 20’s to teens for a few weeks.