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Discuss Desperate for advice on our Travertine showers. in the Advice Forum for Australian Tilers area at TilersForums.com

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Hi all,

I'm faced with a bit of a conundrum regarding the state of our shower recess, as well as my partners parents en suite shower. The posted images are just of the major issues in the main bathroom aka ours, and it has been cleaned, scrubbed, anti-molded to high hell and this is what remains. I did try some borax/bicarb soda/water mix yesterday that I saw online but it did absolutely nothing.

To give some context, the whole bathroom floor/walls are honed travertine tiles that have not been looked after at all since they were installed in 2012. Up until more recently the ventilation in the room was lacking and a fan has now been put directly above the shower, as well as me making sure the walls etc. arent soaking wet all the time and that has greatly reduced surface mold. These spots shown in images were very bad but mostly came off easily when cleaned, but I don't know what to do from here. It seems likes its very deeply ingrained and I fear its been like that for too long and is not fixable.


I'm not comfortable taking this job on myself as I feel it's most likely something that will need either replacing entirely (we have many spare tiles for replacements) or a professional clean. As well as the issue with the mold, there is a terribly large opening where the tap meets the tile (it did have some clear silicone on it but i ripped it off yesterday as it was moldy and coming away from wall anyways), and a crack in one of the skinnier tiles.

There is also the issue of the vertical joins that I removed the old moldy silicone. Is it normal for it to be that large of a gap/jagged and to have little bits here and there grouted? I know nothing about tiling and I'm concerned that it was just poorly put in to begin with...

What is the best course of action I should take? I have browsed the forums and seen other posts with travertine having black mold and there being good cleaners for them, but at this point is it better to just have them ripped out and replaced?

I live in Perth, Western Australia.

Thanks in advance

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Paul C.

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The mould appears to be growing from within or from behind the tile (rotten substrate), and if that's the case, chances are there is no fix and they will have to be replaced. You may find some mould cleaners will to get some of the surface mould off, but fear it will just grow straight back through again.

If they haven't been maintained in 7 years, the sealer may be passed its best effectiveness and water has gone through the surface, also through the grout. What surface was it tiled onto, and any idea if any form of tanking system was used?
 
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The mould appears to be growing from within or from behind the tile (rotten substrate), and if that's the case, chances are there is no fix and they will have to be replaced. You may find some mould cleaners will to get some of the surface mould off, but fear it will just grow straight back through again.

If they haven't been maintained in 7 years, the sealer may be passed its best effectiveness and water has gone through the surface, also through the grout. What surface was it tiled onto, and any idea if any form of tanking system was used?
Thanks for a speedy answer Paul!

Every wall in the whole house is solid brick, not sure what kind of backing is on the other side of the tiles unfortunately. To my knowledge the whole bathroom was redone due to water damage from a leaking pipe. There is no tank system close to this area as the pipes all lead to a single tank outside the house. I'm pretty sure they run from overhead pipes through the roof space over to where I marked the water system.

As you can see with the two green lines, that's where the shower is and the major sides with the issues. I'ts a single damaged tile on the opposite side of the tap wall.

Tiles.png
 

Paul C.

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Sorry, you probably call it something different over there, but by Tanking system, we mean a waterproofing membrane, painted over the walls to make them fully waterproof before tiling. Without waterproof tile backer-boards or a tanking system, water will go through into the wall, get trapped and start causing problems.
 
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Ah, right! I assume that's what the greenish I could see in those gaps would be then? Either way seems like its trouble siiiigh
 

Paul C.

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That could be it. If that is the case it could mean the walls behind are ok. However, you may still have water getting through the tile and grout and sitting behind. You also seem to have holes in the grout and no silicone on your internal angles, so water can easily get behind. Along with the body oils and soap scum being carried through, could still cause mould to grow through, rather than just on the surface, whether it's tanked or not.

Sorry, but still think the tiles still need to come off and it all be redone. And if you go for travertine again, ensure they are correctly maintained to prevent further problems. Seal them correctly (Lithofin MN Stain-Stop) and regularly use cleaners that are sealer friendly, pH neutral or ones that are designed specifically for natural stone, such as Lithofin MN Easy-Clean Spray.
 
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Thank's a lot Paul! The lack of silicone is due to me taking it out when I started investigating whats to be done with the shower, a lot of it had unclean-able mold showing on it so... I'll discuss this with the owners.

Very thankful for the information/advice. :)
 

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