Travertine Tile Cracking .. HELP!

I have about 2000 sq. ft. of 12" Travertine tile in my home. Every two or three years I have to replace at least 20 tiles because of cracking. I am in California and as many of you know, we get quite a few minor earthquakes yearly. We also get a major one every few years which does not help the problem.
Originally, the tile was laid directly over the concrete slab with thinset. When replacing the tiles I have been using a thin layer of mastic, then a layer of roofing paper (black "tar" paper) and then another thin layer of mastic. I had hoped that this would insulate the Travertine from the slab. It does not some of the tiles continue to crack but at a slower rate.
I am getting ready to replace another 20 tiles. Does anyone have any ideas as to how to secure the tiles in place yet allow some flexibility to prevent cracking? I suspect that I might end up with some cracking of the grout but I would rather replace the grout in these areas than replace the entire tile.
Norm
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you (or the installer) needed to put an antifracture layer in before you laid the first tile. putting one under replaced tiles doesn't help much, since the grout is holding the tile in rigidly with the surrounding ones.
you'd have to regrout with a flexible material (silicone?), but that would look fugly.
there's really no fix for this without ripping up the entire floor, or at least large swaths of it.
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It sounds as if the tile is not fully supported by thinset beneath, so that walking breaks the partially supported tile. Travertine is an extremely fragile limestone, but still I doubt that the cracks are in any way related to earthquakes, unless the tiles reflect cracking in the slab beneath, a problem of much greater import.
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You don't mention if the cracking is in the sam eplace or different or if the thinset or tile underneath is cracked. it may just be that you did a poor install job in the the concrete was not flat and the tile is craking due to stress not earthquakes. hve you niticed cracka just after small quake?
Wayne

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Thanks Charles, Roger and Wayne for your comments. I did not do the original installation. Most of the cracking occurs over cracks in the slab in the hallway . The cracking is not totally related to the quakes but they sure do not help. When one has a 50' X 8' length of slab in a home where the chandeliers sway and the pool water sloshes around during a quake, the slab will flex to some extent. I thought that I would prevent this from happening and had the builder use 3/8" re-bar throughout the slab. It probably helped but not enough. Too much work removing all the tile so I am stuck with periodic replacement. I have to use sanded grout again to match the original. I am stuck with what I have. At this point my only hope is that I can find a way to reinstall the tile without having it bond in a rigid fashion to the underlying slab. The cracks are definitely not from foot pressure .. they are from cracks in the slab. What I really need is rubberized Travertine ;-)
Norm

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You may want to consider using a shear membrane. I use this Noble membrane under all of the ceramic tile that I have placed in my home. It is good insurance. I've bought it from DalTile although I suspect others have it as well.
http://www.noblecompany.com/cis.html
Boden
NSN wrote:

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Boden:
Thanks!!!!!!! Just what I have been looking for.
Norm

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wrote:

this has to be put down before you tile the floor originally as it comes in a long roll.
you can get an antifracture compound that you trowel on in a thin layer, let dry, then thinset your tiles back down. you can use that when you're replacing the single tiles that are cracked. you really need to only do it over a tile that is over a slab crack, but if i were you, it'd be cheap insurance to do it on all replaced tiles.

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I did read the instructions about installing over the length of several tiles but I have no choice .. I have to replace just the ones that are damaged. I will look into that anti-fracture cmpound also. At this point I may try the membrane and grout with an elastomeric type. Any method will be better than what I have been using.
Thanks to all you guys .. really encourages me!
Norm
On Fri, 12 Dec 2003 13:40:50 -0700, "Charles Spitzer"

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