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Monday, August 3, 2009

Laying the Travertine Floor

Today, I got the Travertine down in my East Nashville kitchen project. Travertine takes a little extra care, but most of the techniques of laying tile apply.

Getting the layout is always an important step that requires extra thought on the front end. For this project, I knew that I wanted the grout lines perpendicular to the main doorway, but also perpendicular to the laundry door.

I started by laying some tile across the doorways to get the starting pieces in a place where I wouldn't have any super-small pieces on the edges. If possible, it's nice to have large pieces along the walls.

Once I knew where I wanted the starting tiles to go, I marked a couple guidelines parallel with one wall on the floor to serve as a reference point so that I don't veer off once I got rolling.

It's also very important that you think about how you're going lay the tile so that you don't 'tile yourself into a corner'... :) In this picture you can see that I drew a straight reference line down the middle of the room and then tiled down one side and then back the other. This enabled me to start in the doorway where I wanted to begin with whole tiles.

This is different for each project, but it's worth giving some thought to a tiling strategy before you get started.

Every piece of Travertine is different with all kinds of patterns and colors. It cuts fine with a wet saw, but can be brittle if you have skinny pieces. It helps to look at the back of the tile and see how porous it is. The less porous ones will be less likely to break as you cut them.

The other thing is to remember that Travertine, like other stone tiles, needs a heavier duty thinset mortar to support it. Most places that sell thinset will have one meant for this purpose.

I'll be grouting soon and this kitchen will really start to take shape!



  1. cool post and thanks.

    may I ask if you had to reinforce the floors or use ditra schluter on it? have read a few palces that recommend using it for trvertine floors.

    what's your take on it? safe to lay on plywood subfloor as is? thanks.

  2. I did have to reinforce these floors by adding an extra layer of 5/8" subfloor. This was mainly because the previous subfloor was just not substantial enough to hold any tile, let alone travertine.

    I've read great things about the Schluter-Ditra underlayment, but haven't had a chance to use it yet myself.

    I'd say that plywood subfloor is fine, as long as the deflection is acceptable. Deflection is the amount of movement to the supporting structure. I'd recommend calculating that by knowing the type of lumber that the framing is made up of and using the wonderful "Deflectolator" over at the JohnBridge forums. (Google it) They can also give you more helpful info about any tile work that you are considering.

    Good luck!