Creative Tile

Tile Learning Center

Installing Large Travertine Tiles

We are using 18 x 18 x 1/2 honed travertine on 4 large shower walls. All tiles on walls and ceiling must line up. Centering tiles is usually best but here on the vertical we made the floor cut tile a little bigger than the top. Starting with a leveled straight edge, fasten with screws into studs.

Starting on a leveled straight edge gives you a secure starting point (and peace of mind).

Because we have to line up tiles, we can only install two walls at the same time. Apply mortar consistently. I spread mortar on wall with my standard V-Notch trowel, mainly for control and less mess. I also back butter the tile with the same trowel so when tile is installed it compresses and has a 100% bond. This compressing mortar is vital to ceiling tiles to stay up there.

I've already made the hole in the tile for the plumbing control before starting wall. Funny thing on this shower — everything from plumbing, electrical and venting all were in the middle of a tile. Spread mortar to a line for easy clean up after tile is installed. This is not possible without a grinder and turbo wheel.

I started on the small wall first so the big wall tile would be cut to the back wall. That way you don't see the cut line from the door. Work two rows at a time. If you spread the mortar consistently on the wall and on the tile on a flat service, it's easy to make a very flat wall where square cut travertine tiles fit very tight and on the same plain.

Be ready. I lay both walls out ahead of time and mark with tape so that I can install them in the right order. With travertine, color is an issue. You want to blend the color from piece to piece making as little contrast as possible. Travertine — as most stone — has a flow and rhythm that has to be obeyed when placing tiles. Knowing what the wall looks like before starting is a big advantage. Install tiles like they would be in a slab, butting color to color and pattern to pattern.

OK we're heading up two more rows. Notice I've left the last row of the big wall tile off so I can eventually cut to the small wall when tiled.

This sweet dog came walking out of the woods one day skinny and very hungry. The builder adopted her. The job was on top of a mountain with no neighbors for miles, she must have gotten lost.

Two walls finished, except for the bottom and top rows.

Spread mortar consistently on back of tile. Have a small ladder handy so you can get right under tile and push into mortar on ceiling, making a suction. Tile will stay there. You must spread mortar on both the ceiling and the tile.

We are ready for the ceiling. By leaving the top row of wall tile off we don't have to be perfect cutting and installing the ceiling. But we do have to make sure the ceiling tiles will line up with both walls when we do install the last row. Using kerabond/Keralastic gives you lots of open time needed for quality tile installations. Mortar that mixes with water dries too fast.

Checked often to make sure the tile will line up. You need to check after each row to make sure it's going straight. You can check for level by feeling the seams. If it's not level, you might need to pry off and add or take away mortar to keep tile on the same plain. This process is really easy on floors.

Cut straight 2 x 4's 1/2' longer that the width of the wall. They wedge nicely with a tap of your hammer, no fastening. I only used the wood because of the big heavy tile. I didn't need them, but it was peace of mind.

The ceiling is finished. I know the ceiling tiles will line up with the wall because I've checked so often. Allow to dry overnight and remove wood. You can install this tile really tight. Beautiful tile, perfectly cut into tiles at the quarry.

On the third wall, you can line up with walls by, once again, fastening a straight edge. To line up with the ceiling we have to take two rows all the way up to make sure they line up. Level lines are useless.

Taking it up to make sure they line up. Not fitting the last piece, in case it needs to move slightly to line up.

If you take care and follow all the right steps you can easly line up your installations for that quality look. The 4th and last wall of the shower is done!

Travertine tile shower

This web site contains almost 70 pages and more than 700 photo's, about everything tile

Creative Tile & Marble ------------------------