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Travertine Tile Installation Tips

Installing Travertine Tile

Travertine is a natural stone tile, imported from many countries all over the world. Installing travertine is much like installing any other tile, though it is important to practice care. The installation steps include: preparation, laying the tile, and grouting it to keep it all together. Travertine can be installed for countertops, flooring, and walls. Installation is considered a medium to high difficulty job, and will require a wet saw is required to cut the tiles to the appropriate size. Other tools and materials to complete the installation will include: Chalk line, tape measure, carpenter’s pencil, power drill with mixing paddle, notched trowel, beater block, rubber mallet, grout float, 4-foot metal straightedge, and a dry-cutting saw.

Floor Preparation

To prepare the floor for the travertine installation:

  • Remove any existing flooring.
  • Repair or replace the sub-flooring.

Do a dry test run to layout the tiles and inspect them for defects. This will ensure you have everything planned accordingly and will be able to complete the floor.

Installing Ditra Anti-fracture Membrane

The Ditra Anti-fracture membrane is a type of underlayment designed specifically for stone and marble floors. It is highly recommended to use this type of underlayment because it offers many benefits: uncoupling, water proofing, vapor management, and support/weight distribution.

Tile Installation

  • If the Ditra anti-fracture membrane is not installed for the underlayment, then it is necessary to install is cement backing to the subfloor.
  • Use a chalk line to mark the tile layout, leaving room for the grout. Make sure the tiles are dry and ready to be installed.
  • Mix the thinset adhesive according to the directions. When it reaches a thick consistency, apply it to the tiles and lay them according to the chalk lines for the layout. Cut tiles to fit the measurements around the edges, using the wet saw.
  • After allowing drying time of up to 24 hours, apply the grout in between the tiles.

Installation Tips

  • Wet stones should not be installed. Be sure the stones are completely dry before beginning the installation.
  • When possible, use a white thinset. Gray thinset may bleed, and should be avoided when using a lighter travertine.
  • Be sure the thinset is thick and sticky, with a peanut butter like consistency.
  • Ultraflex II may be used as a thinset.
  • It is better to use a non-sanded grout.
  • It is a good idea to pre-seal the tile to avoid potential staining with mortar.
  • When the installation is complete, seal the tile with the appropriate type of sealer. It is recommended to test the sealer on a small, inconspicuous area of one tile before applying it to the entire installation.

(87) Comments

  1. Is it not better to put grout on the trimitine pock marks to avoid dust and dirt. In the bathroom shower, wall and floor. Thank you for your help. GS

  2. We are about to have travertine tile installed on our kitchen floors. The floor supports are at about a 20″ centers and the subfloor is 3/4″ particle board. The current floor is sheet vinyl. Should the current floor be removed prior to installation? We intend to install backer board, either overtop of the vinyl or the the subfloor. Should we install the Ditra membrane with the backer board? We set a sample of the 18 x 18 inch tile on the floor to see if we would like the feel and color of the tile. With one day the tile cracked and broke in many places, is this due to the flexibilty of the current floor and should not happen once installed properly? When we bought the tile and supplies we were told to use sanded grout, is this a good idea?

  3. I am installing travertine in my foyer, dining and kitchen. I would like to seal up the porous holes on the surface of the tile. Do I use non-sanded grout to fill these crevices? Also, do I seal the tile before grouting. I am wondering if I seal them before, will this keep the grout form sticking in the crevices on the tile surface? Thanks for your prompt answer.

  4. Fiona Mac Innes

    I am planning to tile my bathroom floor and walls! I plan to tile on top of the existing tiles whiCh are very stable! What you advise? I plan to use Travatine tiles! Please let this be possible as I really love the Travatine tiles!

  5. I am installing Travertine in a bathroom on the floor and walls. I am looking for ideas other than just butting the wall tile to the floor. I am not sure what I want? Ideas?

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  7. Good morning! After removing 1,500 sq ft of both ceramic tile and wood flooring, I’m installing travertine throughout. Here’s the great debate: Do I need to remove the mortar left behind from under the ceramic? THANKS!

  8. I have begun installing 16 x 16 travertine tiles in a bathroom, and have left 3/16″ grout lines. However, I’m concerned over the type of grout to use. As I understand it, I should not use sanded grout, as it will scratch the travertine. Conversely, non-sanded grout may crack if used in grout-lines over 1/8″.

    I’m leaning towards the non-sanded grout, but didn’t know if there was a bonding agent I could add to the grout to prevent cracking. Or is the cracking problem something I shouldn’t be o verly concerned about?


    • Hello Jim,

      Yes, it is true that non-sanded grout is usually a better idea for smaller grout lines such as 1/8″, while sanded grout is more suitable for larger grout lines. However, I would not be overly concerned with worrying about scratching the travertine. Also there is no bonding agent I’m aware of that would prevent cracking so it is probably best to stick with the non-sanded grout.

      Hope that helps!


  9. Stopped our floor install and went to supplier to find out why travertine tiles were so dark when we ordered light beige. He said tiles were wet and would dry out in a couple of weeks to a couple of months.

    He took a blow torch and dried a corner of one of the tiles we brought back with us and it did dry and lighten some.

    I am still upset that these tiles were soaking wet–am I being too sensitive??

  10. I’m tiling my shower with tumbled travertine. This product has many small pores visible on the surface, and I intend to seal once before I grout and twice after I grout. The question is what should I do about the pore holes. If I apply grout only to the grout joints and leave the pores open will this be a problem?. if I apply grout to the whole tile and fill in the pores, then I will lose some of the texture. Any thoughts?

  11. My contractor put the washer, dryer, and footed vantiy in before the travertine had been sealed. I asked about sealing the tiles under the appliances and vanity. He pulled out the washer and dryer an applied one layer of sealer there as well as the bathroom floor and shower. Should ALL of the tile be sealed or is that not necessary? Also, is one coat of sealer enough? Thanks for your insight.

  12. Eric, Getting ready to Install about 1,000 sq ft of 12 x 24 Beige Travertine. I have Installed it in a few smaller bathrooms in the past. My Question is about sealing the tiles. I would lean more toward sealing the tiles before grouting to prevent staining, however, I’m concerned that the sealer will spill over the edges of the tile and prevent the grout from sticking to the edges of the tile, what are your thoughts. Thanks Tony

    • Hello Tony,

      First of all, I’ll start off with the obvious: you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to the method/timing of applying the sealer. With that said I don’t see a problem in sealing before grouting because, even if the sealer does spill over to the edges, it shouldn’t be “solid” enough to prevent the grout from sticking. As with most things, its a good idea to test it out on a smaller area or one tile and see the result before applying to the entire floor. Hope that helps!

  13. I’m installing the same 12×12″ travertine on both floor and wall. Does it make a difference whether the wall tile is installed before the floor tile, or vice versa? In other words, does it matter whether the floor tile is butted into the wall tile or the wall tile comes down onto the floor tile?

    • Hi Eric,

      Thank you for your inquiry. You will want to start off with your floor installation prior to working on the wall. Not only will work better in terms of ascetics, it will limit potential moisture issues that could occur. I hope this information was useful.



    • Hello Yasmin,

      For all natural stone products such as marble, travertine, and slate you must seal the product to help prevent stains from penetrating the surface. However, the method of application can vary. Some installers like to apply the sealer before grouting to prevent grout from possibly getting stuck on the surface of the tile and then apply another coat after the grout has set. Other installers do a good job of cleaning the grout and only apply the sealer after the grout has been applied. So in short, you should be fine as long as you apply the sealer at any point during the installation (whether before grouting or after). Hope that helps!

  14. just had travertine installed ,honnd anf filled. one eigth joints should i seal before grouting and after

    just had travertine installed ,shower /bath area. i would like to know do you seal before grouting and after. thank you pete

    • Hi there,

      This is one of the popular ways to install and seal Travertine:

      1. First you apply the thin set to the sub floor or wall where the tile will be placed.
      2. Lay the tile over the thin set and make sure to get some thin set on the back of the tile as well.
      3. After the tile has been laid, the next step is to now seal the tile.
      4. Once it has cured, it is time to apply the grout.
      5. Now the area should be cleaned to remove the excess grout.
      6. Finally, you should seal the tile and the grout.

      So in short, if you want to ensure that you don’t get excess grout mixed in with the sealer, I would recommend sealing before and after the grout.

  15. Nerella,

    First off I have no specific Travertine expertise and am not a contractor myself:

    It sounds like your contractor is sketchy and is pushing for porcelain tiles because they are more comfortable installing those, or perhaps have some agreement with a supplier.

    Questions 3 and 4 seem very silly. 1-3 days to figure out an attractive pattern??? What? It’s not like this is a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle. I don’t see why leveling travertine would be harder than any other tile. That seems like it is a function of tile size rather than material.

    The answer to question 5 is simple, get additional bids and compare.

    Good luck!

  16. Hello BuildDirect:
    We are in the process of choosing travertine tiles for our kitchen. Talking in-depth with our contractor yesterday, we have the following questions/concerns, and we hope you are able to address them. Thank you for your time and expertise. Nerella

    1. Is it true each of the travertine tiles need to have their edges sanded/smoothened, which is extremely labor-intensive and costly?
    2. Is it true that travertine tile installation is 1 1/2 to 2 times costly than installing porcelain tiles?
    3. Should the contractor be laying out all the tiles and arrange for the “proper pattern”, or is this something we should be doing? Although our kitchen is small, we were told it may take 1 – 3 days to get the pattern right, and, of course, this is very costly.
    4. Although we will not have a perfect floor (compared to porcelain), we were told laying down each tile and making sure it is level is time-consuming. Is this true?
    5. How can we tell whether the contractor is truly assessing the actual installation costs, or if he is embedding hidden costs by doing things (which may not be necessary)?
    Thank you, again.

  17. Better info late than never.

    Common and frustrating situation. No matter how carefull you are in setting marble, there is (as George from Seinfeld would say) “shrinkage”, of the setting mortar. Especially if the setting material is thick or too wet or not the correct material.I have used thinset specifically designed for marble and still get lippage. As my momma used to say, don’t give me no lippage.

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  19. I put down a travertine tile floor in my kitchen – 18 inch square tile – on top of Permibase 1/4 in board screwed down to a wood subfloor. I used a thin set mix and put the tile down ensuring that it was flat to the tile next to each piece – checking corners all the way along. After letting dry for 24 hours – I noticed some lipage along tiles I know I checked for level – what would have caused this?
    I set the tile with thin grout lines (1/16 inch) but the edges on some tile are still noticed. Is this just error on my part or did the tile “set” at different rates, bad thinset ????

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