How to Cut Travertine Tile

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Last updated: April 19, 2023

Travertine tile is a beautiful way to bring a sophisticated and lasting presence to your home. Used as a building material since the 17th century, these natural stone tiles carry a remarkable history and incredible life span once one understands the natural formation.

There are different methods of cutting travertine to remove it from the quarries. Learning how to cut travertine tile after it has been manufactured also requires specific procedures.  Even if you have experience in cutting ceramic tiles, you will find that travertine flooring has its own set of rules due to being a natural stone.  

Porcelain tiles can mimic the look of travertine and are easier to cut with a wet saw and diamond blade, but these too are not comparable to the cutting of natural travertine. Porcelain is made from heat and pressurized clay and then stamped with inkjet printing to create a veined appearance. Unknown to many, porcelain is a type of ceramic material.

It is common to see a bathroom floor lined with porcelain and mistake it for travertine. Porcelain is the hardest substance of ceramics but nowhere near as tough and durable as travertine floor tiles.

Much thought should be put into redoing the bathroom or kitchen floors in travertine instead of porcelain. While travertine delivers natural beauty to your home, it can be a difficult job to maintain.

Sealing the surface once every two to three years is necessary to prevent stains and dirt from getting into the natural rivets of the stone. Because of the porous nature of this stone, it can easily get discolored from spills and soak up water unless adequately protected.

What is a great choice? Considering travertine tile placement for the laundry room backsplash, countertops, and kitchen counters where water is not a constant. Consider your material of choice carefully. Nothing can take the place of natural travertine, but the type of tile selected is a personal decision according to your way of life.

Table of Contents

Prepare for the Job

Prepping your floor for travertine tile is an important step. You will want an even dry concrete base to have a professional-looking job. Underlayment will give you added protection from cement cracking and dampness. If you have a wood subfloor, a 3×5 cement board is recommended. 

Lay out the necessary tools and equipment for measuring, cutting, and placing your tile. These include:

  • Wet saw (tile wet) with a diamond-encrusted blade and profiling wheel 
  • Angle grinder (4-5 inch grinder)
  • Carpenter’s square or a straight edge
  • Grease pencil
  • Water
  • Safety glasses and gloves
  • Extra tiles

A circular saw can be used as it has enough power, but keep in mind that wet tile must be cut to keep down the calcium carbonate dust. A powered tile cutter will make straight cuts in a piece of travertine along with good diamond tile saws.  These tools also help get things done quickly without the constant noise to anger your neighbors.

The rental department of home stores may be able to help in gathering the right tools and equipment for your travertine tile installation project.

Placement Readiness

Remove the loose tiles from the package and decide where your first tile should be laid. Place the face of the stone up. Diagonal patterns should begin with a center line in the center of the room, while tiles of medium variation should start at the far-left corner of the room.

This will give you an idea of how the tiles coordinate together. The important thing to remember is whether you will be using classic tile jobs or vein cut travertine tiles. Laying tile in a general form is a simple process, but matching veins can be problematic.

Natural ivory vein cut travertine tile is often reserved for accent walls where the wall tile paints a picture of the veins against ivory accents. This makes your gorgeous modern tiles a stunning focal point. 

Make a pencil mark to serve as a cutting guide for an easy cut. Areas such as heater vents, cabinet corners, and electrical outlets will change the size variation of particular tiles, so mark accordingly. 

Making the Cut

Gather your tiles and separate them by those requiring only clean cuts with a decent wet cutter. The right tool is important for preventing rough edges. Make sure that your water reservoir is filled. By keeping the blade vertical, you can easily see the edges of your mark.

Once the cutting disc is in place, begin cutting into the wet tile. Stop approximately two inches from the edge and flip the tile over to continue cutting. This is the best way to prevent splintering tile along the edge, even with the best tool. 

Realign a second set of tiles atop the square areas of the placed tiles. The width of a travertine tile should include a gap for grout joint filling. Difficult areas will require you to make precise cuts to the size of the tile. If this is your first DIY installation project, expect some mistakes. This is why you should always purchase extra tiles. 

A great option for making perfect diagonal cuts is to use a piece of cardboard as an adjustable tile measuring tool. Patience and precision will deliver warm creamy tones that blend in with a wide range of other premium surfaces. A precut piece of cardboard or an adjustable tile measuring tool can be invaluable in laying tile around the perimeter of a room.

Outdoor Options

Less exact cuts are needed with a standard tile cutter for a travertine stone paver sidewalk. Because of travertine’s good density and neutral color, quick work of pavers can be done. Soft beige hues against flora and wooden patios make exterior use of travertine quite impressive. 

Kitchens and living areas will become a distinction of sophistication when choosing travertine tile as your backdrop on walls or floors. Modern applications may include fireplaces or a backsplash around entertainment centers or cabinetry. While travertine tile can be more expensive than ceramic material, the incredible difference in worldliness is easy to see.  

Good luck, and take it easy. It is a marathon, not a race regarding home renovations.

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