How to Lay Travertine Without Spacing

The beauty of travertine as a natural stone comes from its myriad patterns and colors. While installing the stone with a grout joint is the most common type of installation with stones ranging from 1-by-1 inch and up, travertine may also be installed tight, meaning each stone piece is butted up against adjacent pieces.

Install seamless travertine.

Installing travertine without spacing requires planning to make up for the lack of tile spacers, commonly used to guide installers through the process of laying the tiles.

  1. Completely clean the floor where you install the travertine. Lay out several pieces of the stone on the floor, with each stone tight against the other piece to form a straight line, anywhere from three to six pieces in length. Measure the distance between the tiles and use these measurements as a frame of reference when laying out the installing grid.

  2. Check the dimensions of the floor against the measurements from your dry-laid pattern to determine the sizes of any cuts that might be required in the room. Common installation practice dictates full tile at the doorways or the longest walls of the room, with any cuts buried under cabinets, in closets, behind toilets, etc., although personal preference can dictate otherwise. Determine your starting point using these measurements.

  3. Measure out from the longest wall or doorway (or other starting point) the width of two tiles (assuming a 12-by-12 inch travertine tile) and use this measurement to create an installation grid. Make two marks on the floor with a pencil and snap a chalk line between those two marks, giving you a line the length of the longest wall or parallel with the doorway or starting point.

  4. Measure in a similar fashion in the opposite direction, using the chalk line as a frame of reference. Place a pencil mark along the already-snapped chalk line the length of two tiles out from the opposite starting point, and use a framing square to draw a line perpendicular to the chalk line. Snap the chalk line across these pencil marks, giving you a starting point where the lines intersect.

  5. Draw additional pencil marks every two tiles (or whatever is closest to two feet) in all directions, starting from your two control chalk lines. Snap these additional marks to give yourself an installation grid of chalk lines on the floor. Check them for squareness and spray them with hairspray to keep the lines visible even through sweeping.

  6. Spread thinset mortar according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Work your way grid by grid, butting each piece of travertine up against the other pieces. Place each piece in the bed of thinset mortar and push the piece down firmly until it is embedded in the mortar. Repeat the process for each piece of travertine. Make any necessary cuts (straight, around vents, around corners, into corners, etc.) on a tile wet saw.

  7. Tip

    A typical 12-by-12 tile requires a 3/8-inch notched trowel. Larger tiles will require a larger notch, and smaller tiles vice versa. You can purchase or rent all materials and tools from your local home-improvement store.


    Always wear safety glasses when working with a tile wet saw.


  • Always wear safety glasses when working with a tile wet saw.