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I have 18x18 inch square travertine tiles. I would like to know if it is feasible to cut each tile in half and make a herringbone pattern for our bathroom floor. I was planning on using 1/8" grout lines and I'm not sure how to make everything fit nicely together with the awkward measurements, spacings, and cuts.

Any tips or tricks for doing this or should I just resort to a diamond pattern instead?

PS: I love diagrams

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    Cutting every tile in half seems like a bad idea. The one edge will look a bit different and it will be hard to make them all identical – Steven Mar 30 '15 at 0:48
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    I agree, the cut edge will be, in my opinion much different than the factory edge. – Jack Mar 30 '15 at 1:48
  • Why do you insist that the edges will look different? I've cut many 12x12 of the same material and all edges look identical – Joe Phillips Mar 30 '15 at 2:31
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    Natural stone tiles with saw cut edge, rent and use a diamond saw tile cutter and plenty of water. It's all in the setup, make sure you get the sawcut exactly centered, cut in one smooth stroke and make sure the tile is secured so it won't move during the saw operation. Otherwise you'll get a funny cut that will be obvious. – Fiasco Labs May 29 '15 at 17:07
  • @FiascoLabs You should probably make your suggestion an answer ;) – Joe Phillips May 29 '15 at 19:09
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Travertine Limestone - These are natural stone tiles with a saw cut edge.

I would rent and use a diamond saw tile cutter and use plenty of water during the cut to keep the blade cool and the lime dust down.

It's all in the setup on the saw, make sure you get the sawcut exactly centered, cut in one smooth stroke and make sure the tile is secured so it won't move during the cutting operation.

Otherwise you'll get a funny cut that will be obvious in the final layout.

Travertine and Slate are some of the softest and most easily cuttable natural tile you will work with. Be aware that either can have imperfections and can break away on the edges so have spare material available.

  • Thanks! One issue I've had in the past was getting a 90 degree angle cut. For some reason the saw blade never seems to match the sled. Do you know of any way to keep them aligned properly? – Joe Phillips May 30 '15 at 23:21
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Measure your tiles, chances are they're not a true 18" anyway. You can cut all four edges of course, but that's a lot of work. Are you able to order more tiles that match what you have? If you can, it's likely that they're available in a 9x18 or 8x16 size.

Alternatively you could use a belt sander to smooth the cut edge although it still might look different than the factory edge.

  • They're 18" exactly. Also, I have file and grinding stones for tile. I've already done a bunch of the wall tile and the cuts look fine. Not sure why people are saying the cuts will look different than the factory edge – Joe Phillips Mar 30 '15 at 2:33
  • Frequently, porcelain and ceramic tiles have a "sheared" edge that results from the soft clay being cut into squares before being fired. The clay also shrinks resulting in inconsistently sized tiles. It sounds like you have higher quality tiles that are likely fired slightly oversize, or in large sheets, then cut down. – cathode Mar 30 '15 at 2:58
  • @JoePhilllips - I think what people are talking about is the fact that many types of tiles have a slight curved down shape along the edges. They are made like this so that the grout comes up to the very corner of the tile but is still below the actual surface level of the main part of the tile. When tiles that are designed like that are cut through the middle and then such edge is used as a grout line edge the grout comes right up to the very square corner of the cut. Of course that results in very different look. It also results in tile surfaces that (continued) – Michael Karas Mar 30 '15 at 3:00
  • (continued from above) will feel like they have sharp edges due to the square cut edges. – Michael Karas Mar 30 '15 at 3:01
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    I just re-read your question and noticed that you said they were travertine tiles... so, you can ignore all the stuff we've been saying about "factory edge" ... ALL travertine has a cut edge because it doesn't come out of the earth in perfect squares... – cathode Mar 30 '15 at 3:08
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You can, of course, do something like this. There are several big caveats:

  • Get a good book on tile setting; there are a lot of nuances and you want to thoroughly read the advice of the pros before going into a project like this

  • With any custom pattern, you need to meticulously plan it; you need to design out the pattern with EXACT measurements so you know exactly how the pattern will play out

  • Once you start making the pattern you will need to make small adjustments. The room will not be square and there will be other errors that creep in; you have to make small adjustments in the cuts to compensate for this; skill in making such adjustments is why pro tile setters get paid the big bucks

  • Doing a custom floor is a LOT of work; think long and hard about how much time you are willing to devote to this, because it will be days, if not weeks of solid work.

  • I've already devoted way too much time to the rest of the bathroom, might as well take my time on the floor as well :) – Joe Phillips Mar 30 '15 at 2:36

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