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Making a Travertine Marble Niche Shelf

In my last blog I showed how to make Carrara marble corner soap shelves and two niche shelves. In this blog I will explain how I made wide Travertine marble shelves for a custom niche in a shower. So let me get right to it.

Some details about the job first before I get into explaining how I made the Travertine shelves. The customer selected a 13×13 Porcelain stone looking tile from one of my local tile distributors in the Tampa, Florida area. The old shower was a mess and mold, rotted 2×4 studs and a rotted sub-floor was discovered after rip out. So this shower was being done as a Schluter Kerdi waterproofed shower using the Kerdi membrane, Kerdi drain & Kerdi band. We used drywall behind the Kerdi since it would never see water and Schluter approves it as a substrate.

The pan would be a mud bed using tar paper, wire, sand & portland in typical wet bed packed cement mix. We built the niche in between the studs to the right of the shower controls. This was a great spot since it was to the left of the shower head and on the control wall. We framed it with 2×4’s and created the proper pitch for water to run out. Then we did the Kerdi install using TEC Full Set Plus Unmodified thinset mortar. now getting to the Travertine shelf part.

The studs were spaced in the corner about 17″ apart in the corner we were building the travertine niche shelf in. We considered using the porcelain tile bullnose but it wasn’t wide enough to make the niche span 17″ being that the bullnose were only 13″ long and I also didn’t like sandwiching two pieces of bullnose tile together. I suggested that a nice piece of 18×18 travertine tile could be fabricated, bull nosed and polished into niche shelves. The next day at the start of the porcelain wall tile installation I brought in a piece of 18×18 light Noce Travertine. The homeowner liked the color and gave me the go ahead to use it as a shelf.

I marked out on each end of the travertine tile how I would cut the tile into the shelves on my wet saw. I made them the depth of the niche adding the side return 1″ ears to the depth. These ears give the niche another extra 1″ of space. I cut the shelves and then ran each piece through my wet saw bullnose profile wheel. After the pieces were cut I slightly polished out the roughness with my Alpha dry polish PVA pads. I then had 2 ready to install custom fabricated travertine shower niche shelves.

When installing the tile I ran the tile around the niche on a face of the wall. Then I installed the bottom travertine shelf into the bottom of the Kerdi waterproofed niche. Installed the bullnose porcelain tile on the inside of the niche next and then placed the second travertine shelf resting on the bullnose. Then set the porcelain tile bullnose on top of the upper shelf and filled the back of the niche in with the field porcelain tile. I like using wedge spacers so I can slightly adjust the tile to get things where I want them.

After the tile was all installed we let the thinset dry the required 24 hours before grouting. The day of the grouting we removed all of the spacers and grouted the shower with TEC AccuColor XT sanded grout #915 Light Smoke. And also caulked the corners of the shower and the niche with the AccuColor Siliconized Sanded Acrylic Caulk in the matching #915 Light Smoke color. We also installed a Better Bench with a custom fabricated Granite seat top at the request of the homeowner.

We can also make these custom shelves for you upon request for your shower installation. Contact Us for more info and pricing.

below you will see some pictures of the travertine niche shelf fabrication and install.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Tammy T March 22, 2010 at 3:40 pm

wow I would so love to have a niche with those shelves in my shower !!

H Leigh June 24, 2010 at 1:59 am

hey now thats beautiful.

Daniel December 17, 2010 at 8:43 am

great post, thanks for sharing

Tim January 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Are you concerned about that higher shelf cracking?

I know if feels fairly strong but I took a test piece and dropped a 3/4 full shampoo (25 fl oz.) bottle about 6″ down on the shelf. On the 8th drop, the shelf broke in half. Granted, a 6″ drop is not possible in the real world , but say 50 or so 1-2″ drops per year is, and I would guess after a couple of years the result would be the same.

Ceramictec January 1, 2011 at 5:35 pm

No Tim, not worried about it a bit. the shelf is the top one and is supported by tile under it on 3 sides, it’s not hovering in mid air. plus the niche is positioned with the top shelf at about 5’5″. not many people are dropping bottles from higher up.

triple I October 12, 2013 at 10:37 am

great job !

Sarah December 23, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Your shelves look great! I’d love to do something like this myself and have a few questions:
1. Did you cut the tile with your wet saw, and did you have to worry about fragments chipping off? (I would be so worried about the corners.)

2. Did you run the tile through the bullnose wheel for looks, or was it necessary to smooth the edges?

Thanks!

Ceramictec December 24, 2016 at 6:49 pm

Sarah,

1) I cut it with my wet saw and I use a diamond blade that doesn’t allow chipping.

2) I cut the angle off and then polished it with my polishing wheels on my grinder for the final finish.

Jess January 18, 2017 at 6:30 pm

I like the way the shelf has an overlap notch out on the left and right. How did you cut that on your wet saw? Is the blade round?

Ceramictec January 25, 2017 at 10:30 pm

Hi Jess,
Yes I cut it with my wet saw and fabricated the shelves with my wet
saw as you can see in pics # 2 & #3. And yes the blade is round 🙂

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