Travertine Tile vs Ceramic Tile: What's the Difference?

So you’re planning a tile project in your home and you’re trying to decide between all the different materials and types of tile. Travertine, ceramic, porcelain, limestone, granite … the choices can make your head spin. 

Don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this 5-minute read, we’ll look at the difference between 2 of the most popular tile choices — travertine tile vs ceramic tile.

Let’s get started!

Factors

Travertine Tile

Ceramic Tile

Durability and Lifespan

Extremely durable material and can last a long time when properly maintained.

Doesn’t require as much maintenance, but low-quality options can show more wear over time from chips and scratches.

Application or Uses

Can be used just about anywhere, depending on the quality, grade, and finish.

Can be used just about anywhere in your home — backsplashes, floors, showers, etc.

Styles and Colors

Limited to what occurs naturally. Gold, beige, and grey are the most common colors.

As a manufactured product, it’s available in virtually any color and style. 

Cost

$4-25 per square foot (materials only)

$1-15 per square foot (materials only)

Cleaning and Maintenance

Regular cleaning and yearly sealing.

Regular cleaning.

Installation and Repairs

More difficult installation process but sometimes you can make repairs without replacing individual tiles.

Easier installation, but if a tile gets damaged, you’ll need to replace the entire tile.

Durability and Lifespan

Both ceramic and travertine tiles are durable and make great flooring. 

Travertine, when maintained properly, will last the life of your home. However, if it’s not installed properly or isn’t cleaned and sealed from time to time, it can develop stains that are hard to remove. 

Ceramic tile, while durable, is more prone to wear in high-traffic areas. A lot will depend on the quality of the tile you choose. So if you’re looking for long-lasting flooring material, go with a higher quality ceramic or porcelain tile with a more durable wear layer.

Application or Uses

Travertine is a hard, natural stone tile that is a popular choice for a rustic, “old world” look. However, when used in an interior space, it’s best to go with filled travertine. This type has grout or resin that fills any surface voids so it’s easier to clean and maintain as well as provides a high-end look.

Ceramic tile is a cost-efficient choice that works in just about any space. Since it’s a manufactured product, companies can easily alter its properties to make it suitable for just about any surface in your home — floors, walls, patios, countertops, backsplashes, tub surrounds, and more.

Styles and Colors

Travertine, depending on where it’s been quarried, has a wide variety of cool and warm natural tones. Some of the most popular are beige, tan, light grey, gold, and even blue. You’ll also find contrasting veins that give the tiles a striking look that really stands out. 

Travertine Tile vs Ceramic - Style and Colors - AXMASONRY

Manufactured ceramic tiles are available in a wide range of colors and designs as well as a variety of sizes. Some even feature beautiful design trends that mimic natural stone materials like granite, travertine, and marble tile.

Travertine Tile vs Ceramic - Colors and Sizes - AXMASONRY

Cost

Ceramic tile costs less than travertine and starts at around $1 per square foot. Travertine pavers start at around $4 per square foot, but they’re suitable only for exterior applications. Travertine tile for interior floors and walls starts at around $6 per square foot. 

Cleaning and Maintenance

Ceramic tile is the easiest to clean. All it needs is regular sweeping and mopping with water and a light detergent. 

Travertine Tile vs Ceramic - Cleaning and Maintenance - AXMASONRY

Honed and filled or polished travertine is also easy to clean. However, just like most natural materials, you should seal it from time to time (usually about once a year).

*Learn more in our Travertine Guide.

Installation and Repairs

Both ceramic and travertine tiles are installed in a similar way. Once you have a stable subfloor (concrete pad or cement board over a wood floor), ceramic and travertine are installed with thinset tile mortar. Then the joints are filled with grout. 

*IMPORTANT! –  One big difference is that you should use white thinset mortar when installing travertine. Travertine is porous and will absorb some of the thinset. By using white mortar you avoid dark stains that can show through on the tile surface.

If you’re looking for an option that’s easier to repair, go with travertine. Since travertine is the same color and pattern the entire way through, scratches and chips are harder to see and are easier to repair with grout or resin. 

Ceramic tiles, on the other hand, have a glazed surface that’s one color, and a base that’s another. That means chips and scratches are easy to see and impossible to repair without replacing the actual tile.

Travertine Tile or Ceramic? Which one is for you?

So which is the right option for you…travertine or ceramic tile?

  • – If you’re looking to add timeless natural beauty to your home, go with travertine.
  • – If your budget is your biggest concern, go with ceramic. 

Either way, it’s a good idea to contact a professional installer because regardless of which you choose, if it’s not installed correctly, you will have problems over time. 

If you’re in the Garland, Dallas, Texas area, give us a call at A&X Masonry and get your FREE consultation.

Travertine vs Ceramic Tile FAQs

Which is more expensive, travertine or porcelain?

High-quality travertine is usually more expensive than porcelain tile.

How long does travertine tile last?

Travertine tile, when properly installed and maintained will last the life of your home.

What’s the main difference between travertine and ceramic tile?

Travertine is a natural stone material that’s quarried from the earth. Ceramic tile is a manufactured material with a ceramic base and a glazed top.

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