What is Travertine? Flooring, Tile, and MaintenAnce Guide

Travertine has been used as a building material for millenniums. Think of the Roman Colosseum and the Burghausen Castle. They were both made primarily with travertine stone.

Bring some of that rugged elegance into your home with travertine tile, pavers, and slabs. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to make an informed decision about your next project.

We’ll consider… 

It’s just a 5-10 minute read that’ll save you time, money, and hassle down the road. Let’s get started!

What is Travertine?

What is Travertine Flooring, Tile, and Maintenance Guide | Alexander and Xavier Masonry

is a type of limestone. This particular type is usually formed near hot springs. Pretty cool, right?

As calcium carbonate rapidly comes together near the mouth of mineral springs or hot springs, travertine is formed. That’s one of the reasons it has a somewhat “swirly” or almost “bubbly” look to it.

As the stone is being formed, gases like carbon dioxide bubble out of the stone. This will leave the small holes throughout the stone and gives it a really unique and rustic appearance.

Travertine is quarried from a variety of countries around the world, but the biggest quarries are found in Italy. The Tivoli and Guidonia Montecello quarries have actually existed since ancient Roman times.

Other places where it can be found are Turkey, Hungary, Croatia, and even Yellowstone National park to mention a few.

Travertine Colors

Travertine comes in a variety of neutral colors. You’ll find soft neutral colors like gold, ivory, brown, and beige. Some design variations even have a slight pinkish or orange hue which gives the stone a beautiful rust or peach color.

Travertine Colors What is Travertime | Alexander and Xavier Masonry

For those of us who like coffee, you can probably find slabs, pavers, and travertine tile with the same colors as your favorite latte! In fact, in the travertine industry, it’s common to give coffee-inspired names to its different colors: cream, mocha, and cappuccino.

One thing you won’t find is contrasting colors within the same piece. Granite and marble will sometimes have swirls of dark or contrasting colors running like a vein through the stone.

Travertine colors are much softer and more neutral so you won’t find those bold blotches or dark veins in travertine. This provides a softer, more understated look while still maintaining the rugged beauty of natural stone material.

Travertine Types

Apart from the color varieties, travertine comes in different grades and cuts (we’ll cover different finishes and cuts in the following sections). The different grades and the way it is cut can affect the overall look of the travertine. Let’s look first at the different travertine grades.

Premium or A Grade travertine is the best you can get.

Premium Grade Travertine What is Travertime | Alexander and Xavier Masonry

Premium grade is less porous. That means you’ll notice fewer holes throughout the stone and on the surface. Since it has fewer holes, less filler needs to be used to fill in the holes and get a smooth surface.

Premium travertine stones are also often chosen to have the least amount of discoloration. They’re more consistent in their colors. 

This helps you get a more consistent look on whatever surface they’re installed on.

Premium grade travertine tiles are also more uniform in shape, size, and thickness. This is really important for interior flooring and bathroom areas where you want a more refined look.

The lower grade natural stone tiles are still beautiful pieces. However, these travertine tiles will tend to have more imperfections.

This could mean they have a more porous surface that needs to be filled to get a smooth finish. They could also have a greater color variation. And there may be a slight difference between the individual tile’s size and thickness.

While lower-grade travertine can still be often used for interior flooring and bathrooms, greater care should be taken to make sure the porous surfaces are sealed properly.

Some people like the more rustic look of the lower grade or commercial grade stone. It works nicely as a rustic backsplash or as pavers around your pool.

Travertine Finishes

After it’s been quarried, travertine can be finished in a variety of ways depending on the desired look and how it’ll be used. One of the biggest things you should consider is whether the surface has been filled or not.

Filled Travertine

Since travertine is a porous stone, to get a completely smooth surface, the holes need to be filled. This is sometimes done at the factory with some kind of cement, resin, or epoxy mixture. It can also be done when installed with normal tile grout.

Unfilled Travertine

Unfilled travertine has a more rustic appearance since the holes are left unfilled. Unfilled tiles are best used on vertical surfaces where dirt and dust are less likely to collect in the holes.

Tile, pavers, and slabs can also have a variety of surface finishes, from glossy and polished to rough and rustic. Let’s have a quick look at four commonly used finishes.

Brushed Travertine

Brushed travertine has a surface that’s been smoothed with a wire brush. By brushed travertine, it means it’s usually unfilled and provides a look that’s a nice balance between rustic and refined.

Tumbled Travertine

Tumbled travertine tile is popular for its weathered and rustic finish. 

Tumbled Travertine What is Travertime | Alexander and Xavier Masonry

The individual tiles get this finish after having been gently “tumbled”, sometimes for several weeks, with similar tiles and abrasive grit.

The rustic look of tumbled travertine is common for backsplashes and shower surrounds. However, because of its porous, unfilled surface, it’s even more important to seal the tiles properly.

Honed Travertine

Honed travertine is one of the most popular finishes for residential homes. One side is ground down to leave a smooth finish.

Honed travertine comes in both filled and unfilled finishes. The final surface finish can vary from dull matte to a light sheen.

Honed tiles can be used just about anywhere in your home, like floors, kitchens, interior walls, showers, and even outdoor around pool areas.

Polished Travertine

For the most luxurious look, go with polished travertine tiles. Any surface imperfections are filled, then the surface is ground smooth and buffed to a high gloss.

It’s a really popular choice for entryways where you want a high-end look that really makes a statement. However, you should be careful using it as floor tile anywhere you might walk on it with wet feet. The polished surface gets very slippery when wet.

Travertine Patterns

Since travertine is a natural stone, no two stones are alike. Each stone will have a slightly different pattern and look. However, depending on how the travertine is cut, the differences can be on the distinctive pattern.

Vein Cut Travertine

Imagine a piece of wood that’s been cut in the same direction as the grain. That is the same idea with vein-cut travertine tile. Since it’s cut in the same direction as the veins in the natural stone, you can find travertine vein cut with longer lines and patterns running the entire length of the tile.

Cross-cut Travertine

Cross-cut travertine tile is cut perpendicular to the natural veins. Most travertine tiles are cross-cut. When cross-cut, the tiles will have more random and sometimes circular patterns.

The Most Popular Uses for Travertine Tile

The Most Popular Uses for Travertine Tile What is Travertime | Alexander and Xavier Masonry

Tiles

Travertine tile is available in a variety of sizes from 2″x2″ to 18″x18″ and larger. This makes it a versatile building material you can use almost anywhere in your home whether indoor or outdoor. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance.

Flooring

Travertine floor tiles have been a popular choice for centuries. One of its pros is that the rustic look and warm colors work with almost any home decor. For a travertine floor, just be sure to choose filled travertine since dust materials and dirt can easily collect in unfilled holes.

Countertops

Kitchen countertops can be made either with travertine tile or large travertine slabs. A vein-cut slab countertop has a luxurious look that rivals the best granite and marble countertops.

Backsplashes

When properly installed, travertine is a great way to add a touch of rustic charm to your kitchen. You can even choose unfilled tile since dust and dirt are less likely to collect on the vertical surface.

Walls

Add travertine to a feature wall or fireplace surround. You can also use it in bathrooms as a shower surround.

Outdoor Patios

Rustic travertine pavers make a great choice for patio pavers. They’re durable and naturally slip-resistant.

Pool Decks

Travertine is a popular material for pool surrounds and pool coping. It’s naturally slip-resistant even when wet, so you don’t have to worry as much when the kids are playing games around the pool.

Travertine Flooring

What to Consider when Choosing Flagstone What is Flagstone | Alexander and Xavier MasonryOne of the benefits of using natural stone floor tiles is that they never really go out of style. That’s why travertine flooring is a worthwhile investment for your home.

Travertine flooring is also quite durable. When installed and maintained correctly, it will last the life of your home. Honed and polished travertine can even be refinished if needed down the road.

However, this type of flooring can be a bit more difficult to install than regular ceramic or porcelain tiles. That’s why it’s best to leave natural stone flooring installation to the experts.

Travertine Pros and Cons

While travertine is a beautiful building material, keep in mind these pros and cons.

Advantages of Travertine

Disadvantages of Travertine

Travertine Maintenance - How to Properly Care for a Travertine

Travertine Maintenance How to Properly Care for a Travertine What is Travertime | Alexander and Xavier Masonry

So if you decide to go with travertine for your home, how can you maintain it so it stays looking nice for decades? Don’t worry, it’s not too difficult if you keep these basic tips in mind.

Travertine Cleaners

Avoid using harsh or acidic cleaning material like ammonia, bleach, and vinegar and other products. It’s best to use a mild, Ph-neutral detergent. Your best option is to purchase a natural stone cleaner like Granite Gold Stone & Tile Floor Cleaner.

If you need some help maintaining or repairing your natural stone, give us a call at AX Masonry. We’d be happy to help!

How to clean travertine tiles, floors, shower, and walls?

For a travertine floor, it’s best to sweep it once a day depending on the foot traffic. This will prevent dirt materials from building up in any small imperfections.

For showers, squeegee the water off the travertine after every use. Then once a week, clean the shower surround with a mild soap scum remover that’s safe to use on natural stone.

Clean countertops with a damp microfiber cloth and if needed a mild natural stone cleaner.

You should also be quick to clean up any spills, especially if it’s something that could stain, like wine, coffee, juice, or anything acidic.

How to seal travertine?

Unsealed travertine is much more likely to stain over time. That’s why it should be sealed right after installation and then regularly every 3-5 years. Fortunately, it’s easy to do.

To seal the tile, you first need to thoroughly clean it. Then follow the instructions for the particular brand of sealer you purchased.

Usually, working on sealed travertine just involves spraying the sealer on the travertine tile and rubbing it in with a soft towel. You may have to repeat the process once or twice depending on the sealer.

Repair

Travertine repairs are best handled by professionals. They can properly diagnose the problem and fix it so you can get back to enjoying your home.

If your travertine is cracking or staining, give us a call at AX Masonry for a free consultation.

FAQ

Does travertine need sealing?

Yes, this is one of the cons of travertine. Unless it comes with an already polished surface, you will need to seal it.

What type of grout should you use for travertine?

Almost any type of normal tile grout can be used with travertine tile. For rustic tiles like tumbled travertine, sanded grout are popular pieces that works well in the larger joints. Unsanded grout can be used in the thinner joints between tiles with a honed finish and to fill in imperfections on the surface.

Does travertine last long?

Just like all natural stones, travertine will last a long time when properly cared for. The Roman Colosseum is made mostly of travertine and is almost 2000 years old.

Is travertine a good investment?

Most consider it an excellent investment! Many other building materials go in and out of style (think shag carpet!)

But natural stone like marble, granite, and limestone compliments almost all design and decor and has a timeless natural stone beauty that never goes out of style. Travertine tile is durable and many types can even be refinished if needed.

How much does Travertine Cost?

Most travertine tile would cost between $10-$30 per square foot. This is just for the tile itself. Labor and other installation materials, like mortar, thinset, and sealers will be extra. If you’d like a more exact idea of what your project could cost and you live in the Garland, TX area, give us a call at AX Masonry for a free consultation.

Is Travertine the Right Flooring/Tile Material for You?

So are you getting excited about your next travertine home project? If you’re willing to do a little bit of extra maintenance, travertine is a great choice for your home.

Just imagine your new shower surround, patio area, or kitchen countertop.

Whatever your next stone project is, we’d love to help. So if you’re in the Garland, Texas area, why not give us a call today for a FREE consultation?

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