Home » What is Travertine Tile? & Pros and Cons

What is Travertine Tile? & Pros and Cons

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If you love the minimalistic look and feel of luxury, travertine tile would be a great option for your flooring. I went deep end to cover almost all general questions asked about this amazing natural stone.

What is Travertine Tile?

What is travertine tile?

Travertine tile is made out of natural stone called Travertine. It is a type of limestone that is quarried from mineral deposits around hot springs.

Where can we find it?

It is typically imported from Mexico, Peru, Turkey, Iran, and China, although large deposits of it can be found worldwide.

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Travertine terraces (img source)

Travertine itself has been used as a building material in architecture for centuries. In the past, the most famous were Romans who made Colosseum using it.

Color options

Travertine tiles are available in various colors ranging from off-white or beige to a range of browns and coral reds and even black.

It’s the purest color is white, but it’s most striking feature is the beautiful veining impurities that flow through the stone.

You can find tiles with almost no veining or color variation if you prefer a minimalistic look. On the other hand, if you like the dignified randomness of the veining, there is no shortage of rustic and textured tile options.

Travertine tiles have a visibly porous and pocked surface. They are a physically heavy, and very durable natural type of material.

Are Travertine Floors Outdated?

Travertine floors will never be outdated. Great about Natural materials is its timeless look, which can be enhanced or diminished by their surroundings. What can be outdated, is the style of the room or home that the travertine tile is part of.

If your room is looking dated, don’t blame the travertine tiles. Instead, look to change the furnishings, cabinets, or color pallet of the room to blend it properly with tiles.

Travertine tile Pros and Cons

I explained a lot in general about travertine tiles so let’s sun up and see their pros and cons.

PROS

Adds home value

With being natural material and above-average price, travertine tile will add value to your home and increase resale value.

Durability

This stone has stood the test of time, quite literally. While it does require maintenance and care, as the Colosseum can attest to, this stone has staying power.

Diversity of Design

There are great versatility and variety available in the world of travertine tiles. Not only do you have a wide color selection to choose from, but you have a variety of shapes and sizes available as well, including diamond, chevron, hexagon, arabesque, and mosaic.

The classification of the tile is yet another feature that offers multiple options including:

  • Tumbled – In this classification, the edges and corners have been rounded on the tiles, but the surfaces are not smooth. The name of the classification comes from the process. The stones are placed together along with water and grit and literally tumbled to achieve a more pocked and textured surface.
  • Honed – Honed travertine tiles are the most commonly used classification for indoor flooring. The tiles are lightly polished, and the holes are filled. The effect is a dull matte finish that has a smooth texture.
  • Brushed – This class of tiles has been brushed with a wire wheel or steel brush. This process wears down any sharp edges while preserving the natural look and texture.
  • Polished – Polished travertine tiles have been smoothed and polished with diamond pads to achieve a smooth and glossy appearance. They are also completely sealed and the best of the four classifications for stain resistance.

you might be interested reading mz related blog posts: What is difference between honed and tumbled Travertine? and What is best adhesive for floor tiles?

Cracks can usually be repaired

If cracks emerge on your travertine tile, you might not have to pull up the tile and replace it. They can often be filled by using epoxy or caulk. Either match the tile’s color to obscure the crack, or embrace the natural look by using the same color as your grout.

Water and Weather resilient

This quality makes travertine an appealing choice for both indoor flooring and outdoor areas. It is commonly used for patios, garden paths, walls and around pool area.

Travertine tile is Water and Weather resilient

Cons

Maintenance

Its pocked and porous surface makes travertine tile susceptible to liquid absorption and staining. To overcome this susceptibility, it needs to be sealed with two types of finishing sealant upon installation.

First an impregnating sealer should be applied which will be absorbed into the surface of the tiles. Following the impregnating sealer, a surface sealer should then be applied for additional protection. 

The sealing treatments should then be reapplied every three to five years, or more frequently if the travertine floor is in a high traffic area.

Expensive

While it’s not the most expensive natural stone option available, it certainly costs more than many other flooring options. On average, including materials and labor, a travertine tile floor will cost you around $15 per square foot.

That sets it pretty firmly in the middle range of natural stone options (more than granite but less than a marble). However, compared to a synthetic flooring option such as laminate (which averages as low as $5 per square foot), it is expensive.

Not for DIY

Many people find ways to cut costs on their new flooring by opting to do it themselves. Travertine tile flooring is not a great DIY project. It is cumbersome, and therefore has strict requirements for subflooring and may require structural reinforcement.

Moreover, a diamond blade power wet saw is required for cutting and trimming. It technically can be done DIY, but really is best left for professionals.

Hard underfoot

This trait should be no surprise; it is stone after all. Other hard flooring types such as hardwood and LVP offer a slight “give” or cushioning that you may not even be aware of. But when you spend a lot of time walking or standing on your travertine floors, and there is no cushion, it can be hard on your feet, literally. 

Cold

Travertine flooring will hold its temperature, which means it tends to be cold. You’ll want area rugs and socks on your feet for cold weather seasons. This characteristic can be a great benefit if you live in a hot climate all year round to keep the house cool. If you have a radiant in-floor heating system, the tiles will hold the heat and bring warmth to the room.

Slippery when wet

The classifications of polished and honed travertine tiles have finishes that provide serious stain resistance and a pleasingly smooth texture. Unfortunately, they also have the disadvantage of being slippery, particularly when wet.

If you’re set on a polished or honed type, look into applying a non-slip coating like Solid Step Cote, who is safe for travertine tiles.

Susceptible to acids – At its core, travertine is calcium carbonate. This reacts badly with acidic substances, including vinegar, citrus fruits or juices, and coffee. Be quick to clean up those substances even if your tiles are sealed. Furthermore, be sure that your cleaning solution is acid-free.


What type of grout do you use for travertine? And Do you grout the holes in travertine?

You can grout your travertine tiles with either cement or an epoxy-based grout. Do take note, however, of one important clarification.

Are your tiles tumbled travertine or simply travertine tiles?

Tumbled travertine tiles require a sand-free grout. If you use a sanded grout you can actually damage the tumbled travertine. For an epoxy-based grout, I recommend Laticrete SpectraLOCK Pro Premium Mini. It’s highly rated as a quality product and is easy to use.

Sand is a key component in strengthening grout. If you need a non-sanded grout, check out the Laticrete Permacolor Select NS Grout Base , which is specially formulated and highly rated for its strength.

Why you should grout the holes in travertine tile?

  • It is easier to grout the whole tile, holes, and grout lines.
  • Leaving the holes clear of grout opens the door for debris, bacteria, and fungus to settle in.
  • If you decide to grout the holes, go for contrast. Use a darker or lighter grout color to contrast the surface color, so the holes are still visible.
  • Leaving the holes clear of grout will give a more roughened and natural look.


Related questions

Is travertine a good choice for kitchen floor?

Because your kitchen is a prime spot for liquid spills and food stains, you should be cautious about installing travertine tiles. The best type of travertine for a kitchen floor is the honed classification. It’s smoother than other types, and the holes are filled but are less slippery than polished.

Does travertine crack easily?

Due to its stone nature, hairline cracks can present in travertine tiles at any time. Additionally, if there is any flexibility, settling, or bowing in the subfloor, the travertine is rigid and will not bend. Instead, it will crack. 

Can travertine get wet?

Travertine tiles can get wet and are an excellent flooring option for outdoor areas, including pool areas because of natural stone who can absorb rainwater or pool water. These tiles are very resilient to extreme weather conditions.

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4 thoughts on “What is Travertine Tile? & Pros and Cons”

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