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BDU Stone Tile Flooring and Countertop College™

Travertine: A Classical Beauty

What you will learn: origins of travertine; appearance of travertine; applications of travertine as a building material; types of cuts and finish for travertine.

The creamy richness of travertine, the porous decorative stone that was used as a building material as long ago as the rise of Western civilization in ancient Greece, can lend some of the traditions of classical appeal to your interior or exterior space, whether in a residential setting or commercial application. For your own imperial tastes, travertine may be the natural stone tile for you....

In addition to marble, slate, and granite, travertine has long been a popular material for stone tile flooring. It even has a rich history that runs parallel to the development of Western civilization itself. Travertine is a type of limestone composed of a material called of calcium carbonate which is produced from deposits built up over time from rivers, springs, and other subterranean water sources. The resultant stone is a smooth, porous, naturally decorative material which offers a soft cream hue, an overall old-world beauty, and a dense and durable surface. Travertine is most commonly used for building materials in Italy, and rich deposits of travertine are also common to Turkey and surrounding regions.

Variations in cut for travertine

Travertine can be cut on either a "vein" cut, which is against the bedding so the bedding plane is revealed, or a "fleuri" cut, which is along the bedding plane and reveals a flowery, often circular pattern. This cut is also referred to as a "crosscut" pattern. The distinctive holes and cavities in the travertine are formed by gas that escapes during the stone’s formation. These small pits may be filled with matching Portland cement, colored epoxy, or polyester resins.

Some of the finishes available on travertine are:

  • Tumbled: This stone is tumbled with sand, pebbles, or steel bearings to create a weathered, aged finish to the travertine.

  • Filled: Natural travertine comes with pores or small holes where gases were once trapped. These holes are usually filled in with cement in order to create a uniform surface.

  • Unfilled: The natural finish of the stone is unfilled, leaving the pores and holes in the travertine exposed.

Regardless of the type of surface to be maintained, all travertine tile should be protected with a sealer.

Travertine is well established as a dependable type of natural stone, one that is extremely well-suited for flooring. From the Roman Coliseum built in the ancient world to the Getty Center in Los Angeles, travertine has been a part of human progress for millennia. In choosing travertine, you are not only gaining the benefit of a dependable and beautiful natural stone tile – you are playing a part in continuing its splendid history.

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