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Why Does Travertine Tile Vary so Much in Color and Pattern?

Travertine Tile Buying Guide

Travertine tile is a beautiful option that is suitable for a number of uses and in a variety of environments. The long history shows it is a dependable stone and the uniqueness of each project is clearly explained by the process of extraction and refinement. Before you purchase your tile be sure you know what grade tile you are receiving and that the color is what you are looking for and the finish is appropriate for your project. If Shopping for Tileyou are unsure if travertine is right for you consider the cleaning and maintenance required as well as where the tile is best used and the difficulty associated with installation. Finally, if you are unsure about anything that pertains to your tile selection, don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Travertine Flooring History

The history of travertine flooring dates back to the time of the first Dynasty of Egypt. It is found around the world from Turkey to Mexico, although the largest deposits are in Italy. Because of its abundance near water sources, travertine has been a popular building material in civilizations across the globe and has been used in buildings in some of the greatest cities including Rome, Hierapolis, New York, and Paris.

How Travertine is Made

Travertine is a naturally occurring stone that is extracted from the earth in quarries located around the world. The appearance of the tile will vary based on where it developed due to the unique geological conditions found in each area. The four primary methods of extraction are channeling machines, wire saw, chain saw, and water-jet cutting. Once the stone has been removed from the ground it is sent to a manufacturer, sliced into smaller slabs, polished, and packaged.

Types and Grades of Travertine

Purchasing travertine tile may be confusing at first because different manufacturers will provide different grade names. No matter the name, there are essentially three grades; premium, standard, and commercial. The best grade provides an almost flawless stone with few pores that have been filled. The next grade will be much like the first but with more pores and a bit more color variation. The lowest grade will have visible flaws as well as more, and larger, pores that may not all be filled in completely. In addition to the three different grades there are also two cuts that dominate the travertine tile market which are the vein cut and the Fleuri cut.

Colors Finishes and More

Travertine is a naturally occurring stone. As a result of its geographical location travertine can be found in a wide variety of colors from beige to chocolate. There are four finishes commonly found on travertine tile; polished, honed, brushed, and tumbled. By selecting the appropriate finish your tile could have a glossy appearance or a more rugged texture. The tile can be further customized by the edging that is applied. There are several edging options which result in edges that can be quite rustic or edges that have a pillowed appearance.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Travertine Tile

Travertine tile, when cared for properly, can last beautifully for a lifetime. Maintenance is, of course, the most important step in ensuring your tile remains beautiful but even those with the best of intentions will occasionally have an accident. Should a stain appear on your tile, it is possible to lighten or remove it with natural poultices. The cleaning process for exterior stone is a bit different as the environment and expected condition of the stone differ.

Is Travertine Right for Me?

Travertine is a beautiful stone, and the tiles make fantastic floors, countertops, and showers. The stone is also quite durable, however, it is considered a soft stone and is best used in areas that are indoors and receive moderate use.

Travertine: Pro or DIY?

The decision about whether to hire a professional tile layer or to install the tile yourself comes down to two things: time and money. Installing tile flooring is a time consuming process. This is especially true if you have no previous experience. On the other hand, travertine tile is quite expensive, and the cost of hiring someone to lay the tile for you will be expensive as well. You would save money on the project if you did it yourself, everything went perfectly, and you already had the majority of the tools needed for the job. However, if you make frequent mistakes and you need to buy tools, you could end up only saving a small amount. Be sure to look at all of the costs associated with installing the flooring yourself, and not just the difference in the price of labor.

How to Install Travertine Tile

Installing travertine tile is much like installing any other tile. You must first prepare the surface, lay the tile, and then apply grout to keep the tiles in place. This basic process is the same whether you are using the tile for flooring, walls, or countertops.

How to Repair and Replace Travertine Tile

No matter how carefully your tile is installed and cared for, you will eventually find a need to repair or possibly even replace a tile. This process can be time consuming, but if you have spare tiles from the initial installation, it is certainly a better choice than having to replace the entire floor. A loose tile is the most common repair needed although you may also need to repair a damaged subfloor, which is a bit more difficult.

Travertine Buying Checklist

When you make a decision to buy travertine tile, there are several things you will need to take into consideration such as your budget and if financing is going to be needed and if it is available. Knowing what questions to ask about your warrant and the installation process are also extremely important. Be sure to have a checklist of all pertinent information ready before you make your purchase.

How Much Do You Need?

Accurately determining how much tile you need is an important first step. You want to make sure you order enough to cover the surface plus a bit more in case any tiles are broken and in case sometime later one or two tiles may need to be replaced. The reason these extra tiles are especially important is that each lot of travertine will have a unique pattern running through it. If you find you need a replacement, years down the road, it will likely be impossible to find a good match. So how do you figure out how much tile you need? First, measure the surface you will be working with and multiply the width by the length, this will give you the total area. Each square foot is 12”x 12”. If you have selected 12” tiles, you will need one for each square foot. Use the chart below to help determine how many tiles you will need for an assortment of tile sizes:

  • 4” tiles – Total area / .1089 = Number of 4”tiles required
  • 6” tiles – Total area / .25 = Number of 6” tiles required
  • 9” tiles – Total area / .5625 = Number of 9”tiles required
  • 18” tiles – Total area / 2.25 = Number of 18” tiles required

Once you have figured out the number of tiles required to complete the project, add an additional 10 percent for the reasons listed above. If you will be completing the project yourself and have little experience, 20 percent will give you more room for mistakes.

Finally, remember that even the most perfectly crafted travertine tile will have color variations and imperfections. Do not think of these as a negative aspect; instead, revel in the uniqueness they will impart to your project. There will be differences between the samples you view and the tiles that are shipped to you, because the look of the tiles between pallets, and even within pallets, will vary. This is not because they are imperfect; rather, it is because of the crystallization and mineralization process. This is to be expected, and the pattern that emerges in the finished product will be completely different from that of any other floor. This is true even if both floors are made with travertine tile, installed by the same people, and purchased from the same dealer. It is exactly this individuality that has made travertine tile such a popular building material throughout the ages.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is travertine?

Travertine is a limestone, or calcium carbonate, that forms in layers around mineral-laden natural hot springs. It is often incorrectly labeled marble, which is a different type of limestone.

What colors does travertine come in?

Travertine comes in several different colors including ivory, beige, walnut, and gold. The variegated color of travertine is the result of mineral compounds and other organic impurities that permeate the stone.

What type of finish can travertine have?

Travertine can have one of four major finishes, polished (shiny), honed (matte), brushed, and tumbled (textured surfaces). The type of finish given to the travertine determines how glossy or textured the surface will be. Polished and honed surfaces are smooth, while the brushed and tumbled surfaces are textured. Polished travertine is shiny and smooth to the touch similar to a marble. Tumbled travertine feels more like natural stone and reflects the least amount of light. The most common finish for travertine used in home environments is honed: a flat, smooth feel with a matte finish that mutes reflected light. The resulting tile is natural looking but not textured.

What should I consider before installing travertine?

Travertine is a natural stone product. The minerals in travertine are highly reactive with acidic solutions (e.g. orange juice, vinegar) – making where the travertine will be installed and what it will be exposed to important considerations. Sealers provide some protection, but it is impossible to repel every stain.

Is travertine a “green” product?

Travertine is an abundant natural resource with incredible durability. Many of the ancient ruins we can still enjoy today were constructed using travertine. Considering that a travertine floor can last over a century given proper care, contains no harmful chemicals, and does not require the energy use associated with vacuuming, this is a human and environmentally friendly product.

Where can travertine flooring be installed?

Most travertine flooring can be installed outdoors or indoors in residential or commercial areas. You may need a moisture barrier in locales that are at or below sea level; check the manufacturer’s instructions and follow the recommendations made by your installer.

What are the benefits of travertine floors?

Travertine flooring has exceptional natural beauty and is available in a variety of subtle shades and tones. It can be installed outdoors or indoors in residential or commercial areas. Travertine is extremely durable and can last centuries if properly maintained. It does not contain chemicals, unless artificially finished instead of polished. It is hypoallergenic and antimicrobial, so it will help keep your home or office free of dust, hair, allergens, and bacteria that can build up in carpeted areas.

What are the disadvantages of travertine floors?

Travertine has a porous surface that tends to hold liquid, dirt, and debris if not properly sealed. Travertine is generally a little more expensive than many other types of flooring, but the cost is balanced by the longevity of wear. Acidic spills can damage or stain a travertine floor, including orange juice, urine, ketchup, lemonade, and so on. All stone floors are hard and cold to the touch and can be slippery when wet. A professional installation is recommended because stone flooring is very heavy and precision and skill are needed.

How does travertine compare to ceramic tile?

Natural travertine varies in color and has unique flaws that give the floor a natural, organic character and depth. Ceramic tile is consistent and uniform. Daily care is roughly the same, but travertine requires periodic deep cleaning and sealing. Travertine absorbs moisture or “breathes,” making it vulnerable to stains. Ceramic finishes are non-porous and unlikely to stain. Travertine flooring is generally a harder, more chip-resistant material than ceramic, although it is not impervious to the elements. Some ceramics may be unsuitable for use in extreme climates. Travertine is usually more expensive but undeniably more luxurious, elegant, and durable.

How do I remove a stain from travertine flooring?

Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper care. Some stains can be drawn out with a method called poulticing, which uses a reducing agent to draw the stain into a cloth. The reducing agent will depend on the source of the stain. However, it is important to note that some stains are cause by a chemical reaction with the minerals in the stone and may not be removed. More information on cleaning travertine tile.

How do I clean and maintain my travertine flooring?

Travertine is an easy-care product with a few simple precautions. Keep abrasive materials off the floor to avoid damaging the finish. Since sand is abrasive, doormats and scatter rugs placed strategically near entryways and high traffic areas are advisable. Frequent cleaning with a dust mop will help keep the sand and debris from marring the finish. Most vacuum cleaners have a beater brush, so vacuuming is not recommended. Clean any spills immediately to avoid staining and use a neutral cleanser recommended by the manufacturer with a wet mop or a wet/dry vacuum from time to time. Outdoor stone can be power-washed. Reseal your travertine flooring from time to time to keep the pores closed and the finish intact. Never use chemical or acidic products. Check the manufacturer instructions for the proper care regimen.

How do I maintain travertine flooring installed in a shower stall?

Squeegee the water off after every shower and clean daily with a solution recommended by the manufacturer. Clean any mildew growing in the grout lines or soap scum immediately with a cleanser recommended for natural stone.

If travertine is damaged, can it be refinished?

Travertine is natural stone, so it can occasionally be reground, buffed, and resealed to restore the original beauty. This can only be done a certain number of times over the life of the floor, depending on the thickness of the tile, but it should be necessary only very rarely.

What about minor impact damage, like small chips or cracks?

Grout can often be used to fill small chips or cracks in the stone. Match the grout color to the stone and use a sealant to minimize the appearance of the flaws.

Can I install travertine myself?

We highly recommend a professional installation. Travertine, like all stone, is difficult to work with and requires special tools. Pieces must be precision cut using a wet saw, and the sharp edges must be sanded and buffed. There is little room for error, and replacement tiles are costly, especially given the minimum purchase for shipping. In addition, stone is heavy and cumbersome to work with. The good news is that you only pay for installation once if you stay in your home. With a little care, your great-great-great grandchildren can race their hovercycles across the floor.

How are travertine floor tiles usually installed?

Most commonly, travertine floor tiles are glued directly to the subfloor. Spaces left between tiles are filled with grout. The finished floor is buffed to achieve a polished, matte, or textured finish and then sealed.

Why should travertine flooring be sealed?

Travertine is a porous material that collects liquid and debris. A sealer is used to fill the pores and prevent liquid and debris from penetrating the stone. Sealant will protect your travertine flooring from pitting and staining to retain its original beauty. Resealing the floor from time to time extends the lifespan of the flooring.

How do you cut travertine floor tile?

All stone floor tiles are cut with a water saw to avoid chipping. The edges are then sanded and polished.

What is the filler in the stone?

When travertine is quarried, there are small holes in the stone from water pockets that have formed over thousands of years. The holes remain after the tiles and pavers are cut and tumbled. When the tile is honed and filled, manufacturers use a mixture of the residue from the cut tiles and cement to create a fill that sticks to the stone and matches the color.

How much breakage should I expect with an order?

It is not unusual to have 2% – 3% of the tile broken to some degree (e.g. chipped edges). Any amount up to 10% is still considered acceptable. These damaged tiles can be used for the cuts you will need to make. If breakage is above 10%, we ask that you note it on the logistics receiving document and take pictures. Please make a claim with us within 10 days of receiving your order.

Should I order extra travertine tiles?

Regardless of type of flooring, you should always order 10% extra in case of damage. At some point in the future, a few tiles may become damaged beyond repair and require replacement. Finding an acceptable match to your stone may prove impossible. You may never need to replace any tiles, but having replacement travertine on hand is a wise precaution. A small extra investment today could save the cost of an entire new floor in the future.

Travertine Tile Installation Tips

Are you installing travertine tile in your home? Whether you are installing it yourself or calling in a professional contractor, it is important to follow these steps before you begin the installation process. The steps include: preparation, laying the tile, and grouting it to keep it all together. Travertine installation is considered a medium to high difficulty job, and will require a wet saw is required to cut the tiles to the appropriate size. Other tools and materials to complete the installation will include: Chalk line, tape measure, carpenter’s pencil, power drill with mixing paddle, notched trowel, beater block, rubber mallet, grout float, 4-foot metal straightedge, and a dry-cutting saw. Learn more here!

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Types and Grades of Travertine Tile

Travertine is a form of limestone with unique porous veins that give the milled tile their beauty. The stone is found in a wide variety of natural colors, and four different finishes may be applied to individual tiles. Before purchasing your travertine tile, it is important to become familiar with industry terms in order to choose the right type and grade for you. DId you know the two types of travertine tiles are created by using different cutting methods, not by using different types of travertine stone? Learn more here!

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Travertine Tile from BuildDirect

Our Kesir, Izmir, and Merida brands of travertine tile add an extremely elegant touch to any space; subtle beauty, smooth textures, and regal classicism to residences and commercial spaces. With our travertine, you gain stability and long-lasting performance as well as the beauty of premium natural stone tile. This is travertine tile noted for its consistency. We’ve formed exclusive relationships with the quarries and factories where our Kesir and Cabot travertine tile is made to make sure of it. The result is a travertine tile which is marked by craftsmanship and affordability you can count on – the best for less.

Our travertine tiles are noted for offering:

  • A natural stone tile that will look great in a number of settings
  • A surface that is easy to maintain
  • A tile that is made to last
  • A way to increase the re-sale value of properties in areas like kitchens and bathrooms, and other locations

Travertine from BuildDirect comes in a choice in color ranges:

In addition to colors, we offer a selection of surface styles in travertine tiles beyond the choice of smooth honed and filled travertine. These include tumbled travertine tile and antique travertine tiles, among others.

Why Buy Travertine From BuildDirect?

We are able to ensure that prices are low and quality is high on travertine tile because we’re industry experts. We make sure that the premium travertine tile you buy is delivered to you as directly as possible; fewer parties managing the goods mean fewer mark-ups on premium materials. Fewer mark-ups mean lower prices.

We don’t employ agents – we form exclusive relationships with travertine producers. We don’t cut corners on quality – we insist on consistent high-quality, because we know you demand it of us. So, when you buy our travertine tile, you pay less for premium quality. While we sell discount travertine tiles, we will never sell cheap travertine tile. All of our products undergo rigorous product quality testing before we offer them to you and they are constantly rechecked for quality to ensure you always get the best products while still paying below wholesale prices.

Explore our fine selection of premium travertine tile at discount prices, and feel free to ask a friendly BuildDirect product specialist if you have any questions. Call us toll-free at 1-877-631-2845.