What is Travertine?

In this mini-series about travertine, I thought I’d speak in general terms to start off with, and then get to the meat of the subject when it comes to the kinds of products you can buy to bring its look and function into your space.  First then, here’s what travertine actually is; how it’s formed, what’s ‘in it’, and what some of its basic characteristics are.  So, here we go.

travertine slabFirst of all, you might notice when you take a look at your sample, or when you visit a retail location, that travertine resembles both limestone, and marble.  This is because these types of natural stone develop in the same way, and are at different stages of development.  That is, these varieties of stone build up due to underground water movement that collects minerals like calcium carbonate, and other sundry materials.  These elements mingle and solify over millions of years.  Because the mixture of elements is random, the patterns and color variations you’ll see in the finished product are also random.  And that’s a big part of the beauty you’ll find in it.  Depending on mineral content, travertine can appear to be gray with violet highlights, or golden brown, or even chocolaty brown.

Another thing that happens as travertine is forming is that, in addition to river systems and springs, escaping gasses also play a big part of the way that travertine looks when it’s quarried.  Just before the stone solidifies, the gasses creates miniscule holes in its surface.  And once again, it’s this mark of origin that lends travertine its unique look – that randomly patterned, porous surface that a lot of designers find irresistible in a natural stone surface.

Waiting in the ground in places like Turkey where travertine is particularly plentiful, and where some of the most skilled quarries in the industry are also located, travertine is a unique surface for floors, walls, accessories, pavers, and more.

The next post, I’ll talk about what happens when it gets from the quarry to the factory.



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