Learning Center

Find the answers to your home improvement questions.

How is Travertine Tile Made?

Travertine Quarry

Travertine is a natural stone, pulled from quarries in various locations all over the globe. Travertine deposits are commonly found in: Iran, Turkey, Mexico, Peru, and China. The tile will have a different appearance depending on the region it comes from, due to the different geological characteristics in those areas. Most of the inexpensive travertine in the United States comes from Mexico because of its close proximity, but it also comes from China because of the cheap labor utilized to create it. Due to decreased lead times and reduced shipping costs, Italy and Turkey are the leading exporters of travertine.

How Travertine Tile is Made

Travertine must first be harvested from a quarry, which is selected based on color, quality, and other factors. There are four main methods of quarry methods used to remove the raw material. These include: channeling machines, wire saw, chain saw, and water-jet cutting.

Travertine Being Processed Into Tile

Channeling Machines: These machines were developed to help prevent damage to the neighboring stones during removal. They use a large chisel to cut the stone out of the surrounding area, making use of natural joints present in the stones to remove them without damaging adjacent blocks.

Wire Saw: This involves using strands of wire to cut the stone in the desired areas to remove it from the surrounding stone. The wire moves by electricity or fuel, and is coated with water and abrasive materials to help it make the cuts. As the wire wears against the stone, a substantial amount of wire is required to remove the stone.

Chain Saw: These are much like the traditional chain saws most people are familiar with. They are used to cut softer stone material. They are much larger and use a carbide or diamond tipped blades for cutting, while using a self propelled track system.

Water-Jet Cutting: This method uses a high pressure, fine stream of water to cut through the stones and make paths for new ones to be cut.

travertine box packing

Boxed Travertine

After the stone has been removed from the quarry, it is sent to a manufacturer where large blocks are sliced into slabs, similar to the way a loaf of bread is sliced. High quality, specialized cutting equipment is used to cut the stones to the appropriate size for tile. The tiles are all sanded down to a uniform thickness to make them easier to install.

Once the manufacturer has sliced the material into smaller slabs, it is polished and finished to make it ready for fabrication. The process the tile goes through at this point will depend on the finish applied to the stone. The fabricator will then customize the tiles for specific installations. Edges will be cut and rounded. A final polishing is applied.

travertine tile pallet packing

Crated Travertine

The travertine is then packaged. If it is being sent directly to a construction site, it is usually tightly packed in a pallet, with the pallet as the only packaging. When the tiles are sent to a retail outlet, distribution center, or wholesaler, they are packaged in a wooden crate to make it easier for selling partial pallets and smaller amounts. Other packaging methods include: shrink wrap, cardboard box, and Styrofoam packed. The most cost effective solution is shrink wrap. No matter how they are packaged and shipped, the stones are never placed one on top of the other, in order to protect them from damaging one another.

Once packaged, it is shipped to various retailers and resellers for customers to purchase and install in their homes or businesses.

Travertine Tile Factory in Turkey

A visit to a typical travertine processing factory.

Watch Travertine Tile Factory in Turkey on YouTube

Travertine Tile Manufacturing – Honing Machine

The honing machine makes each tile very smooth and refined, with abrasives moving over the surface of each tile until it achieves a polished look.

Watch Travertine Tile Manufacturing – Honing Machine on YouTube

Travertine Tile Manufacturing – Filling Process Part 1

This is the process which fills the natural holes in travertine to produce a smooth surfaced tile, ready for domestic building projects.

Watch Travertine Tile Manufacturing – Filling Process Part 1 on YouTube

Travertine Tile Manufacturing – Filling Process Part 2

This is the process where the holes in travertine tile and slabs are filled to produced a smooth-surfaced tile product, later to be shipped for use as premium building materials

Watch Travertine Tile Manufacturing – Filling Process Part 2 on YouTube

(8) Comments

  1. Pingback: Mining Travertine Tile: From Quarry to your Home | TOA's Blog About Tile & more

  2. I bought a set of two goblets made of travertine stone. They were sold thru Smithsonian store.
    They are no longer available and I cannot find a retail store that sells them. Can you give me this information? They are beautiful and make a great gift. Lillie

  3. Travertine is a soft porous stone. Whoever you purchased it from should have told you this and advised you against anyone wearing stiletto heels on it. It should also be mentioned that you will continue to get cracked tiles as your house settles. I had over 50 cracked tiles replaced after the first year, and have at least 30 more to be replaced. How many cracks you get seems to be based on your foundation, how many pours it took, and how much settling your house is going through. Trying to stop a crack has not worked for me. I had 3 different tile companies come through trying their solutions on cracks to stop their continued growth, so I wouldn’t have to endure a fourth round of tile replacements. I had some cracks filled to look like veins to avoid the time and mess of tile replacements. Obviously this could not be done across all the tiles in a crack or it would appear to be just that- a long filled in crack. I asked the same guy to fill in the holes with various colors of grout. It also scratches easily so be careful about any furniture nails protruding from chair legs if a slider comes off. Don’t fret about the cracks and when you think your house is done settling, plan the replacement of the cracked tiles. Although they will look at you like you’re nuts, be insistent about them sheeting off the area (ceiling to floor) or you will have a layer of tile silt everywhere. Vacuuming as they go does not prevent your home from being coated with travertine silt. I am a 10 year veteran of travertine and my floors currently have 3 cracks. Two have gotten wider in the past 5 months, but one appears ‘dormant’. I hope you have a lot of spare tiles. It can be difficult to find color matches once the quarry is closed.

  4. I have put travertine tile in my kitchen and dining area. I have had nothing but problems, it seems to be to soft, cracking finding new holes in tile every other week. please respond and help me get a resoloution to this problem.

  5. My daughter chose top travertine tiles for her bathroom walls, she was told that the more expensive the tiles the fewer holes they had. Over 100 tiles arrived loose, no packaging and some were broken. Top quality tiles from Turkey were ordered but the ones that arrived have a large amount holes – some quite big – and are not comparable with the sample tile she has. A replacement shipment is expected within days, our plumber thinks they will be the same quality as the previous batch. HELP.

    Pat Dawson

  6. Is it possible to have a 20″ x20″ honed and filled in dark brown not to exceed 1/2″ in thicknes?

    Thank you,
    Sylvia Ravitz

  7. please send me the latest price & photo of marbly & travertine stone cutting machine.
    I am interested in machines can design on stone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You can use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.