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Travertine vs Marble: What’s the Difference?

If you’re planning to install or replace the tile in your home, you’re probably considering the differences between stone tile options like marble and travertine. Although they are both variations of limestone and would both make excellent additions to any home, they have their own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two.

What Does Marble Look Like?

Marble vs. Travertine Tiles: What's the Difference?

Marble appears as a single, solid color, usually with streaks of darker colors running through it.

You can tell marble apart from other stone tile by its hardness and distinct veiny color patterns. Although marble is sometimes a single, solid color, more often it is one color with streaks of another running through it, such as white with gray or black veins. Other common colors include black, gray, pink, blue, or green. Marble’s texture is very smooth and is manufactured with either a satiny honed finish or a high gloss polished finish. It tends to have a bit of a glittery sparkle, too.

What Does Travertine Look Like?

Marble vs. Travertine Tiles: What's the Difference?

Offering warm neutral tones, travertine tiles will compliment a range of interior design styles.

Travertine is often visibly porous, giving it a more natural, textured look. However, when sanded down and sealed, travertine tiles are smooth and suitable for flooring or as shower tiles. This stone is relatively soft and absorbent, so it requires a few coats of sealant to prevent debris from penetrating the stone.

Travertine’s colors are typically warm and range from the lightest white or cream to beige, gold, brown, and even red. Slight color and pattern variations between tiles keep them from looking too uniform. This type of stone is also available in a variety of finishes, including polished, honed, brushed, saw cut, and tumbled.

What are the Best Uses for Marble Tiles?

Marble tiles are often used on bathroom walls, floors, and countertops because they look crisp and clean while still being practical and elegant. Marble is a very hard stone that, compared to other types of flooring, can really take a beating from kids or pets running back and forth on it. Just make sure to redo the sealant on the tiles about once a year to keep them from being damaged.

What are the Best Uses for Travertine Tiles?

Most commonly, travertine tiles are used indoors for bathroom flooring, but they can also be used in kitchens, outdoor spaces, and to decorate walls, ceilings, and countertops.

Before being polished and honed, the tile provides a high friction surface suitable for use outside to prevent slipping. For this reason, you often see travertine tiles and pavers installed by pools, but they’re somewhat rough on bare feet if they’re not sanded some.

Once honed, these tiles are very easy to clean by just wiping with a damp cloth. The only other care the tiles need is a yearly sealant application. This helps your tiles resist wear and tear, allowing them to last for many years.

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Which Costs More, Marble or Travertine?

One last consideration is cost. Natural travertine generally costs more than cultured marble, but natural marble will have the higher price tag. That being said, costs vary widely according to the stone’s quality. Either stone can cost anywhere between $2 to $50 or more per square foot.

Both of these beautiful stone floor tiles are quite heavy and therefore can be difficult to lift. They also need a good initial seal to prevent staining and scratching. Definitely consider hiring a professional to help you install these tiles when possible.

What natural stone do you prefer, marble or travertine?

Browse our selection of naturally beautiful stone flooring tiles here. Add beauty and durability to your space.

(13) Comments

  1. When something acidic like tomato sauce, even drops of water from a toothbrush after brushing fall .they leave a dull shadow on my travertine floor. Even after washing one can see where the drops fell. Today I dropped a bowl of mixed fruit ( berries and peaches with some sugar) and an entire shadow was left behind after cleaning. Although it is only visible when light overhead is on it bothers me because floor seems dirty. Any suggestions??????

  2. I am trying to remove stains left from a latex underlay we had used in our bathroom on a travertine floor. Any ideas as to what to use ? It appears as a shadow on the tiles and before sealing again I would like it to be clean. Any ideas??


    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Karen,

      Both marble and travertine work fine in water but with a waterfall I would highly suggest going with a porcelain in a marble or travertine look. Depending on where the waterfall is installed there may be chemicals in the water that could harm the stone and you will need to ensure the stone was completely sealed. You may even need to turn off the waterfall (is possible) more than once a year just to reseal the stone. It would be a lot easier to use a porcelain rather than a natural stone. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  3. Suzannah Woelkers - Reply

    Can travertine be used for a counter top in a guest bath in one piece not tiles?
    Thank you,

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Suzannah,

      Thank you for getting in touch! Travertine can definitely be used as a counter top. Just be sure to seal it properly before use. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Jeannie,

      Thank you for your inquiry! We do have a flexible tile that would be a little more forgiving on a floor that is not completely level. I have included a link below to these options. Although they may work it is very important that your floor be as level as possible. Using a self-leveling product would be the best option to ensure your tiles don’t crack. If you do want to try to install without leveling the floor it would be a good idea to include some sort of underlay as well. We usually recommend the Ditra Mat. Please let us know if you have any other questions!


  4. I have a table with a 32″ open pore travertine marble top . I moved recently and the movers broke it in half . I’m looking into having it replaced . Can you give me an idea what a new piece might cost ?
    Thanks ,
    Lisa, Pennsylvania

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Lisa,

      Unfortunately we aren’t able to give a general cost on the material you are looking for. The prices can change depending on where you are located and what the supply and demand is in that area. I suggest going to see a few different companies to get a quote and compare pricing so you get the best deal. Sorry we couldn’t be of more help!

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