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Travertine FAQ



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.


(21) Comments

  1. Hi
    very interested in using tumbled unfilled travertine tiles for the pool area and pool coping. What is the reaction of travertine with chlorine? And since it is used outside, will it be effected by elements like a lot of sun and water?
    Thanks for the help.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team

      Hi John,

      Thank you for your inquiry! As long as you properly seal the tile the Travertine will be fine with water, sun and chlorine. It is a very common product to use around pools. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  2. We just spent $12,000 on a polished travertine floor that we absolutely love. The problem is that I ran our roomba over it to clean it, and it now has some very light surface scratches. Do you have any advice on how to get these out???

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team

      Hi Diane, Thanks so much for reaching out to us. Unfortunately, there is nothing we know of that will get rid of these scratches. Please let us know if you have any other questions.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team

      Hi Gary,
      Thanks for your email!
      Once Travertine is stained, it is extremely difficult to remove. The best thing to do is cut out the tiles that have the stain, and replace it. Travertine is truly like a sponge, it’s extremely difficult to get out any stains once they have set in the tile.

  3. Can I put 1/2 ” Travertine over top of a Floor Heating Mat that is set in Thin-set? Thanks JP

  4. We are just about to install. Do you recommend a liner with travernine???? We are re-doing our floors because of tile damage due to poor installation…don’t want this to happen, again. What a nightmare!!


  5. I purchased a I robot vac and used it on my travertine. My travertine is sealed with a clear finish. The vac. must have caught a small sharp rock and has made several scratches in the travertine. There is about 100 ft of damage. Is there any product that I can use to remove the scratches. Thanks for your advice. Tom 206-795-8170

  6. We have a beach home with honed marble travertine throughout. Five years ago, we had the surface professionally cleaned, polished and resealed. During our last visit, we noticed two spots on the enclosed lanai where a small section of the tile looked “bubbled” and the top coat had turned to a powdery stone on one of the tiles. Could this reaction be caused by sunlight? The area is kept dry with glass doors and vacuumed periodically and washed with a mild stone cleaner a few times each year. What should we do to restore these two tiles? Should we be doing anything special to this area for preventive maintenance? Thank you for your advice.

  7. I have several areas on my floor that have reacted to acidic solutions., you can see the stain took the finish off the tile. How do I remove/refinish the tile, or should I have it done professionally?

    Thank you

  8. We are considering an ivory color travertine tile for our bathroom floor and tub area. I read travertine can be etched by acid. WIth young boys in the house… would urine damage the tile around the toilet area?

  9. When the installers installed the travertine floor, my wife had them pull up the front door threshhold and tile under the door. Now I have to trim back some of the tiles to install a new threshhold (concrete slab). I was thinking of using a grinder with a diamond saw blade and very carefully cutting the tiles, then chiiping out the cut pieces to make room for the new threshhold. Do you have any advice or suggestions for this job?

  10. Hello: We are installing a large travertine patio, and we need UV protection for Arizona sun. Also, we would like to “enhance” the pattern on the travertine, because it is paler than we originally thought it would be. With the enhancer, you can see all the beautiful stone. We would like a recommendation on what product(s) to use. DuPont makes one that is supposed to be very good, but it is hard to find. Pore Porous by Miracle 511 was recommended to us, as well as several others, including Aqua Mix Enrich N’Seal. We want the BEST product because we live in a high sun area. Can you recommend a product to us?

    Thank you.

  11. My travertine kitchen floor is beautiful- had it about 5 years. My problem I can’t get it cleaned. Never realized how dirty it was untill my granddaughter started crawling. Her clothes get black even after I have cleaned it! I use a steamer! Any suggestions?

  12. I recently moved into a home with travertine completely covering the outdoor spaces. The back porch, stairs leading down to the pool and completely around the pool. The area stays wet all the time and is slippery. Is there anything I can do to the existing travertine to make it dryer or a product that can be installed over it to make the area around the pool a safer area? Thank you for your advice.

    • Hello Dana,

      I just had a customer today who inquired about Travertine outdoors and the slip factor was one of the downsides. However, for your case, it may be a little to late for the advice I gave her (not to use it outdoors if possible). Anyways, luckily there are a couple of products out there thatc can be applied to the surface of the tile to help increase the coefficient of friction (COF) of the tile and can help a bit to make the tile a little less slippery. Something similar to a product found on this website ( //www.tilegripantislip.com/ ). I cannot recommend this particular product since I’ve never used it, but something like that would do the job.

      Hope that helps.

  13. I have pale travertine tiles in our shower water has obviously seeped in behind the seal and small areas have got stained black 1×1 inch in various places I have tried wexa to no avail can you help?

  14. I have pale beige travertine tiles in our shower there is a shower sealant which water has obviously got behind and the tile has got patches of black splaying out like seaweed ,about 1x1inch areas can I remove them I have tried wexa but sadly no good can you please advise me?

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