Travertine Tile

What is a Travertine Tile | Uses | History | Architecture

Travertine Stone is a type of sedimentary limestone. It is a produced by nature when hot spring water comes in contact with the mineral carbonates. The formation of travertine is an interesting phenomenon. The hot spring water is rich in carbon dioxide and minerals. When the water seeps into the limestone, the changes in temperature let the carbon dioxide release from water into the air. The minerals are left out on the limestone and these mineral deposits attract the algae and other impurities found in water towards the stone. Over time, these remains undergoes through a naturally occurring chemical process and form crystals. These crystals give travertine their unique color and physical properties.

Difference between limestone and travertine

Although travertine belongs to limestone family but both have contrasting features and therefore both are not interchangeably used in the architecture. Travertine is found near hot water springs, while lime stone is extracted from caves. Travertine is a sedimentary rock and found near water bodies rich in minerals. Limestone is a metamorphic rock that is formed by the forces of heat and pressure. Apart from the difference in formation process, the physical properties of both the stones are different. Limestone is solid without and pits whereas travertine is porous and less solid then limestone. For this reason, travertine is often mixed with concrete to fill in these pores.

Travertine Tile

History of Travertine

Origin of travertine is Tivoli, Italy. The ancient name of Tivoli was Tibur. Romans extracted this stone from Tibur and used it in the construction of Colosseum in Rome. From there this stone got its name- “Tibur stone”. Gradually the name evolved and we know it as travertine today. Tivoli has the largest reservoirs of this stone to date. The springs of Tivoli and the climate provides best conditions for the formation of this rock. The mesmerizing terraces of Travertine can also be found in Turkey, Iran, China, Spain, Hungary and USA.

Travertine and ancient architecture

Travertine has been a popular construction material in the old days. Many ancient buildings built from this stone are still standing tall today. The use of travertine can be traced back to 3200 BC in Egypt. In the ancient city of Hierapolis (Turkey) the remains of the theatre are the evident that travertine was used in the construction of theatre. Many Italian towns still hold the buildings, churches and tombs made from this stone. As mentioned above, Romans built the entire Colosseum using travertine. Similar structures can be seen in Slovakia and Paris. Basilique du Sacre Coeur, a notable tourist destination in Paris was constructed with travertine. The strength and the durability was the reason for the popularity of this stone. Time has proved that travertine has lived up to this reputation.

Uses of Travertine

Travertine is used in construction today also, but the form and the procedure to use travertine has been evolved due to requirement of the modern architecture. Instead of constructing entire buildings from travertine, it is mainly used as wall and floor tiles these days. They are also used to make countertops in kitchen, fireplace mantles, and shower stalls. The weather resistant surface of travertine makes it an ideal material for constructing patios and garden courtyards. It is used in the making of driveways as it gives appeal and durability to the surface. Indoor and outdoor stairs are also built using travertine. Travertine has gained popularity in making of pool decks because of two reasons. Firstly, the travertine surface prevents slipping when there is water on the surface. Secondly, the travertine pavers remain cool even on hot sunny days, saving us from the blazing of bare feet.

Travertine has banked more votes compared to granite and marble. These two materials are no doubt popular but travertine is comparatively lighter, is found in abundance and its surface is more resistant to extreme weathers compared to marble and granite.

Travertine is a natural stone and the natural recrystallization of algae stuck to the rocks during the formation process and the oxidation of minerals, give travertine different shades and colors. The color of travertine is also determined from where the stone is extracted as the mineral dominant in that particular area will determine the tone and color of the stone. The most known colors of travertine are brown, ivory, red, gray, silver, gold, beige, emerald, rustic etc. The selection of travertine colors is made on the basis where the travertine tiles would be installed.

Travertine and Finishing

Along with colors, travertine is available in wide variety of finishing. Polished travertine is preferred for commercial use because they cannot be easily stained. As the name suggests, the polished travertine has lustrous and reflective surface similar to marble. Honed is another type of travertine finish that is flat, smooth and has a matte finish. This type of finish is also hard to tarnish and commonly used for domestic settings. Brushed travertine has matte finish like honed but the surface is less smooth. This makes brushed travertine less slippery than the first two finishes and ideal to be installed in outdoor structures.

Travertine is available in saw cut finishing too. Saw cut travertine has flat and matte surface without any polish. Tumbled finish resembles the most natural form of travertine. The tumbled travertine is neither polished nor is its surface smoothed making it a preference for installing in the outdoor settings. Whether the travertine is filled or not also determines the finishing of the stone. Travertine in the natural porous state is called unfilled and the travertine whose holes have been packed with material like cement is called filled travertine.

One might think why to use travertine?

The answer to this question is simple. Use travertine because (a) its durable, (b) its versatile and (c) it appeals to the aesthetic sense. These features have made it possible to use travertine from interiors like kitchen counter tops, stirs, fireplace mantles to exteriors like patio, pool deck, driveways and parking areas. This stone is functional, affordable, pleasing to eyes and low maintenance. It could be used to give a modern look of the building or to give a rustic impression, whichever is liked by you. You name it, travertine got it!

When installing travertine, one thing should be considered important i.e. sealing travertine. Although travertine is naturally durable and does not tarnish easily, but we should not forget that in domestic and commercial buildings, travertine is not occurring in natural state. It is refined to use in the building so it is recommended to get it sealed by the installer not only at the time of installation, but the sealing should be checked and travertine should be re-sealed at regular intervals. Do not worry about the appearance of the travertine after the application of sealer. You can easily find sealers that no longer that keeps travertine intact without effecting the majesty stone and display of the colors.

Maintenance of travertine is not tedious but there are a few things that should be taken care of. Since travertine is a natural stone, use of chemicals and cleaning products may scratch the surface of the stone. Regular dusting and moping will keep travertine beautiful for a long time. As travertine is porous, in case of a spill, immediately clean the surface and do not let the liquid seep into the stone. If you want to use a surface cleaner, be sure to buy the one meant to clean travertine.