For centuries, the natural stone travertine has been used as a building material. The Romans used it to build everything from aqueducts to amphitheaters, including the famous Colosseum.
In modern architecture, travertine has found common usage as a flooring material. If you’re thinking of using it for your kitchen floor, here are a few important things you need to know about travertine.
Types of Travertine Tiles
Travertine is a type of limestone characterized by naturally-occurring pitted holes and troughs in its surface. These natural blemishes can be polished off to give the material a smooth and shiny finish.
As a flooring material, travertine is usually available in the form of tiles that come in a variety of colors and finishes. There are five basic types of travertine tile finishes:
- Polished – The stone is smoothed and polished until it has a smooth, shiny, and reflective surface similar to marble. This is the most common type of travertine tile used in commercial flooring installations.
- Honed – Honed travertine tiles have a flat and smooth surface but don’t have the reflective qualities of polished travertine. Instead, honed tiles have a low-shine matte finish. This is the tile most commonly used in residential applications.
- Brushed – Brushed travertine has a slightly rougher texture compared to polished and honed tiles, making it less slippery than the other two. It also has a matte finish.
- Saw Cut – Saw cut travertine files do not undergo any further honing or polishing. This is the tiles’ natural state right after being cut with a wet saw.
- Tumbled – Of the five types, tumbled travertine has the most natural, highly textured finish. There’s no shine and its edges have a rounded appearance akin to ancient stone. This type of travertine tile is most commonly used outdoors.
Advantages of Travertine
One of the main advantages of travertine is its durability. As with most natural stone materials, travertine often lasts longer than other man-made flooring materials. This is probably best exemplified by the aforementioned Colosseum, which is still largely standing after almost two millennia.
When properly sealed, travertine can be considered as a hygienic material as it doesn’t absorb odors, chemicals, or gases. It’s also environmentally friendly as it doesn’t require harsh acidic cleaners or abrasives to clean and maintain it.
Aside from being durable, travertine is a very versatile material. It may most commonly be found as flooring these days, but travertine can also be used as a wall covering and countertop material. Scraps left over from travertine floor installation can even be used to create a matching backsplash for your kitchen and your kitchen cabinets.
The stone also comes in a wide range of beautiful colors, from a dark striated grey to a vibrant scarlet hue. Its natural patterns and design, which can vary from tile to tile, also lend an air of sophisticated charm and beauty to any space.
Disadvantages of Travertine
As with any tile or building material, travertine does have its own set of disadvantages. Unsealed and unpolished travertine is porous and susceptible to acid damage. Vinegar, orange juice, lemon juice – try never to spill any on an unsealed and unpolished travertine floor. Even for polished travertine, acidic and abrasive cleaners may cause considerable damage.
Its porous nature also means that it will absorb liquids such as grease as well as spilled drinks. Great for bathrooms, but not so much for areas that can experience severe drops in temperature. Freezing temperatures may cause travertine to crack and break.
Polished travertine, on the other hand, can be very slippery when wet.
As a soft stone, travertine can be susceptible to scratching. Hence, it is recommended not to use travertine tiles in areas with high foot traffic.
Finally, travertine can be expensive, just like most other natural stone materials. After all, it can’t be mass-produced.
The best thing to do before you decide whether or not travertine is the right choice of flooring material for your kitchen is to do your research. Hopefully this post has helped point you in the right direction.