What is Travertine Tile?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2019
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Travertine tile is a type of stone tile, made from a sedimentary rock known as travertine. There are numerous sources for travertine all over the world. Tivoli, Italy is perhaps the most source for travertine, and the rock is in fact named after the Latin name for this Italian city. Travertine is also mined in Mexico, parts of the American Southwest, and Eastern Europe. Home improvement stores often carry or can order travertine tile, and it can also be ordered directly from manufacturers.

Travertine is sometimes sold as “travertine marble” or “travertine limestone.” Although travertine is related to these stones, it is not technically a marble or a limestone. It forms around hot springs and through deposition in wet caves, with carbon-dioxide saturated water breaking down calcium carbonate and redepositing it. Travertine usually contains a mixture of minerals from the environment where it formed, along with the calcium carbonate, and it has a very coarse texture with lots of holes created by air bubbles and living organisms which were trapped in the rock. The stone can be white, yellow, beige, creamy, or red in color, depending on the minerals which have penetrated it.


People can purchase travertine tile in a number of finishes. Filled tiles have been filed down and filled so that the holes in the rock are smoothed over, creating an even surface, while unfilled tiles have holes which are left open. The rock can have a glossy, shiny, or matte surface, depending on how it was processed; honed travertine tile tends to have a matte look, while brushed or tumbled tile has a rougher, more natural appearance.

Travertine tile is also available in a cross-cut style known as saturnia. Saturnia is cut against the grain, rather than with the grain as travertine tile is traditionally processed, creating a very distinctive appearance. Regardless as to where the stone comes from, the quality tends to be very consistent, with the key quality issue being how it was processed.

Travertine tile is very vulnerable to acids, which can make it unsuitable for certain installations. Kitchens are a poor choice, as orange juice and other acidic foods may be spilled on the tile, potentially damaging it. The stone should be well sealed to protect it from moisture, spilled items, and wear and tear, and it can be a good idea to periodically strip and reseal the tile to keep it in good condition.


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Post 6

For travertine tiles I would never recommend them in a kitchen without a coating.

Post 4

Did you know you can even use travertine tile outdoors? I recently saw pictures of a travertine tile patio, and I loved the look of it.

I hope it stands up to the harsh weather we have where I live.

Post 3

My favorite is the rustic look of tumbled travertine tile. These tiles cover the floor in my foyer area.

I'm thinking about using travertine tile in my bathroom too, but I need to look into it, to find out what the best kind is for a room with so much moisture. I'm wondering if I can even use it to tile my shower. That would look great!

Post 2

I love the look of a travertine tile backsplash in the kitchen. If it wasn't so susceptible to damage from acids, I'd use it on the floor also. But I have kids who tend to spill things all the time, so I don't want to risk it.

But, as a backsplash, and properly sealed, I think it should hold up okay.

Post 1

I believe travertine has the unique property of staying cool in all temperatures.

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