Natural stone flooring in general have seen a huge surge in popularity, as they are beautiful, timeless and durable; and one floor covering that has a growing popularity of recent is travertine flooring. So what is travertine floor covering? Is it recommendable for floor covering? I would be addressing these questions in this in-depth post.

What is Travertine?

Travertine is a sedimentary natural stone formed when hot water seeps through carbonate minerals. It is used as a building material and also for facades, backsplashes, and countertops and for other decorative purposes. Travertine is a type of limestone whose sediment is composed of calcium carbonates; hot and mineral rich water flow through the limestone and the carbon dioxide released creates the unique features of travertine.

History of Travertine

Travertine has a prestigious and long history as a building material; the stone has been a prominent building material dating back to the Middle Ages. The name of travertine projects its Roman origins; Lapis tiburtinuswhich means Tibur stone. The ancient Roman city where it was first quarried is known as Tivoli. Infact the Colosseum in Rome is constructed almost entirely with travertine. A few iconic buildings that were built with travertine include the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Willis Tower in Chicago, the St. Peter’s Square Colonnade, the Trevi Fountain and the iconic Sacre-Coeur Basilica in Paris. Italy used to be the main source of travertine till about 10 years ago; there are other places to source for travertine now including; Turkey, Mexico, Peru and Iran.


Travertine is recognized for its rustic, distinctive and classic look. The stone is light colored; so it has shades of light brown, gray, gold, white and tan. It can also come in dark tone of rusty red. The iron content of travertine mainly determines its color; travertine has a peculiar old look, which is due to its long history of use. One of the most desirable qualities of travertine is its unpolished weathered look. Depending on its finish, travertine has a wide range of appearances apart from the common rustic look. Due to the fact that travertine is a natural stone no two travertine will look exactly the same. Depending on the look you want for your floors, you can go with small mosaic tiles or large slabs of travertine.

Travertine Finish

Due to its porous feature and having little holes throughout its body, it is important you consider whether you want filled or unfilled travertine. Filled or unfilled simply refers to whether these holes are filled or not; I would recommend filled travertine because they are more durable. Also have in mind that the look of your specific travertine floors depends solely on the finish applied.

Types of Travertine

There are four main types of finish for travertine; tumbled, honed, brushed and polished.

  • Tumbledtravertine has rounded edges which contribute to its distinctive look; it has more texture than the brushed travertine and also looks more weathered and aged.

  • Polishedtravertine is glossy and shiny, the colors are richer and they are very smooth and flat. They tend to be slippery when wet and are stain resistant.

  • Honed travertine is the commonest type of travertine flooring; the surface has been polished flat, but not glossy unlike the polished travertine.

  • Brushed travertine shares some features with tumbled travertine and a wire brush is used to abrade the surface to improve its texture.

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