Travertine Flooring for Your Home
Travertine is a flooring material that has been overshadowed by its illustrious cousin – marble. Limestone, Marble and Travertine all belong to the same family of stone flooring materials. All three are made from calcium carbonate.
Limestone is the cheapest and most fragile while marble is expensive and relatively strong. Travertine lies between the two in strength and price. Good quality, treated travertine can in fact be as strong as marble.
Travertine is one material that has some old-world history behind it. It was once used to build the Roman Coliseum, Sacré Cœur basilica in Paris and has been used in the Willis tower, Chicago and the UCLA medical center among others.
How are Travertine Floors Made?
Travertine is created when minerals, particularly Limestone, dissolved in hot water are precipitated. Most travertine deposits occur around geysers and hot water springs. Travertine provides a good substrate for algae, bryophytes and other plant and microbiological life forms to grow on. These get preserved in travertine which as a result is porous. Even though it is porous – Travertine is not a fragile material by any means. Travertine dams and water falls in Oklahoma, Tivoli and in Croatia are a testament to this material’s hardy character.
Polished – These tiles are highly polished and resemble marble in appearance
Honed – these are polished but not as intensely and have a matte finish
Tumbled and Brushed – these are not slippery and are suited to areas where frequent water exposure is expected.
Advantages of Travertine
- Beautiful appearance – Travertine has been historically used to make signature buildings. It is often a relatively cheaper but almost as beautiful a material as marble. So if you are operating on a tight budget you can choose to use Travertine flooring instead of opting for stone style vinyl flooring.
- Durable – Travertine may have holes in the surface but don’t be fooled by these holes. Travertine is a very durable material as evidenced by the coliseum in Rome that has stood the test of time.
- Variety – Many natural colors and shades are available. Pure Travertine is white but the inclusion of minerals, particularly Iron compounds can give travertine hues like light green, yellow, golden and red.
- Simple to Install – Travertine is usually supplied as precut tiles. There is therefore no need to cut the pieces with a hack saw as must be done for slate. Installation of a travertine floor is similar to the installation of a marble or ceramic tile floor.
- Hygienic – Travertine floors particularly those that have been polished and sealed are unlikely to absorb and retain odors or to trap spores and other allergens like carpet flooring can.
Disadvantages of Travertine Flooring
- Porosity – This is a problem with travertine and water and other liquids may seep in and stain the stone. Travertine is therefore not recommended for the kitchen which may see accidental spilling of liquids.
- Slippery if highly polished -Porous and easily attacked by mild acids if not sealed properly.
- Breakage – Travertine tiles are susceptible to breakage, even during transport. Once laid, they are more stable. However prospective customers are advised to choose smaller tiles as they are less likely to chip and crack at the tips.
The properties of Travertine have made it a favorite material for patios and garden paths. It is also used for counter tops, showers and wall cladding besides flooring. Unlike marble whose natural supply is limited, travertine is being constantly manufactured by the geysers and hot water springs. Therefore it is a good choice for someone looking for sustainable flooring that does not damage the environment like quarrying for marble does.
The single biggest attraction of Travertine continues to be its beauty and affordable price. It is the beauty of travertine that has given it names like onyx marble, Mexican onyx, Egyptian alabaster or oriental alabaster. If you are looking for a flooring material that is a part of architectural history, easy on the pocket and looks good, travertine is one material that you must think about twice.