What Is Travertine Tile?

Some of the most popular pictures on Pinterest and Houzz are of travertine tile installed in kitchens and bathrooms. You may be wondering exactly what is travertine?

Travertine is a natural stone and is a popular building material that is used in everything from floors, countertops, backsplashes, fireplace surrounds, showers, and sinks. It can even be used outdoors. Travertine is a sedimentary rock that is close in chemical composition to limestone. It is warm, elegant and durable, but as with most stone surfaces, it requires a degree of extra care to maintain its natural beauty.Travertine is a medium-density, porous material with a pitted surface that is usually filled and sealed for increased durability, though it can be left unfilled for a more natural look. The finish can be polished, honed or textured. Much of the travertine commercially available in the U.S. comes from Italy, Turkey, and Mexico.

There are some definite pros and cons of travertine tile. This is a quick overview of what you should know if you are considering travertine for your home:

~~Aesthetic appeal: travertine tile has a luxurious appearance that many people like. The stone has natural veining that makes each piece of travertine unique in appearance. There are also a variety of colors to choose from: muted neutral shades of tan and gray to bright bold shades of coral.
~~Ageless appearance: travertine already looks old and weathered. Travertine is not trendy and has in fact been around for centuries. The Colosseum in Rome is composed mostly of travertine.
~~Cost: if you like marble, travertine has similar durability and aesthetic appeal but at a lower price.
~~Impervious to temperature extremes: travertine withstands temperature extremes of hot and cold and stays cool even in direct sunlight.
~~Nonslip: The natural non-slip texture of travertine is another reason that makes travertine tile a good choice for floors.

~~Porosity: travertine is a very porous stone. In its natural state, travertine has numerous holes. The holes can range in size, with most travertine pieces having a mix of large and small holes. In most cases these natural holes are filled in at the factory during manufacturing. That being said, the materials used to fill in the holes can wear down over time.

~~Acid sensitivity: travertine is composed of calcium carbonate, which is highly reactive to vinegar, orange juice and other weak acid food substances encountered in the kitchen. Because of this, travertine may not be suitable for kitchen countertops where it may be exposed to acidic foods on a regular basis. A good sealer will protect it to a certain extent, but if it is not sealed adequately or often enough, or the sealer is scratched or worn off, regular kitchen use will ruin the travertine surface. If it is used in the kitchen, a filled travertine tile is preferable to an unfilled surface.

~~Lack of uniformity of appearance: as travertine is a naturally occurring stone, not all the tiles in the shipment may look exactly like the sample. The colors and patterns in the appearance may not be uniform. Care must be taken in arranging the tiles to ensure the desired result. A premium grade of travertine tile will have more uniformity and less imperfection than a lower quality travertine.
~~Maintenance: as with other natural stone, travertine is subject to staining. It also retains a degree of softness that makes it susceptible to etching. Special products and sealers are required to clean and maintain its surface.

One final note: expect to find a wide range in prices for travertine stone, between $3 to $10 per square foot, plus installation and sealing. The price is based on quality and includes factors such as consistent coloration, the amount of fill, and the actual color (the lighter the color, the more expensive.) We have a nice selection of travertine in the Enhance Design Center.

Wood Floor Prices~~~Up, Up, and Away

We just updated an estimate from June, 2011 for a client. The price of her wood flooring has gone up 9%. And we have been notified of another industry-wide price increase coming March 1. We are told to expect an average increase of 10%. If you plan on purchasing new hardwood floors for your home this year, please buy now and lock in your price. Prices are not going to go back down as this is a supply and demand issue---limited supply and increasing demand. As the economy and the housing market continue to improve, demand is guaranteed to keep growing.

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