Travertine in detail
The name travertine comes direct from the Italian ‘travertino’. This in turn is derived from the Roman description ‘lapis tiburnus’ (stone from the town
of Tibur). The present-day town of Tivoli occupies the site of what once was Tibur, the place where the Romans quarried travertine.
Geologically speaking, travertine is a type of sedimentary limestone rock which is formed from carbonate minerals in ground and surface waters, especially
around the mouth of warm thermal springs, or in limestone caves. Hot spring travertines house both aragonite and calcite carbonate minerals. The purest
of travertine rocks are white in colour, but the presence of impurities creates different shades of brown to yellow tones.
The Ancient Roman builders understood the beauty of travertine, which they used to build their temples, aqueducts, monuments and amphitheatres. The Romans
also called upon this highly resilient stone when building the Coliseum in Rome, which still stands today. Travertine was also used elsewhere in the
world to create many beautiful and imposing structures, including: the Colonnade of St. Peter’s Square and the baroque Trevi Fountain in Rome, the
Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris, the ancient Turkish city of Hierapolis, and in the modern era, the Willis Tower in Chicago, USA.
Qualities, colours and finishes
Although travertine resembles finished marble (and is also known as travertine marble) it is more correctly described as limestone. Though its ivory to
rich walnut colours are subtle and soft rather than dramatic, this natural stone will always lend a tasteful air of classic sophistication to both
traditional and avant-garde settings.
In its natural state, the surface of travertine stone is covered with tiny holes created by the passage of water through the rock during its formation
phase. And when the rock is cut into travertine floor tiles, these holes can either be left in their natural state or otherwise filled with resin material.
Different finishing treatments will suit different applications and will also give a slightly different look to the final product:
Polished Travertine: Polished travertine floor tiles have a smooth, glossy surface which will catch and reflect a substantial amount of natural light.
The effect is fresh and modern, and very similar to the impact achieved with a marble floor – though, of course, at a considerably cheaper cost.
Honed Travertine: The ‘classic’ look of travertine floor tiles. Honed travertine has a smooth matte surface which is created by grinding one face of
the tile. Honing techniques can achieve either a dull matte finish or a rich satin sheen.
Tumbled Travertine: The process of tumbling involves exposing the cut tiles to the abrasive action of grit and water. This produces a textured non-slip
surface and gives tumbled travertine floor tiles a more rustic, weathered look which would work well in a traditional interior space.
While travertine can be readily obtained, the quality can vary between suppliers and the advice is always to source stone of the very best quality.
Indigenous can supply an Ivory Travertine floor tile which has always
proved a popular choice for homeowners – especially where there are budget restrictions. Honed and filled, with a square edge and a smooth surface,
this classic tile is suitable for both walls and flooring. Ivory tiles are a rich cream colour but also feature a backdrop of beige undertones.
As with all filled travertine, the original holes can occasionally reappear as time passes. Should this occur, the best solution is to refill any area
affected by means of a slurry grouting.
Timeless and elegant, travertine flooring is extremely versatile and can be freely used in a whole range of locations to enhance the beauty of your
traditional or contemporary home.