What is travertine?
Travertine is a natural stone typically found near hot thermal springs. Essentially a type of limestone associated with mineral-rich springs, travertine
is the result of a rapid precipitation of groundwaters containing lots of minerals, which then form calcium carbonate deposits. These are first quarried
as large blocks which are later cut into smaller pieces.
Travertine was quarried by the Romans and is called ‘travertino’ in Italy. This term itself originates from ‘lapis tiburnus’, a Roman description which
means ‘stone from the town of Tibur’. Very close to Rome itself, the modern town of Tivoli now occupies the site where Roman Tibur once stood.
Travertine in the ancient world
The Romans used travertine extensively for building purposes and many famous buildings from the Roman era are still standing today.
These include temples, aqueducts and amphitheatres, but perhaps the most famous example is Rome’s iconic Coliseum which dates from 70–80 AD. Other
fine buildings constructed from travertine are Rome’s Trevi Fountain, the old Turkish town of Hierapolis, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica (Paris) and the
Colonnade of St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City.
Features and finishes
Sometimes called ‘travertine marble’, this stone is more accurately defined as a type of limestone. Though it cannot provide some of
the more dramatic marble shades, travertine has a pleasing palette of subtle colours ranging from ivory through to a rich walnut.
When quarried in its natural state, travertine stone has a surface texture covered in tiny holes, which are the direct result of water flows present
at the time the rock was formed. These tiny holes can either be filled with a resin material or left in their natural state as a decorative feature.
Other finishing treatments are also employed to offer tiles in a variety of different looks:
Polished Travertine: Polishing travertine tiles produces a smooth, glossy surface which captures and reflects substantial quantities of natural light.
This gives travertine tiling a luxurious feel which is very close in appearance to a far more expensive marble-tiled surface.
Honed Travertine: This is the most popular treatment for travertine tiles. Honing travertine involves grinding one face of the tile to create a smooth,
flat surface with a matte finish. Tiles can then be left with a dull matte finish, or polished to reveal a luxurious satin sheen.
Tumbled Travertine: Once cut to size, travertine tiles are then tumbled in a mix of grit and water. This abrasive process produces a textured tile
with non-slip properties and also gives the tiling a weathered look. Use tumbled travertine to enhance a traditional interior with its rustic charm.
The Indigenous Ivory Travertine tile is a popular option which offers
homeowners a combination of looks, performance and value for money. This classic tile with a square edge and a smooth surface is a rich cream colour
with beige undertones. Suitable for both walls and flooring, these tiles are supplied honed and filled.