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Travertine Information

About Travertine

A natural stone with a distinct look that separates this material from others and gives it unmistakable character. Travertine is used in a variety of applications and is one of the types of stone well suited for rustic design styles. In this article, we will look at travertine and how it is used for design. As we do, we will take a look at how to care for travertine and why it needs a little extra attention in a certain area.

What is Travertine?

The simple answer to the question, "What is travertine?" is, limestone. But that begs the question, "Then why is it named different?" So let's explain what travertine is in a little more detail. Since perceiving differences between natural and man made materials takes a bit of effort.

Travertine In Relation to Limestone

Travertine is a specific kind of limestone. It forms in very specific environments. Notice what Wikipedia.org says regarding this:

Travertine is a sedimentary rock formed by the chemical precipitation of calcium carbonate minerals from fresh water, typically in springs, rivers, and lakes; that is, from surface and ground waters. In the broadest sense, travertine includes deposits in both hot and cold springs, including the porous, spongy rock known as tufa, and also the cave features known as speleothems (which include stalactites and stalagmites).

So there is more to it than just saying travertine is limestone. Yet, even though travertine is a specific kind of limestone, it certainly is visibly different from limestone. In fact, once you have seen a couple of pieces of travertine you can identify this type of stone fairly easily. It shares some properties with limestone and it differs from limestone in some ways. So let's talk a little bit about the properties of travertine.

Properties of Travertine

Travertine's appearance is one that is marked by voids in the stone. When it forms, pockets of air get trapped in the material and after the stone forms and is cut, these voids (or pits) show up on the surface of the stone. When the stone is being processed, it often times gets filled by the manufacturer using a travertine filler of some kind. So, if you see raw travertine, it will have the small holes across the surface of the stone. And if you see travertine that has been filled, it will have spots of filler in a color that compliments the color of the rest of the stone.

Since it is a form of limestone, travertine is a relatively soft stone. It is in the neighborhood of 3-4 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness like limestone and marble. It is composed of calcium carbonate like these as well. Therefore acidic substances will create etching in the material. Etching is the term used to describe the discolorations theat occur when acid dissolves calcium carbonate in a stone. For stone with some finishes, it results in a dark spot and other finishes (like polished) the result is a dull spot on the stone.

How Travertine is Used

Perhaps one of the most common ways travertine shows up is as tiles used for flooring, backsplashes, and other surfaces. Like its close relative limestone, travertine is well suited for use as pool decking. Travertine is born in a wet environment so the water does not harm it. Additionally, its a very porous stone so it will absorb the water that gets on it. This means a pool deck made from travertine will be less likely to get as slippery as other materials that force the water to stay on the surface of the tile.

What Blades to Use On Travertine

As we mentioned earlier, travertine is a soft material so it is relatively easy to cut using a diamond blade of the proper type. Using a marble blade will generally suffice when working travertine. Selecting a diamond blade for cutting travertine is a matter of deciding which tool the blade will be used on a using the blade for that tool.

Care and Maintenance of Travertine

Just like the other calcium carbonate based stones, travertine will benefit from sealing if it is used in an evironment where oil based and water based stain-causing liquids may affect it. There are a number of stone sealers that will work for travertine. Simply follow the instructions on the container. In fact, the following treatments may be beneficial for travertine:

  • Periodic sealing of the stone using an impregnating sealer.
  • Regular cleaning using the proper stone cleaner that is pH neutral.
  • Stain removal using an appropriate stain remover for the type of stain incurred.
  • Minor refilling of the voids that lose the filler if the stone has been filled by the manufacturer.

In concluion, travertine is a close relative to marble and limestone. It is made of the same material and takes similar care and maintenance with one added need; re-filling if the voids lose their filling. However, the appearance of natural travertine is unique and it is very well suited for rustic design styles as well as other styles.