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The deVOL Journal

What is Travertine?

3rd August 2017

By Sophie Mitchell

Following on from my last blog, I thought it only right to talk about our second most popular stone – travertine.

Travertine is another sedimentary rock, a form of limestone that is found near fresh hot water springs or limestone caves, formed by a process of rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate. Hot, carbon dioxide rich water passes through the stone, leaving it with pits and voids, giving travertine its characteristic honeycomb, fibrous texture. Historically, travertine was quarried in Italy, but Turkey is now a significant supplier and this is where we source our travertine from.

The picture below is a naturally occurring hot spring, formed from stunning white travertine in the World Heritage site of Pamukkale, Turkey. Of course this isn’t where we quarry our travertine, but it’s just too beautiful not to share!

Image from: https://www.kusadasi.biz/misc/pamukkale.html

Like limestone, travertine has been used for centuries as a building material. One of the most famous travertine structures is the Colosseum in Rome – if you ever get the chance to visit make sure you do, it’s such an impressive building. It is estimated to have needed over 100,000m3 of travertine just for the outer wall! The Basilica of the Sacré Cœur in Paris was also created from travertine. I’m basically giving you an excuse to go on a fact finding mission around the beautiful cities of Europe to research natural stone!

So why would you use travertine in your own home?

For a start it is hardwearing. You may have heard some horror stories about travertine, so I’ll set the record straight. There are different grades of travertine, some low grades have lots and lots of pits and voids and wild colour variation, whereas the higher grades of travertine have less pitting, and the pits that are present aren’t as deep, and the colour is more regular. Here at Floors of Stone, we only sell the top three grades of travertine, all of which are suitable for use on the floor and within the home. The Classic Travertine and Country Mix Tumbled Travertine are our eco grades, but everything else in our range is a premium grade. Be aware of other retailers selling ‘premium’ grades for very low prices, and always get a sample before buying.

As with all natural stone, you get a beautiful mix of natural colours throughout, creating a gorgeous floor. No matter how good a replica, a man made tile will never be able to truly recreate the look of a natural stone.

Some of our tiles come honed and filled, giving a sleeker, more contemporary finish. The tiles are filled with a natural, complementary resin at the quarry and then the tiles are finished to give a smooth, matt surface. Over a period of time the filler can come out of the stone, but we have easy to use filler kits which can refill these areas. If you are planning to use the stone in a busy area of the house, such as the kitchen, then we’d definitely recommend using the Premium or Ivory travertine in these areas, as the filler is less likely to come out than with the Classic Travertine.

If you’re wanting to embrace the natural, rustic finish of travertine then our Light Tumbled Travertine is perfect. It is a hugely popular tile with our customers due to its chalky, neutral tones and the rustic, tumbled appearance. A lot of customers are worried about the pits in the stone (who wants to spend their whole life cleaning?) so what we recommend is slurry grouting the tiles as they are installed. This is where the tiler pushes the grout across the top of the tiles, so it drops into the pits and fills them. It still leaves you with a rustic floor, but it’s much easier for cleaning if you have a busy household. Of course some people are happy to leave the pits unfilled as well, to give a really aged look.

As with all natural stone, we recommend sealing once before and once after grouting. This protects the tiles as well as the grout, making it much easier to clean and helps prevent staining if you do drop anything on the tiles.

So that’s a quick over view of travertine for you. Again our lovely sales team are on hand to help if you have more questions on 01509 234000 or enquiries@floorsofstone.com. You can order samples through our website, or if you want some advice as to what tiles would work in your home then get in touch.

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