Travertine 101: The Warmth and Elegance of Old Europe

1024 792 Primestones® Granite, Quartz, Marble

Think of the welcoming warmth of an Italian villa. Subdued beige colors and lofty looking stone columns and floors, porous with its signature little holes. Evokes feelings of leisurely brunches and lush surroundings.

Bring your European vacation home by including travertine in your place. And now let’s see what characteristics this stone brings with it.

History and Formation of Travertine

Travertine formation in Pamukkale, Turkey
Travertine formation in Pamukkale, Turkey

Travertine is a sedimentary stone, meaning that it is formed on the surface of the earth through mineral deposit around mineral springs. One of the most famous one is Pamukkale in Turkey.

For ancient Greeks and Romans, travertine belonged to the top building stones in various constructions dating back to the earliest recorded history. There are temples, aqueducts, baths, roads, and amphitheaters. The largest known construction made entirely out of travertine is the Colosseum in Rome. Another famous travertine monument is Basilique du Sacre Coeur in Paris.

Properties of Travertine

Travertina fireplace
Travertine wall treatment makes an elegant frame for this fireplace

The beautifully soft palette of colors in its spectrum is what most people are looking for when working with travertine. Subdued, mild tones of beige, tan, grey and off-white elegantly set the background without overwhelming with dramatic effects.

The warmth and elegance of old Europe

Its hallmark is the sense of age and prestige of old Europe. Even though travertine is considered a fairly soft material its durability is unquestioned when considered the goal of a weathered look implying a feeling of ancient architecture. This stone evokes a feeling of history which is only enhanced by scratches, little cracks, and characteristic holes. Natural finished surfaces, instead of highly polished ones, are much more resistant to showing small blemishes and chips.

Like most natural stones travertine retains heat and cold well which is attractive for usage as floor coverage. Remember the delightful feeling of stepping on cold stones on a hot day?
At the same time, travertine is a great option for in-floor heating systems due to its conducting properties, once warm it will radiate the heat for a long time.

Suitable for indoor or outdoor use

Travertine is being used indoors as well as outdoors: flooring, walls, bathrooms, fireplaces, pool decks, patios, driveways and of course countertops and backsplashes.

Its porosity offers a unique advantage: it is the only natural stone that is not slippery when wet, making it a great solution for pool areas and outdoor patios.

Care of Travertine Stone

Travertine adds a a sense of warmth and welcome to this kitchen
Travertine adds a a sense of warmth and welcome to this kitchen

Being sedimentary stone travertine is considered as fairly soft being prone to etching and staining. The same applies here as it does for marble, it is best to wipe off the spills as they occur and only use mild soap and water to clean the surfaces.

If you desire to prevent your travertine from the antiqued, weathered look, you have the option to apply a sealer. Which can be very different in consistency and properties and can be applied every couple of years depending on the intensity of usage of the surface. A floor might have to be sealed more often than pool walls for example. Please contact your fabricator for more detailed information as it is a rather personal preference based decision.


John Atkinson

All stories by: John Atkinson