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Natural Travertine

It is a natural stone that has a very distinct look. It offers a rustic style to to the decor and is used for a variety of purposes. Natural travertine is an intriguing stone and projects that make use of this material are often upscale in nature. In this article we will take a look at some of the basic information regarding natural travertine. Along the way, we will discuss the properties of the material and how it is used. Additionally, we will give consideration to working the material and what is involved in caring for and maintaining this fascinating natural stone.

Why People Choose Travertine

Knowing why people prefer a specific kind of material for certain jobs sheds some light on whether a given material is right for your particular project. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons people choose to go with travertine is its appearance. It has a unique look that is easily identifiable by anyone that has seen it before. The look is conducive to rustic design and other design styles that carry a natural, rugged feel.

Travertine's Properties

The properties of the stone are what contribute to its unique appearance. Natural travertine is in the family of calcareous stones which include marble, limestone, and onyx. Like its siblings, natural travertine is high in calcium carbonate content. Because of this, it has some distinct traits that are good to know about.

The Hardness of Travertine

Every natural stone (and even other materials for that matter) have specific hardness that can be measured by conducting a test. The hardness of the material is communicated using its "hardness" measurement as indicated by the Mohs Scale of Mineral hardness. Travertin measures in the neighborhood of 4 to 5. Looking at the table below, you can get an idea of its hardness in relation to other substances.

Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness
Mineral Hardness Travertine Note
Talc 1
Talc is a mineral that is the primary part of talcum powder.
Gypsum 2
Formed when seawater evaporates from the surface of the Earth. It is also found in drywall.
Calcite 3
A carbonate mineral found in many popular stones such as marble and limestone. It is often the primary constituent of the shells of marine organisms.
Fluorite 4
The mineral form of calcium fluoride. It is often used for ornamental carvings.
Apatite 5
A group of phosphate minerals named by the German geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner.
Feldspar 6
Feldspars are a group of rock-forming tectosilicate minerals that make up about 41% of the Earth's continental crust by weight.
Quartz 7
A hard, crystalline mineral composed of silicon and oxygen atoms which belongs to the trigonal crystal system.
Topaz 8
Topaz is a silicate mineral of aluminum and fluorine. In its natural state, Topaz is golden brown to yellow in color.
Corundum 9
Corundum occurs as a mineral in mica schist, gneiss, and some marbles in metamorphic terranes.
Diamond 10
Diamond is a solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure called diamond cubic.

As you can see from the scale above, travertine is slightly on the low end of the scale. Keep in mind though that the scale is for hardness and just because one material is not as hard as anohter does not mean that it is weaker. Strength and hardness are different properties and they do not necessarily correlate directly to one another.

Travertine's Surface Voids

The most distinctive feature of travertine is the pits, or voids that raw travertine exhibits. iIn the image at the top of this page, you can see holes randomly spread across the surface of the material. Note what wikipedia.org says about these holes:

The stone is characterised by pitted holes and troughs in its surface. Although these troughs occur naturally, they suggest signs of considerable wear and tear over time. It can also be polished to a smooth, shiny finish, and comes in a variety of colors from grey to coral-red. Travertine is also available in tile sizes for floor installations.

These holes develop when the stone is forming. So raw travertine will have holes in it. The manufacturer of the tiles or panels usually fills these holes and the appearance is smooth. The filler is often times a color that is complimentary to the colro fo the stone being filled. However, some travertine is filled using a transparent filler and the result is the natural look of raw travertine in a strengthened stone.

Travertine Colors

Travertine is a stone that forms in several colors including the following:

  • Cream
  • Beige
  • Brown
  • Gray

The colors above are the most frequently seen, yet travertine does form in many other colors as well.

Working With Travertine

Like all other natural and engineered materials, travertine is best worked using specific tooling and equipment. For example, cutting travertine tiles is best done using a blade for travertine and other calcareous stone so that the cutting is as smooth and fast as possible. It is possible to cut travertine using various blades, but doing so will most likely yield results that are not as effective as using a blade designed for the material.

Travertine Care and Maintenance

As a natural stone, travertine requires some specific care and maintenance in order to keep it looking its best. A good maintenance routine is a practical way to keep up with each aspect of travertine care. One effective maintenance program for travertine invloves four basic techniques.

  1. Periodic application of a stone sealer to help the stone resist absorbing water and oil based liquids that might stain the material by getting into the pores of the stone.
  2. Using appropriate cleaner designed for natural stone surfaces. Incorrect cleaner usage will result in a destruction of th selaer that was previously applied and this causes a need for reapplying sealer to stone.
  3. Removing stains (or etching) that result from acidic liquids contacting the stone's surface.
  4. Filling holes or pits that surface from travertine filler coming out or from wear ans tear.

Keeping up with the simple steps listed above is a routine way to maintain travertine and keep it looking the best it can.

As we have seen in this article, natural travertine is a material that is very distinct and unique. It works well in rustic designs or where a rustic feel is needed. Althouh there are many tools that might work, using tooling designed for calcareous stone is the best. And if you follow a practical and simple care routine, it keeps travertine looking the best it can. Knowing these basic points about natural travertine will give anyone working with the material some valuable insight.