If you opt for travertine to enhance your stairs, floors, or walls, you're embracing a design choice reminiscent of ancient Romans. The Romans utilized this natural stone extensively in constructing houses, temples, aqueducts, monuments, bath complexes, amphitheaters, and any architectural marvel they conceived. Notably, the grand Roman Coliseum stands as the world's largest travertine building. The ancient name for travertine, Lapis Tiburtinus, refers to the Tibur village near Rome, where large travertine quarries were located. Italians have held a longstanding admiration for travertine, spanning centuries. Explore a diverse array of captivating travertine colors and patterns offered by renowned suppliers in the industry:

Travertine serves as a popular building material in Europe and various other regions. One of its defining characteristics is the presence of small natural holes. When travertine blocks are cut into slabs, these charming holes can be filled with a transparent sealant or left open. Interior designers extol the virtues of travertine for its unassuming yet elegant nature. Architects frequently incorporate this stone with a Roman soul into both private and public spaces, aiming to achieve a sense of conservative and reserved luxury. Moreover, the allure of travertine only intensifies over time, enhancing its timeless beauty.


Wall from travertine blocks

What makes travertine unique?


Travertine's distinctive tiny holes set it apart from other decorative stones. Once travertine is cut into slabs, these charming voids can either be sealed with a transparent sealer or left exposed. For vertical applications like accent walls, leaving the holes open imparts a perfect aesthetic without causing discomfort. However, for horizontal surfaces such as bar counters and worktops, sealing is recommended.


Due to its lightweight and relatively soft nature, travertine is easily manageable for stone professionals. Its non-slippery surface makes it a popular choice in public facilities, water parks, swimming pools and spas. The stone's soft, warm texture is pleasant to the touch, and its neutral appearance complements various interior styles, from modern and classical to eclectic and Provencal. Additionally, travertine slabs are cost-effective compared to many other stones.


Horizontal cuts of travertine deposits in the quarries reveal swirling, flowing patterns, while vertical cuts showcase linear patterns. Each travertine slab boasts unique colors and shades, ensuring no two slabs are identical. The stone's surface is typically matte, soft, and warm, providing comfort for walking and ease of maintenance.


Travertine products offer versatility in finishes, ranging from high-gloss polishing to a light honing. The stone surface can also be brushed, emphasizing and rounding the natural cavities in a distinctive manner. The edges of worktops can be straight, carved, rounded, or intentionally left uneven. Outdoors, travertine tiles find utility in paving courtyards and pathways.

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How travertine is formed


Travertine is a variant of limestone that originates in hot mineral springs all over the world. This sedimentary rock has a porous structure adorned with exquisite veins. Although calcite, its fundamental mineral, is inherently white, travertine rarely appears in its pure form and color. Even minimal impurities, such as sulphur, iron, or organic residue, can impart hues of brown, red, yellow, orange, or beige to travertine.


For travertine to form, water saturated with carbon dioxide has to pass through limestone and dissolve it. Such water absorbs calcite particles and carries them away until the environmental conditions change. The change typically has to involve a drop in pressure, temperature, or both. Carbon dioxide then starts to evaporate from the water, just like the gas starts to come out of the fizzy drink when the bottle is opened. Freed from carbon dioxide, calcite regains its form and settles down on everything around. Dust, microscopic animal remains, algae, and moss become enveloped in calcite. Plants continue to grow on calcite, but as the layer thickens, it eventually overtakes and encapsulates the vegetation.


Over time, these calcite layers, now aged and dry, assume a stone-like appearance. If the formation is light with big holes, like a sponge, we call it calcareous tuff. But if the holes are small, the stone is hard and heavy, and we call it travertine. Travertine has a hardness score of 4-5 on the Mohs scale. Because travertine is sensitive to chemicals, it's a good idea to seal it to help prevent stains, as it can be tough to remove them.

Where travertine is found


Travertine is often found near the mouth of hot springs and streams. Ancient Romans used to quarry big amounts of dried and hardened travertine in Italy. This natural stone is abundant in places like Turkey, Mexico, Iran, and Peru. The main countries where people use a lot of travertine are Italy, Greece, and Turkey. In Croatia's Plitvice Lakes National Park, there are 16 large natural pools formed by travertine, surrounded by moss-covered rocks. Over thousands of years, travertine waterfalls there have grown as tall as 70 meters. Another stunning place with travertine pools is Pamukkale in Turkey. You can also spot colorful travertine deposits where geysers shoot up from the ground.

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How travertine is quarried


In mines, travertine blocks are extracted using various methods. Special machines are employed to drill multiple parallel channels into the mass to separate the pieces, and the pieces are separated by sawing with wire saws, chainsaws, or water jets. Channel drilling machines create rows of vertical and horizontal holes, and wedges are then inserted to split the block away from the quarry wall. During winter, freezing water is sometimes used to aid in the separation process.


Large chainsaws equipped with diamond blades, several meters in length, are used to cut the blocks. Wire saws are utilized to divide them into smaller pieces for transport to warehouses or workshops. Diamond cables are threaded through drilled holes and attached to the saw to cut off the bottom of the ingot, allowing it to be neatly pushed away from the overall mass. Water jet cutting machines employ a powerful jet of water mixed with abrasive sand to cut the ingots.


travertine properties

  1. Medium hard (Mohs scale 4-5)
  2. Porous
  3. With natural holes
  4. Absorbs oil, water and other liquids
  5. Good sound and temperature isolation
  6. Mostly used indoors
  7. Will change colour in direct sunlight
  8. Resistant to cold 
  9. Sensitive to scratches
  10. Sensitive to acids
  11. Requires sealing every 24 months

Travertine flooring in the kitchen

What is travertine used for?


Kitchen worktops

Bathroom vanities

Furniture tops

Wall cladding

Fireplace surrounds 

How to clean travertine surfaces?


Like other natural stones, travertine is porous, which means that it absorbs liquids. It is recommended to seal travertine surfaces with stone sealants. This especially applies to worktops and those surfaces that are frequently touched. Stone sealants can also be used to enhance the intensity of travertine colour and pattern or to give it a gloss. When sealed, travertine requires relatively simple maintenance to keep its beauty intact. For travertine floors, regular sweeping or vacuuming to clear away debris is usually enough to ensure a clean surface. This can be coupled with occasional mopping using a pH-neutral stone cleaner. Kitchen countertops from travertine may require a little more care. 

travertine examples in interior and exterior

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