One more rustic-looking natural stone that gets a lot of use these days is travertine. There is also a lot of confusion amongst homeowners about travertine is and how to use it well. Like with any flooring material, the more you learn about it, the better suited you are to deciding if it’s right for your home.
Formed in Natural Springs
Chemically speaking, travertine is actually a limestone. This means that it is a sedimentary stone made up primarily of calcite. But while most limestone formed on shell reefs, travertine formed inside cooling hot springs.
When the mud of the hot springs began to cool, the remaining water vapor pushed its way up and out of the forming stone. This left behind hundreds of tiny channels behind in the rock. When travertine is cut into tile, the channels present themselves as holes in the surface of the material.
Filling Up the Holes
The many holes in travertine help to give it its naturally rustic appearance, but they also make the stone weaker than other types of limestone. Therefore, the holes need to be filled either with epoxy or grout to help strengthen the stone. This can be done at the factory for honed and polished stones, or at the time of installation for more rustic styles. Leaving a few holes uncovered will not damage the stone, but it could cause it to attract dirt and stains.
Remember that travertine is limestone, so while it looks like a harder rock, it’s actually one of the softer stone tile options around. Rustic, tumbled travertine often hides scratches and stains fairly well because of its texture. Honed and polished varieties are very easily scratched and stained, however, so care should always be taken when using travertine in high traffic or wet areas.
To help protect the travertine from staining, it should be sealed with an impregnating, silicone-based sealer on a regular basis. This will help fill up any unseen holes and prevent the stone from absorbing moisture.
If you want a naturally rustic stone that will eventually patina and soften to a beautiful finish, consider travertine for your next installation.