Lustro Italiano > Stone Reference > Travertine

Natural Travertine


Description:Natural travertine is a kind of limestone that forms via mineral deposits from natural springs. Here is some information regarding natural travertine.

Formation Process: Natural travertine is a sedimentary rock that is created through the deposit of calcium carbonate (a.k.a. calcite) by mineral springs, especially hot springs.

Appearance: Travertine is generally a light color and is often brown or gray, but can be a variety of colors. Like other natural stone, travertine's color can vary from one stone to the next and often depends on impurities in the material.

Composition: Natural travertine is made up of various of minerals. Yet, it is mostly made of calcite (calcium carbonate). However, it can contain other minerals as well.

Composition of Natural Travertine

Travertine is a natural stone that is composed mainly of calcium carbonate. It contains varying amounts of other substances as well but it is made up of mostly calcite. The list of chemicals found in travertine that follows reflect the contents of an average of ten samples of Mammoth Hot Springs as described in the Geological Survey Bulletin 1444 Here are some of the components than can be in travertine as was demonstrated by that document:

  • CaO (Calcium Oxide)
  • CO2 (Carbon Dioxide)
  • H2)O (Water)
  • SO3 (Sulfur Trtoxide)
  • MgO (Magnesium Oxide)
  • NaCl (Sodium Chloride)
  • K2O (Potassium Oxide)
  • C (Organic Carbon)
  • Na2O (Sodium Oxide)
  • SiO2 (Silica)
  • Al2O3 (Aluminum Oxide)
  • Fe2O3 (Iron Oxide)
  • KCl (Potassium Chloride)
  • H (Organic Hydrogen)

Natural Travertine Characteristics

Depending on the amount of and type of minerals in a given piece of travertine, it can be a variety of colors. Some of the colors of travertine that have been seen as demonstrated in our travertine gallery include:

  • Tan
  • Brown
  • Gray
  • White
  • Yellowish
  • Greenish

Additionally, travertine normally has a hardness of 4 to 5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness; which means it is somewhat soft. Another characteristic of natural travertine is that it has holes (also known as pits or voids). Often times these holes are filled during processing with a travertine filler that is colored compliment the stone. Some travertine is even filled with a transparent filler to preserve the natural appearance of the stone..

Applications and Uses

Travertine is used for many applications and for a variety of purposes. For example, travertine is used for:

  • Sinks
  • Stairs
  • Showers
  • Walkways
  • Driveways
  • Courtyards
  • Fireplaces
  • Wall Tiles
  • Countertops
  • Floor Tiles
  • Backsplashes
  • Pool Decking
  • Tub Surrounds

Advantages of Natural Travertine

One advantage to travertine is that it has a unique look and adds character to a structure in which it is used. Additionally, it has a timeless look and once installed it looks like it has been there for much longer. The consistency in color means that it is easier to find a matching tile in the event that you need to replace one.

The decorative appearance of travertine exudes the timeless look that is often times desirable for many upscale design and decor projects.

Travertine is also durable. You can see from the list above that this natural stone is durable enough to be used for a variety of applications; both indoor and out.

finally, travertine is a very workable material. Even though it is durable as we just mentioned, it is not so hard of a stone that it is difficult to cut like some natural stone; such as quartzite and granite.

Travertine Drawbacks

Even though there are benefits to using travertine, it does have its disadvantages. For example, it is porous. Even though this is not in and of itself a disadvantage, it does mean that the stone will absorb liquids relatively easily if left unprotected.

Another challenge that travertine can present if not properly considered is that it is susceptible to "etching". Etching is the term used to describe what happens when acid comes in contact with calcium carbonate. Simply stated, acid dissolves calcite. So when an acidic liquid contacts travertine (which contains a high amount of calcite), it dissolves the crystalized calcium carbonate (calcite). This leaves a discoloration on the stone. This discoloration is what is meant by the term "etch". There are techniques that can be used to keep your travertine looking its best. But those are for a different article.

Travertine Care and Maintenance

As with many other natural stone surfaces, there are some fundamental practices that can increase the life and preserve the appearance of travertine.

The primary care that is required for a travertine surface will depend on the purpose of the stone. For instance, a travertine pool deck or patio will be exposed to very different elements than say, a travertine backsplash or kitchen countertop. So, ask your fabricator about how to care for your travertine surfaces.

Our stone cleaner is suitable for use on your travertine surfaces. Because of its sensitivity to acids, travertine requires a pH neutral cleaner. This is so that any sealers that protect the stone from oil or water based stain causing agents remain in tact; acid will breakdown stone sealers immediately upon contact.

If you do have an etch on a travertine surface, an etch remover is designed to blend the appearance of the stone so that the contrast of the color is practically invisible. Thus, removing the appearance of the discoloration.

In conclusion, travertine is a natural stone that can be used for a number of applications; including applications where heat exposure can occur. It offers advantages over other materials. But like everything else, it is not the perfect material for every situation or application. The beauty, unique look, and timeless appearance of travertine though, may make it a good choice for a number of projects. And in certain styles it really stands out.

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