About Travertine: History, Composition and Uses
Travertine is a sedimentary rock which is formed by the transformation of limestone. Carbon-dioxide rich water passes through limestone, dissolves it and becomes saturated in it. Changes in temperature and pressure occur and the carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere as it reaches the surface of the earth. As carbon dioxide is released at these hot springs, the limestone loses its ability to remain in solution and re-crystallises over tiny plants, algae and moss. Over time layers and layers of this new stone build up which is the travertine we see today.
Its main constituents, Calcite and Gypsum, are colourless however minor impurities, other compounds and organic pigments give it common mellow hues of gold, brown and yellow.
Visually travertine will have a holy appearance which can vary from tiny pinholes to large irregular voids. This is due to the presence of gas bubbles when it is formed. Once the travertine is cut into tiles, the holes can either be filled with grout or epoxy fillers or left unfilled.
Travertine has a hardness rating of 3 – 4 on Moh’s scale. It’s a smooth dense stone that is popular because of the wide variety of finishes it is available in. These include a combination of filled, unfilled, honed, polished, chiselled, brushed, chipped and tumbled. It was used extensively in Roman times due to the massive deposits at hand at the base of the Tiburtine mountains. It was also favoured because it is less permeable than marble and much easier to quarry and use than granite.
- Tiles and Sink bowls: Very popular in bathrooms
- Building stone: The Coliseum and many other ancient buildings in Rome are made of Travertine
- Statuary & Chess Pieces
- External flooring: Garden and patio paving
Restoration and Maintenance:
It is important to understand the stone maintenance cycle in order to properly maintain the beauty and lustre of your natural stone installation.
Travertine can be easy to maintain if a proper maintenance cycle is put in place from the point of installation. As with marble and other calcite stones, it can be easily etched if anything acidic comes into contact with it. If it is polished travertine, the problem of scratching is also an issue, however, if proper barrier matting is not introduced even a honed surface will lose its attractiveness. Travertine should always be factory sealed or sealed prior to grouting when installing to.
Any stone needs a good planned maintenance schedule in place to preserve it and to delay restoration procedures for as long as possible.
Daily maintenance will consist of dry dust mopping using a clean rayon mop. Regular damp mopping will also be required. This must be carried out using a good quality stone soap alternated with just fresh water. It is important that soap residue doesn’t build up on the surface of the stone. Spills should be wiped promptly to prevent staining or etching. Acid-based chemicals used for household cleaning can damage the surface of travertine and other calcite stones on contact. Similar damage from acid-based foods and beverages can be avoided if not left to dwell.
Professional regular maintenance will be required to maintain its honed or polished appearance. Our opinion is that travertine looks best with a honed appearance or a combination of both honed and polished in the same room. It is very common to find a bathroom with honed travertine on the floor and polished travertine on the walls. As wall tiles are less at risk of scratching, this is a practical approach that allows for less regular restorative maintenance.
When regular maintenance procedures are no longer adequate, complete restoration will be necessary. Problems like cracked, loose or chipped tiles, or a desire to have a different finish on the stone all require complete restoration. Travertine is sometimes incorrectly called travertine-marble due to its ability to be polished to a high shine. It is possible for us to polish a honed travertine which will give it more depth of colour. If the travertine is unfilled, we can fill it and give it a honed or polished finish. This is done using the diamond grinding system and special calcite polishing powders. It really is a very versatile stone that can be restored in a number of different ways. Coloured epoxy resins or polyester fillers are used to assist in filling holes when the stone is polished. Grout or cement-based fillers are used if the required finish is honed. Stains are removed using a poultice and deep alkaline cleaning prior to grinding and honing. It is sometimes wrongly assumed that because travertine has an abundance of holes that it is extremely porous. It is actually less porous than marble and limestone however it still requires the application of a penetrative sealer in order to offer a good level of protection from staining once the restoration is complete.
Our extensive experience in travertine restoration will give you peace of mind when choosing a stone care professional. Please see our testimonials page and feel free to contact us for free expert advice and a no-obligation survey.