Honed, Tumbled or Brushed? How to Select the Right Travertine Tile for You Kitchen or Bathroom.
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Honed, Tumbled or Brushed? How to Select the Right Travertine Tile for You Kitchen or Bathroom.

Travertine tile is a durable and attractive natural stone in a class by itself. Famous structures like the Roman Coliseum stand as a tribute to the long-lasting nature of travertine as a building material. There are many installers and DIYers today who have used travertine tile as both flooring and as wall tile who will also sing its praises as a practical and uniquely decorative addition to their interiors and exteriors. So, travertine tile has been used and relied upon as tile for thousands of years, holding a place in the development of civilization from the Ancient Greeks, to the Roman Empire, and onto today’s modern age in equal measure. But what are some of the defining characteristics of travertine which sets it apart from other natural stone flooring and tile options?

Origins of travertine

Travertine is related to marble, actually falling somewhere between marble and limestone in terms of its development over thousands of years. Travertine is formed by subterranean springs, underground rivers, and other water sources. These water sources carry mineral elements such as calcium carbonate that build up over long periods of time in the same way stalactites and stalagmites in caves are formed. The resultant stone is a smooth and very hard substance further characterized by its porous surface. These pores are the result of gases escaping as the travertine is formed. By the time it is quarried, travertine is naturally beautiful – a smooth, dense stone that exhibits a notable creamy color that evokes a certain old-world refinement. Commonly found in Italy and Turkey, travertine remains to be a popular import for construction products all over the world, including North America.

Processing travertine tile

Travertine is removed from the earth in large blocks before it is cut into what can be recognized as travertine tile. It may be cut in any of the following ways:

# Cross-cut – The travertine is cut with the grain of the stone bedding and on the same layer as it is formed in the earth. This makes for a more uniform texture and color

# Vein cut – the travertine is cut across several layers of the stone bedding, making for a more mottled, tiger-stripe effect when cut into tiles

After the travertine is quarried, it is strictly selected for color variances, and further assessed after it is cut for holes and chipped edges. Beyond the selection process, the travertine may be subject to any of the following processes

# Honed – the surface of the tile is sanded to create a matte finish

# Tumbled – the travertine is literally tumbled with gravel and bearings, giving it a rough-hewn, aged appearance.

# Brushed – a wire brush is used to give the surface of the travertine tile a worn, textured surface

# Filled – The pores in the travertine tile are filled with colored resin or cement to produce a pristine, solid surface

# Polished – the travertine is sanded and polished, producing a shiny look

Popular uses of travertine tile

As old an option it is for a sturdy and reliable building material, travertine tile remains to be a highly diverse natural stone, suitable for all kinds of applications. Travertine was used in the ancient world, but can also be found as a major component of many modern buildings such as the Getty Centre in Los Angeles, and the UCLA medical centre. Travertine tile is used as floor tile in both residential and commercial settings, as well as a decorative option for wall cladding and backsplashes. Travertine tile has both indoor and outdoor uses, being a durable stone, and can be both functional and aesthetically striking. A featured design element of which anyone would find to be a source of pride, the popularity of travertine seems to be undiminished. In fact, it’s getting more popular!

A selected travertine checklist:

# Do your research! Ask questions of the experts – the salespeople, local tile installers, owners of travertine tile, and other sources. They can help you make an informed purchase. Knowledge is the best means of achieving the results you want.

# Consider where you wish to install your travertine tile; what kind of conditions will it need to be able to withstand? Foot traffic and moisture levels should be the most obvious considerations, as well as any spillage or staining problems that may arise from your young children or pets.

# With the location in mind, think about the issue of finish. This should help you to choose the kind of finish that would be the most suitable. Tumbled or brushed travertine tile may answer the slip-resistance question. But honed or polished may meet your visual requirements. Weigh the pros and cons, always balancing visuals with practicality

# Choose an appropriate sealer. This is an important step regardless of which type of travertine tile you choose. Consult the experts – your local retailers of stone products can help with this – on which products are best for your particular choice in travertine tile. As always, follow the instructions on any the labels of any products you do buy to make sure you get the results you’re after.

# When you finally get your travertine, expect there to be slight color variances. Despite the fact that there has already been a selection process for color variation, travertine tile is still a natural product with varying degree of mineral deposits from tile to tile. But you can use this to your advantage. Open all boxes and try a dry run using all of the tiles in your batch. Be creative!

# Read your warranty before you start your installation. Check for any broken tiles, take pictures if you have to, and work out any shipping issues with your seller before it’s too late to resolve them.

Travertine tile offers subtle yet rich tones to any interior or exterior, as well as a level of long-lasting durability which makes it a reliable material as well as a decorative one. A travertine tile installation links your interior or exterior with a architectural tradition that goes back thousands of years, as well a linking it to an ongoing tradition likely to last for thousands more!

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