Learning Center

Find the answers to your home improvement questions.

About Travertine Tile

antique light travertine tile

Travertine is a form of limestone with unique porous veins that give the milled tile their beauty. The stone is found in a wide variety of natural colors, and four different finishes may be applied to individual tiles. Travertine has long been used in many of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Today, in addition to being an excellent flooring material, travertine tiles may also be used as pavers, countertops, stair treads, columns, sinks, and even bathtubs.

Product Perception

Italian travertine and marble is generally perceived to be of the highest quality because the quarries and manufacturing centers are well established. Turkey has a large amount of travertine and is home to many of the most skilled quarries in the world. Brazilian travertine is thought to be of a lower quality, followed by the stone quarried in Mexico, mostly due to the lower quality of workmanship.

Natural stone derived from limestone, such as travertine, is perceived to be a luxury item and is used in residential and commercial spaces to achieve a visual effect that communicates success, good taste, and affluence. However, because the stone is porous, the possibility of staining is present. This has led to the overall perception that travertine is a luxurious surface that lacks practicality. Fortunately, modern methods of milling and sealing the stone make staining much less worrisome leaving one with simply the aspect of luxury.

Travertine Benefits

  • Travertine provides a durable surface with a proven history of longevity.
  • Travertine provides additional structural strength to property.
  • The natural travertine colors and patterns vary from surface to surface making each installment unique.
  • Natural stone increases the resale value of properties.
  • Travertine instills a sense of pride in ownership, because of its authenticity.

Popular Applications

  • Flooring – Travertine can be used in entrances, hallways, foyers, as well as living spaces.
  • Wall Cladding – Travertine can be used in exterior and interior spaces.
  • Shower Stalls
  • Pavers
  • Fixtures

Check Out These Resources

Are you looking for flooring with a unique pattern? We have put together a number of informative resources to help you decide if travertine flooring is right for you. Tile flooring is one of the most durable available, so making the right decision is critical.

Types – Learn about the different types of travertine

Buying Guide – Learn how to make an informed travertine tile purchase decision

Installation Guide – Learn how to install travertine tile

Cleaning & Care – Find out how easy it is to care for a travertine floor

Glossary – Familiarize yourself with common travertine tile terms

(57) Comments

  1. Hi,

    I am trying to find a way to remove the residue ( a pale grid pattern!!) on my travertine floors which clearly come from the grid-patterned latex rug pads that were under my carpets. Someone suggested a little WD40, followed by Murphy’s Oil Soap. I desperately do not want to damage my floors or strip the sealer from the floor either.
    I have tried Acu-Chem natural stone cleaner with a soft cloth, but that doesn’t seem to do the trick


    • Hi Colleen – thanks for your question. One thing you might want to consider is a poultice for stone tile. What a poultice will do is sit on the surface of the stained area, and draw out the materials which are causing your stain over a period of time, transferring it from the tile body and into the poultice. Then, simply remove the poultice product from the (formerly) stained area.

      You can browse for stone tile poultice products here.

      I hope this helps, and good luck! :-)

  2. Hi Colleen, I’m not sure if you’ll still have the problem by then but we are anticipating that the full version of the travertine learning center will be up by the end of this month. The cleaning and maintaining section will be pretty comprehensive, including a bunch of information on poultices. I’ll ask the writer to do the Cleaning and Maintenance page first and get it posted for you ASAP. In the meantime if you have other questions please feel free to call us with other questions. Just ask for a travertine specialist when you call.

  3. We are about to move into our new home were we had travertine tile installed. What is the best cleaning product to use and is it cleaned with the dry cloths or something similar? Thank you


    • Hi Irma,

      Travertine can be cleaned with dry or wet mops and you can generally use most all purpose gentle cleaners. Never use a cleaner which is either acidic or strongly alkaline. We actually just published our travertine cleaning guide which is quite extensive and you can see it here Travertine Cleaning and Maintenance. If you still have any concerns please feel free to give the BuildDirect sales team a call.

  4. I just had my floor done with Travertine, about an 1500 sq/ft area. I noticed several tiles have a hollow sound to them, like there is no cement under them. I’m not talking about small areas of the tile, but the majority of tiles’ surface sounding hollow. Should the contractor who laid the floor redo these tiles? Do you know if there any standards that contractors should be guided by as far as the percentage of the tiles’ surface that should be cemented? Thank you.

    • It is really hard to say something without seeing the actual tiles. but I there may be, 3 possible reasons,

      1)Depending on the density of each stone, sound would be different ones which have more holes may sound like hollow regardless of the installation.

      2) Travertine comes with holes, top surface is filled but the backs are unfilled. If the contactor did not put enough thinset on the backs of the stone , or if he did not put enough pressure while installing. you may hear this hollow sound

      3) If the contractor did not use the correct trowel size (trowel size depends on the tile size), if he used bigger trowel for smaller tiles, this may be the reason as well. See attached tile setting file includes trowel sizes.

      I hope this helps.

  5. Hi
    I just had travertine floors put into 2 bedrooms. They butted the tiles up against each other so you can see virtually no grout. I was expecting a small grout line, but can deal with that. My question goes to where the tiles adjoin each other. There is a “lip” where many of the tiles adjoin- they are not flush/level with each other in many places. It is a small variation, but I expected the tiles to be a smooth surface across the room. Should they or should they not have a level top surface? Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Carla,

      With a stone like travertine the tiles should be installed virtually level. The fact that they are are not flush with each other likely indicates a less than perfect installation. Unless the tiles have large variations in thickness such as in a stone like slate with a split face, tiles should always be virtually perfectly flush. Even were the subfloor not perfectly level, the installer should put down a mortar bed thick enough that the tiles can be adjusted deeper or shallower in the mortar to make up for minor variations in the subfloor.

  6. Hi, I am thinking of having travertine tiles installed in our new kitchen but I am worried that the choice would prove impractical as I have been told that travertine is prone to staining and it should not be used in heavily used areas. Would you put travertine flooring in a kitchen and what precautions, if any, would you use?
    Many thanks

    • Hi Anna,

      Like most natural stone, travertine is susceptible to staining when materials are left to sit. When acidic materials are involved, your floor is particularly susceptible. For travertine, which is porous by its very nature, a honed and filled choice in a kitchen represents some protection. Of course, like all natural stone, it needs to be sealed when its installed, and may need to be re-sealed during the course of its life in your kitchen.

      Quite obviously, being careful with falling glasses, bowls, and plates is important in the kitchen. But, accidents can happen. So, if you’ve got a case where a glass of red wine, or tomato juice, is spilled, there are poultice products designed to sit on the surface of your tile that naturally absorb the stain out of your travertine tile. Having said all of this, travertine is a great choice for natural stone in a kitchen, related as it is to marble, which is used without prejudice in kitchens all over the world and with similar challenges in place. I wouldn’t worry about using travertine at all, with all of the above firmly in mind.

      I hope that helps.

  7. I am planning on using travertine tile to build a wall outside. What type of thinset and grout will I use for an outdoor application?

  8. Hi. I am currently in the process of building my house and im looking at different styles of tiles for my main bathroom. Ive spotted travertine tiles which i have absolutely fallen in love with. However, ive been googling the maintenance of them and from what im gathering they seem quiet delicate! Obviously i want an luxury looking bathroom but i dont want high maintenance. Are they pratical for a main bathroom? Can you use normal everyday cleaning products or do you have to get a special cleaning agent? Also, from what i have been reading, you have to seal the tiles but how often does this have to be done?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    • Hello Helen,

      It’s great to hear that you’re interested in learning more about Travertine tile and have done some preliminary research.

      1. First of all, I’ll address your question about the maintenance of Travertine tile. Travertine can be cleaned by dry dust mopping to remove dirt and debris. Spills should be blotted immediately or as soon after as possible to avoid damaging the stone’s surface. Although, it is true that Travertine does require more care than a porcelain tile, for example, if you choose the right type of finish for a bathroom application you can minimize the required maintenance. You should choose a honed, satin-smooth surface which would be the best for a bathroom application instead of a shiny polished and potentially slippery surface.

      2. Now to your question about the cleaning products to use with Travertine tile. You can use regular household, mild liquid dishwashing soaps, powders, or can go with special stone cleaners. Regular cleaning with a solvent-free cleaner will keep the tiles looking their best.

      3. Finally, regarding the question of sealing the Travertine. Since Travertine is a porous, natural stone it is susceptible to stains from acids found in drinks and cosmetics(relevant for a bathroom installation). As such, a penetrating sealer, which doesn’t affect the color of the tile, or a color enhancing sealer should be applied to protect the stone and the frequency of reapplication depends on various factors (the amount of foot traffic expected, the quality of the sealer, etc). Remember to test out the various sealers on one tile and see the resulting effect before applying it on the entire floor. Hope that helps and reassures you that Travertine will be just fine for a bathroom application.


  9. I’ve had a polished Travertine floor installed there where dull areas so I had the floor polished professionally but there are still a lot of areas that make the floor look dirty as there is not an overall shine.
    Is there anything can be done to fix this, as the professional cleaner said the marks will keep returning. As they seem to be.

    Thank you.

    Noel Mc Mahon.

    • Hello Noel,

      Travertine is a natural stone, so it can occasionally be reground, buffed, and resealed to restore the original beauty. Is this the first time you are re-polishing the tile? The professional cleaner you speak of may be referring to the fact that you can only do this a certain number of times over the life of the floor depending on the thickness. My suggestion would be to get a second opinion from another cleaner as it is difficult to know the exact answer without more specifics and actually having a look at the tile.

  10. I’m in the process of building a new home. The decorator has recommended 4 X 4 Castle Cream Travertine tile for the kitchen backsplash. Wanting a one of a kind look I’ve decided to hand paint several tiles that will be strategically placed. What type of paint should I use to paint the tiles? It’s my understanding the hand painted tiles should be “kiln fired” and sealed prior to installation. Is that correct and if so to what temperature and for how long? Thanks in advance for your advice.

    • Hello Diana,

      Unfortunately, I haven’t personally encountered a situation where anyone has wanted to paint travertine tiles. However, I did speak to my colleague, Craig, and he has encountered a situation where Travertine tile was painted on without any problems. Also I would not be able to recommend any particular paint, your best bet would be getting some free Travertine samples and trying different paints on them. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

  11. We hired someone to redo our kitchen and they put brown paper over all the floors – unfortunately they used strapping tape to secure that paper and 2 months later it’s stuck to my floors, collects dirt, and is sticky and difficult to remove – hot, soapy water and elbow grease removes about 4 inches every 20 minutes and I have yards of this stuff to remove. Even when the top adhesive is gone, at an angle you can see where the stone has ‘absorbed’ some of the adhesive as if it were a sealer. What can we do?

  12. Is installing travertine tile (mosaic) on a shower floor a smart thing to do? I was told that it may too porous which could lead to the absorption of water. Could that lead to damage to the floor or worse yet a water leak that could damage the ceiling in the room below? Thanks.

  13. We’re in the process of having travertine laid in a large area in our home – kitchen, dining room, family room, small guest bathroom, and entry. Our installer is suggesting using a high gloss sealer. Our decorator does not agree. She feels the natural look is better. Is there a rule of thumb on which way to go or is it just personal preference?

    • Hello Debbie,

      There is no rule of thumb to go by for deciding which sealer to use. However, if you want to keep the natural look of the tile, go with a penetrating or impregnating sealer which doesn’t effect the look of the tile. Otherwise go with a color-enhancing sealer that can effect the look of the tile. It all depends on what look you are going for.

  14. I am trying to match my travertine tile color/pattern in my home because I have 8 tiles that are cracked/broken–like a hairline crack in the tile. The contractor left no extra tiles in the home because the original owner took all of them–had to sell in a short sale. My tiles are 19-1/2+ (not quite 20 x 20) by 19-1/2+. How do I find this size? I am only finding 18 x 18 or 24 x 24. Thank you.

  15. In your installation section you dont describe what type of thin set to use, modified or unmodified.
    nor do you talk about the size of trowels to use for different size tiles.

  16. We have recently had travertine laid in our kitchen. The tiler grouted it and then came back to seal it – it is now very blotchy. You can see that between the tiles were they were grouted the seal has had a different finish to the middle of the tiles. so now you can basically see lines all over the floor. Rather than having to grind the tiles, is there anything you can suggest to either remove the stains or cover them over with something else. We have tried resealing but that doesn’t seem to work and tried removing the marks but that doesnt work – any suggestions? It is definitely something to do with sealer reacting with the grout as that is where all the marks are….

  17. Hi,
    I have about 16 broken tiles in a large kitchen area. Some are adjoining tiles and some are located separately. The floor was laid when we build 10 years ago. I have extra travertine tiles but they are much lighter in color than the ones that have weathered on the floor. What can I do to try and make these look the same in color? I have a area run underneath the table in this area. Should I take these good tiles out that are closer in color and replace them with the broken ones throughout the floor and put all the new lighter ones under the rug? Or if I put the new ones down, how long will they take to weather and look the same. Or can I put a product on the new ones to make them look darker? I am afraid I will have a checker board looking floor with the lighter ones installed. What should I do. Thanks so much! Narda

  18. We have travertine tiles in our entryway in a home we are renting for at least another year. Our area rug slips terribly on it. I am considering using a tape called Rug Gripper and it claims it is safe for all surfaces, but I’m concerned, especially since we are renting. Do you have any experience with this product? Is there a product you would recommend be used for this sort of circumstance? Thank you so much.

  19. I’d appreciate your expert opinion on a travertine tiled floor in a bathroom laid just over 10 years ago and measuring 1.5 x 1.5m, each tile being 400mm sq. There is currently cracks that appeared mths ago mainly in the central weight bearing areas that will need replacing. In your opinion, what’s the normal life of a travertine tile? In particular, are cracks the main reason for replacement? I know staining and mismatching of colour with other tiles is an issue but how can I make sure the replacement tiles don’t crack? Thanks for your time.

    • Hi Theo, you should check the underlay and subfloor also. This might be a cause of cracks and weight distribution across your floor. With the proper install, care, and maintenance Travertine Tile can last for a lifetime and longer. Apart from cracks, external damage to the tile, and improper maintenance are the biggest reasons for replacement.

    • Cathryn, Depending on what volume of Travertine you are importing to South Africa would initiate your search. For large volumes, you could look at container size orders. For smaller volumes, there might be a local importer that you could cost compare for shipping and duty fees.

  20. We have a large outdoor area which we installed a very light travertine in most of our back yard. After it was completed we realized it is entirely too white
    My question is can we add a color or stain then seal it in too soften the look??
    Please help with this situation that we have we have invested so much money and absolutely dislike our back yard.
    Thank you and hope to hear from you soon

    • Hi Barbara, If you have a sealer company in your area you could consult some help from them. If the Travertine is unfilled, you could also consider having them filled to change the coloration. A slightly darker cement based filler could help change the overall shade of the area. Test it out on a small, inconspicuous area first to see the effect.

  21. I’ve been planning to change the tiles of my room but I don’t have any resources to begin with. I will browse the resources you’ve provided, I might get the one I like in there.

  22. We would greatly appreciate your insight on one question: has the travertine paver color “Noce” been renamed “Tuscan Walnut”?
    To elaborate briefly: to renovate our pool deck, we made the decision to use a medium tan colored travertine paver called “Noce”, selected from several shades in a marketing brochure.
    The pavers that showed up were primarily grey in color with some light reddish brown…..we saw that they were labeled “Tuscan Walnut” on the pallets. When we questioned our builder, he responded that his supplier had told him that the “Noce” pavers had been renamed “Tuscan Walnut.”
    >>>Are we being smoked, or has tuscan walnut really replaced noce?

  23. It’s great to know the benefits of having Travertine compared to other types Tiles. The only question is if the price stands for it’s quality.

  24. Hi,
    Our back yard is south facing and is cold and damp most of the year. We have sandstone pavers at the moment that build up a lot of green moss.
    We are thinking about replacing the sandstone pavers with travertine tiles. Are travertine times just as likely to “grow moss” given the south damp conditions?

  25. Can travertine tile used for a shower floor be painted. Just built a new house and have a color mixture of the tile on the shower floor. The actual tile looks completely different than the 2″ sample I was given to choose from. It is a random 2×2 square tile pattern that consists of colors of tan, cream, and a terrible orange/gold color.

  26. We built a new home and our tile guy said that our Travertine shower floor does not need to be sealed. Is this really true because everything I’ve read online says it is extremely pourous. Thanks!

  27. Hi, we just had our travertine installed In our bathroom. We sealed the tiles ourselves by using “Enrich’N’Seal ” But it leaves a waxy build up residue. We tried to clean up the tiles after about 24 hours, we still can’t get rid of the waxy residue. Can you please tell us what other ways of cleaning we can do to get rid of it? Thank you!

  28. Never saw an answer posted to this questions from 3/12/12:
    We hired someone to redo our kitchen and they put brown paper over all the floors – unfortunately they used strapping tape to secure that paper and 2 months later it’s stuck to my floors, collects dirt, and is sticky and difficult to remove – hot, soapy water and elbow grease removes about 4 inches every 20 minutes and I have yards of this stuff to remove. Even when the top adhesive is gone, at an angle you can see where the stone has ‘absorbed’ some of the adhesive as if it were a sealer. What can we do?

  29. I have 550 sq. ft of travertine floor I need to cover with 1/4 rubber for traction.
    Is there any danger in covering travertine with rubber matting?

  30. Harry,
    We have Tuscany Noce and it is of softer/whiter/cream tones…… Tuscany Walnut looks darker and not Even of the same shades as Tuscany Noce…… I’d say you are indeed, being smoked!

  31. I have travertine tiles in my kitchen and when my cat was sick she vomited a couple times on the tile. After we cleaned it, we noticed that the acid from her mess had eaten away at the sheen. It’s not terribly noticeable since we cleaned it up fairly quickly. However, if possible, we would like to get the sheen back to these small areas if there is an inexpensive way to do so.

  32. Hello,

    I have unsealed stone floors and 3 days ago I cleaned them for the first time with a floor cleaner. Today I noticed there are lots of white spots all over the floor. I went back and read that the floor cleaner is only to be used on sealed floors. Is there any way to get rid of the stains and restore them back. Please help!!!

    Thank You.

  33. We are remodeling the shower in our cabin master bath. I was planning on using travertine tiles but because the cabin is in the mountains and we close it down for the winter, I’m being told that porcelain is better. They tell me travertine will crack due to the extreme cold temperatures and natural humidity and moisture. Is there any truth in this?

    I’d appreciate any advice. Thank you.

  34. Hello,
    I am looking for a piece of travertine tile to use in my oven, as a pizza stone. My home improvement store clerk told me they have a filler in them to make them smooth. What is this filler, and is it food safe?

  35. From my experience I have noticed that Turkish Travertine tends to be the most consistent, highest quality travertine on the market. Generally more for travertine pavers then tiles however.

  36. I have 4-5 cracks in my marble floor. The floor is 23 years old.The cracks range in length from 12″ to 50″. The tile was installed on a concrete floor. I suspect the cracks are reflective cracks from the concrete below. What is the best way to repair these cracks?

  37. Hello!
    I have a concrete porch that I would like to tile. I found an awesome premium quality travertine medallion by MS International. Apparently it’s frost resistant and it says ok for outdoors. It would be installed on top of concrete which will have all sealer removed first. Just making sure it would be ok in zone 7 climate and would like your opinion. This will also help decide what to do with out walkway and driveway next year.

    Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You can use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.