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Travertine Surfaces

Natural travertine is a material that is related to other natural materials and has some distinctive characteristics. In this article we will take a look at the material known as travertine and consider how it is related to other natural stones like marble and limestone. We will highlight some surfaces for which travertine is well suited. Additionally, we will delve into what goes into working with and caring for this natural stone. Finally, we will touch on how to clean and maintain natural travertine surfaces.

What is Travertine?

Natural travertine is a calcareous stone that forms naturally. That is, it is a stone that is composed of calcium carbonate. The material is relatively "soft" as far as stone is concerned. Travertine is usually found forming in or around mouths of caves and natural springs. The appearance of this material is usually cream, beige, brown, or gray; although it does form in other colors as well. Natural travertine is recognizable by the pits (also called voids or holes) in its surface. These pockets are usually filled using a man made substance designed to strengthen and/or smooth out the surface.

Related to Other Natural Stone

As mentioned above, travertine is a calcareous natural stone. Thus, it is composed of the same basic mineral as marble and limestone. In fact, travertine is actually a specific kind of limestone. Both are sedimentary rocks that form with the help of water. However like we said previously, travertine forms with the help of natural springs and limestone often times forms at the bottom of oceans. This is a very simplistic way of explaining it. The differences are much more detailed than that, but suffice it to say that travertine is a specific type of limestone.

Travertine is also related to the illustrious natural stone called marble. Marble is limestone that has undergone the process known as metamorphasis. And as we mentioned, travertine is a specific type of limestone. So all three are calcareous natural stones and each one has enough distinctive traits that it is its own type of stone.

Uses for Travertine

Natural travertine is a beautiful natural material that is often used in elegant designs. Its distinct appearance makes it the perfect stone for certain design styles. For example, rustic kitchen designs make use of travertine surfaces. Another design type that works well with travertine is the industrial design style. Although these are two of the design styles that travertine is compatible with, those are not the only two. But for now, let's turn our attention to the uses of this material.

In the Home

Travertine has various uses in the home. Since it has such a distinct look, it is used to accentuate rooms. One of the ways this is done is by using it as the material from which the kitchen backsplash is made. Travertine back splashes not only make for decorative accents but they can also be laid out in various ways.

But travertine is not only used to accentuate. It is also used as flooring. Travertine flooring inside the home can really add character to an interior. Travertine floors can be polished for a clean looking floor surface. Although, there are uses for travertine in its unpolished state.

Travetine Outside

One of the uses for travertine outside the home is as a decking material for swimming pools. The material is absorbent, and even more so if left unpolished. As a result, water from a nearby swimming pool does not stand on the surface of the pool. Rather, it gets soaked up by the stone. This means that the surface is slip resistant; a safer decking surface than other materials. Whether the voids in the material are left unfilled, filled using a semi-solid travertine filler, or a transparent travertine filler, the surface will be not only appealing, but also functional.

Cleaning and Maintaining Travertine

Caring for and maintaining natural travertine is relatively inline with most other natural stone surfaces in that it (travertine) can be sealed using an impregnating stone sealer. Depending on how you are making use of it, you may want this option. Additionally, cleaning travertine (back splashes) with a pH neutral cleaner will keep it looking its best and it will allow any sealers to remain. Using acidic cleaners on a sealed stone surface will basically remove the sealer from the surface of the stone; thus undoing any work you did to seal the stone.

One additional care item that is important to know about regarding any calcareous natural stone material is etching. Calcium carbonate is a mineral that reacts with acid. This means that it dissolves when acidic liquids come into contact with it. This is perhaps one reason why you do not see many (if any) travertine countertops in the kitchen. Household liquids that are common in kitchens can leave etch the surface of travertine in just minutes and the reaction begins occurring immediately; regardless of whether the surface is sealed or not.

Travertine Etch Removal

An etched travertine surface can be corrected by using an etch remover that is designed to correct the visual appearance of the stone. Etch remover works, not by restoring what was dissolved. Rather, it very gently "blends" (for lack of a better) the discoloration by slightly working on the area around the etch. The result is a steady blending of color and appearance from one to the other so that the contrast is not as visible and in many cases completely gone.

As we have seen, travertine is a material that has some very specific uses due to its distinct appearance. It is not only stylish, but functional. And while it may not be the best material for every surface it does have strengths that make it a great choice for a number of applications.