Everything you need to know about travertine: Understanding common durable pavers
Travertine is common around homes in America, thanks to its many desirable qualities. To begin with, it is versatile and can be installed in many places around the home including tabletops, backsplashes, patios, walkways, and even driveways. It has a relatively high stress threshold, which means you do not have to worry about consistent foot or vehicle traffic.
It is one of the oldest building materials in existence and was used in ancient times to portray affluence. This is because each piece of travertine is unique in its striations, thanks to years of Mother Nature applying pressure on the rock. The result is a stone that brings subtle elegance to any installation.
Since it is a form of limestone, travertine is very good at drainage thanks to the many tiny pores that occur across the stone. This makes it ideal for outdoor installations where the possibility of rain and excess moisture is high, such as patios, pool areas, and garden paths. It comes in shades of tan, beige, brown, and rust, which make it blend in with most landscaping designs. More neutral colors such as shades of white, orange, pink, and cream are preferred for indoor installations.
Different grades of travertine
Tip: With travertine, the rule of thumb is the more the pores, the lower the quality of the tile. Higher grade cuts come with fewer pores, and which is evidenced by the small amounts of filler. The qualities can further be enhanced during the sealing process, to help the stone last longer.
With that in mind, travertine is graded into three quality classes: commercial, standard, and premium. The difference in the classes is mainly the number of pores and the thickness of the tile.
Commercial travertine the lowest quality, and is commonly called the third grade and is characterized by certain defects in the tile. The thickness will not be uniform, for instance, and there are bound to be a lot more holes to fill. The edges of the tile may also be broken or scratched, and there will be several defects with the honing process. Commercial travertine tiles will also have large variations in color, which in some cases may include gray markings.
The medium quality for travertine is the standard grade, which comes in evenly thick tiles, but with more filler material than the first grade. It is characterized by consistency in the color and with double filled tiles. The colors may also contain swirls and striations. The edges are smooth and uniformly beveled, although the tiles will have some large holes filled out.
Premium travertine comes in perfectly cut and evenly smooth pieces. There is very little filler material used since the number of pores in the stone is greatly reduced. Any holes that existed in the stone are first filled by machine, and those that remain are filled by hand. You also get the best picks in terms of color, since the tiles come in consistent shades that are free from black or grey discoloration.
Types of Travertine
There are two travertine cuts, and the type of cut you get will influence the overall look of the final installation. It is important to note that the parent rock is the same, and the difference comes purely from the type of cut used. The variations of travertine in the market are:
Fleuri Cut: This is crafted using a crosscut which is made parallel to the bedding plane and results in circular patterns in the tile. The tiles are strong, but are not ideal for high traffic areas, since holes may appear after some time. These can be filled during repair, without replacing the piece.
Vein Cut: This is crafted using linear cuts that are made along the grain in the bedding plane. The result is a veined pattern that looks excellent on the patio. The parallel vein is what makes the best-known variation of travertine, and comes with clear differences between the dark and light elements of the stone.
Cleaning and maintenance
This is an easy stone to take care of and following simple tips will help you keep your patio looking brand new. These are:
- Always seal your stone. Sealing natural stone is the easiest way to keep your installation protected from staining and other forms of damage to the stone. If you plan on installing the tiles near your pool, you may need to look into saline water protection as well.
- The first step on cleaning travertine is carrying out daily maintenance, which involves sweeping away dirt and debris using a soft broom or a dry mop. Refrain from using hard brooms or full-sized canister vacuum cleaners. These might cause scratching damage to the tiles.
- Always use gentle cleaners on your tiles. Make sure to read through the ingredients of any natural stone product, to make sure there are no acidic elements that can cause etching on the stone. You should avoid store-bought products since these will inadvertently contain acidic and alkali based cleaning ingredients.
- Any materials that can cause damage to the stone should be cleaned immediately. This means that any food or drink spills on your patio should be wiped with a moist cloth, then the area cleaned with gentle liquid soap. This should reduce the chances of acidic foods such as fruit juices, coffee, and various stews, from causing damage to the tiles.
- Use mats and carpets in areas where polished travertine has been installed to reduce the chances of scratching. You should also cushion the legs of heavy material, for example, your George Foreman grill.
- Contact an authorized and reputable paver and tile repair company to come and deal with any stains. This will decrease the chances of additional injury to the stone.
A common practice when dealing with travertine is to replace any broken and cracked tiles immediately. This lessens the chances of the crack spreading, by removing the weak tile. If you are keen on continuity, you might need to keep a few pieces from the original consignment of tiles. These will be used during any subsequent repairs.