Travertine tiles have been becoming more popular every year as prices go down steadily. In this article we would like to give general information about travertine tiles and also some useful tips and advises.
How travertine is formed?
Heat and pressure beneath the surface of the earth have been forming blocks of natural stone (travertine, marble, limestone, slate and granite). Eventually when the crust of the earth begins to grow and erodes, these blocks are pushed from their core and massive rock deposits which are called quarries emerge. All natural stone tiles including travertine are processed from these quarries.
Types of Travertine
There are various types (finishes) available in the market. The most known types are as below:
1) Honed and Filled: It is important to remember that travertine is a product which is full of holes. These holes are filled with a special compound to give a smoother and modern finish to the tile. After the filling stage, a precision abrasion process is applied where the small amount of material is removed from the surface to make the tile smoother and in some cases shinier.
2) Unfilled and Tumbled: The process where the stone is tumbled or vibrated with smaller abrasives to produce an aged appearance. Because of its rustic look, many customers prefer this type of travertine tiles in bathrooms, kitchens or old country cottages. The holes are not filled and the surface is pitted, rough.
3) Brushed: Using circular brushes in the polishing or honing stage, the tile can be given a semi-polished or semi-honed look. The surface is textured and pitted.
4) Chiselled: Commonly known as chipped edge. The edges are tumbled as well as chipped all along the 4 edges to give a rustic finish. The tiles are also pitted.
5) Polished Travertine: A beautiful glossy finished is achieved by the natural reflection of the stone crystals. The shine is being accomplished by using progressively finer polishing heads during the final stages of the production.
What to look for when purchasing travertine?
So the question is what to look for when buying travertine tile flooring for your property. First of all is to decide the type (or finish) for the area. If you are looking for rustic tiles, the finish you require is either tumbled or chiselled whereas for modern (or contemporary) places honed & filled, polished or brushed tiles are recommended.
Second important factor is to ask the seller about the quality of the stone. Normally every seller claims that their tiles are of first quality. Because there are not set standards in the tile industry, it is difficult to determine if the seller is indeed selling first quality material as they claim. We always recommend following advices when purchasing travertine tiles:
1) Soft travertine versus hard travertine: Soft travertine will always be cheaper and it will also feel cheap when you touch the stone. Take a broken piece and try to crumble the edges. If the edges easily crumble, there is a high possibility that the tiles are of soft material. We do not recommend soft travertine to be laid on the floor as it will cause problems after some time.
2) Variation: Less variation means higher price whereas more variation means lower price. Normally all the travertine tiles of a retailer or a distributor come from the same production line which means all the product range has got the same quality regardless of the sale price. The difference in price will be variations on the same tile. If you see minimal variations on a range (the background colour is consistent within the tile), it might be classified as premium selected stone. However, the opposite term will be non-selected stone if the tile consists of different colours.
3) Samples: Although samples are guides, not guarantees, we strongly recommend requesting some samples to determine the quality of the material. Please note that in most cases 10×10 samples will be supplied by the seller which would not show all characteristics of the stone. For large projects, ordering larger size samples are recommended to get a better idea on the variation of the stone.
4) Wastage: Always consider that there will be wastage or breakages when laying the tiles, therefore ordering 10% more of the required quantity is recommended to avoid shortages.