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Travertine is characterized by its dramatic banding and variegated coloring. Its uses throughout history range from the Roman Colosseum to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe used travertine in several of his works, including the Toronto-Dominion Centre, S.R. Crown Hall and the Farnsworth House.
Geology of Travertine
Travertine is a variety of limestone that tends to form in caves or around hot springs where carbonate-bearing water is exposed to air. When the water evaporates, a small deposit of calcium carbonate is left behind.
Travertine is a porous material with naturally-occurring holes that may remain unfilled or be factory-filled with resin or cement. All travertines will acid etch when exposed to acidic foods such as lemons or tomatoes. All travertines have high absorption ratings and low abrasion resistance ratings.
Care + Maintenance Tips
- Do not use resin-filled material outside, as the resin will discolor over time. Choose cement-filled or unfilled materials as an alternative.
- Fabricators will often need to resin-fill the exposed edges to match the filled surface of the material.
- Do not use travertine for kitchen countertop applications.
- Always seal travertine prior to grouting or use.
- Use walk-off mats at entrances and expect the material to patina rapidly.
- Always use a grout that is similar in color to the stone to avoid a picture-frame effect.
- Always use a neutral detergent to clean travertine.
- To reduce the appearance of staining, always wipe up spills immediately. Oil and highly-pigmented liquids can penetrate and stain the stone and may need poultice to remove the stain.