There’s a good reason why travertine has been in continuous use for over 2,000 years. The warm hues and soft texture of travertine give it an old-world feel that has never gone out of style and never will. Travertine can be white, cream, yellow, pink, tan, or reddish, all due to small amounts of iron or sulfur in the stone. The porous texture of travertine can be left “unfilled” for visual interest, or it can be filled with color-matched grout to produce a smoother surface. Because of travertine’s high porosity, the use of a sealant is recommended. Travertine has the same mineral composition as limestone and marble, so it shares similar properties. It is around 3 on the Mohs hardness scale (harder than a fingernail, but slightly softer than a copper penny), which means that it can become scratched with heavy use. Exposure to acids like vinegar or citrus juice will etch the surface of the stone. While travertine is not an appropriate choice for a hardworking kitchen countertop, it makes an excellent backsplash for a timeless, traditional kitchen. Travertine is a natural choice for bathroom vanities, wall tile, or flooring. Even in the Getty Museum’s well-trafficked hallways, the floors are projected to last more than 50 years. Travertine cladding or large-format tiles are a beautiful, refined choice for interior and exterior walls, as is commonly seen in commercial buildings, museums, courthouses, and public spaces.
Travertine may be a young rock, geologically speaking, but it has already stood the test of time. The Roman Colosseum offers an irrefutable testament to its durability—an unlikely combination of the old buildings made from young stones.