Travertine, a form of limestone, is a natural stone formed by the precipitation of calcium carbonate in mineral springs (alkaline waters), which makes it a sedimentary rock. While many mistake it for a type of marble, the key difference lies in the formation of the stone (marble being a metamorphic rock) and hardiness. Deposits of travertine are most commonly found around geothermal springs.
Up until 1980, Italy had almost monopolized the travertine market. Nowadays considerable amounts of premium quality rock are quarried from Turkey, and few other locations around the globe, making it more accessible worldwide.
Besides the captivating looks, travertine comes in a variety of warm, natural hues, from ivory, beige and cream, to dark brown, gold and walnut. For both interior and exterior decoration, it fits perfectly to both rustic and contemporary designs. Whether it’s used for driveways, walkways, pavers, walls or indoor decoration, when installed correctly it is bound to deliver longevity and style.
Did you know?
That one of the most famous buildings in the world – The Colosseum is built almost entirely out of travertine? Romans had commonly used it as a building material for many of their well-known structures, such as baths, aqueducts, amphitheatres and temples.
So, is travertine for outdoor terraces a good choice?
Travertine is a suitable building material for both indoor and outdoor projects. The most common indoor applications are bathrooms, stairs, floors, or kitchen countertops. Exterior applications often are patios, driveways, walkways, pool decks, terraces and many more. It is also commonly used in the form of mosaic pieces, from which a skilled artisan can create a terrace centrepiece of your choice, adding a unique touch to the décor of your household.
The distinctive trait of travertine is the porous surface, with plenty of holes, due to the nature of rock’s formation. These suggest that the material may be prone to wear-and-tear, especially outdoors in subzero temperatures. However, this isn’t the case, since the surface of travertine tiles, used for outdoor travertine terraces, are filled, and honed if need be. You can quickly determine the quality of tiles by the amount of filling used since the filling is always the same colour and easily discerned. Less filling equals better product quality. Unsealed travertine tiles are also commonly used outdoors, usually around pool areas, where a water-absorbing and slip-resistant surface is preferred.
To avoid cracks at ground floor outdoor projects travertine tiles measuring at least 1/2” or thicker are recommended. Mortar bed is necessary for correct installation of 3/8” or thinner tiles.
What about marble? Why should I decide to build an outdoor travertine terrace instead?
The first and most obvious reason is the cost/benefit factor. Travertine is approximately 50% cheaper than marble; hence, it is a better choice for larger-scale projects such as outdoor decoration. Even if the cost is not an issue when you consider exposure to the elements (travertine is freeze/thaw proof), the possibility of chipping or scratching, travertine is a more durable material.
Probably the best trait of outdoor areas covered with travertine is that its surface of the material doesn’t retain heat, so even when on a scorching summer day it remains cool to the touch. The variety of colours, but also surface finishes – chiselled, polished or filled and honed – ensure you will find a suitable combination for a captivating outdoor terrace.