Technical data-Travertine tiles
Travertine tiles are a very dense form of Calcium Carbonate and although a Limestone, Travertine tiles are more usually considered as a Marble. Colours vary from pale to dark cream with attractive surface variegation.
The characteristic voids in this material were caused by gases present when the rock was in the molten state. These voids appear as holes in the tiles and are either filled during the fixing process or at the Factory.
Used since Roman times as a building material Travertine tiles with their unique qualities as a flooring material have been used for many domestic and commercial applications. The roads of Rome and Verona are paved, not with gold but Travertine. The Coliseum itself was built largely of Travertine. Its sorry state today has been caused, largely, by the local builders some centuries ago, removing large blocks of travertine to complete other building projects around Rome – recycling some would say!


Choosing a finish
There are several types of finish available so this versatile material can suit almost any application from "rustic" to contemporary. The surface appearance of the tile depends on the cutting technique at the quarry. Tiles are either cut with the natural grain of the stone or contra cut against the natural grain. The former giving a linear movement in the surface markings, the latter giving more variegated markings in a non linear format.
Travertine tiles are quite variable so it's important to see an actual area as a single sample will never give the true picture of this material. As with all natural materials it is important that your order is from one consignment as each production batch can vary considerably.


Filled or Unfilled?
One of the characteristics of Travertine tiles are the voids in the surface which are a feature of this material. These can vary from literally pinholes to quite large irregular holes. These voids can be filled with grout when fixing the tiles or filled at the factory and the tile machined to give a honed or polished surface.
Factory filled and honed tiles are usually more expensive than unfilled however this depends on the finish, brushed (tumbled) tiles cannot be filled and are desirable due to their "rustic" appearance.
It is possible for holes to appear in filled Travertines usually when they are on the floor and in relative high traffic areas. This is usually caused by the filling breaking down or voids just under the surface breaking through. It’s not as bad as it sounds but it can happen regardless of the quality of material although, the better materials (grade A) have less filling so this is consequently minimised. These voids can be filled using a suitable Grout or an Epoxy Resin. The easy method is to simply fill the void with a matching grout usually the same as was used between the tiles when they were fixed.
It is impossible to guarantee that that voids will never occur with Travertine tiles. If a perfect flat finish is required in an area with a reasonably high footfall, travertine should perhaps be avoided. This tragedy of travertine is also, perhaps, its wonder. It will age with use and, like the rest of us, show the charismatic character of age when compared to the antiseptic perfection of youth!