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A beautiful and versatile material that has been used across the globe for centuries, travertine is certainly having a moment in the spotlight. 

Our expert Three Balls Red design team are being asked a lot about travertine tiles in the wake of a spate of inspiring new projects such as our clients’ Palmy Courtyard House.

So, we decided to pull together an all-you-need-to-know guide on this naturally striking stone, which undoubtedly adds warmth and character to any indoor or outdoor space.

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Evoking a sense of calm and boasting a timeless elegance, travertine is a type of limestone formed in hot mineral springs and limestone caves.

With its distinctive, organically-shaped holes coupled with its porous texture and warm earth tones, travertine has a unique allure that makes it one of the most-loved stones across the globe. Versatile and durable with a marble-like texture, travertine can be utilised both indoors and outdoors, in high-traffic areas and will tolerate extreme weather conditions.

Having been used all over the world for centuries – most notably in the Colosseum in Rome - travertine has more than proven its durability and enduring elegance.

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There are a variety of colours ranging from deep browns to walnut and mocha hues as well as medium-range beige, cream and caramel tones.The tiles du jour are the light and creamy Navona and Alabastrino travertines from Italy.

Silver, platinum and titanium travertine colours offer an array of beautiful greys with a huge variation of colour running through the stone. Travertine tiles can be processed in a crosscut or a vein-cut finish, which are both beautiful and work back with any design style. Needless to say, there is a colour choice for every interior taste, no matter where the stone is to be used.

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There are several different surfaces available in travertine with the main options being polished, honed, sandblasted and tumbled. Tumbled travertine has a rustic, natural appeal with little shine and is most often used for exterior spaces such as around swimming pools, patios or for wall cladding.

Popular indoors and out, honed travertine is similar to tumbled but has a more modern look with a smoother finish and smoother edges. Possibly the most common style, polished travertine, comes in a semi-gloss or high shine finish and oozes luxurious sophistication.

Honed and tumbled travertine are always best used in wet areas like bathrooms or pool landscapes as polished tiles can be slippery when wet and pose a safety hazard. The surface of travertine can either be filled - usually by the factory to produce a more even surface - or unfilled depending on the client's preference. 


Travertine has proven itself to be exceptionally durable over centuries.

You only have to visit the Colosseum in Rome, the Sacre Coeur in Paris or LA’s Getty Centre - which was built with 1.2 million square feet of travertine imported from Italy - to see the most striking examples of travertine in a structure.

Travertine can be obtained in tile form, paver form, slab form, for wall cladding as well as for baths and bathroom basins. Extremely forgiving in a range of areas - both internal and external – travertine is also affordable for most projects or renovations and will last the test of time if cared for.


As is often the case with natural stone, maintenance of travertine is key given this is a porous product.

It is imperative the travertine is sealed on installation and a regular maintenance regime put in place to preserve its beauty.

If not maintained correctly, travertine can exhibit a dirty, unkempt surface, which really detracts from the elegant finish. 

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Unlike synthetic materials, travertine has a smaller negative environmental impact. Travertine’s durability also means it will last a lifetime if cared for meaning less replacements and, in turn, less waste.

For more advice on travertine or to see Three Balls Red’s range, book an appointment with one of our tile specialists in our Bundall showroom here.


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