Hello, readers! Welcome back to the Stonehouse Countertops blog! We’re pleased you’ve chosen Stonehouse Countertops for everything you need to know about custom countertop materials. We provide comprehensive deep dives into various aspects of the design and installation process, as well as helpful tips for choosing the best material for your home. Our goal is to equip you with the information you need to commission the perfect countertops! Stonehouse Countertops carries an array of granite, marble, quartz, quartzite, soapstone, silestone, limestone, travertine, onyx, glass, sodalite, slate, and porcelain materials in its inventory. In addition to countertops, we offer fireplace surrounds, patios, floors, and walls. Whatever your design goals, we’re happy to help you achieve your unique vision!

Our last article was a super interesting deep dive into the custom countertop fabrication process. If you read our article on how stone is quarried, you know manufacturers are tasked with breaking down stone blocks which can weigh anywhere from 15,000 to 38,000 pounds. How do these behemoth hunks of rock become your glistening countertop slabs? We took you through the entire process, from start to finish. We spoke about the inspection of slabs–what manufacturers are looking for when surveying–their refinement, the cutting process, and how finishing touches are applied. Stonemasonry is absolutely an art form and it’s one we take very seriously! We hope you’ll give our last article a quick read to learn about how quality stone countertops are made! 

Today’s article is a continuation of our All About series–a set of articles that aim to shine a spotlight on the unique attributes of various stone materials. Our first post, ‘All About Marble,’ explored marble’s association with luxury, how its composition contributes to its luminosity, and how designers are pushing the limits on how marble can be used in residential and commercial spaces. Our second post, ‘All About Granite,’ recounted the interesting history of granite, how the stone’s versatility has been put to good use by designers across the globe and how granite is graded. Our third post, ‘All About Quartz,’ completed the trifecta of the most popular stone countertop materials on the market. We explained the oft-misunderstood difference between quartz and quartzite, detailed the pros and cons of quartz, and quoted a few stone experts on what makes quartz a worthy investment. Of course, we had to dedicate an article to the luxuriant, talc-based soapstone. We examined a few reasons soapstone is such a popular material among designers, as well as how to care for your own soapstone countertops. Our most recent All About article was dedicated to limestone. We explored the interesting history of this elegant stone and provided a basis on how designers use limestone to achieve a classic, timeless look. The All About series is everything you need to know to plan the next custom stone addition to your household or commercial space and we hope you’ll give these articles a read!

Travertine isn’t spoken of as often as its geological sister, limestone. This might be due, in part, to travertine actually being a type of limestone. In this article, we’ll detail how these two stones differ and why travertine might just suit you better. After giving a comprehensive case for travertine’s pros and cons, we’ll finish off with a pricing rundown. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll have a pretty good idea of whether travertine is the right stone for your home! 

Travertine vs. Limestone

Travertine is considered the precursor to limestone. Both stones are composed of calcium carbonate–a chemical compound found in minerals such as calcite and aragonite. Both stones are considered sedimentary rocks, due to their formation process, which involves minerals being deposited by the evaporation of water or accumulated by the dissolution of seashells. These mineral deposits are then compressed and compacted. Over time, travertine forms. If this travertine is then exposed to further pressure and levels of intense heat–it transforms into limestone. You might consider travertine to be the ancestor of limestone. 

These differing formation processes result in stones which are similar yet distinct from one another. Limestone is generally closer to marble (which is also composed of calcite) than to travertine, given its pale appearance and relative hardness. Limestone and marble share a 3-4 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, while travertine ranks a bit higher at 4-5. That said, hardness isn’t a stand-in for durability. Since travertine has only been exposed to a fraction of the pressure limestone has, it’s incredibly porous. This might make travertine the perfect choice for a patio, as the stone will absorb water during rain and feel drier to the touch. Likewise, water will evaporate quickly. However, if this water were to freeze, its expansion into ice could cause travertine to crack. Travertine is much more brittle than limestone. 

While limestone’s coloring leans more towards the beige, tan, and cream end of the spectrum, travertine’s coloring leans more towards the beige, orange, brown end of the spectrum. Overall, travertine is a colorful, diverse stone, known for its vibrancy and dynamism. It’s often streaked and striated–in a similar fashion to bold cuts of marble. You can find travertine pieces with greys, blacks, and yellows thrown into the color mix, too. Therefore, travertine is a flexible option for those who prioritize their design concerns. Both limestone and travertine need to be sealed to prevent staining and damage to the stone’s surface, but due to its increased porosity, travertine will need to be sealed more frequently than limestone (i.e. every 3 to 4 months vs. twice a year). 

Pros & Cons

Travertine is a relatively inexpensive stone option. That said, travertine can be dressed up to rival even limestone or marble with its luxuriousness. A polished finish lends itself to a smooth, glossy travertine, while a tumbled finish can help you achieve a more natural stone look. Depending on what you choose, travertine can serve many purposes, both indoors and outdoors. Travertine is an excellent choice of stone for floors, due to its durability, ease of maintenance, and affordability. Travertine is also commonly found in bathrooms, due to the non-slip texture of its unpolished surface. Travertine is stronger than soapstone, marble, or limestone, but not so hard as granite or quartz. This makes travertine a good middle option–both durable and easy to install. 

The drawbacks of travertine mostly boil down to its porousness. Among stones, travertine is one of the most porous. If left unsealed, travertine will accumulate stains and marks pretty quickly. The need for regular sealing means travertine requires a bit more maintenance than other stones and some homeowners may not have the time. Travertine isn’t always the best stone option for outdoor patios, depending on the climate in which you live. If you live in an area where the temperature drops below freezing regularly, you might want to consider another stone, as travertine doesn’t respond well to fluctuating temperatures. When placed in these types of environments, travertine might be liable to chip and crack. In this case, limestone is the safer choice. When you consider the affordability, colors, and sophistication of travertine, its cons pale in comparison. 

Can you afford travertine? 

The cost of travertine depends on a number of factors. Travertine flooring can come in tiles or pavers. The cost of these tiles or pavers may be as little as $3 per square foot, but you’ll also need to factor in the cost of installation. Installing travertine pavers may cost anywhere from $2,700 to $5,100 (for a 300-square foot project). Meanwhile, travertine countertops will run you anywhere from $50 to $100 per square foot (with professional treatment and installation). Travertine countertop slabs can be quite heavy and should not be installed DIY. You’ll also want to factor in the long-term cost of sealant (and grout, if you choose tiles). You can find resin-based sealants for $20 to $40 and, depending on the amount of travertine in your home, this expense can be negligible or significant. 

Given its relationship to limestone–travertine is a wonderful stone in its own right. For those who would like to invest in affordable stone, travertine might be the perfect option for you! If this article has you thinking about your own countertops, remember: At Stonehouse Countertops, we are willing and able to work with you to your specifications. We offer a wide range of different materials and always have someone on hand to answer your questions! Don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation or for help forming a plan. We want to ensure your vision becomes a reality! Be sure to come back for upcoming articles! Until next time—thanks for reading!