Travertine: what is it, and how good is it?

I have at home a sample of travertine from our builder, which we're considering using in our bathroom. I must confess, I've never heard of the stuff before. I read that it is a natural stone (the coliseum is apparently built from it!). However, from the underside it looks like a combination of expanding foam mixed with plaster of Paris. Is this how it should look, or are we being fobbed of with a man made substitute?
Second, how good is it for use on both the floor of a bathroom and the walls of a shower? I'm informed it is suitable for this. However, I left the dog's drink bowl on the sample tile overnight. The little mutt splashes a bit when slurping, and for the last 9 hours or so there has been a visible "ring" on the tile where the water has been standing and seemingle soaked in.
So all in all, I'm a little bit concerned about using this product. There aren't many references to it on this newsgroup. Can anyone advise of the positives and drawbacks of this material?
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Suggest you do a Google Groups "travertine" Lots of hits.
--
M Stewart
Milton Keynes, UK
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Malcolm Stewart wrote:

Alas none of which answer my questions...hence posting here!
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

*I* thought it was a specific sort of marble..
First google hit... ***************************** Travertine is one of the most beautiful, versatile, and historically important stones. Its durability makes it highly useful in building applications, and it has been used in this manner since the Roman Empire.
Formation
Travertine is a form of limestone that is heavily compacted. Generally it is formed when minerals in streams or hot spring water become deposited on river beds and dry out. If the chemical composition has enough of the mineral calcium carbonate in it, then the result is considered to be travertine.
Coloration
In its purest form travertine is a very pale color, however imperfections in its structural make up, such as the presence of iron, can cause beautifully colorful banding to occur across its face. Different colors are caused by different minerals, and different shapes are formed in the stone dependant on how the impurity combines with its structure. Since the imperfections show up semi-randomly, no two pieces ever look exactly alike. It is however grouped into quarry names where similar strains of the marble taken from similar places are classified into categories.
Uses
Travertine is often used in counter tops, flooring, to resurface structures, and in cobble stoning. It is also used in a number of unique stone home furnishings. It is not as hard as quartzite, or as smooth as marble, although it can take a honed finish. Travertine is also available as Tufa, and as onyx, a semi translucent stone.
Travertine is mined heavily in Italy, the U.S. and turkey. Historically it was used by the Romans, Byzantines, and ottoman empires in their ancient architecture. Today it is widely used both indoor and outdoor and is one of the most versatile components available on the market. It is easy to maintain and clean, it is durable, reliable, and it doesnt show dirt very much.
********************
It seems that its just another calcium carbonate stone, but whereas marble sis highly compressed sedimentary, travertine tends to more be formed by evaporative processes.
Try puring brick acid in your sample, it should all eventually dissolve if its pure CaC03...if its synthetic it won't.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Normally this group is far more helpful. Have you got a jpg that you can post in a suitable place, and I'll compare it with the 'real' stuff that my FIL has.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

I'm not familiar with travertine, but if its real stone it'll be the same on both sides, bar a rougher finish on the back. Synthetics may dissolve in hcl just like real stone.
NT
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

A word of warning. I am pretty sure that tiles,made of travertine, were used for the floor of the new Bath Spa. The floor was an absolute disaster. They were porous and allowed the water to penetrate the sub-base. This affected the underfloor heating and had other undesired effects. They had to completely re-lay the floors.
Residents of Bath may be able to confirm this if they are not still speechless about the cost to them of this disastrous project.
p.s. I am not 100% sure they were travertine but they were Italian, a light brown colour and looked like Limestone.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

My only experience is of commercial floors in hotels & office blocks. I've always thought it was an upmarket form of marble.

Maybe thats just a backing layer. If its natural the pattern will vary, if synthetic it will repeat somewhere.

Its reckoned to be very durable and long lasting.

Like most natural stones inc marble its probably very porous and will soak up dirt & stains, It would almost certainly need to be sealed in some way. Marble floors are usually vitryfied using acidic chemicals & steel wool pads which change the surface composition of the marble to make it harder & more resistant to dirt.
It can also be sealed with a flurocarbon type of product, similar in action to Scotchguard on a carpet. I have seen acrylic floor seal used on marble as a cheap alternative but I wouldn't reccommend it.
Try drops of coffee or orange juice on the sample. If they stain or etch the surface it has no seal.
--
Dave
The Medway Handyman
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Marble tiles etc tend to have a rough cut back - only the face and edges are polished.

All marble is porous, but can be sealed for shower cubical, etc, use. Your supplier should have details and recommend this.

I'd suggest Google - there are dozens of suppliers and hits and checking them out should give the pros and cons.
--
*The severity of the itch is proportional to the reach *

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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I have laid travertine in a number of bathrooms and its been fine. You must remeber to use the correct type of adhesive (no tub stuff) for this type of stone and ensure that it is sealed before and after you grout the flloor. Go and visit yout local Topps Tiles and they will be able to supply the correct adhesive, grout and sealer. Also ensure that the surface is structually sound for the tiles, if you are planning to tile a bathroom floor then "normal" floor boards will NOT suffice. If you are tiling a wall with it, consider the weight and whether the wall is up to it, again do not use tub adhesive its not strong enough, use power.
If you want to know anything about tiling take a look at http://www.uktilers.co.uk/tilers-forum /
Andy
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Before use it will need to be sealed with something like Lithofin MN StainStop. Until this is done, it will be suceptible to staining and absorbing water. For a bathroom floor, I would probably baulk at tumbled (holey) travertine and go for filled travertine or honed marble.
Christian.
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