What is Travertine?
Travertine is a type of limestone deposited by hot mineral springs called karst. The water movement from the springs erodes the travertine, creating holes in the stone. The structure of travertine can be likened to that of a honeycomb, where small pockets or cavities exist within the stone; these are exposed as holes in the surface when it's cut into tiles.
Travertine mainly comes in light beige and tan colours, but dark brown chocolaty colours and silver travertine are available. Travertine has been used in the construction of buildings since before the Roman times. Until fairly recently most travertine originated from Italy, from quarries in Tivoli and Guidonia Montecelio; the old Bernini quarry here has major historical importance, as it's where the building materials were quarried for the colonnade of St Peter's Square in Rome.
Today, travertine is mainly used in the production of tiles. As the cut tiles have holes in them, there are numerous travertine finishes available:
Honed - this is a matt finish where the holes are left exposed and filled with grout during installation.
Honed and filled - where the holes are filled at the factory, usually with a cement-based product. The filling is typically the same colour of the tiles to give a more blended look, but can often be white which stands out a bit more.
Polished – usually polished travertine comes pre-filled. More basic polished travertine has cement-based filler which will give the surface a patchy appearance as the filler won't be polished. More expensive polished travertine has epoxy-based filler that is smooth and shiny and doesn't stand out as much as cement-based, and overall provides a much better appearance.
Travertine tiles are produced and available to buy in varying grades. There is:
1st grade – premium, the highest grade, but the smallest percentage of a factory's overall production.
Standard grade – good quality material that forms the majority of a factory's production.
Commercial grade – these are the lowest grade tiles, and there are also levels of commercial quality like High Commercial, C1, C2, C3.
It's also worth noting that one factory's standards can differ to another's, so one's premium might be another's standard grade!
Choosing high quality travertine
Typically, the grading of travertine tiles is determined by the size of the holes left in the surface and the overall colour consistency. Some colours like black and green are only found in commercial grade products. A good quality 1st grade travertine will have minimal surface holes, good overall colour and the colour is consistent from tile to tile within each batch.
Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous vendors out there who have taken advantage of the generic nature of travertine (it's impossible to put one sample by the side of another and compare as they will probably be from completely different sources) and most suppliers will make sure the samples look their best before they send them out. Once ordered, more often than not, the quality of what arrives isn't the same as the sample, and without any real basis for comparison, many buyers are duped into thinking they have bought premium grade material but will have in fact received cheaper commercial grade.
Applying good common sense and logic to buying Travertine tiles is the best way to make sure you get the best product for the price. Nobody is in business to sell pounds for 90p; if it's really cheap, that's what you will get. We often get people saying things like “I can get classic travertine elsewhere for less than yours.” This is a really tough one for us as we know that what we sell is genuinely the best available for the money and we guarantee that.
Our guarantee: value and quality
We buy direct from factories in volume at the best prices, and work on really small profit margins so we know that what you will receive from us is be the best you can get for the price. This is our guarantee to you, and we offer everybody a 100% money back guarantee if they are not completely satisfied with the quality of their tiles. It's really difficult to convey this message to customers who often think that the cheapest product on the market is the same quality as something that costs a little more. If it's cheap, then the chances are it will have been bought cheap from the factory that made it - and the only products that can be bought cheap from a factory (which have fixed prices for their different qualities) are cheap commercial grade products. It's as simple as that. As they say, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
We genuinely only offer Travertine tiles in two grades –standard (our classic travertine) and everything else is premium grade. Our warehouse is open to any customer who wants to actually inspect our travertine straight from the crates to see exactly what they will receive after they have ordered it. Unfortunately, for those who've ordered elsewhere and get something that they think isn't up to the standard of what they ordered, it's often too late as there is usually a tiler booked, the customer begrudgingly settles for what they have received and the wheels stay in motion. As a consumer, you have various rights including one to return the goods to the vendor under the distance selling regulations or sale of goods act.