When you are renovating your home, your shopping list will certainly include various types of tiles. The list would generally include both the indoor and outdoor tiles as well as the countertops. Tiles made out of natural stones are more aesthetic, give a distinctive look to the surroundings, and certainly make a statement about the house owner. So it is easy to understand why people prefer natural stone tiles over other types of tiles for their house.

While there are quite a few types of natural stone tiles available in the market, marble and travertine are the two most popular types of tiles in use. Since both types of tiles are cut out of natural formation, you might want to know the difference and compare the two to find out which one fulfills your requirements.


What is Marble?

Marble is a natural formation created out of sedimentary limestone found near natural springs and freshwater. When exposed to tremendous heat and pressure for a long period, this limestone undergoes metamorphosis and the stone re-crystallizes becoming even harder and clearer. During the metamorphosis, impurities present in the stone naturally created patterns and formations giving an impression of veins and exhibit various hues of colors and shades. Commonly available colors are pure white, cream, gray and black. Marble may carry shades of red, yellow pink or green, depending upon the source location of the quarry.

When cut and polished, this marble acquires a very smooth and shiny finish.


What is Travertine?

Travertine is also a natural formation created out of sedimentary limestone found near freshwater hot springs and geysers.  It is a porous stone with many fine holes and channels that are formed over a period of time, by the expulsion of hot water and gasses during formation. Unlike marble, this stone does not go through the process of metamorphosis under heat and pressure but is quarried in the natural state.

Travertine is an extremely porous stone and hence during the fabrication of tiles, the holes and channels are filled up and sealed. Travertine is also a very soft stone, compared to marble. Being a natural formation, it collects sediments of many colors which exhibit fantastic hues and shades when cut and polished. Colors may range from white to cream with dashes of tan and rust.


How to Select?
Before you can make the final selection between marble and travertine, it is important to understand some key points related to them. Please go through the following points to understand some finer differences between these stones.


  1. Strength & Durability – Though both stones are porous in nature, marble is harder than travertine. Cutting, polishing and finishing marble is more expensive than travertine. When installed correctly, both stones can last for a lifetime, provided due care is taken to maintain them.


  1. Usage – Both marble and travertine are good choices as floor and wall tiles as well as countertops.


Marble is the popular choice for countertops due to its strength and smooth finish. Marble countertops are easy to clean and maintain since they are less porous and retain little dirt on the surface. It is the preferred choice for areas where polished tiles enhance the ambiance of the room or area. Marble tiles are extensively used for house flooring, bathroom walls, and countertops. Being hard in nature, marble floors are best suited for heavy furniture and weights. For the purpose of easy cleaning, marble continues to be a popular choice for bathroom walls, especially in the shower area.

However, for the bathroom flooring, it the travertine that wins hands down since travertine is softer and rougher than marble and generates more friction when you walk on the wet floor. For the same reason, travertine is also installed around the swimming pool area where people walk barefooted. Travertine tile is also a popular choice for driveways and garden paths. As you may have noticed, travertine is extensively used in the rough form for areas where extra grip on the ground is required. 

  1. Anti-slip – Marble is generally used in the polished form and hence prone to slippages when wet or moist. Travertine, being soft and porous, provides greater friction when wet and hence best suited as flooring for areas that see a lot of water splashing around. 

  1. Maintenance – Both kinds of stone tiles can last a lifetime provided care is taken at two stages. First, at the time of the first installation, the tiles must be installed and sealed professionally so that tiles do not crack under weight. Second, after every few years, tiles should be checked and sealants reapplied to ensure that all joints and surfaces are sealed completely.


Both kinds of tiles require due care as both are porous stones and tend to retain stains and dirt if not cleaned immediately. Take extra care to immediately wipe and clean spillages of dark colors, as they tend to seep through the fine pores if allowed to stay. Since both stones are alkaline by formation, they are prone to corrosion if exposed to an acidic environment or chemicals.


  1. Cost – Fabrication of natural marble tile is comparatively more complicated than the fabrication of the natural travertine tile. It is the size, quality, finish and geographical location that ultimately determines the price of the finished tile. Generally speaking, the marble tile would be more expensive than the travertine tile.

The Verdict

Depending upon your budget, design plan and time available, you may want to choose between the two types of natural tiles. Both are great materials for the choice of floors, walls, and countertops. A judicious mix of both kinds of tiles can bring out the best ambiance in your house.


Recommended Reading

Wholesale Travertine Tiles for all your Project Needs

Discounted marble tiles for houses of tomorrow

Advantages of Natural Stone Floors