Finding the right tile for your bathroom requires sifting through what may seem like endless choices. Natural stones like marble or granite offer beauty at a high cost; alternatives like ceramic and porcelain offer function at a reduced cost. Many people consider travertine to be a nice compromise. If you're considering travertine for your bathroom, a few details will help you make the right decision.
Many people are drawn to the earthy tones of travertine, as they lend a natural, classic feel to your bathroom, and blend well with many other natural materials. Because travertine is a natural substance, no two tiles are the same. Incorporating the natural beauty of travertine into your bathroom will result in an attractive, unique floor. Travertine is also a tough material, having been around for ages, and will last many years, saving you the cost of replacing your floors.
Travertine tile requires significantly more maintenance than alternatives such as ceramic and porcelain. Because they come in light colors, these tiles are easier to stain and etch. Travertine is sensitive to acidic materials, so it may stain when a shampoo bottle or some foods and beverages are left on it too long. Polished versions show scratches relatively easily, though if this is a concern for you, you can opt for the honed finish. The honed finish is not without its own downsides, as the texture can hold dirt and be more difficult to clean. In cold areas during the winter, travertine tiles may feel uncomfortably cold underfoot, and do not absorb impact, so they may tire your feet after you walk on them for extended periods of time.
As of July 2011, a popular home improvement store sold 2-inch mosaic tiles for $8 to $10 per square foot. Twelve-inch-square honed travertine cost about $4 to $5 per square foot. You may find more exotic travertine versions at your local retailer, but prices will run higher for exotic varieties.
If you're considering travertine for your shower floor, buy the honed version, as it will be more slip-resistant than polished stone. If you like the look of travertine but don't want the maintenance or the costs, consider ceramic or porcelain lookalikes. Many manufacturers make these tiles to closely resemble travertine, and you may find some you like just as much.
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