Granite vs. Travertine

Travertine tiles can be rustic and full of holes.
Travertine tiles can be rustic and full of holes. (Image: tile installation image by Greg Pickens from

Travertine and granite are two natural stone products used frequently in many areas of the home. Both stones are available as countertops, tiles and tabletops and have a rich and natural beauty. Understanding the differences between these two stones can help you decide which one to use in your own home.

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Granite Overview

Granite is an igneous rock made up of mica, quartz and feldspar. Granite is hard, dense and durable and can withstand heavy use and traffic.

Granite can be polished to a high shine, or ground to a flat, matte finish for use in tiles and slabs. Like all natural stones, granite can have extreme amounts of variation in color and pattern and no two granite tiles or slabs are ever exactly the same.

Travertine Overview

Travertine is a sedimentary rock similar to limestone. Made mostly of calcite, travertine was formed deep inside hot springs. The vapors escaping the stone during its formation led to hundreds of holes in the rock. These holes can be the size of a pin hole to the size of a child's fist and should be filled to reinforce the stone's integrity.

Travertine is mostly left tumbled and rustic, or filled and honed to a flat finish. A few types of travertine are hard enough to take a high polish after they have been filled.

Care of Granite

Granite, like any natural stone, is porous and should be treated accordingly. Granite should be washed with a mild cleanser and lint-free cloth and sealed on a regular basis.

Granite is hard to scratch, but acids such as lemon juice can etch its surface, so spills should be wiped up as soon as they are seen. Granite showers, floors and counters can withstand heavy or commercial use.

Care of Travertine

Travertine is a soft stone, filled with holes. These holes must be filled, either with epoxy at the factory or with grout during installation. Like granite, travertine should be washed with a mild cleanser and sealed regularly. Since travertine is softer, it can scratch or dull easily and should not be used in kitchens or areas prone to staining or heavy use.

Appearance and Cost of Granite

Granite comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns. It can have a tightly packed granular pattern, or more wide veins. Colors range from whites and blacks to greens, blues and reds.

Granite prices as of May 2010 ran from approximately $25 a square foot to $400 a square foot for some of the rarer stones.

Appearance and Cost of Travertine

Travertine has a more limited color palette, ranging mostly in tans and browns, with some golds, reds and grays. Travertine can have a blotched or veined appearance depending on how it was cut, and how many holes had to be filled. It is frequently seen in a rustic appearance, and tumbled.

Travertine cost anywhere from $7 a square foot to $50 a square foot as of May 2010, depending on the stone.


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