Can You Stain Unfinished Travertine Tile?

The color of travertine stone can be changed in several ways.
The color of travertine stone can be changed in several ways. (Image: Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Travertine is a natural stone that has been in use for thousands of years by the likes of the Romans and the Byzantines. It continues to be a favorite natural stone for commercial and residential construction even today. And while stones such as granite and slate are locked in to their original color due to the hardness of the stone, travertine, like marble, is capable of being stained due to its porous nature, allowing you to change its color at your discretion.

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Stains

Traditional wood stains are one of the easiest materials to use to stain the color of travertine; however, the darker the stone, the more difficult changing the actual color of the travertine is, so wood stains work best on lighter travertines. When purchasing your stain, always buy at least one shade lighter than you think you want your finish results, and add the stain in layers until you achieve your desired color.

Dyes and Inks

Dyes and inks are used for those darker-colored stones where wood dye may not work the best due to the inherent darkness of the travertine. Good examples of inks are those used to add color to paint,or the type of dyes used to color leather. Similar to wood stains, you need to start with a shade that is lighter than what you want your finish results to be because, while you can always add more color with additional coats, you cannot take away if you add too much.

Enhancers

Perhaps you have decided that your travertine is simply too lackluster and want to bring out the earthy tones of the stone. An alternative to staining or dying the actual stone is using a stone enhancer, which are topical products sold specifically for use with natural stones such as travertine. They work by bringing out the natural colors of the stone, many of which are hidden from the naked eye until the solution is applied to the surface. In many cases stone enhancers will completely change the color of the travertine, so you may want to try an enhancer before you take the drastic step of dying or staining the stone.

Natural Oils

All stone enhancers contain some form of moisturizer that penetrates the travertine to bring out the natural luster of the stone. And while stone enhancers, dyes and stains can all do their job effectively, there is another, more environmentally-conscious alternative: natural oils. Linseed oil, olive oil, sunflower oil and other natural oils enrich the surface of the stone and penetrate into the travertine to bring out the natural colors and darken the face of the stone beyond its original state.

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