Travertine Tile Finishes: Tumbled, Polished and Honed

Travertine tile is a popular choice of finish in many homes. The tiles are produced from a sedimentary rock known as travertine, which is a type of limestone. It is formed when minerals dissolve in groundwater and are later deposited onto the earth’s surface by springs, rivers and geysers. The tiles are a popular installation material for flooring, walls, backsplash, pavers and around a pool. Some of the more common finishes for the tile are tumbled, polished and honed. Read on to learn some basic information on each.

Tumbled Travertine Tile

Tumbled travertine has a rough pitted surface because of the naturally occurring pores and holes in the rock which are left intact. For many homeowners, the textured surface of tumble travertine has a rustic appeal which enhances home décor. However, the holes must be filled with grout during installation. If left unfilled, debris tends to gather in the holes. Water also collects in the holes when it rains which accelerates wear and tear. Grout helps to maintain the structural integrity of the tiles.

Due to its textured surface, tumbled travertine creates a less slippery surface than the polished type. It is also the easiest to walk on. This makes it suitable for poolside areas. The textured surface also gives it a higher resistance to etching than the honed variety. It is best to use a stone cleaner to wash tumbled travertine. Cleaners that contain ammonia or strong additives can damage the tile surface. Due to its high porosity, tumbled travertine isn’t as durable as polished and honed travertine. Water infiltration tends to weaken the tile structure and makes it more susceptible to cracks.

Polished Travertine Tile

Polished travertine has a smooth, slippery finish and bears a close resemblance to marble. It has an attractive shine due to its smooth matte finish and reflects a lot of light. It must be sealed periodically to preserve the structural integrity. You also need to polish it regularly so that the tiles don’t become dull with time. However, the polished surface allows easier removal of dirt. Simply use a damp mop to wipe away dirt. Polished travertine has a higher resistance to stains and scratches than the honed variety. It is also the most durable of the 3 varieties. This is partly because it has a lower porosity which allows for minimal absorbance of spills. When sealed regularly, this adds to the durability of polished travertine tiles. Polished travertine costs more than both tumbled and honed travertine.

Honed Travertine Tile

Honed travertine undergoes extensive grinding and sanding during manufacture to yield a uniform surface. Honed travertine has a smooth marble-like finish though not as smooth or shiny as polished travertine. It must be sealed periodically otherwise the tiles become more susceptible to damage which makes them less attractive. The tiles have a high susceptibility to stains. Slight contact with acidic juices can etch the surface and cause permanent damage. Coffee, tomato sauce, citrus juices and tea stains can easily etch the surface. It is best to use coasters under glasses, cans or bottles to prevent spills. All spills must be blotted out immediately. Scratches also easily develop on honed tiles because of the smooth surface. It is best to clean honed travertine with a damp cloth or sponge.