The Real Reasons Travertine Tile is So Trendy

An up-close look at outdoor travertine tile

Outdoor travertine tile. Let’s get into it!

Chances are if you have entertained the idea of refreshing your backyard outdoor area at some point and have done any sort of initial research into options, you’ve heard the term “travertine” or “outdoor travertine tile” mentioned. It’s a material that The Stone Man highly recommends but it’s important to know a bit about it before you invest. The more knowledgeable you are about the materials essentially “living” in your backyard, the better able you will be to take care of them (and answer any questions guests may have when they are hanging out al fresco). Let’s get into it.

But first, a quote from The Stone Man CEO, Alan Lochridge, about his thoughts on travertine . . . 

“Outdoor travertine tile is always a great option for pool decks.  There are colors and patterns that fit nearly all design styles and very importantly it stays relatively cool on bare feet in the hot summer sun!”

The History of Travertine

Travertine is a timeless and classic material that has been used for centuries to create stunning structures, from the Colosseum in Rome to the White House in Washington DC. Originating from the Italian word “travertino”, it is formed by minerals in hot springs that harden and crystallize as they cool. Its unique characteristics make it an ideal material for use indoors and outdoors in hardscape projects, due to its strength and beauty. Its unique mottled pattern makes it a popular choice among homeowners, and it is available in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Travertine and travertine tiles are a durable material that will last a lifetime and add value to any property. It is typically sourced from hot springs, limestone caves, and quarries. It is found in many locations around the world, including the United States, Mexico, Turkey, Italy, and Peru. 

Besides the aforementioned Colosseum and White House, a few other notable buildings throughout the history that feature travertine or travertine tile as a primary building material are:

  • The Pantheon in Rome, Italy 
  • The Taj Mahal in Agra, India 
  •  St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City 
  • The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC 
  • The U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, DC 
  • The Getty Center in Los Angeles, California

So just know that if you choose travertine, you are in good company. It’s a material that has extreme durability and has lasted the elements and the test of time.

Travertine tile was a main material used in The Colosseum in Rome

The Hues of Travertine

While it is true that travertine is mostly found in warm hues such as beige, cream, gold, brown, red, grey, and black, it can also be found in shades of pink, yellow, and green although these latter variations aren’t quite as common. 

Travertine is known for being easy on the eyes with its unique pattern of color swirls and waves throughout the stone. Compared to other popular stones such as granite and marble, it has a more subtle and subdued tone-on-tone coloration and pattern, without the strongly contrasting dark veins or boldly colored blotches and freckles. 

Another benefit to travertine – it’s naturally rustic look. This is due to its pitted surface and small holes, which are caused by the bubbling of carbon dioxide up and out of the stone near natural hot pools. 

The Array of Finish Options

After being mined, travertine is typically polished in four various ways to be used for decoration in Charlotte homes or business spaces. The finish is truthfully a personal preference and depends much on how you want your travertine to appear. The four finishes that The Stone Man specializes in are:

  • Polished outdoor travertine tile: This version offers a modern and sophisticated look. Holes and crevices are filled before the stone is buffed to create a smooth and shiny surface. Unfortunately, it is not suitable for a lot of indoors uses or around swimming pools as it can become slippery when wet. This type of travertine is ideal for entryway floors, counters, backsplashes, and tub surrounds due to its luxurious appearance.
  • Honed travertine: Honed travertine is the perfect option for outdoor use in the Carolina. Its holes and crevices are filled before the stone is sanded on one side to create a smooth, almost-matte finish that is ideal for any decorating style. This finish is slip-resistant, making it a great choice for outdoor pathways, driveways, patios, and pools of course. It is also durable, so it can withstand harsh weather conditions and retain its lovely appearance for many years. Polished and honed are pretty similar except for the slipperiness factor!
  • Tumbled travertine: Tumbling outdoor travertine tiles along with small stones in a large tumbler gives them a weathered and rustic look that fits perfectly with Mediterranean, Spanish, Tuscan, or other Old World decor. This process produces a matte and heavily textured surface, making it perfect for outdoor flooring or wall insets.

Outdoor Travertine Tiles: What Should You Consider?

the pros and cons of travertine tile

How to Care for the Travertine in Your Hardscape Design

We get this question frequently here at The Stone Man and it’s a solid one. Before opting for travertine or travertine tiles, many of our Charlotte customers want to know how easy it will be to maintain. And that it is – easy to maintain. With regular cleaning and protection, travertine tile can last for many years with minimal upkeep and does well in the fluctuating Charlotte seasons.

  1. Clean the travertine regularly. As with any hardscape material, the travertine or travertine tiles should be cleaned regularly to prevent dirt and debris from accumulating on the surface and potentially damaging it. Use a soft brush or cloth and a mild detergent to gently scrub away dirt and debris. “Wet and Forget” is a great product to help eliminate and reduce mildew, mold, and moss that can grown on travertine surfaces.
  2. Avoid harsh chemicals. Harsh chemicals like bleach, ammonia, and vinegar can damage the travertine surface, so avoid using them when cleaning.        
  3. Use mats and rugs. Placing outdoor mats and rugs in high-traffic areas can help protect the travertine surface from dirt and wear. 
  4. Avoid using abrasive materials. Abrasive materials, such as steel wool and scrub brushes, can damage or scratch the travertine tile surface and should be avoided. Also, dragging furniture or other heavy items across decking can cause scratches.

Is Travertine Just a Swanky Version of Marble?

No, travertine is not the same as marble (or granite.) Travertine is a type of limestone that is formed by hot springs and other geothermal processes. It is typically characterized by its pitted, porous surface and distinctive colors. Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, and granite is an igneous rock composed of quartz, mica, and feldspar.

Overall, travertine and marble are both attractive and durable stones that can be used in many hardscape designs. However, it is important to keep in mind their differences in formation and characteristics when deciding which is best for your project.

What’s Next?

Ivory Travertine Tiles in the french pattern
An example of Ivory Travertine (one of the lightest colors we offer) laid in a French Pattern. Four different paver sizes unite to create a bold look.

The Stone Man is the perfect choice for anyone who is considering travertine installation for their backyard. Our experienced and knowledgeable staff will guide you through the entire process like selecting your travertine color of choice. While most common are Ivory, Walnut, Silver, Rainbow, and Noce, the decision can still be a big one. We will make sure that travertine and our designs with it provide a beautiful and durable end result. Contact us today to talk through specifics and get your Charlotte backyard renovation well on its way.

Famous Structures that Use Outdoor Travertine Tile:

We mentioned a few other famous structures or notable buildings earlier on that featured travertine tile but we felt we owed it to you go into a little more depth of information about each. If buildings as reputable as the below are using travertine tile as a material, it’s easy to see why it would make a great option for your backyard as well.

Tonto Natural Bridge Nestled near Payson, Arizona, Tonto Natural Bridge State Park proudly cradles what is believed to be the world’s largest natural travertine stone bridge, a geological masterpiece shaped over millennia. Rising 183 feet above a 400-foot-long tunnel, this awe-inspiring structure spans 150 feet at its widest point. Its discovery dates back to 1877, when David Gowan, a prospector fleeing from Apaches, stumbled upon this geological marvel. Presently, the park serves as a beloved hiking and picnicking destination. Arizona’s fascination with travertine extends into its caverns, such as those within Kartchner Caverns State Park, adorned with striking travertine stalactites and stalagmites.


Hierapolis Nestled in the heart of Turkey, the ancient city of Hierapolis boasts a rich history dating back to the fourth century B.C., founded by the Seleucid kings. This storied city resides in the vicinity of Pamukkale, a land enveloped by scalding springs and glistening white travertine formations. Pamukkale’s picturesque terraced cascades owe their existence to the gradual deposition of limestone, sculpted by carbon dioxide-depleted spring waters. These stunning travertine tiers led to the moniker “Pamukkale,” meaning “cotton castle.” Hierapolis’ architectural marvels were predominantly hewn from this very travertine, with well-preserved remnants, including the majestic amphitheater and the flowing travertine terraces, awaiting visitors.


Basilique du Sacre Coeur In the heart of Paris, the Sacre Coeur stands as one of France’s premier tourist attractions. Constructed using Château-Landon stone, a type of travertine that gracefully matures to a brilliant white over time, the church was unveiled in 1914. This architectural masterpiece exhibits a Romano-Byzantine design characterized by triple domes, lofty ceilings, and intricate mosaic embellishments.


Willis Tower Formerly known as the Sears Tower, the Willis Tower in Chicago, built in 1974, once reigned as the world’s tallest edifice. Its lobby showcases gleaming, high-polished travertine walls that continue to captivate visitors with their timeless appeal.


Getty Center Nestled in Los Angeles, the Getty Center boasts a spectacular design composed of 1.2 million square feet of imported Italian travertine. Designed by architect Richard Meier, the structure elegantly blends natural and polished stone, harmonizing with the natural surroundings while paying homage to historical architectural principles. This fusion of design elements results in a breathtaking edifice that remains a source of admiration for its visitors.