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Travertine Vs. Tumbled Marble

Sarabeth Asaff
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Tumbled marble and travertine are two popular types of tile. What consumers may not realize, is that sometimes tiles labeled "tumbled marble" may actually be tumbled travertine.

Learning the characteristics of tumbled marbles, tumbled travertines and other finishes of travertine can help you make the right tile purchase for your home.

Tumbled Stone

Tumbled stone products are large, left over pieces of marble, travertine, limestone and even some granites. These pieces of stone are placed inside a large drum with rocks, grit, sand and occasionally pieces of concrete. The drums are tumbled with water until the resulting pieces of tile has a rustic, or rough appearance. Uneven edges, pitted surfaces texture and variation in size of tile are all characteristics of tumbled stone.

Many different types of tumbled stone, including travertine, maybe sold under the name "tumbled marble."

Travertine's Appearance

Travertine is a form of limestone, comprised largely of calcite. It was made deep inside hot springs; the vapor leaving the mud of the springs left the resulting stone full of holes. These holes can be as small as pinpricks, or as large as a plum. Since travertine has a naturally rustic finish, it is the perfect stone to be tumbled further and used as a tumbled "marble."

Uses of Tumbled Stone

Tumbled stone products, including tumbled marble and travertine can be used on floor and wall applications throughout the home. Since tumbled stones have a rustic appearance, they may be more forgiving than honed or polished stones. If a tumbled tile is stained or etched, the marks may not be as visible on the rustic surface of the stone.

Use tumbled marble and tumbled stone tiles to recreate rustic looks, Tuscan home designs or antiqued designs.

Other Finishes of Travertine

In addition to the tumbled finish, travertine is also available honed and filled--and in occasional cases, polished and filled. Filling is done at the factory with an epoxy resin used to fill the numerous surface holes of the stone. The tiles are then given a square, beveled edge and ground to a flat surface. Occasionally, some travertines are hard enough to take a high polish after being filled.

These finishes of travertine work well in transitional designs, or designs that bridge the gap between rustic and modern. You can use honed or polished travertine tiles on floors or walls for a natural look without the rustic pitting.

Choosing Tumbled Stone or Travertine

The care of tumbled marbles and travertines are identical. Travertine tiles may be available in a rustic finish in larger tiles than most tumbled stones, due to its already rustic appearance.

Choose a tumbled marble if you wish to get a rustic look from a stone in a color not available in travertine, such as green or black. Travertine is available predominately in grays, tans and browns, while tumbled marbles may include blues, greens, whites and pinks.

Choose travertine if you wish to have a slightly rustic natural stone look, without the uneven edging and surface distress of a tumbled stone.