Ceramic Vs. Travertine

Written by jan weiss
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Ceramic Vs. Travertine
A tiled kitchen (violet kitchen image by Vasyl Dudenko from Fotolia.com)

Ceramic and travertine tiles are very popular in home decor today. Each one has certain attributes that make it a better fit for particular spaces. Determining where you want to use the tile and its function is the first thing you need to know when deciding on travertine or ceramic.

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Ceramic tile is made from a mixture of clay and then pressed and formed into tiles. Once the tile is made then the glaze is formed over the top and baked on. Glazed finishes can be patterned or hand-painted.

A Natural Product

Travertine is a more natural product--less processed than ceramic. It is formed from natural minerals as deposits in natural springs, rivers and geysers. The colours of travertine all depend on the minerals to which it has been exposed. Unlike ceramic, travertine is not smooth and only the very hardest travertine can be polished.


Though it is not glazed, travertine does come in several finishes, from a polished surface on very hard tiles to a honed or matt finish which has a soft finish and does not reflect much light. Additionally, some homeowners and builders choose tumbled travertine, which has the most natural finish of them all because it has the least amount of sand blasting done to it when it is quarried so that the natural tumbled texture is retained. Tumbled travertine is a great option for outdoor living space.

Colour Range

Ceramic tile is only glazed on top so that any chip that may occur will show the colour of the tile inside. Because of the range of colours offered, ceramic tile is more versatile for decorating than travertine because of the glazing quality. At one time, neutral tones were all that was used but recently warmer colours and bright tones have been made available.


Travertine is a porous material so it can soak up stains. Do not use vinegar or any acid-based cleaner as it will erode the surface. Clean spills soon after they happen. Even with the porous surface, travertine is popular for kitchen counters, fireplace surrounds and patios. It is advised that any travertine tile used in these areas should be sealed. Because of ceramic tile glazing, it is an excellent choice for very wet areas such as showers and bathroom floors. Ceramic is very resilient, resistant to stain and easy to clean.

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