shutterstock_124951382 (1)So you’ve decided that you want to install tile flooring in your Vancouver, WA or Portland, OR home (and of course you’ve chosen to trust Floor Coverings International of Vancouver for the job), but what sort of tile do you want? You could stick with something traditional like plain ceramic, but why not get adventurous? These days there are so many tile-flooring materials available out there, from natural stone, to luxury vinyl tile, that it can be difficult to know where to start. Two increasingly popular choices on the luxurious end of the spectrum are travertine and porcelain. In this post we compare and contrast the two in order to give you a better idea of which tile flooring option will be right for your home.


What are Travertine and Porcelain Tile Flooring


Travertine and porcelain are very different types of materials, with very different attributes and assets. Whereas porcelain is a specific subset of ceramic, travertine is a type of natural stone. Travertine tiles are sedimentary rocks that are formed from limestone that has been exposed to porosity-increasing carbon dioxide as it forms in the warm, mineral-rich waters of hot springs. Most travertine stone comes from Italy, Turkey, and Mexico. Porcelain on the other hand, is ceramic with high feldspar levels, which has been kiln-fired at extremely high temperatures ranging from 1,200 to 1,350 degrees Celsius. Porcelain floor tiles are not the delicate china that might come to mind when one thinks of the word porcelain. This high heat firing process causes the material to become very hard and very water resistant.


Appearance of Travertine vs. Porcelain Tile Flooring


In regards to appearance, travertine and porcelain have very different qualities. While travertine is prized primarily for its distinctive and natural appearance, porcelain’s main asset is its versatility and ability to mimic other flooring options. Travertine has been used as a building material for centuries, going back to the ancient romans, who used it for everything from aqueducts and temples, to amphitheaters like the Colosseum. Travertine was also used extensively by Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo, and is a key building material in such illustrious structures as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Trevi Fountain, the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, and the Getty Center. Travertine is generally light in color, with shades ranging between white, gray, gold, tan, light brown, and rust-colored. Travertine comes in a variety of finishes, so it can be anywhere from glossily modern and polished, to rustically tumbled and brushed. Both travertine and porcelain tiles come in a variety of sizes, so you can create intricate mosaics or use broad slabs to create the pattern that suits your sensibilities. Porcelain, rather than being prized for its natural beauty, is sought-after for its ability to look like other flooring materials. Digital imagery techniques, along with porcelain’s malleability, means that you can get porcelain tile planks that look convincingly like real wood. You can even get porcelain that looks like travertine!


Durability of Travertine vs. Porcelain Tile Flooring


Both porcelain and travertine are very durable flooring options due to their hardness. Travertine has a tough surface that is difficult to scratch, much like other natural stones. Porcelain is some of the hardest ceramic available. The Porcelain Enamel Institute rates the hardness of ceramic on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the hardest, and appropriate for use in such high traffic areas as air ports or malls. Porcelain is almost always rated at a 5. Both travertine and porcelain have been used for centuries, and the fact that you can see travertine and porcelain tile floors from historical Europe in use today, speaks to the durability of both materials. When it comes to water and stain resistance though, porcelain is the real winner here. While travertine is fairly water and stain resistant when it is properly filled and sealed, porcelain is defined in the most technical sense by its absorption rate. Ceramic can only be classified as porcelain if it has an absorption rate below 0.5%, making it incredibly resistant to water and staining.


Whether you prefer natural travertine, or want the versatility and durability of porcelain, Floor Coverings International of Vancouver and Portland will help you with all of your tile flooring needs.


Photo: severija