A travertine subway tile backsplash can add natural beauty and elegance to any kitchen or bathroom. Travertine is a type of limestone formed by mineral hot springs, giving it an earthy, rustic look. While often associated with a Southwest or Tuscan design, travertine subway tiles can work in nearly any style, from modern to traditional. Combining the popular subway tile shape with the rich, organic patterns of travertine creates a backsplash that is both stylish and timeless.
Benefits of Choosing Travertine Subway Tile
Travertine subway tile provides numerous advantages as a backsplash material:
The natural patterns and earthy colors of travertine bring a subtle yet rich beauty. The distinctive swirls, holes, cracks, and veins give depth and character unmatched by manufactured tiles. Travertine’s natural look harmonizes beautifully with wood cabinets, granite counters, and stone or brick floors.
Variety of Colors
While beige and ivory are the most common travertine subway tile colors, other options include darker walnut, reddish rust, gray, tan, and gold. This range allows matching or contrasting with cabinets, countertops, floors, and décor.
As a form of limestone, travertine is inherently durable and long-lasting. Its hardness makes it very resistant to scratches, chips, and cracks. Proper sealing protects the porous stone from stains and water damage. With proper care, a travertine backsplash can remain beautiful for decades.
Texture and Shape
The rectangular subway shape lays in straight rows, contrasting beautifully with the natural whorls and holes in the travertine stone. This juxtaposition creates visual interest and dimension. The small grout lines also accentuate each tile’s texture.
Travertine subway tiles complement a variety of design aesthetics, from Old World and Tuscan to modern and contemporary. The tiles can be laid in standard brick patterns or more creative designs. Their versatility allows integrating into any existing cabinetry, countertops and floors.
Simple cleaning with a soft cloth and mild soap and water is all that is required for routine maintenance. Re-sealing every 1-2 years will maintain water resistance. Travertine’s durability ensures that repairs or replacements will rarely be needed.
Popular Styles and Layout Patterns
Travertine subway tiles can be installed in various patterns to produce different visual effects:
Basic Brick Pattern
The basic brick pattern with its offset rows remains the most common and versatile layout. It creates a classic, timeless look suitable for any kitchen or bath. Simple, clean grout lines produce a unifying effect.
The basketweave pattern interlaces tiles so each row aligns with the grout lines of neighboring rows. This creates a look resembling woven strands. The intricate design works well in rooms with a Mediterranean, Tuscan or Old World style.
Rows of tiles are set at a 45-degree angle in the herringbone layout instead of horizontally. The zigzag effect draws the eye to the backsplash and adds visual interest. Herringbone works well with rectangular subway tiles.
In this fun layout, tiles are set diagonally from a central point, resembling pinwheel spinners radiating outward. The dynamic design immediately creates focal points and works best for accent sections rather than entire backsplashes.
Stacking subway tiles vertically produces clean columns of grout lines rather than rows. The lengthening effect helps make small spaces appear larger. The minimalist look pairs well with modern or contemporary kitchens.
Ideal Tile Sizes
Travertine subway tiles come in several sizes, with 3×6 inch being the most popular. Other options include:
- 2×4 inches – Smaller tiles create a mosaic effect and enable more intricate patterns.
- 3×6 inches – The classic subway size offers versatility for any design.
- 4×8 inches – Larger tiles minimize grout lines and create a more contemporary look.
- 4×12 inches – Elongated sizes work well for stacking vertically and help spaces appear larger.
- 6×6 inches – Square tiles provide a more uniform, seamless appearance than rectangular.
Perfect Travertine Subway Tile Backsplash Ideas
Travertine subway tiles can enhance any kitchen or bathroom. Here are some backsplash ideas to inspire your home’s next remodel:
Rustic Farmhouse Kitchen
A beige travertine subway tile backsplash paired with wood cabinets and butcher block counters creates a warm, rustic farmhouse aesthetic. Scattering decorative tiles featuring darker shades of travertine adds visual interest.
Modern White and Gray Kitchen
For a sleek modern look, combine ivory travertine subway tiles with crisp white cabinets and sparkling gray quartz countertops. Keep the grout lines minimal. Opt for larger format tiles laid in a basic grid pattern.
Use travertine subway tiles to create an elegant Old World bathroom. Lay tiles in a detailed pattern like herringbone or basketweave across the backsplash and shower walls. Accent with towel bars, mirrors, and accessories with an antique brass finish.
Spa-Like Master Bathroom
For a relaxing, spa-like ambiance, install walnut travertine subway tile behind the sinks and a freestanding soaking tub. Contrast with bright white cabinets, marble counters, and polished chrome fixtures.
Capture the essence of Tuscany with travertine subway tiles that feature tan shades, swirls, and variation in tone. Combine with custom wood cabinetry, an exposed brick accent wall, and pendant lighting for authenticity.
Outdoor Kitchen Backsplash
Bring the beauty of nature inside by using travertine subway tiles for an outdoor kitchen backsplash. The stone’s durability makes it ideal for resisting weather. Create a focal point behind the grill.
Backsplash Open Shelving Accent
Highlight a section of open shelving with an accent backsplash in travertine subway tile. Opt for a fun shape like chevron or sunburst. Use lighting above to create a dramatic focal feature.
What Color Cabinets and Counters Work Best?
Travertine subway tiles pair beautifully with a wide range of cabinetry and countertops.
Consider the overall look you want to achieve:
- Wood tones – Warm up a travertine backsplash and create a rustic, Tuscan, or farmhouse aesthetic.
- Painted white – Provide contrast and a fresher, brighter look for modern or contemporary kitchens.
- Gray – Impart a refined, elegant feel and allow the tile to stand out.
- Black – Make the backsplash the dramatic focal point with bold, dark cabinets.
Popular countertop colors include:
- White Carrara marble – Contrasts with travertine veining for an elegant Old World style.
- Quartz or quartzite – Durable, low-maintenance options like crisp white or gray complement the tiles.
- Soapstone – Adds rich, dark accents for a farmhouse or rustic aesthetic.
- Granite – Timeless and durable; pair beige tones with ivory travertine or darker varieties together.
- Butcher block – Creates wonderful rustic warmth combined with travertine backsplash.
Creative Decorating Ideas and Tips
Take your travertine subway tile backsplash from basic to beautiful with these creative decorating ideas:
Mix in Other Natural Stone
Introduce other stone elements like marble, limestone, or slate tile accents for variation. Or integrate a range of travertine tile sizes and shapes.
Use Decorative Pencils and Grout
Enhance the backsplash by using border tiles or a contrasting grout color. Pencils in darker hues define the tile edges.
Create a Focal Point
Make the backsplash a work of art by adding special features like a decorative medallion, stenciled design, or ornate ceramic tile insert.
Add Drama with Lighting
Use lighting ideas like pendant lights over an accent backsplash or under-cabinet lighting to showcase the tile textures and natural beauty.
Complement with Accessories
Tie the look together with travertine soap dishes, countertop bowls, trivets and coasters, or decorative vases and jars.
Contrast with Bold Colors
Paint an adjacent accent wall in a deep hue or use vibrant tiles for the kitchen or bathroom floors. Allow the travertine subway backsplash to stand out.
Travertine Backsplash Maintenance Tips
With proper care and maintenance, a travertine backsplash will maintain its good looks for many years:
- Seal tiles regularly, approximately every 1-2 years, to prevent stains from water and liquids. Use a penetrating sealer suitable for natural stone.
- For routine cleaning, use only mild soap and water. Avoid abrasive cleaners or pads that can damage the stone.
- Immediately wipe up spills to prevent possible staining. For stubborn stains, use a specially formulated travertine cleaner.
- Increase durability with a stain-resistant sealing treatment like Aquamix’s Sealers Choice Gold. Re-apply per manufacturer instructions.
- Avoid exposing the backsplash to too much direct sunlight over time. Use window treatments to block excessive light and heat.
- Check for any cracks or loose tiles indicating problems with the underlying surface. Repair grout as needed to prevent moisture penetration.
- Consider professional steam cleaning every few years to remove grime from the stone’s pores and restore the backsplash’s original appearance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What finish options are available for travertine subway tiles?
Travertine tiles come in honed, tumbled, or brushed finishes. Honed has a soft matte look. Tumbled stones have rounded edges for an antique appearance. Brushed is textured but smooth.
Should the tiles be sealed before or after installation?
Sealing prior helps prevent staining from thinset mortar or grout during application. But tiles should be sealed again after installation for full protection.
What type of tile backing should be used?
A fiberglass mesh backing provides critical support for the stone tiles. This thick, durable material resists deterioration over time.
How are travertine subway tiles cut?
Tiles are cut to size using either a wet saw or a snapper tile cutter. Specific specialty tools are required to avoid damaging the stone. Most homeowners choose professional installation.
What thinset mortar is best for travertine?
A high-quality, polymer-modified thinset mortar is recommended, as it offers strength yet flexibility. This compensates for the tile’s natural movement.
Is a travertine backsplash suitable for bathrooms and showers?
Yes, travertine holds up excellently in bathroom environments if properly sealed to repel water. Use a durable water-resistant grout as well.
Achieve the Backsplash of Your Dreams
With their unmatched, organic beauty and versatility for both rustic and contemporary designs, travertine subway tiles are a wonderful choice to create your dream backsplash. A travertine backsplash adds natural character, texture, and warmth that enhances any space. With proper planning and care, your travertine subway tile backsplash will bring you joy and elegance for years to come. Let your imagination run free as you explore the dazzling possibilities.