What is Travertine Backsplash?

Travertine is a form of limestone that has been used as a building material for thousands of years. Known for its rustic beauty and elegance, travertine has become a popular choice for backsplash tile in recent years. Installing a travertine backsplash can add natural character and warmth to any kitchen or bathroom.

What is Travertine?

Travertine is a type of limestone formed by mineral springs, especially hot springs. It is created by a process of rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate, often at the mouth of a hot spring or in limestone caves. This gives travertine its distinctive appearance, with small pits and holes throughout the stone.

Travertine has been quarried for centuries from places like Italy and Turkey. The Romans used it to build structures like the Colosseum. Today, travertine is quarried in many locations around the world and it continues to be a sought-after natural building material.

Benefits of Travertine Backsplash

There are several reasons why travertine tile makes an excellent backsplash material:

Natural Beauty

Travertine has a natural rustic aesthetic that brings warmth and character to any space. The earthy tones and textured surface create visual interest and depth. Travertine tiles come in various colors like ivory, gold, rust, gray, and cream. The natural variations in the stone and the small holes give it a charming, Old World look.


As a form of limestone, travertine is a very durable natural stone that can stand up to heavy use. It does not scratch or stain easily. Properly sealed, a travertine backsplash can last for many years without showing significant signs of wear and tear. This makes it perfect for kitchens and bathrooms.

Easy Maintenance

While sealing is required, everyday maintenance for travertine is quite easy. Simply using a pH-neutral stone cleaner and warm water for regular cleaning is often sufficient. Re-sealing every few years will keep the backsplash looking fresh and avoid stains or damage.

Timeless Appeal

Travertine has been used in architecture for thousands of years and endures as a classic, elegant material. Unlike trends that come and go, travertine’s natural style remains appealing. A travertine backsplash can enhance a kitchen or bathroom design for decades.

Cost of Travertine Backsplash

Travertine tile is considered a premium natural stone, so it sits at the higher end of the backsplash budget. On average, expect to pay $15 to $50 per square foot for travertine tile, and $5 to $10 per square foot for installation. The total cost of a travertine backsplash can range anywhere from $500 up to $2,000 or more, depending on:

  • Tile size – Smaller mosaic tiles take more time to install. Larger tiles are cheaper.
  • Tile finish – Honed, tumbled, or brushed finishes add cost.
  • Tile grade – Commercial-grade has fewer natural holes than select grade.
  • Amount of tile needed – Backsplash size, any accent tiles or borders.
  • Labor costs in your area.

While not cheap, a travertine backsplash is a worthwhile investment that can greatly enhance the design of a kitchen or bathroom. The natural beauty and durability make it a backsplash option that will not need replacement for many years.

Installation Tips

Installing travertine tile requires some special considerations:

  • Use a flexible adhesive – Because travertine is a natural stone, it needs a thinset mortar with some flexibility to allow for the tile’s natural movement. A polymer-modified thinset is best.
  • Fill holes and pits – To provide a smoother finish, any holes or pits in the travertine can be filled during installation with a cement-based filler. The tile is then honed and sealed for a finished look.
  • Seal before and after – Sealing before installation provides water resistance. Sealing again after grouting protects the grout lines and creates a stain-resistant surface.
  • Grout carefully – Contrasting grout colors work well with travertine’s earthy hues. But grout can stain the porous tile if not cleaned immediately. Buff off any grout residue.
  • Consider decorative accents – Accent tile, stone or metal inserts, and decorative borders can complement a travertine backsplash nicely.

With proper installation and sealing, a travertine backsplash can be a focal point that provides natural elegance for years to come. The rustic beauty, durability, and timeless appeal make travertine a worthwhile investment.

Travertine Backsplash Design Ideas

From traditional to modern and everywhere in between, here are some great travertine backsplash design ideas:

Subway Tile Travertine

The classic rectangular subway tile shape comes to life in travertine’s natural earth tones. The small tiles have movement from their pits and holes but still create a clean, linear look. Great for transitional spaces.

Large Format Travertine

Using larger travertine tiles reduce grout lines for a seamless look. Try 12” x 24” rectified tiles laid in a brick pattern. Fill the holes or leave them for texture. Perfect for contemporary kitchens.

Travertine Mosaic

Small mosaic travertine tiles create movement and interest. Lay them in geometric patterns or sunburst designs. Use several shades for contrast. Add metal tile accents. Works nicely in vintage, Mediterranean or farmhouse spaces.

Modern White Travertine

For a fresh modern look, use ivory or light travertine tiles with zero holes. Pair with bright white grout and modern metal edging. Keep the lines sleek. Adds natural texture to minimalist spaces.

Mixed Natural Stones

Blend travertine with other natural stones like marble or slate. Lay them in a random pattern or geometric design. Choose a neutral grout color. Creates an organic, earthy look perfect for rustic settings.

Travertine Brick Pattern

Lay rectangular travertine tiles in a brick pattern – offset rows for more dynamic lines. Contrast light and dark tiles. Add interest by including some tiles set diagonally. Great for Tuscan-inspired kitchens.

Caring for a Travertine Backsplash

With proper sealing and maintenance, a travertine backsplash will retain its good looks for many years. Here are some tips:

  • Reseal every 1-2 years to protect from stains and damage in heavy use areas.
  • For regular cleaning, use a stone soap and water. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
  • Immediately wipe up spills to prevent stains, especially from acidic substances like wine or tomato sauce.
  • Do not use vinegar, lemon juice or other acids on travertine, as this will erode the surface.
  • Avoid hitting the backsplash with heavy pots or pans that can chip tiles.
  • If stains occur, consult a stone care professional for best cleaning methods. Re-sealing may be required.

Travertine Backsplash – An Elegant, Durable Choice

With its natural texture, rustic charm, and timeless beauty, few materials can match travertine tile for backsplash appeal. A travertine backsplash adds a touch of elegance that works equally well in traditional or contemporary kitchens and baths. Combined with the durability of natural stone, travertine is a sound investment that can be enjoyed for decades when properly installed and maintained. Homeowners looking to add beauty, style and value to their home should consider travertine for their next backsplash project.

What is Travertine Backsplash? FAQ

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about travertine backsplashes:

Q: Is travertine a good choice for kitchen backsplash?

A: Yes, travertine is an excellent backsplash choice for kitchens. Its natural beauty and elegance work well in kitchen designs. The durability and water-resistance also make travertine backsplashes perfect for resisting stains and moisture near stoves and sinks.

Q: What finish options are available with travertine backsplash tile?

A: Travertine backsplash tiles come in various finishes. Most common are tumbled, honed, and polished/brushed finishes. Tumbled has a worn, aged finish with rounded edges. Honed is smooth and matte. Polished/brushed is shiny and reflective.

Q: Can you use travertine tile for a bathroom backsplash?

A: Definitely. Travertine adds a luxurious feel to bathrooms. The water-resistance makes it ideal around sinks and bathtubs. Be sure it is properly sealed. Pebble mosaic travertine works great in showers.

Q: Does travertine need to be sealed?

A: Yes, travertine is a porous natural stone and needs to be sealed to prevent staining, etching from acids, and water damage. Seal travertine backsplash before and after grouting for maximum protection. Reapply sealer every 1-2 years.

Q: What color grout looks best with travertine backsplash tile?

A: Both light and dark grouts work well, depending on the look you want. White or ivory grout provides contrast and makes the travertine colors pop. Dark grout like gray or brown blends in for a seamless look.

Q: What’s the best way to clean and care for a travertine backsplash?

A: Use a gentle stone cleaner and soft cloth for regular cleaning. Reseal according to manufacturer directions. Immediately wipe up spills to avoid stains. Avoid abrasive cleaners that can scratch or damage the stone.

Q: Can you mix travertine tile with other types of backsplash tile?

A: Definitely. Travertine often looks beautiful paired with slate, marble, or ceramic tile. Mix natural stones or use travertine as an accent in the design.

Q: What’s the typical cost for a travertine backsplash tile installation?

A: The total installed cost averages $10-50 per square foot. Factors like tile grade, size, pattern, and labor impact the final cost. Most travertine backsplash projects fall in the $500 to $2000 range.