Not all travertines are the same. it is a fact! Shop around and you’ll find numerous websites selling travertine tiles of one description or another, but the generic nature of “travertine” has made it easy for some internet retailers to sell low quality travertine as “premium quality”. we are not one of them and we can prove it. Part of the problem is the very nature of travertine. it is impossible to compare the offers of different companies due to their generic nature. After all, it’s not like its marble cousins where each product only comes from one source. For example, silver shadow marble comes from a quarry and usually has a name in the market. Travertine comes from many different quarries, but it is still simply called “travertine.”
what is travertine? travertine is a type of limestone deposited by hot mineral springs called karst. the movement of water from the springs erodes the travertine, creating holes in the stone structure. The structure of travertine can be compared to that of a honeycomb, where there are small pockets or cavities within the stone; these are exposed as holes in the surface when tiled. these holes can be left open or filled at the tile factory with a cement-based filler. a resin filler is occasionally used especially in polished travertine. the main origins of travertine:
turkey:Most of the travertine available in the uk (some say up to 95%) comes from the denizli region of turkey. in fact, most is mined from just two quarries: alimoglu & cakmak. Travertine tiles sold as “Ivory” or “Clear” generally come from Cakmak and Classic (and its variations such as Classic Premium and “Medium”) come from Alimoglu Quarry. In Denizili there are literally hundreds of factories that buy travertine blocks from these quarries, cut them into slabs and then into travertine tiles, among many other travertine products. However, only a certain number of factories have sufficiently sophisticated equipment (usually made in Italy) to produce travertine tiles at a level acceptable to the UK market as a whole. There are many other areas in Turkey with travertine quarries like the Karaman region. Travertine from this region is less well known and more difficult to access, but generally of higher quality – we source several of our travertines from this region and they are supplied to us exclusively, so unmatched by anything else available from our competition.
iran also originates from other regions near turkey, in particular iran. iranian travertine used to be commonplace in the uk about 10 years ago but has since lost popularity due to various trade embargoes and the higher costs associated with sourcing tiles from there compared to its neighbors like turkey where prices have been slashed time and time again by turkish suppliers moving to the uk and attacking the market. if you can still find iranian travertine in the uk it is generally denser and better quality than denizili travertine.
italy probably the best travertine in the world originates from italy. Numerous shades of cream/beige and glorious colors like red and orange are found in the Italian mountains. Historically used in famous monuments such as the colonnade in St Peter’s Square in Rome, where travertine was quarried from Bernini’s famous ancient quarry and used ubiquitously by the Romans for general construction, Italy has a long love story with travertine. however, as we discovered when trying to introduce an Italian travertine option into the range, it is ridiculously expensive to get a medium/light beige travertine which is broadly similar to Turkish travertine in appearance. if you can find it in the uk (even the big hits like mandarin stone and fired earth don’t offer italian travertine in their ranges) expect to pay more than italian marble like the famous carrara or botticino fiorrito at prices as high as £80/m2 ! yes, it’s that expensive….
the ratings & different qualities of travertine: focusing on “polished & Full Turkish Travertine”, In terms of quality, travertine tiles are generally classified into three different categories as:
- first choice [also known as export quality]
- standard [also known as standard in turkey]
- commercial choice.
the commercial option is often [but not always and this depends on the factory producing the tile] is subcategorized into c1 [also known as high commercial], c2 and c3, the last two being the lowest quality grades. but what is the real difference between these degrees? Before we get to that, it’s worth mentioning how and by whom the tiles that come off a travertine production line are selected in their respective grades, as virtually every piece that comes off the line will need to be hand selected. as to what grade it falls to. who does this mainly women, and it is labor intensive with fast running machines and heavy tiles to move in boxes. In Turkey, the “selection” task is usually given to women, as I was told that they have better eyes to distinguish between different grades than men. so, the real facts about the quality and the different “selections” are here.
First Choice/Export Quality:This is the highest grade. First-choice travertine is generally consistent in color from tile to tile and has very little (if any) filler used to fill in natural holes that occur in the surface. the percentage of a factory’s total tile production that comes out as first choice varies, but is usually less than 10%. this makes it the hardest to get and of course the most expensive to buy. export quality travertine is rare in the uk due to its cost and most is purchased from mills by buyers from china and other foreign markets where there is high demand for the best product. travertine factories have no problem selling first choice material, so prices are always high and never low.
Standard quality:On average, 40-50% of a travertine tile factory’s output quantity is standard selection. generally more infill is used and there may be more variation in overall color from tile to tile. Travertine purchased as standard grade from a mill is generally regarded as ‘premium grade’ in the UK market. Unfortunately, as we mentioned earlier, there are many people who sell travertine as premium quality that clearly is not and it can be difficult for customers to fully understand the difference and implications of purchasing lower quality travertine unless they have already had experience with it. travertine
commercial grade: although there are generally three main grades of quality in travertine, export, standard & commercial, the commercial selection is often divided into three different selections as shown below: c1 or “commercial high” is the best quality. c2 a lower overall quality and c3 covers everything else. so what differentiates them? c1 is close to standard quality – tiles may have slightly more padding and some color elements not found in standard quality; could be small areas of onyx (little dark rings around where natural holes used to be), browns, and dark streaks. color perspective in terms of quality is purely subjective. additional color elements in highly commercially valuable material often add to the character of the stone and make it more interesting. the extra infill and associated integrity of the stone is what really separates the grades. c1 or “highly commercial” is generally what is known as classic in the uk. there is nothing inherently wrong with this, as long as you embrace the color variation and fill level of the tiles. As Classic is often the baseline for travertine tile and the entry level for most vendor ranges, it is generally the most affordable option. c2 will have significantly more padding and color elements like black, red and orange and other unsightly phenomena. Many sell it in the UK as ‘classic’, but it is better classified as eco-friendly travertine. you can find eco travertine online for £10-12 which is certainly cheap and there is no other natural stone you can buy at this price but you have to accept that it is what it is. c3 is generally like c2 but with more padding and more unsightly stuff and covers everything that can’t be categorized as above. this is generally poor quality and generally not fit for purpose. we wouldn’t recommend using c3 at all.
The truth about travertine and those who sell it.Now, here is the main problem. the very fact that there are essentially 5 different grades of travertine, from export quality to commercial c3, and the very generic nature of beige travertine itself, it has been very easy for less scrupulous suppliers to pass off one grade as another as customers . they have no real baseline for comparison, so they are unknowingly selling commercial grade tiles at premium prices. in internet sales, where we all send 100×100 samples, it’s easy to send good looking samples one on purpose, would you) and then supply something different. That’s where we differ from virtually all internet marketers. We guarantee that what we sell matches what we buy and we are guaranteed to be the least expensive travertine supplier in the UK when you can really compare us similarly. We are so sure that no one beats us on price or quality, we have devised our Travertine Challenge. Click here to see how we can show that we have the best products at the best prices.
Think about it: The old adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it’s usually been around for decades and it’s true for travertine too. the question is, why would someone sell something that should be expensive or at least reasonably priced, for nothing? It doesn’t make sense the fact is that as direct importers we cannot twist the arms of the mills and have them sell us export grade travertine at commercial grade prices. it just doesn’t happen. The truth is that most of the factories in Turkey capable of producing tiles to a high standard are essentially closed for business. they don’t have machines sitting idle waiting for customers to place orders. if they lose a customer, there is always another one waiting to buy. Most travertine production doesn’t even reach the UK; it’s reserved for the US market, which has tanked for the last 7 years, but is now back stronger than ever and factories are once again struggling to keep up with demand, so why should they? sell something for nothing – that’s what they’d have to do so that the websites you’ve already come across can sell at their prices and still make enough money to stay in business. The truth is that business enterprise is about making money. no one builds a business for nothing – entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs are fundamentally interested in making money, so why would they sell something that should be sold at least at a reasonable price for a much lower price? well the truth is they don’t, it’s as simple as that, you absolutely can’t buy premium quality genuine travertine at bargain prices.
What will happen over time? Travertine tiles, especially those used on floors, require a fair amount of regular maintenance over the years. Travertine’s honeycomb structure means there will undoubtedly be small pockets of air just below the surface of the tiles. over time, these pockets can become exposed with foot traffic and tile surface wear. As a general rule, the darker the travertine (such as dark walnut and noce travertine), the harder the tiles. wear tends to be more apparent on lighter colored tiles, such as ivory. In less dense and lower quality travertine, the cavities that are exposed with wear may be larger and form craters rather than simple holes. Part of the maintenance required for travertine floor tiles is the continual filling of these pockets and holes. it’s an easy job for anyone who can mix up some travertine repair filler and spread it into the hole with an old credit card or the like. the requirement to do this is much less with good quality dense travertine which only has a small amount of fill visible on the surface to begin with. if you can see a lot of infill in your tiles from the day of purchase (hard to quantify how much is a lot as it’s subjective!), then as a general rule of thumb you should infill more than if you didn’t have as much. padding to start. As with all natural stone, it is recommended that it be sealed with a suitable stone sealer to help prevent liquid ingress. This is a very simple process that anyone can do by following the instructions on the sealer can. Regardless of whether you buy the best Italian travertine or the cheapest commercial grade Turkish travertine, they will need sealing during installation and re-sealing is recommended every so often. Every situation is different, but if you plan to spend a few hours resealing your tiles every 12 months or so, you shouldn’t go wrong.
at the end…..so that’s it for our quick guide to travertine. to guess nobody sells £1 for 90p and it’s expensive to be in business so if something is cheap there’s a very good reason for it and it won’t be charitable! our promise to you is that you can’t buy the same products we sell anywhere else for less. when we advertise something as premium, it is exactly as described above. that’s the truth. We import directly from factories, negotiate reasonable prices based on volume orders, and keep our overhead low. this allows us to sell our products at a lower than usual profit margin and at the same time make it worthwhile to be in business. we have full quality control over every order that leaves the factories using independent inspectors. nothing is sent without your consent. UK online “resellers” cannot offer this level of quality control (or stock control). If you’re someone who operates from an office in a mall and not a warehouse full of stock, how can you be sure your customers are getting what they’re supposed to be getting? the truth is they can’t. We control everything, from the factory order to the delivery to our customer, and we guarantee that he will receive exactly what he paid for. however, if he is not satisfied with what he receives, we offer a full, no quibble money back guarantee. If you need more information or would like to arrange a visit to see us in our warehouse, please call 0161 277 6850.