Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Appeal of Travertine Natural Stone

Travertine is a beautiful natural stone in the limestone family. It is formed from geothermal springs or geothermally-heated alkaline waters. Although travertine exists throughout the world, the best known sources of patio-grade travertine are southeastern Europe (e.g., Italy and Turkey), western South American (Peru), and Southeast Asia (e.g., China).

Travertine Walkway

Travertine Walkway

Initially, travertine found wide use as an indoor tile. Its marble-like appearance created its initial appeal. Travertine use moved outdoors to become a compelling pool deck material when it was observed that travertine remains cool even in intense heat. And, when wet, travertine grips rather than slips. From pool decks, travertine expanded into patios and sidewalks, making it the perfect stone for patios.

Another appeal of travertine is coloring. The color of travertine is tied to whatever minerals happen to be washing through the water that the limestone is filtering when travertine is formed – generally light cream, gold, beige, pale grays. Shopping for travertine requires a high degree of flexibility. You will need to select a color family and then investigate what is currently available looking for the best match between your vision and what is currently in stock. If ordering material not yet removed from a quarry, you will be looking at 8-12 weeks lead time. However, most suppliers warehouse a good supply of beautiful material if you are flexible in your color choice.

Travertine Pool Deck

Travertine Pool Deck

The downside to travertine is that it is very porous. The tiny holes that riddle travertine contribute to its cool characteristic but also make travertine highly susceptible to cracking. Small cracks along color veins are normal and part of the beauty of the stone for patios; but, travertine can also display serious damage if not properly screened and shipped. The higher quality travertine is carefully screened and packaged at the mining site prior to overseas shipping. It is cost of sorting and shipping high quality travertine that makes it one of the more expensive outdoor project materials. Note: Even the highest quality travertine is only suitable for foot traffic applications…no driveways!

One final observation: As beautiful as travertine is in its natural form, sealing travertine makes it even more beautiful. Sealing will explode the color veins revealing even more of the marble-like drama of the stone. Make sure you select a sealer that is not film forming. With travertine, the sealer bonds to the stone and soaks in, it does not coat the stone.

For ideas, take a look at a few pictures of travertine projects.

Sealing Your Paver Patio

To seal or not to seal your paver patio is a key decision affecting both the look and the maintenance of your outdoor living space.

How to seal your paver patio

Note the distinct difference between sealed – unsealed patio pavers.

In terms of “look,” the range of options for sealing pavers has grown dramatically over the last two years. You can choose a “wet look,” a “color enhancing look,” an “invisible look.” Paver sealers can be water or solvent based. The look can be matte or gloss. Some sealers for pavers look great after one coat; some explicitly require a second application. There are pavers sealers that stabilize the sand in the joints of the pavers at the same time as enhancing the finish. Most dealers have displays or samples to show you what look each paver sealer will produce. There are no wrong answers here, pick what you like!

However, once you have committed to sealing your patio, sidewalk, pool deck or other outdoor paver area, you are also making a commitment to ongoing maintenance. A sealed surface can look great and require no re-sealing for several years. But the longevity of a sealed paver look can vary dramatically. How long the sealer will last depends on the use and the environment. Intense sun, salt water, heavy traffic, even damaging foliage can degrade the sealed look and force a shorter timeframe between re-sealing.

Some helpful hints (reminders) to consider when you choose to seal your pavers:

• Never seal pavers that still have visible efflorescence. This film is a natural occurrence which is part of the curing process for concrete pavers. If you seal before efflorescence has either worn off or been cleaned off, you are locking it into your pavers forever.

• Make sure you know how the sealer should be applied. There are a variety of application techniques. Some require very expensive, specialized equipment. If doing this yourself, pick something designed for DIY not something that requires a significant investment in application tools.

• Read the instructions. Check temperature requirements and check the weather forecast. Sealers do not apply correctly if it is too hot or cold or if they get wet too soon.