Travertine vs. Slate

Both travertine and slate tiles are made from natural stone. They both come in all sorts of colors, textures and sizes. In this article, “travertine vs. slate“, we will compare the two stone tiles so you can decide which you prefer for your home.

Both are not the easiest to install and should be installed professionally if you are not a pro. Both also require special care in order to keep them looking proper and to keep them from harm. First we will describe each one individually. Then we will discover their pros and cons so you can form your own opinion.

Slate

Readily available in the United States, slate is quarried heavily in the Northeastern United States where it has been crafted since the early 1800’s. Slate is composed of various minerals such as clay, sand and silt. Slate can be used either inside or outside of homes and is known mostly for it’s long time use in patios, walkways and garden paths.

Slate tile will normally feel gritty for the first few months after it is installed because of the way minerals collect on the surface. Care needs to be taken when cleaning. If slate is brushed too hard, it can separate or chip. Slate can be soft and particles may loosen if care is not taken. A neutral PH stone soap should be used to clean slate surfaces.

Mineral build up occurs when water evaporates from the surface. Avoid this mineral build up by using a squeegee on standing water. Depending on how it is treated, slate will need professional attention every one to three years. Slate tile is normally priced anywhere from $2 to $10 per square foot.

Travertine

Travertine is more porous than slate and is softer than most other stones. Travertine is rich in calcium. It has a wide range of colors, mostly ranging from off white to beige. Travertine is usually honed to a finish instead of polished. When travertine gets dirty, it becomes dingy and dull.

Travertine requires a sealer and usually needs extra applications because the stone is so porous. Cleaning travertine involves regular vacuuming and mopping with a neutral PH stone soap. Travertine may also need bleached once every few months to keep it bright and clean.


Pros and Cons

Both travertine and slate have their own pros and cons, some of which are the same, but we will list each with their pros and cons here separately so you can get the whole picture.

Slate Pros

    • Readily available in the United States. Slate is abundant in the Northeast region of the United States and does not need to be imported from foreign countries. This saves money on transporting the material.
    • Slate is best for tiling roofs and floors.
    • It is relatively long lasting and durable compared to other types of tile.
    • Slate is more affordable than travertine.

Slate Cons

    • Slate is naturally layered and the tiles will have a tendency to be weak where layers meet.
    • Tends to be gritty for the first few months after installation.
    • Not easily installed. Unless you are a pro, it is not recommended that you install natural stone tile yourself.
    • Does not work well in bathrooms.
    • Needs professionally maintained every one to three years.

Travertine Pros

    • Has great longevity
    • Known for its many color variations.
    • Natural veins in the rock provide for interesting patterns and a wonderful look.

Travertine Cons

    • Not as readily available in the United States. Much of the travertine used in the United States is imported from other countries such as Turkey.
    • Not easily installed. Unless you are a pro, it is not recommended that you install natural stone tile yourself.
    • Needs professionally maintained every one to three years.
    • Acidic liquids cause etching when spilled on travertine and often result in the tile needing replaced, so travertine is not usually recommended for use on kitchen counters.
    • Travertine has many holes in it naturally that are filled at the factory where the tile is made. This filling in the holes can come loose over time and regular maintenance is needed to refill them.
    • Heavy foot traffic can cause holes to appear more often.

What is Better Where

When deciding which is better for your home, you will need to consider the location of the tile.


    Floors:
    Either may be installed on floors, but you may want to use slate rather than travertine in high traffic areas.
    Countertops: We would have to recommend slate over travertine on countertops because of travertine’s weakness to acidic liquids.
    Bathroom showers: While neither is really perfect for showers, we hear more horror stories of slate installed in the shower than with travertine, so travertine would be recommended over slate in the shower.
    Outdoors: Both are great for outside walkways and patios. Slate is probably more widely used due to its availability though.