Travertine vs Porcelain Tile Flooring

Travertine vs Porcelain Tile Flooring

By Fortino Rosas / September 27, 2021 / 7 Comments

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    You’re considering bare flooring options for your home. Two types stand out to you: travertine vs. porcelain tile. Both look attractive and share a few similarities. However, there are big differences between the two that you need to understand before investing in new flooring.

    When choosing your new bare flooring option, you have to look beyond physical appearance. Most consumers don’t know the characteristics of flooring off-hand. And it’s not like you’ll find a list of pros and cons at your local home improvement store.

    Of course, you can do your own research. But why waste that time when we can do the hard work for you?

    In this post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of travertine and porcelain tile flooring. We’ll look at features including durability, lifespan, and other considerations. We’ll evaluate six different features, putting these flooring types head-to-head to help you determine which is best for your home.

    Ready to get started? Today, we’ll look at the following features to help you make a wise and responsible purchasing decision for your home.

    In this guide, we’ll explore:

    Side-by-Side Comparison

    TravertinePorcelain Tile
    DurabilityExtremely durable but may stain or crack over timeExtremely durable but may chip, scratch, or crack over time
    Water-ResistantYes, but extended exposure to moisture may lead to stainingYes
    CleaningDeep cleaning with mild soap and water or product designed for natural stoneDeep cleaning with vinegar and water or product designed for porcelain tile
    RepairsCracks can be sealed repaired using caulk or epoxys Damaged tile typically must be replaced
    Self InstallationNot recommended for beginnersNot recommended for beginners
    Price$5 to $30 per square foot$2 to $10 per square foot
    Installation Costs$10 to $30 per square foot$4 to $20 per square foot
    LifespanOver 100 years with proper care75 to 100 years
    Styles & ColorsVariety of styles, colors, and textures availableVariety of colors available. Can also mimic other materials including stone and hardwood.


    For most homeowners, the longevity of their new flooring is one of the most important considerations when making a purchase. Who wants to go through the hard work and expense of installing new flooring if it’s just going to be damaged after being used for a short time? Most homeowners want to ensure they’re investing in flooring that’s durable enough to withstand daily living.

    Some consumers are put off by porcelain tile. After all, isn’t it just another type of ceramic tile that can easily crack and break?

    While porcelain tile is similar to ceramic tile, there are a few very distinct differences. First, the way that porcelain tile is manufactured makes it denser and more durable to damage. It is also sealed so it is completely impervious to water, meaning it can be installed in bathrooms, basements, or even outdoors.

    Because porcelain tile is water-resistant, you won’t have to worry about your floor staining or becoming weak or damaged when exposed to water.

    Porcelain tile is also more resistant to scratching than other bare flooring types. However, it is not completely immune to scratches. For example, sliding furniture or appliances across the flooring without protecting it can result in scratches.

    However, most porcelain tile can easily withstand daily use without becoming damaged. Simply walking across the floor, for example, will not result in scratches or other physical damage. Pet claws are also not a typical problem, although they should be kept trimmed to avoid potential damage.

    Porcelain tile flooring is also extremely resistant to chips and cracks, but it’s not completely immune to these damages. Dropping something heavy on the flooring or dragging furniture across the floor can result in cracks, chips, and other types of damage. But, again, porcelain tile is virtually resistant to damage from typical daily use.

    Travertine is a type of limestone that is more similar to marble and granite flooring, although some styles look similar to porcelain tile. Travertine is extremely durable, as well as attractive, so it’s no wonder more homeowners are investing in this flooring type.

    One drawback of travertine, though, is that it is porous. The holes in the structure of travertine may experience more wear and tear when exposed to air and moisture.

    Because travertine is porous, it absorbs water. When this occurs, the flooring may stain. If you wish to install your travertine in a room with high moisture, such as a bathroom, you must seal the flooring first to prevent the absorption of water.

    While travertine is also very durable, it may also crack if something heavy is dropped or if its subjected to heavy daily wear and tear.

    Although both types of flooring are extremely durable, porcelain tile comes out on top. It is completely water-resistant, extremely tough, and very resistant to scratches. That makes it a great choice for any room in even the most active households.

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    When most homeowners change out their flooring, it’s for the long term. It makes sense. There’s a lot of hard work and expenses associated with installing new flooring, so it’s not too farfetched to expect it to last forever.

    The sad reality, though, is that most flooring won’t last forever. This doesn’t mean that it won’t last for a lifetime. Some of the most durable flooring types can last for a century or longer, so how do porcelain tile and travertine stack up?

    Porcelain tile is easily one of the most durable types of flooring. In fact, the average lifespan of high-quality porcelain tile, when properly maintained, is 75 to 100 years.

    On the other hand, travertine is a natural stone, and natural stone is easily one of the most durable flooring materials. With proper care and maintenance, this type of flooring can retain its beauty for well over 100 years.

    You can’t really go wrong with either porcelain tile or travertine. But when compared side-by-side, travertine typically has the longest lifespan.

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    When shopping for flooring, most homeowners consider price one of the most important factors. But while it’s perfectly normal to have a budget in place, remember that you shouldn’t buy your flooring solely based on price. After all, saving a few bucks now could lead to headaches and expenses when you have to replace that flooring in the near future.

    It’s also important to note that there is no way to get a set cost for your flooring. Factors including the quality and brand of the flooring, your location, and the price of installation and other materials (which we’ll cover in the next section) vary significantly, so the prices you see here may not necessarily be what you pay. However, we will provide a range of prices to give you an idea of which flooring is typically the most cost-effective.

    The cost of porcelain tile varies significantly. On the low end, expect to pay between $2 to $3 per square foot. On the higher end, you can expect to pay between $7 and $10 or even more per square foot. Remember, this is only the cost of the tile itself and does not include grout, adhesives, installation costs, or other materials.

    Like other natural stone flooring options, travertine can be quite expensive. On average, expect to pay around $15 per square foot for travertine tile. You may also find travertine for as low as $5 per square foot, while other options may be as expensive as $30 per square foot.

    If budget is a primary concern when choosing your flooring, porcelain tile is the less expensive option to consider. However, remember to fully evaluate all of the benefits and drawbacks before purchasing solely based on price.

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    We’ve already covered the costs of actually purchasing the flooring, but there’s another cost to consider. That is the costs associated with hiring a professional installer.

    When you pay someone to install your flooring, this usually includes the cost of labor plus additional materials needed to complete the install, such as mortar and grout. Some installers will also provide the materials. However, this is available at a higher cost. Most homeowners choose to purchase the flooring themselves from other sources.

    Like the cost of flooring, the cost of installation varies based on your geographic region, the size and complexity of the job, and other factors.

    In general, though, expect to pay between $4 to $10 per square foot to have porcelain tile installed in your home. With flooring, the average costs are $15 to $20 per square foot.

    To have professionals install travertine tile, expect to pay between $10 and $30 per square foot, with the average falling at around $15 per square foot. Add in flooring and these costs can rise to $30 or more per square foot installed.

    While you can install travertine or porcelain tile yourself, this is often a job best left for the professionals. Spacing and cutting tiles, spreading grout, and even doing the prep work beforehand can be time-consuming and messy, especially if you’re inexperienced. For both types of flooring, it’s best to leave it to the professionals who have the skills and the tools to do the job correctly.

    If you want a more affordable installation, look to porcelain tile, which can easily be half the cost of travertine installation.

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    Colors & Styles

    We can’t discuss the differences between porcelain tile and travertine without going over the different style and color options. When you select your flooring, you want to choose something that matches your style and will coordinate beautifully with your furnishings, décor, and other features of your home. Between porcelain tile and travertine, which has the better selection?

    With porcelain tile, you’ll find that you have a wide selection. Choose from matte or unglazed tiles, glazed tiles that are stronger and resistant to water, polished porcelain tile that has a beautiful shine, double charged porcelain that has unique designs, full body tiles that display porcelains beautiful texture and colors, or textured tiles that mimic the look of natural stone. There are even porcelain tiles that mimic the look of natural hardwood.

    Porcelain tile is available in a variety of colors from bright white to dark ebony. This flooring is available in a variety of sizes, from large square tiles to long rectangular tiles that are similar to planks.

    Travertine flooring is available in many different styles, cuts, and colors. You can choose from different finishes such as polished that is shiny and reflective, the more-matte honed finished, or the natural tumbled finish. Travertine is available in a variety of different shades from walnut to chocolate to silver, gold, red, and gray.

    Travertine comes in many different sizes, including 4 inches by 4 inches up to 24 inches by 24 inches. Of course, these are just common sizes, so smaller and larger custom sizes are available.

    You won’t have a problem finding porcelain or travertine tile that fits your style. However, when it comes to selection, porcelain tile has the slight edge. This is because it comes in styles that mimic natural stones like travertine, as well as other materials such as hardwoods.

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    Cleaning & Maintenance

    Not everyone hates to clean, but most of us would rather spend time doing other things rather than wasting hours on cleaning and maintaining the beauty of our floors. If you’re the low-maintenance type, which is the best type of flooring for you?

    Porcelain tile is one of the easiest types of flooring to keep clean. Daily sweeping with a broom, using a dust mop, or even running a tile vacuum is enough for everyday cleaning.

    When you need to really clean your floors, you can use a vinegar and water solution to keep your porcelain looking its best. Simply apply with a tile mop or soft-bristled brush, work it into your messes, rinse, and go about your day. You can also use cleaners designed for use on porcelain tile, but most people find that vinegar and water is more effective and less expensive.

    Cleaning your travertine on a daily basis isn’t a big deal. Like porcelain, you can use a broom, dust mop, or vacuum cleaner designed for hard floors to pick up dirt, dust, pet hair, and debris.

    It’s when you need a deeper clean that travertine can pose a problem. Because it is porous, you want to avoid saturating your floor. That can lead to staining. You also want to avoid any abrasive chemical cleaners.

    People can clean your travertine with a mixture of mild soap and water. You can also purchase products designed to clean natural stone flooring. Remember, though, to never fully saturate the floor, dry it after cleaning with a soft cloth, and consider having your flooring sealed during the installation process to make cleaning a breeze.

    Cleaning porcelain tile and travertine isn’t difficult at all. However, because you don’t have to worry about moisture staining porcelain tile, it comes out on top in this round.

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    Is porcelain tile or travertine tile more expensive?

    Travertine is significantly more expensive than porcelain tile. Travertine costs between $5 and $30 per square foot, and the installation must be done by a professional; DIY is not recommended. To install travertine flooring you may be charged between $10 and $30 per square foot. Porcelain tiles only cost between $2 to $10 per square foot and between $4 and $20 per square foot for installation.

    Is travertine more durable than porcelain tile?

    Travertine isn’t as durable as porcelain. It is porous, which means that there are holes in the structure which may experience more wear and tear when it’s exposed to moisture and air. The water that is absorbed through it may also cause the floor to stain. Placing heavy furniture or dropping anything on it may cause the floor to crack. For these reasons, porcelain tile is the most durable option. Porcelain is extremely tough, is water resistant, and doesn’t scratch easily.

    Does travertine tile scratch easily?

    Travertine can scratch easily, but the scratches won’t be noticeable on honed or tumbled tiles. Unlike granite and marble, travertine has a naturally weathered look. Travertine is a polished stone that is durable, but to avoid damage you should take special care when you clean it.

    Sweep up dust regularly to prevent the debris from scratching your floors. You should also avoid dragging heavy furniture across your travertine tiles.

    How to clean travertine tile?

    Simply use a dust mop or soft broom to get rid of any dirt or debris. When it comes to deeper cleaning, you need to be careful not to use too much water. Travertine is porous, so you need to ensure that you don’t saturate it with water as this could lead to staining. Don’t use any abrasive chemical cleaners as the floor could absorb those as well. A simple blend of hot water, a mild soap, and a damp cloth will get the job done perfectly. 

    Avoid using a vacuum cleaner as you can easily scratch or chip the travertine. If you’re worried about the floor getting stained, you can have it sealed during installation.

    Can you use vinegar on travertine tile?

    No, don’t be tempted to use vinegar or any other acidic floor cleaners. The acidic nature of these products will start to eat away at the surface of the stone and will dull the finish. To clean the floors use a damp cloth dipped in warm water and mild soap.

    Final Verdict

    Porcelain tile and travertine are both high-quality, beautiful floors that would be suitable for any home. If you’re stuck making a decision, consider what you’re looking for in a floor to help narrow down your selection.

    For people who want an attractive bare flooring option that is easy to clean and maintain, is affordable, and extremely durable, porcelain tile is a great choice.

    If you want a unique natural stone flooring that will last for a century or longer and you have a larger budget, spring for travertine.

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    About Fortino Rosas

    Chief Floor Critic, 32 years of experience in flooring installation and sales

    Fortino Rosas is an independent flooring contractor with 32 years of experience in residential and commercial flooring installation and sales. He joined the Floor Critics team to share his expertise with our readers. Fortino has acquired vast knowledge and skills in the areas of product selection, space planning, and installation. He has installed flooring in residential, government, and commercial office projects in the Midwest. Visit Website.

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    7 thoughts on “Travertine vs Porcelain Tile Flooring”

    1. This was incredibly helpful in me making my decision! No stone left unturned, you answered every question. Thank you so much for the thorough and detailed comparison.

    2. It would be nice to know the difference in slip resistance between these two types. I’m assuming that Travertine is more slip resistant since it is more porous but what about Porcelain?

    3. Thank you so much for the depth of your reporting, it has finally made hard decisions easy. I have a small rental that I need to replace the carpet, as it has been ridden hard and put away wet!
      I love the glazed porcelain idea and it suits me financially.

    4. This is an explosive idea; this is most probably the best and most successful thing about Travertine and porcelain tile flooring. I love this blog and really happy to come across this exceptionally well written content. Thanks for sharing!!

    5. The difference is very clear. Both looks attractive. The biggest difference between the two that you need to understand before investing in new flooring. You have explored the pros and cons of both. Thank you for your good work.

    6. Beautiful explanation of the differences. So if we chose travertine for our bathroom/shower and maintained great upkeep to make sure that the sealer was completed as you stated – using the correct cleaning solution, would it be a good choice? I guess the next question would be upkeep as it ages with the re-sealing of travertine? Thanks

      1. I have this same question because the only place I’m looking to use travertine is in our shower/bathroom which would get daily use. Our contractor doesn’t recommend travertine but I love it and finally want it. I think our contractor doesn’t have the expertise in natural stone. I would like a comparison specifically to the uses of travertine in daily use showers, on the shower floor with a linear drain, which means larger format tiles I am wanting large maybe 18×18 or 24×24 wall tiles and uncertain about the shower floor. Do you have testimonials or photos? Thank you.

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