Travertine vs Porcelain Tile Flooring

Travertine vs Porcelain Tile Flooring

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
Pet-FriendlyYesYes
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.

Durability

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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Lifespan

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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Cost

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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Installation

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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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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Nikki Seppala

About Nikki Seppala

Nikki is an experienced writer and editor and has worked in industries that range from home improvement to entrepreneurship. For over 10 years, she's used her unique talent and love of the written word to uncover the stories that people want to read.

1 thought on “Travertine vs Porcelain Tile Flooring”

  1. Avatar

    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

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