Travertine VS Limestone: Which Stone Is Better for Your Needs?

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In the past few years, the homeowners of Columbus and Cincinnati have been using travertine and limestone more and more. But many of our customers remain confused about the different characteristics of these two natural stones and are unsure whether to go with limestone or travertine.

Travertine and limestone are among the most popular stones in architecture and interior design and have been for centuries. The Romans, for example, built their famous Colosseum almost entirely out of travertine. These days the two stones are used in kitchens, bathrooms, and pool decking. Indiana limestone can be used for everything from coping stones to fireplace surrounds. Travertine works perfectly in many interior applications. 

Is Travertine Actually Limestone?

Is travertine limestone? Yes. Limestone travertine is a type of limestone that’s softer than traditional forms of limestone. Both forms are organic rock built from sediment compressed across the ages. Believe it or not, those limestone tiles in bathrooms and kitchens are made out of tiny shells and fossils packed together into solid rock at the bottom of the sea.

Travertine limestone comes from the land rather than the ocean, created from built-up layers of sediment in lakes and rivers. The way it’s formed makes it more porous than other forms of limestone and consequently not quite as dense and hard.

What Are Travertine and Limestone Good For?

Travertine vs limestone. Which is better for your needs? Both are excellent natural stone options for a variety of building projects, but they do have features and traits that lend themselves to differing applications.

Travertine is particularly suited for uses in the bathroom and the kitchen, for example, in the form of shower tiles and backsplashes. The stone is reasonably durable, easily maintained, ages well, and is cheaper than other forms of natural stone like marble or granite. It’s also often used for flooring, giving a sophisticated look to a room. 

Limestone shares many attributes with travertine but is sturdier because it’s less porous and was formed under more pressure. This makes it ideal for high-traffic areas. It’s great for underfoot, both inside and out. It’s also a natural choice for outdoor uses, like limestone pool decking, because it can withstand weather and temperature fluctuations better than travertine. Like its cousin travertine, limestone imparts an elegance wherever it’s used.

From walnut travertine tiles to limestone copings, these two natural stones are ideal for a multitude of applications in the home and the yard. A good stone center can help you determine just the right product for your project.

The Key Differences Between Limestone and Travertine

Is travertine limestone

Though there are a lot of areas of overlap in the way they’re used, there are some big travertine limestone differences. These include:

Color Variety Available

Travertine comes in a wide array of hues – but they all tend to be fairly neutral in tone. In other words, don’t expect super colorful choices. Your options will be limited largely to earth tones, but some can be quite bold. Limestone tends to be lighter and paler and more even, than travertine, and without some of that stones’ dark streaks and shading.   

Limestone is a great choice if you want to find an affordable stone that has similar qualities to marble. Travertine might give you more hues to select from, but both come in enough color choices for most applications.

Overall Looks of the Stones

Both travertine and limestone look elegant and refined, similar to marble or granite. Wherever you choose to use them, they give a space a luxurious feel. Travertine looks more pocked and has more noticeable veins than limestone, which tends to be paler and without as many shades or markings. Neither has the kind of swirling streaks or dark waves that are characteristic of marble and granite. 

Travertine comes in a variety of finishes – most typically honed, brushed, polished, tumbled, and chiseled. Limestone is similar but is also sometimes flamed, hammered, or honed. Both stones tend to be of warm, medium tones that will help brighten rooms. 

Poring of the Stones

The porousness of travertine gives it a slightly more fitted look than limestone. Limestone can also have a few tiny holes, but not to the degree of travertine. Because of these spaces, both stones benefit from sealants, which makes them stain-resistant and easier to clean. With travertine, grout is often applied to the surface to even out the face of a tile.

Travertine needs to be resealed every few years to prevent bacteria from growing in its pores. It also reacts harshly to acids, so keep that in mind if you like to clean with vinegar.

Difference in Costs

One of the advantages travertine has over limestone is its affordability. Because it requires more maintenance and tends to be slightly less durable, it’s less expensive. If your budget is tight and you don’t mind a little more upkeep, travertine might be just right for you. 

The costs of both stones can vary depending on where they’re imported from. They both come from far-flung places, like the Middle East, South America, Asia, and Eastern Europe, which adds to the price. Various other factors like finish and size will also play a role in the price.

Maintenance Difficulty

Is travertine limestone?

Travertine will pose a few more maintenance issues than limestone due to its more porous nature. It's not as good a choice outdoors in cold areas because its many pores make it more brittle. It also absorbs water, making it more susceptible to freezing and cracking than limestone. Those same holes also can fill in with dirt, which requires more cleaning than limestone will, too.

No matter where it’s installed, travertine typically takes more resins and sealants to fill its many crevices, and that can be a problem in areas of high temperature, like under bathroom heat lamps. It also needs more support underneath than does limestone, when installed on the floor.


Travertine or limestone? These two natural stone products are both great choices for beautifying your home, whether indoors or out. They come in a wide range of hues and finishes and provide fine, less-expensive alternatives to marble and granite, while still giving a high-end look.

If you’re in the Columbus or Cincinnati areas, stop by Stone Center to learn more about travertine and limestone. We can show you samples, help you plan your project, and even provide the stones. Our knowledgeable staff has a wealth of experience and is available to assist you with all your hardscaping needs. Don't hesitate to contact us!


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Jon Smiley

Jon, the owner of Stone Center, is a knowledgeable expert in natural stone products, specializing in various types of stone for landscaping and architectural projects. Passionate about promoting the beauty and versatility of natural stone, Jon aims to use these blogs to inspire readers with creative ideas to upgrade their homes.

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