Travertine is a form of limestone that cultures have used as a building material for several thousand years. You can find it today offered as a paving stone or tile that is useful indoors or outdoors because of its structure and versatility. Because it is made from calcium carbonate, you can find it locations all over the world. Pool deck tiles come from South America or Europe in most situations, but you can even find this rock in places like Yellowstone National Park.
This stone forms when natural springs deposit limestone in the ground. As water travels over the deposits, the dissolved matter creates thin calcite and aragonite layers. These elements start to build into a larger rock that becomes travertine over time. That is why you can see this material in caves quite frequently.
Always consider quality when shopping for travertine first. Price is an element of concern with any budget, but you will definitely “get what you pay for” when choosing this material. If you want to install a pool deck with this sedimentary rock, then there are some advantages and disadvantages to consider.
List of the Pros of a Travertine Pool Deck
1. It handles changes in temperature exceptionally well.
Travertine is an ideal surface to consider for outdoor landscaping and as a floor tile for your pool deck because it is so resistant to temperature extremes. Even when the stone receives direct exposure to sunlight, it will feel cool to the touch when you walk on it with your bare feet. That makes it a useful item for any home landscaping situation that involves a hot tub, spa, and swimming pool combination.
2. There is an intense aesthetic appeal with this stone.
Travertine provides a sense of luxury when you install it in any situation, but it looks particularly fantastic when it serves as a pool deck. The stone provides a natural veining which makes each piece look unique, but it still works as an overall pattern too. You can choose from a variety of hues and tones when incorporating this stone with your plans, ranging from bold coral shades to something neutral like gray or tan.
3. It provides more porosity than other options for your pool deck.
Travertine is one of the most porous stones that you will find that can work with your pool deck. There are numerous holes in the material when you find it in its natural state. You’ll discover a variety of large and small spots that allow for better water drainage. The manufacturing process fills up the worst offenders to create a usable surface, but it does not remove the water drainage feature of the stone. Your wet footprints will be less slippery on this surface because the moisture doesn’t stick around for long.
If you want to prolong the life of your travertine, then sealing it with a waterproof product will further reduce any issues with porosity that you may encounter. Try using a non-slip product for around your pool to prevent an injury.
4. You will not need to worry about efflorescence with this product.
Efflorescence is a significant disadvantage with many common building materials for a pool deck because the sun can often cause color changes. It occurs most often as a white deposit, but it can also turn colors of brown and black as it receives environmental exposure. Concrete can suffer from this problem during the setting process if there are problems with the mix.
Travertine avoids this issue altogether. You can even choose to coordinate different colors to create a unique look for around your pool. Try using one hue for your pool deck, and then another for the coping for a distinctive addition to your property.
5. Travertine is cheaper than granite or marble for your pool deck.
Although you will pay more for a travertine pool deck than you would with a plain concrete surface, the cost of this upgrade is significantly less than what you would pay for a marble or granite surface. You’ll gain all of the natural beauty of using natural stone for about $6 per tile or $200 per sheet. If you want to have an easier installation process, travertine pre-cut squares are available for about $100 through most retailers. Since the surface can easily last 15 to 25 years with a professional installation and sealing, you can finish the pool in your yard without paying much more to do it.
6. The installation of travertine around your pool is a simple process.
Most travertine pool decks install easily enough on a flat, level surface that received compaction to make the soil ready for installation. You should place a fabric sheet along the base to prevent vegetation growth in the future. Once the soil is ready, then you can create a base from sand, mortar, crushed stone, or cement. Then lay the pavers in a pattern that you like, cut stones to fit your shape, and then fill the lines as needed to lock them into place.
7. Replacing broken travertine tiles or pavers is usually easy to do.
If you end up with a cracked travertine tile, paver, or stone in your pool deck, then replacing it is usually a simple experience. Grout and mortar can make the task a little difficult, but you can typically pull up the broken item and replace it with something new. You can even use this advantage when using a tile-block pattern. All you need to do is pull up the entire pattern to replace it with a duplicate one.
8. You are using a product which is environmentally friendly.
Travertine tiles do not go through the same manufacturing processes that marble or porcelain need to make them a usable product, which means your pool deck is eco-friendlier than some of the other materials which are available. This stone also offers a natural non-slip surface that you can use without modifying it with a specific sealer if you prefer. You can also increase these features with additional sealants if you prefer more of a polished look.
List of the Cons of a Travertine Pool Deck
1. Travertine is sensitive to certain acids.
Because travertine is a natural stone which forms from calcium carbonate, the building materials created from it tend to be sensitive to certain acids. Tiles around your pool deck can start to break down whenever they receive exposure to an acidic substance, even if it is only orange juice. You must avoid using cleaners that contain vinegar, citric acid, or a similar ingredient if you wish to prolong the life of the installation.
Even sealed travertine tile encounters this disadvantage, which is why it may not be a suitable product for some households. You will need to stock specialized cleaners to minimize the potential for damage with the product.
2. The weight of the travertine tiles can be problematic for some pools.
The weight of this natural stone is greater than some of the other building materials you can use to form your pool deck. If your installation point has a weaker soil structure, then it may be unable to support the travertine products. You can reinforce the base before the work in many instances, but that task will come at an added cost that may not be necessary if you pour concrete or use pavers from another material.
Because of this issue, great care must be taken when installing the swimming pool in the backyard. You must have enough of a foundation base outside of the initial basin to give you the necessary room to install the travertine. If you try to install it over a concrete base, it could impact the integrity of your pool.
3. You almost always need to seal travertine pool decks.
Because there is such a high level of porosity with travertine, you must seal the material frequently to ensure that it can withstand the wear-and-tear of being part of your pool deck. Depending on the quality of the material you purchase, this could be an annual chore to complete. You can save some money initially by purchasing a cheaper product, but you will eventually make up the expense with an increase in your maintenance costs.
If you prefer travertine for your pool deck, then invest in the highest quality of product you can to avoid this potential disadvantage.
4. Even when sealed, travertine can be susceptible to stains.
Because of the porous nature of travertine, even a small splash of liquid can create a stain in the stone. If you use chlorinated tablets in your swimming pool to disinfect it, then you must take great care when working around your deck as the water can eventually begin to turn the materials a different color. Sealants provide a layer of defense against this issue, but it is not a 100% guarantee. Even if you use the highest quality of materials for your property, there will be mandatory chores to follow to maintain the look and feel of your pool deck.
5. The aesthetics of travertine can sometimes be questionable.
Although the different tones and hues of travertine can become a tremendous visual advantage for a pool deck, the overall lack of homogeneity with this product can also cause a lack of consistency with its appearance. If you order tile in bulk to install a pool deck, then you may not receive enough uniformity to create a structure that is pleasing to the idea. You must take some extra care to ensure that you group similar units together to reduce the look of variations in the surface.
6. Most of the color options for travertine are in neutral tones.
Although there are some brighter colors available with this stone, including white, you will find that unless you’re willing to pay top-dollar for your pool deck that a neutral tone is your only option. That works out fine if that is the color scheme of your backyard, but it can also put your design options into a corner because there are only so many ways to use it. Sealants can sometimes deepen the hues to create a striking look, although that comes at an extra cost as well. It may be worthwhile to shop around for different styles, sizes, and weights to ensure that you can get the exact product that you want.
The pros and cons of a travertine pool deck depend on your available budget and how you intend to care for the surface. You might spend a little more for this material, but with correct care, it can last for several years with little maintenance. Remember to avoid any acidic products when cleaning your pool deck, and you will get to enjoy this investment every day you enjoy some sunshine and a cool swim.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.