Limestone Surfaces Are Everywhere—Here’s What to Know

Travertine's sister material makes for the hottest countertop in town.

For those looking to redo their kitchen or bathroom, selecting stone and tiles is one of the most important choices to make. Much of the room’s design will revolve around these features, and they can truly define the space. Marble and granite are excellent choices, with their beautiful veins and high gloss shine, but they’ve been ubiquitous in homes for decades. Black Granite Fireplace Back Panel

Limestone Surfaces Are Everywhere—Here’s What to Know

Just about any stone is fit for a home renovation, but if you want to try something fresh, consider limestone. Right now, it feels like this material (along with its look-alike friend, travertine) is popping up in every high-end kitchen and bathroom redesign we see. And it’s no wonder because this natural stone is absolutely gorgeous.

Limestone and travertine are both natural rocks with soft matte appearances, subtle variations, and a sophisticated, timeless feel. In other words, it’s the quiet luxury of stone and, therefore, the perfect material to define 2023.

But just because it’s beautiful doesn’t mean it’s ideal to use everywhere. These materials need special care and aren’t suitable for all applications. If you’re considering introducing limestone or travertine to your home, read on to find everything you need to know about the difference between these two stunning stones before you add them to your renovation.

Like marble, limestone and travertine are natural materials with a timeless appeal. However, they have different origins. Both are sedimentary rocks, but limestone is made from minerals and compressed shells of tiny aquatic creatures (which can sometimes be seen in the final product), while travertine forms around hot springs or other areas of high mineral concentration.

Both stones come in muted, neutral colors, making them easy to use in various design styles. While they have some striation and veining, it’s generally much less than marble or granite. They’re polished just enough to create a smooth surface but not so much that they become shiny. The result is a surface that feels rich and luxe yet still understated.

We’re currently seeing more of an appreciation for classic designs, and these stones both fit in seamlessly with that aesthetic. The timelessness of these stones also means that they fit with the idea of universally appealing design, making them a great choice for the long term. Plus, the material is great for upping your resale value.

Though they may look alike, the properties of these two materials mean you may want to use them in different ways throughout your home. Limestone is more expensive than travertine, but it’s also more durable and requires less upkeep. That’s because travertine may need to have its small, naturally occurring holes filled to make it easier to clean.

Generally, both materials can be used as flooring. In fact, their matte finish can mean they’re less slippery when wet, making them ideal for bathrooms. Limestone and travertine can also be used outdoors as pavers, plus their natural properties keep them cool, so they’re ideal to use around a pool deck where people are barefoot in the summer. But, because of their softer nature, they’re more prone to damage than some other stones. This can mean chipping, so it’s not a great choice for a high-traffic area. Limestone is a better choice than travertine for most flooring scenarios.

Both look lovely as countertops and backsplashes, but they’re also more porous, which means they can absorb liquids and stain more easily than other materials. Their natural texture, while beautiful, can lead to some issues with cleaning. You’ll want to reseal them occasionally to ensure they stay in tip-top condition. For limestone, that means sealing them about every three to four years, and for travertine, it means approximately once every one to three years—it’s a bit of a commitment but not too much to manage.

Remember, all stone requires some maintenance, and when we’re talking about limestone being soft, this is relative. Many large buildings and even the great pyramids are made from this material, so clearly, it can stand the test of time. If you love this look, don’t be deterred. With careful application and good care, limestone and travertine can enhance the beauty of your home for years to come!

Limestone Surfaces Are Everywhere—Here’s What to Know

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