How to Stain Travertine Tile

Travertine continues to be a popular design choice for professionals and do-it-yourself designers. If, for some reason, the color of the travertine in your living spaces isn't quite to your liking, then you can easily change it up. The porous surface of travertine absorbs stains and pigments very well.

Image of filled travertine tile floor, kitchen table and chairs
credit: mtreasure/iStock/GettyImages
The porous surface of travertine absorbs stains and pigments very well.

Stain on travertine tile is a fairly simple, if time-consuming, process. You can whitewash it or use a simple wood stain. You can darken it, lighten it or brighten it with a stain in a rainbow of hues.

Types of Stain to Use on Travertine

The limestone base of travertine makes it ideal for soaking up most any type of stain. Travertine can withstand high traffic areas while still holding their rustic charm—and with little maintenance. When travertine is cracked or damaged, it can be repaired quickly and individually.

Applying a wood stain on travertine is one of the easiest ways to change up the color of the tiles. They can also be painted or whitewashed. They should be sealed if you want to protect the stone and the stain.

To whitewash travertine tile, create a white paint and water ratio of 1:1 and paint it on each tile. Move slowly across the tiles to get an even coat. When remixing, make sure that you keep the same ratio so that the whitewash is evenly distributed.

Prep Before You Stain on Travertine Tile

Clear the area before you begin to apply the stain. Once you start, you shouldn't pause the process. This can cause irregularities in the shade of stain you are putting down. Turn off any fans or shut vents that can blow air or heat onto the travertine as you work.

Clean the travertine well before you begin to stain and allow it to dry completely. Harsh cleaners can leave a residue. Put a few drops of mild dish soap in a bucket of warm water and mop the travertine tile thoroughly.

Block off any areas you don't want to be affected by the stain. Use painter's tape to edge around areas. Cover carpeting with a drop cloth or tarp that is taped down around the edges where it meets the tile.

How to Stain Travertine

You need to stir the stain before you apply it so that the tannins are evenly mixed. Pour a gallon of the stain into a bucket that is at least twice the size and stir with a long wooden stick.

Use a paintbrush to apply the stain onto the tile directly. Work from a corner of the room to an exit. Allow the stain to dry for at least a day. If you are interested in making the travertine darker, simply add a second coat.

Travertine Maintenance Tips

Regular care and maintenance will keep the newly stained travertine in tip top shape for decades. Sweeping dirt and dust away from the tiles on a daily or weekly basis will keep it from gathering on the surface of the tile or getting ground into the grout lines. This can prolong the life of the stained stones significantly.

A solution of warm water and a drop of dish washing liquid can safely clean the stained stone without causing discoloration or damage. A commercial cleaner can remove ground in grime, stains or mold that has gathered on the surface or in the grout. This can also add a unique patina to the stone.


Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.