Beauty of Travertine Veins

Travantine is a natural stone classify as limestones. Travertine stone is unique by it veins, pores and holes, this what gives it more aesthetic value. These make travertine soft, absorbent and it doesn’t resist the weathering action well. Travertine become known by its veining, it’s the beauty of travertine. Also Travertine is known by its warm natural range of colors, in tones of beige, cream, brown, yellow, orange, red, gold, silver and a wooden like texture. Travertine formed in salted lakes from calcium carbonate. In most often travertine found in Italy, Turkey, USA, Mexico, Peru and Croatia. This post will discuss several topics you need to know before selecting travertine. 

Classic Travertine shows it pores, veins and texture
Classic travertine texture. By Zomord Marble 2018.

Travertine Applications

For thousands of years travertine is used as a common building material for walls and decorations. Since travertine has pores and holes, which is hard to fit some applications like floor, stairs and sinks. Travertine holes need to be filled, and pores to seal in order to achieve these applications function. Travertine holes could filled with cement grout or marble adhesive. 

Classic and noche travertine together. It's show travertine holes. Arrange travertine together.
Notice travertine holes. This is classic travertine beside Noche travertine -wooden like texture – at Alhoreya Building, Alzahra city 2019 by Zahi Alrayyes

Cement grout is holes filler, where cement will absorb water and it became darker. Also cement won’t have the same reflection as travertine surface. On the other hand, marble adhesive is available in many colors as well as transparent base. Marble adhesive doesn’t effect from water and will remain with the same color. The disadvantage of marble adhesive that it will break and fragment when exposed to sun rays. Therefore, as holes filler and joints between tiles, it’s better to use cement grout for outdoor and marble adhesive for indoor applications. 

Travertine back side. it shows the holes and pores
Classic travertine back side. by Zahi Alrayyes. Alzahra city 2019

Pores also affect how travertine will look over time, sealer can protect travertine and keep the surface beauty over time. There are several products in the market to protect travertine surface and keep the same glossiness or the rough surface. Be aware that rough surface is harder to seal, because it has more pores and it requires a matte sealer. 

Sink made of yellow travertine, The travertine holes are filled and pores are sealed
Sink made of yellow travertine. at Zomord showroom, Alburej 2017.

These solutions allow designers to select travertine as marble and granite, especially because travertine has unique colors and texture. The below photos shows the use of travertine as sink, stairs and other applications.

counter top sink made of noche travertine, The travertine holes are filled and pores are sealed
counter top sink made of noche travertine. By Zomord marble 2019

Travantine Veins

As mentioned above, travertine is unique by it softness, veins and holes. Travertine is groups of light and dark veins. The most important thing is to arrange travertine tiles before installation in order to have the continuous veins. Arranging will show the travertine tiles as art, a mass, or as slab of travertine. To have a continuous veins there are two methods, the continuous and book match arrangement. 

Continuous veins arrangement, when tiles are cut parallel to veins directions. Arranging tiles in stacked bond, or running bond that I recommend. Running bond is better because it will interlock the different tones together. Continuous veins arrangement is the best technique for travertine tiles.

Classic and noche travertine, in continuous veins
Classic and noche travertine, in continuous veins. Alhoreya Building Gaza 2019 by Zahi Alrayyes

Diagonal veins cut is suitable to be arranged continuously or in book match arrangement. Marble and travertine tiles and slabs that has a clear diagonal veins are suitable for book match arrangement. Book match arrangement adds aesthetic value to walls, the wall will look as continuous paint of travertine. To have a continuous veins for book match arrangement, where the back of travertine need to be polished.

Book match travertine veins. Noche travertine, wood like travertine.
Travertine wall cladding by Kamal Abdelhadi. using travertine noche -the wooden like texture- Gaza 2018

The scale of travertine veins has an important impact, where most people consider smaller veins is more beautiful. This is true for interior scale, or in applications that is close to human eye. On the other hand the larger veins is more suitable for applications that has longer distance from human eye like architecture scale. Then in both cases you can enjoy the appearance of travertine veins to appear as a mass, or a natural rock.

Continuous travertine tile's veins
Classic travertine. It’s shows travertine as one mass. This by arranging travertine veins together. Alhoreya Building, Alzahra, Owned by Hossam and Wassem Salman Alhelou By Architect Zahi Alrayyes 2019

Travertine Cross Veins

Cross veins travertine is also available. Cross veins cut required a rigid and solid travertine stone. it’s popular for American Travertine, the orange travertine like the one in the below photo. It’s like particles of different colors and tones instead of continuous veins.

Cross veins travertine stairs cladding. American orange travertine
Cross veins travertine stairs cladding. American orange travertine by ORIGIN DESIGN Architect Zahi Alrayyes at GIZ office. Beirut tower, Gaza 2017.

Travantine Finish Surface

Travertine came in different surface finish, range from polished, matt, brushed to rough surface. Personally i don’t like travertine with high reflection, rough travertine surface reflect the less amount of light and sound. This makes it suitable for building cladding, where weathering will add more aesthetic value to it. Also it’s suitable for interior spaces, especially public spaces that require less echo wall cladding finish materials.

How to install travertine walls?

Travertine can install at walls either by casting, using cement mortar or glueing using tile adhesive. I prefer to install using transparent tile adhesive for two reasons. The first reason is that travertine has pores and holes which means cement could be pure during casting, which will look ugly. Another reason I prefer gluing, is also because pores and holes that tile adhesive could stick easy in them to enhance the connection between wall and travertine. To gluing the travertine it requires to plaster the wall in a good leveling, and remember that tile adhesive can’t have a thicknesses like cement mortar and casting methods.

What are the available travertine sizes in the market?

Travertine is available in similar sizes as marble range from, Slabs, Tiles and Stairs. Slabs are available in size of 1.7*2.8m in thickness of 3cm. Tiles are available in size of 30*60 and 120*60 in thickness of 1.8cm. Stairs are available in several sizes, where the thickness of going in 3cm and 1.8cm for risers. The length of the stair step typically is 120 and 130cm and could be longer. Also there are other sizes like 15*15*1.8cm in diagonal veins direction and also french set, mosaic and other decoration sizes. Travertine red shades french set.Travertine slab

Marble Stairs Detail; The Shadow Line

Select the suitable stairs finish is a hard mission, especially for homeowners. There are a variety of finishing materials, details and style. Marble is the common use material that is strong and has a nice appearance despite it classic style. Personally as much as I love marble but i struggle to find a modern details. The shadow line detail is a method to get a modern appearance, that is suitable for the most type of marble. The shadow line has flush clean look with no overhang nosing to have a modern appearance. With a thin black granite underneath the riser, it shows each step by itself individually.

Marble stairs, with shadow line detail
Marble stairs at Labib 2 building, Gaza Palestine By architect Zahi Alrayyes and marble from Zomord Marble.

when to use the shadow line detail

As mentioned before the shadow line detail is suitable with many kinds of marble. It’s the best choice with marble that have different tones like Flower Beige marble as shown in the below photo. The shadow line detail will separate each step by its own, then people will not easily notice the difference in marble tones. Also it’s suitable with marble that has many veins, it displays the beauty of each step. On the other hand, it’s not nice with clear marble that look similar tone and doesn’t have veins. It’s not a bad choice but it won’t add much to the marble and stairs. 

Shadow line steps
Marble stairs at Labib 2 building, Gaza Palestine By architect Zahi Alrayyes and marble from Zomord Marble. The marble is Flower Beige a Turkish product that has a variety of veins and difference in background tones.

Installing shadow line marble stairs

The shadow line detail is simple and cheap detail comparing to another marble details. Because its regular straight steps with a 2cm black granite underneath the riser. Granite is prefer to used and not marble, because it’s thin we need a plain black color. Also granite is more rigid material to avoid the break the 2cm piece through cutting process. Personally I prefer black shadow line to be thinner than 2cm but then it will become weaker. There are three types of black granite, beside artificial stone read How to Select Black Granite article for more information. Artificial stone is not suitable because it will efflorescence and appear with with grey and white spots. The craftsmen need to cut the granite using saw cutting machine at marble factory, and then to glue it with the riser according to floor and riser height.

shadow line stairs marble installation
how to install shadow line marble stairs, Gaza 2019 by Architect Zahi Alrayyes. Marble from Zomord Marble and installed by A. Muhassien

In conclusion, It’s not the only modern marble stairs detail, but it’s suitable for marble that has variety of tones or density veins. The shadow line detail is cheap compared to another modern marble stairs details. Also it’s well-designed, the design is avoiding water collecting and has no fine details that could break in the future.

Stairs Tiles Design

before and after stairs tiles project, Gaza 2019 by Zahi Alrayyes

This project is stairs tiles as application for Using Tiles for stairs, the project is outdoor stairs for ORIGIN DESIGN office entrance. The old situation as shown in the before and after photo is black tiles and four steps of Rosa Beta granite. We have redesigned the stairs and garden to have four steps each in size of 120*150 cm. Beside the steps, will add grass in sloped level to enhancing stairs beauty, this beside rearrange and developing the landscape. Through this topic we will discuss stairs building stages from drawings, selecting tiles, building blocks, tiling and finishing.

Prepare Drawings and Selecting tiles

Stairs drawings designed according to available tiles at the market, usually designers have knowledge about tiles sizes at the market. The process after choosing the tiles size, is to select the proper tiles texture and color. In this project, I have selected parquet in size of 15*120 cm to fill area of 90*120 cm. Unfortunately, choices were limited in this size, and I haven’t like tiles texture and color for this size. As an alternative I have found 120*20 cm parquet tiles in color I like, but this size doesn’t fit the drawings. 4 tiles pieces will cover area of 120*80 cm, in addition to cut a piece to 120*10 cm, but it won’t look professional.

Drawings for stairs tiles, 2019 Gaza ORIGIN DESIGN

Another alternative in the market was a Spanish parquet tiles from UNDEFASA in size of 15*90 cm. This mean we can rearrange tiles where 8 tiles will cover area of 90*120 cm perfectly. For border tiles and risers, we selected light gray 120*60 cm Italian tiles from ABK in thickness of 7 mm. Both tiles color and texture match, and they add to stairs design beauty. 120×60 tiles need to be cut in size of 15*120 cm and few in size of 30*120 cm. In order to have a clear edge cut, we sent the tiles to marble factor to cut tiles using saw machine. Now tiles are ready for the next stage.

Building the Stairs

After ordering building materials from cement blocks, cement, lime and sand. And demolishing the old steps, in order to prepare the site for building as shown in the drawings. The block walls top-level built to be lower than tiles level by 5 to 10 cm. This due to block dimensions and to allow craftsman adapting the steps levels. Then to fill sand between steps walls, and top 10 cm was mix between sand and cement. The mixture between sand and cement will enhance the ground strength, If there is a water leakage it will become a concrete surface. After finishing these works, now we are ready for tiling stage.

Building stairs for outdoor using blocks and fill with sand and cement

Stair’s Tiles

Usually craftsmen begin to install stairs from first step at the bottom then going upward. in this case, it’s more convenient to use downward method by installing step tread then the riser. Another advantage of building upper level going downward because there is a certain upper level and flexible lower level. 

tilling stairs tread, professional  works. Gaza 2019

First of all craftsman arrange tiles at straight level, matching parquet colors together making area of 120*90 cm. Then add gray tiles around them, we face a problem where the gray tiles are 119.5 cm instead of 120 cm. Also parquet make area of 121×90 cm, we planned to install parquet without grout, but still there is a millimeter between each. The solution was to cut a 1.5 cm from a parquet tile to have area of 120*90 cm. Together with the light gray tiles it made an area of 150*120 cm. 

installing  tiles from up level to downward, Gaza 2019

After installing the step tread, for the riser we use regular connection, where tread will lay over the riser gives straight angle. Also risers between each other will gather using 45 degrees method, to appear as one mass. 

Tiles Finishing

Finishing showing the beauty, especially for tile edges details. Grout is important, we used Vitra Cement grout CG1 white color for the stairs. Using liquid colors to give it a color similar to tiles, The parquet color is mixed using black, brown and mustard color. For the gray color we mixed to the black and a little brown color to the white cement grout. Notice that to have a well bond cement grout to the tile, you need to clean cement and sand between tiles. Then to fill the grout probably and leave to setting well. Then using metal sponge, clean the rest of the grout, you need to clean tiles well because they are rough.  

Stairs tiles finishing, ORIGIN DESIGN 2019 Gaza Palestine.

Why tile size is 119.5 cm instead of 120 cm ?

This is related to shipping and size of shipping container. Tiles pack by cardboard to reach 120 cm, then it could fit the wooden plate. These few millimeters will save a lot of money. And sometimes this happens during cutting tiles at factory, Saw cutting will have the blade thickness around 3 mm. Therefore i prefer laser cutting tiles where it’s more accurate and thinner during cutting. 

Why not using a tile adhesive for the grout?

Tile adhesive will crack when sun rays reach it, so it doesn’t fit outdoor applications. Another reason not to use tile adhesive, that tile adhesive has fast setting, and it couldn’t clean the rest of the grout by metal sponge. It need to grind the material, this fit marble but tiles can’t be grinding.

Aluminum Composite Panels Edges

Aluminum Composite Panels (ACP) is modern, cold, lightweight material, it gives aerodynamic feeling for architecture. Aluminum Composite Panels Edges’ details and finishing is the beauty. Throughout this post we will discuss the different edge types, there are three main edges types: ACP edge’s profiles, Folding ACP and Gluing ACP edges. Edge types beauty is to have glossiness continuity of ACP panels to achieve aerodynamic feeling design. ACP designed to be able to groove and fold, this by using different machines and techniques. Also there are a method to install edge’s profiles.

ACP Edge’s Profile

Aluminum composite panels edges’ profiles available in different shapes to fit different applications. F profile use for right angle edge, while H profile use for straight angle edge, this beside other profiles for special uses. These profiles are available in different colors according to RAL index, also some materials like mirror and golden mirror …etc. Notice that ACP edge’s profiles have to fit ACP colors, if color isn’t available paint it using powder coating. Advantages of edge’s profile, it’s easy to install, edges will be straight, cutting finishing will be fair enough. However ACP edges’ profile are easy to install, but profile doesn’t have aesthetic value, where profile level is higher than sheets. Different levels mean glossiness won’t be continuous through different sheets, This hide the beauty of aerodynamic glossiness.

aluminum composite panels trim profile edge
aluminum composite panels trim profile edge
aluminum composite panels trim profile edge
aluminum composite panels trim profile edge, Alhelou Petrol by ORIGIN DESIGN 2018

ACP Folding Edges

Despite its difficult and has high cost method but it shows the beauty of ACP. The folding concept by creating a groove at the back of ACP that allow the sheet to fold. The groove placement has to be well measured. The grooves implemented by a blade installed at router, or table saw, CNC machine cut and create grooves at one stage. The Blades are available in different sizes and shapes to reach the needed groove for required application. The difficulties facing folded edges’, it’s hard to level panels together, it’s a sensitive in-site mission need accurate. The high aesthetic value by having straight same level, and continuity of soft glossiness.

Aluminum composite panel folding type
Aluminum composite panel folding type
Aluminum Composite panels glossiness
Aluminum Composite panels glossiness, Alhelou Petrol by ORIGIN DESIGN 2018

ACP Edges Gluing

For special cases like curves we could use edges’ profiles or to glue edges. Glue edges will appear better, however it’s sensitive and has many processes to implement. Although Gluing is weak compared to edge folding and profiles, and it won’t last for a long time. 
To implement edge gluing, it requires to cut both sheet ends at 45 degrees. Then gather them using Sikaflex, and avoid using indoor silicon. Notice that SikaFlex will glue in a while mean both sheets need to stay temporarily in place until SikaFlex dry. Check if SikaFlex dried by doubt it by a needle , if needle is clean this mean its dry, otherwise needle will have remains of SikaFlex. After that using small brush paint the edges with the same color of ACP. This Method is useful also for 3D applications and decorations ends.

Aluminum composite panels gluing edges, Alhelou Petrol by ORIGIN DESIGN, Gaza 2019
Aluminum composite panels gluing edges, Alhelou Petrol by ORIGIN DESIGN, Gaza 2019

Generally, Details have a big effect. The photo below shows a petrol station in circular shape and curve section I have designed and implemented for Alhelou Petrol station in Gaza 2018. The job was very sensitive and accurate, and edges’ finishing added much to this project. The client was happy and proud with the design and results. Now you have a good knowledge about ACP edges’ connections, feel free to ask any question. i like to hear from you. 

Alhelou station by ORIGIN DESIGN, Gaza 2018
Alhelou Petrol by ORIGIN DESIGN , Gaza 2018