How to Make Travertine Textured Concrete Stone or Tile Using Baking Soda & Rock Salt

There are a couple of casting techniques that can be used to achieve the aged look of Travertine from concrete molds for pennies. The cast stone texture can either be the natural rough finish, or the smooth cut finish of polished Travertine. The basic techniques for casting them are the same, but are enhanced during the finishing and installation process. Simply put, one is left rough with the holes and voids left unfilled. The other involves grouting the stone and filling some or all of the holes and voids during or after installation. The following baking soda and rock salt techniques can be used individually or together depending on the results desired. Be sure to dust in (sprinkle) your contrasting colors into the mold before filling it with your base-colored concrete.


What is Natural Travertine Stone?
Travertine is a dense, closely compacted form of limestone found mostly in banded layers. Most Travertine is white or cream colored, though there are also browns and peach colors. The word Travertine comes from an old roman name for Tivoli, a town in Italy where there are large deposits of this material. While natural Travertine is mostly used for wall and floor tile, it works well in any room of the house, especially living areas, bathrooms and kitchens. One benefit of the cast concrete Travertine is that it can also be used for exterior applications like patios and walks. For protection of either, a sealer is recommended. Especially to counter tops to prevent deep stains.

What is Cast Concrete Travertine Stone?
The main technique for creating the texture of Travertine in concrete is the use of a mold that offers some of these voids, cuts, worm holes, etc., integrated within the mold. Then to enhance that texture, you use a medium like baking soda and/or rock salt, and a finishing technique that enhances the static design in the mold. One of the main benefits of this method is that each stone made is totally unique--- just as with real stone. The variations and voids in the surface of real Travertine are created over millions of years by the compressed bones, shells and the skeletons of sea creatures. In cast concrete Travertine--- it is created using Travertine base-design concrete molds, baking soda and rock salt.

Two Techniques Using Baking Soda in Casting Concrete Travertine Stone:
When used dry baking soda distorts the surface of the concrete similar to that of limestone or soapstone. When you add moisture to the baking soda, you create a paste-like consistency. This paste will introduce voids and pits replicating the look of Travertine. You can combine both the dry and wet methods for stunning effects. The mold release will normally hold the baking soda in place. When using baking soda on the face of molds, where you will be pouring concrete in over it, a little care should be exercised to keep it in place. The same holds true for rock salt.

Depending on how heavy-handed one gets with the baking soda clumps, the effect can be made to resemble anything from light weathering to heavily worn and deeply pitted Travertine surfaces. One technique is to pour out a small pile, then mist it lightly with water. If you use the baking soda dampened, you can toss fairly large amounts into areas of the mold where it will stick for a very deeply pitted effect. A combination of the two methods results in a most pleasing natural Travertine textured finish. When tan and yellow colors are added to the concrete using a marbleizing technique, and/or concrete stains are employed on the completed stone, it is very difficult to imagine that the stone is not real travertine.

Two Techniques Using Rock Salt to Cast Concrete Travertine Stone:
There is the "surface" application and a "mold face" application of the rock salt technique. Each is for a different type of installation, but both give similar results. One of the main benefits of both types of treatments is that it increases the slip-coefficient of the concrete---making it less slippery. A concrete "surface" salt treatment in the construction industry is typically done on flat surfaces such as sidewalks, poured patios, pool decks, etc. The concrete is placed, screed off, then floated. Then the rock salt is hand cast onto the surface, and then troweled down into the wet concrete so it lays just at the surface. Once the concrete has dry, the salt is dissolved by water and washed away leaving a holes and voids.

The mold face application is when the rock salt is placed on the oiled, (with mold release), face of the concrete mold. The producer then carefully shovels the concrete mix over the rock salt taking care to move the salt as little as possible. Once the salt-covering layer of concrete is in the mold, the mold is filled to the thickness desired and vibrated lightly. There is no concern for bug holes, as they would only enhance the look of the Travertine in this case. Be sure to sprinkle, or dust, your contrasting colors now.

One final thought, when you're casting concrete to represent something like Travertine, you may want to think about the base color of the concrete. Gray cement with plain sand and gray aggregate may produce less than desirable results for very light colors. Using white Portland cement, or a mix of white and gray Portland cement, when using yellow or brown (when you want to get a tan color) concrete colorant may give you something closer to what you're looking for--- a natural looking Travertine stone finish.

Should you need...  molds or moulds, colorant, concrete sealer, stains, or other concrete, cement, or plaster supplies for your handyman or home improvement project, please visit our catalogue website at or our shopping cart website at  to get ideas.  If you are interested in starting a concrete stone and veneer, or concrete and cement paver, brick or tile business, visit our Olde World Stone & Tile Business Opportunity website at for full details, instructions and various stone making and other concrete product making packages.  We also offer D-I-Y Packages in our catalogue and on our shopping cart websites.


Concrete Travertine Stained Ocean Blue

Concrete Travertine Stained Honey


Plain Travertine Paver made with concrete as it is right out of the concrete mold.

Poured concrete with only the baking soda added to the mold prior to pouring in the concrete.
Baking soda and light rock salt application was added to the mold prior to the concrete.
Baking soda & heavy rock salt application into the oiled mold before pouring in concrete.

Here are pavers cast in plain concrete. With just baking soda. With minimal baking soda & rock salt. And with heavy rock salt and baking soda put into the mold prior to pouring. The bottom paver is an actual natural Travertine stone paver.

Paver Molds with a very light application of  baking soda and rock salt prior to pouring in the concrete.

Paver Molds with some color and  a heavy dose of  baking soda and rock salt prior to pouring in the concrete.