Natural stone is available in a near-endless array of types & styles at every price point. With so much variability, having knowledge going into the buying process can really pay off.
Part of the beauty of natural stone is that no two pieces are ever the same. Each piece has its own pattern, surface texture, veining & crystallization, so your stone floor will truly be unique. This also means that your floor’s appearance may vary from tile to tile, but that only adds to stone’s elegance & charm. Keep this in mind when you bring home stone samples – what you see may differ from the final product once installed.
You’ll find tile for floors made of a colorful variety of granite, limestone, slate, travertine, and other natural materials. To take it a step further, you’ll find surfaces that have been polished, honed, or left untreated. All that variety can be intimidating when you first set out to find your perfect stone floor, so consider other factors beyond style to help you narrow down your selection.
For example, which tile size best compliments your room size? What sort of lifestyle do you & your family lead, and how do you want your floors to perform in response? Each type of stone has a natural porousness, hardness & density, and not all stone behaves the same way. Some surfaces are more slippery when wet, or less forgiving of accidents. Hardness also relates directly to the scratch resistance of a mineral, which is important to consider when picking stone flooring for certain rooms.
Be sure to consider what activities will take place where the stone is installed in your home. As an example, soft, porous floors are not ideal for high-traffic areas where foot traffic could wear them down more quickly. Consult with your Dolphin Carpet & Tile expert for more information about each product in which you’re interested.
Please remember that it is not possible for you to hand select every piece of stone in your floor. Irregular markings, lines, veins, and crystallization will more than likely be present. You can rest easy knowing that these are not imperfections, but rather a natural part of the stone’s beauty.
Additionally, no natural stone tile will have a perfectly smooth surface. Even after your floor tiles are polished, you may still notice small chips or pits that are more or less apparent under different lighting. Stone tiles will vary naturally in thickness, squareness, and length – much more so than man-made ceramic or porcelain tile. As a result, once your natural stone floor is installed, you should not expect a perfectly smooth surface from tile to tile.
To make a smart choice when shopping for natural stone flooring, it’s important to know about the top six most popular stone choices.
Granite offers one of the hardest and densest natural stone surfaces. Made up of a combination of quartz, feldspar & mica, granite is comparable to diamond in hardness. It resists staining and scratching better than any other stone floor due to its density. Granite makes a powerful impact in kitchens, entryways, and bathrooms, or as an accent when installed alongside other natural stone tiles.
Marble is a form of crystallized limestone that comes in many different color variations, usually displaying a unique veining pattern. These distinguishing features make for a timeless addition to any home design.
Marble is more porous than granite, meaning it is more susceptible to staining. For this reason, we don’t recommend it in kitchens or dining rooms. Instead, choose marble for your foyer, bathroom, fireplace, study, or library.
When selecting a marble color, we do not recommend green or black marble for areas that get wet, such as the shower. Green marble tends to absorb water, causing it to warp. Black marble, on the other hand, may begin to break away as a result of water exposure over time.
Limestone has a subtler look and is often offered in a honed matte finish. Created from an accumulation of organic materials such as shells and coral, limestone tends to be very soft & porous. This requires an emphasis on preventative maintenance. Limestone stains easily and should always be sealed to protect its beauty & performance ability. For all these reasons, we don’t recommend it for practical use in spaces that experience a lot of foot traffic. Instead, use limestone as a more decorative statement in areas where it will see less abuse.
Travertine has a truly unique look thanks to the thousands of tiny holes that run through it naturally. These holes are filled, and the stone is polished to a high sheen. The fill areas remain dull for a brilliant contrasting design. Much like limestone, travertine is highly porous and requires an extensive preventative maintenance routine.
Slate is a rustic looking stone available in a variety of warm, earthy-colored tones & shades. These color variations are some of the most dramatic you’ll find in flooring tile. Slate also is extremely durable, able to be used in both indoor and outdoor installations for a unique layered look thanks to the natural cleft on its surface.
Tumbled stone creates an antique, Old World look by tumbling together pieces of marble, travertine & limestone. These pieces are then distressed to evoke a timeworn look that works well for accents, mosaics, and small designs. If you’re after a rustic stone design, consider tumbled stone for your home.
Grout is used to outline each tile during installation, framing each one visually and holding it in place.
The grout lines between each natural stone tile are typically thinner than what is used when installing ceramic tile. These lines are usually filled with un-sanded grout, which you can match, contrast or coordinate with your tile color depending on the look you want.
If you want your grout to be less noticeable, we’ll help you select a grout that is close in color to the stone. A contrasting grout color on the other hand can be either darker or lighter & will make your grout lines more visible. Keep in mind that the grout colors you see in the store may look slightly different once installed in your home, typically because of differences in temperature & humidity during the installation process. This can even cause color variation from room to room. Again, think of this as part of the natural charm of your floors.
We highly recommend sealing your natural stone floors to create a surface that is overall less porous & more stain resistant. Sealer will protect the original beauty of the stone while offering. There are different types of sealer depending on your type of stone, and we’ll consult with you about which is best for the floor you’ve chosen.
The “cost per square foot” of your natural stone floor is just one compohref="/nent of the entire project cost. To ensure that there are no surprises and that the stone you choose fits in your overall budget, we’ll calculate the total cost of your floor covering project in advance. Potential expenses you may incur include furniture removal, disposal of your old floor covering, subfloor preparation, product delivery, and installation. In addition to the project cost, you should also know the cost of cleaning to maintain the beauty and life of your natural stone floor.