natural stone flooring

What Is Natural Stone Flooring? Unveiling Timeless Beauty

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Natural stone flooring is a captivating element utilized for centuries to enhance the aesthetic appeal of homes, commercial spaces, and architectural marvels. As an exquisite flooring option, it exudes elegance, durability, and a unique charm that adds a touch of natural grandeur to any setting. Our article delves into "What is natural stone flooring?" and its types, benefits, and maintenance considerations.

Understanding Natural Stone Flooring

Natural stone flooring uses natural rocks and minerals in residential and commercial spaces. It involves installing various types of stone, such as marble, granite, slate, limestone, and travertine, to create a durable and visually appealing surface.

Image Credits: newportri.com

Natural stone flooring offers a unique and luxurious aesthetic that is difficult to replicate with other materials. Each type of stone has distinct characteristics, including colour, pattern, texture, and veining, which contribute to the floor's overall appearance. These natural variations make every stone floor unique, adding natural beauty and elegance to any space.

Types of Natural Stone Flooring

1. Marble Floor Tile

Marble is a natural stone formed from limestone undergoing intense heat and pressure. Its smooth and polished surface characterizes it, and it is available in various colors, including white, beige, green, and black. The veining patterns in marble create a sense of movement and uniqueness in each piece, adding elegance and sophistication to any space. It is commonly used in foyers, bathrooms, and kitchens.

2. Granite Tile

Granite is an igneous rock known for its incredible durability and strength. It is formed from molten magma that cools and solidifies deep within the Earth's crust. Granite comes in various colours, including shades of grey, pink, and black, and its distinctive granular texture adds depth and character to any room. It is commonly used for countertops, flooring, and outdoor installations due to its resistance to heat, scratches, and stains.

3. Slate Floor Tile

Slate is a metamorphic rock characterized by its fine-grained texture and natural cleft surface. It is composed of layers of compacted clay and shale that have been subjected to heat and pressure. Slate is available in rich earth tones, including shades of grey, green, and purple. Its rustic appearance and textured surface make it popular for outdoor areas such as patios and pool decks. It is also used indoors in kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways.

4. Limestone Tile

Limestone is formed from the accumulation of seashells, coral, and other organic materials. Its soft and muted appearance is characterized by its colours ranging from creamy whites to sandy beiges. Limestone often features unique fossilized patterns and shells, giving it a distinct visual appeal. It is commonly used in flooring applications, including hallways, living rooms, and bathrooms.

5. Travertine Tile

Travertine is a form of limestone that is deposited by mineral springs. It is known for its porous nature and distinct voids, which can be filled or left unfilled during manufacturing, resulting in various finishes. Travertine is available in warm earth tones, including beige, tan, and ivory. It is commonly used for flooring, walls, and countertops, imparting a sense of old-world charm and elegance to any space.

How To Install Natural Stone Flooring

Installing natural stone tiles involves several steps to ensure a durable and visually appealing result. Here is a general overview of the process:

1. Step 1: Preparation

  • Subfloor Evaluation: The existing subfloor needs to be inspected to ensure it is structurally sound, level, and clean. Any necessary repairs or adjustments should be made at this stage.

Image Credits: aconcordcarpenter.com

  • Moisture Barrier: Depending on the type of natural stone and the location of the installation, a moisture barrier or waterproofing membrane may be applied to prevent moisture accumulating in the subfloor.

2. Step 2: Stone Selection

  • Stone Type and Size: Choose the type of natural stone tile that suits your aesthetic preferences and project requirements, such as marble, granite, slate, limestone, or travertine. Consider factors like colour, pattern, texture, and thickness. Decide whether you want tiles or larger slabs for your flooring.
  • Sorting and Layout: Natural stones vary in appearance, even within the same type. Before installation, sort the stones by their colour, veining, and pattern. Plan the layout to achieve a visually pleasing arrangement of the stones.

3. Step 3: Installation

  • Applying Adhesive or Mortar: Use a high-quality adhesive or mortar specifically designed for natural stone. Apply it to the prepared subfloor using a notched trowel, creating an even layer.

Image Credits: ecoproplanet.com

Setting the Stones: Place the stones carefully onto the adhesive, starting from one corner or the centre of the room, depending on the layout plan. Press each stone firmly into the adhesive to ensure proper adhesion.

  • Levelling and Alignment: Use a level and rubber mallet to ensure the stones are level and properly aligned. Adjust as necessary to achieve a uniform surface.
  • Grouting: Using a grout float, apply grout between the joints once the stones are set. Choose a grout colour that complements the natural stone. Remove excess grout with a damp sponge, being careful not to scratch the surface of the stones.
  • Sealing: After the grout has cured according to the manufacturer's instructions, apply a sealant to the entire surface of the natural stone flooring. This step helps protect the stone from stains, moisture, and daily wear. Follow the sealant manufacturer's guidelines for application and maintenance.

4. Step 4: Finishing Touches

  • Clean the Surface: Thoroughly clean natural stone tiles to remove any grout residue, dirt, or debris. A pH-neutral stone cleaner and a soft mop or cloth will be handy.
  • Buffing and Polishing: If desired, the surface of the natural stone can be buffed or polished to enhance its shine and smoothness. This step may require professional assistance and specialized equipment.

5. Step 5: Ongoing Maintenance

  • Regular Cleaning: Clean the natural stone flooring regularly to remove dust and debris. Clean spills promptly to prevent staining.

Image Credits: thisoldhouse.com

  • Routine Sealing: Depending on the type of natural stone, it may be necessary to periodically reapply a sealant to maintain its protection against stains and moisture.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Use only pH-neutral, non-abrasive cleaners specifically formulated for natural stone to prevent damage to the surface.

Benefits of Natural Stone Flooring

1. Aesthetics

Image Credits: todoconcept.com

The most significant advantage of natural stone flooring is its inherent beauty. Each type of stone possesses unique patterns, colours, and textures, allowing homeowners and designers to create visually stunning and personalized spaces. The natural variations in the stone add character and depth, resulting in a truly unique and luxurious ambience.

2. Durability

Natural stone is known for its durability and long lifespan. It is properly maintained and can withstand heavy foot traffic, making it suitable for residential and commercial applications. Stone flooring is resistant to scratches, chips, and dents, ensuring it maintains its pristine appearance for years.

3. Timelessness

Natural stone has a timeless appeal that transcends architectural styles and design trends. It has been used for centuries in various civilizations, and its beauty has stood the test of time. By choosing natural stone flooring, homeowners can create a lasting and elegant space that remains relevant and visually appealing for years, if not decades.

4. Versatility

Natural stone offers a wide range of options, allowing for versatility in design. From sleek and modern marble floors to rustic and earthy slate tiles, natural stone flooring is an option to suit any aesthetic preference or design style. The versatility of natural stone allows it to be seamlessly integrated into various spaces, from traditional to contemporary and from indoor to outdoor environments.

5. Increased Property Value

Incorporating natural stone flooring into a property enhances its overall value. It is often seen as a premium feature that adds luxury and sophistication. Potential buyers or tenants are often willing to pay a premium for properties with natural stone flooring, making it a wise investment.

Characteristics Of Natural Stone Flooring

1. Variety

Natural stone flooring comes in a wide range of materials, each with unique characteristics. Some popular options include marble, granite, limestone, slate, travertine, and sandstone. Each stone type offers distinct patterns, colours, and textures, allowing for diverse design choices.

2. Durability

Natural stone is highly durable and can withstand heavy foot traffic and wear. It is resistant to scratches, chips, and dents, making it suitable for high-traffic areas like entryways, kitchens, and hallways. Properly maintained natural stone floors can last for decades.

3. Unique Appearance

The natural beauty of stone flooring is unparalleled. Each stone slab or tile has unique patterns, veining, and colour variations, giving your floor a unique appearance. Natural stone's earthy tones and textures can add warmth, elegance, and luxury to any space.

4. Versatility

Natural stone flooring is available in various finishes, such as polished, honed, brushed, tumbled, and textured. These finishes affect the appearance and characteristics of the stone, allowing for versatile design options to suit different styles and preferences.

5. Natural Variation

Unlike artificial flooring materials, natural stone exhibits variations in colour, veining, and texture. This variation adds character and depth to the flooring, creating a visually appealing and organic look.

6. Heat Resistance

Stone flooring material has excellent heat resistance, making it suitable for areas with radiant floor heating or spaces that experience high temperatures, such as kitchens or near fireplaces.

7. Low Maintenance

Natural stone flooring can be easy to clean and maintain with proper care and maintenance. Regular sweeping or vacuuming, occasional mopping with stone-specific cleaners, and sealing (depending on the stone type) can keep the floor looking its best.

8. Timeless Appeal

Natural stone is used in construction and design for centuries, and its popularity has not diminished. Its timeless appeal ensures that stone flooring remains a classic choice that can complement various architectural styles, from traditional to contemporary.

Maintenance Considerations for Natural Stone Tiles

1. Regular Cleaning

Regular cleaning maintains the beauty of natural stone flooring. Sweep the floor regularly to remove dirt, dust, and debris that can cause scratches. Clean spills promptly to prevent stains from setting in.

Image Credits: tileandstoneonline.co.uk

2. Avoid Harsh Chemicals

When cleaning natural stone flooring, it is important to avoid harsh chemicals or acidic cleaners that can damage the stone. Instead, use pH-neutral, non-abrasive cleaners specifically formulated for natural stone. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations and test any new cleaner in a small, inconspicuous area before using it on the entire floor.

3. Sealing

Many types of natural stone require sealing to protect them from stains and moisture penetration. The frequency of resealing depends on the type of stone, its porosity, and the usage level. It is recommended to consult with a professional or refer to the manufacturer's guidelines to determine the appropriate sealing schedule for your specific type of stone.

4. Preventive Measures

Use mats or rugs in high-traffic areas to minimize wear and tear on natural stone flooring. This helps to trap dirt and debris and reduces the chances of scratches or abrasions. Additionally, place furniture pads or coasters under heavy objects to prevent them from scratching or denting the stone's surface.

5. Professional Maintenance

Periodically engaging professionals for deep cleaning, polishing, and restoration can help maintain the natural beauty and longevity of the stone flooring. Professional cleaning methods, such as honing and buffing, can remove stains, scratches, and etching, revitalizing the appearance of the stone.

Rooms to Install Luxury Natural Stone Flooring

There is much to say about stone when making a home look luxurious. It is timeless, easy to care for, and, in many cases, can increase your property's value. While a stone tile on the wall tile is a must-have for rooms like a bathroom or kitchen, it may be worth turning your attention lower to look at your flooring. Which rooms in your home are guaranteed to always look great with stone flooring? Here is a quick guide!

1. Kitchen

A kitchen should have stone flooring; it is almost a law! Why? Because this room has a lot of water, moisture and space best kept cooler in the warmer summer months. Ergo, stone flooring! If you are stuck about which type to have installed, head to Quorn Stone for guidance and information about how much installation will cost.

Image Credits: naturalstoneconsulting.co.uk

That way, you can assess the right kind of stone for your kitchen and ensure it matches your budget simultaneously. Be sure to also look up care options for any stone flooring, especially in the kitchen, as this will ensure it lasts a long time!

2. Hallway 

Nothing screams elegance and sophistication quite like stone flooring in a hallway. It opens up the space, doesn't have the exact maintenance requirements as carpets or rugs, and, best of all, you can wipe it clean – great if you have dogs coming in from a muddy park!

Image Credits: naturalstoneconsulting.co.uk

There are some practical issues to consider when choosing the type of stone. You will want one that is easy to clean, does not crack or chip easily, and can handle heavy foot traffic. Otherwise, you may wind up spending a fortune on repairs! So, opt for granite, quartz, or slate so you will have the potential appearance of a higher-end stone like marble without the maintenance or cost.

3. Bathroom 

Of course, another room that always looks great with stone flooring is the bathroom. There are many practical benefits, too, such as being easier to clean, keeping the room at a more manageable temperature, and preventing mould from accumulating in a damp environment.

Image Credits: thespruce.com

The best part is that, depending on your budget, you can opt for either stone tiles or solid stone flooring, which can add a sophisticated look to your bathroom. If you live with older relatives or toddlers or have a bit of a balance issue, put down some bathmats to help grip the floor when getting in and out of the tub. This will prevent falls and make the whole space a lot safer.

4. Living Room

Image Credits: championfloor.com

This is only ideal if you live in a sweltering climate. Simply put, stone flooring can help lock heat out of the room, keeping it at a milder and more manageable temperature. Of course, the design features are also beneficial; an orange-toned granite floor will look great in a more open-plan room! Just ensure that if you have children, you can put down a rug for them to stand or crawl on.

Frequently Asked Questions On “What Is Natural Stone Flooring?”

1. What is a natural stone made of?

Natural stone comprises minerals formed over thousands or millions of years through geological processes. The composition of natural stone can vary depending on the type of stone, but the primary minerals found in most natural stones include:

  1. Quartz: Quartz is one of the best natural stone flooring minerals. It is an abundant mineral in the Earth's crust and is the main component of many types of natural stone. It is a crystalline form of silica (silicon dioxide) and contributes to the hardness and durability of the stone.
  2. Feldspar: Feldspar is another common mineral found in natural stone. It is a group of minerals that includes orthoclase, plagioclase, and microcline. Feldspar provides strength and stability to the stone and affects its colour and texture.
  3. Calcite: Calcite is a mineral form of calcium carbonate found in stones like marble and limestone. It is responsible for the characteristic veining and patterns seen in these stones. Calcite is relatively soft and can be easily scratched or etched by acids.
  4. Mica: Mica is a group of silicate minerals known for their distinct layered structure and excellent cleavage. It is commonly found in stones like granite and provides the characteristic shimmer or sparkle in certain types of natural stone.
  5. Clay Minerals: Clay minerals such as kaolinite or montmorillonite can be present in some types of natural stone. These minerals can affect the stone's colour, texture, and absorption properties.

Other minerals and elements, such as iron oxide, magnesium, serpentine, and others, can also be present in various types of natural stone, contributing to their unique characteristics and colour variations.

2. What are the properties of natural stone flooring

Natural stone flooring offers a range of desirable properties. It is highly durable, withstanding heavy foot traffic and lasting for decades. The unique appearance of natural stone adds elegance and character to any space, with diverse colours, patterns, and textures available.

Stone flooring is versatile, offering different finishes to suit various design preferences. It is heat-resistant, making it suitable for areas with radiant floor heating or high temperatures. While maintenance is required, it is relatively easy to clean and maintain. The timeless appeal of natural stone flooring ensures its enduring popularity in various architectural styles.

3. How long does natural stone flooring last?

Natural stone flooring, when properly maintained, can last for several decades. The longevity of natural stone flooring depends on factors such as the type of stone, the quality of installation, the level of foot traffic, and regular maintenance practices. With proper care and occasional refinishing or resealing, natural stone flooring can retain its beauty and functionality for a long time.

Conclusion

Natural stone flooring offers a captivating blend of beauty, durability, and versatility. Its diverse options allow homeowners and designers to create elegant and timeless spaces. By understanding the various types of natural stone flooring, its benefits, and the necessary maintenance considerations, individuals can make informed decisions when selecting and caring for their stone floors. Whether you opt for the luxurious allure of marble or the rustic charm of slate, natural stone flooring will leave a lasting impression, adding a touch of nature's grandeur to any interior or exterior setting.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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