Why Choose Natural Stone Floors for Your Home?
It feels like stone flooring is all the rage these days, but really, we're just seeing a resurgence of the long reigning king - a title it held for centuries until relatively recent. It's easy to see why, of course, there's a reason why the only buildings we have left from these ancient times were built out of the same kinds of stone we'll be featuring on this list. It's tough. Formed under intense heat and pressure over the course of millennia, this stone didn't make it all this way just to crack on your kitchen floor. Of course, that's possible, but not the most likely scenario. Still, there are some pros and cons to weigh over other natural materials as well as engineered options out there, so let's get into it!
Stone Flooring vs. the Rest
While natural stone might be the overall reigning champ, there is good reason why other materials have held the title at one time or another. Wood flooring, for one, would be next in line to take that championship belt. It also has been used for centuries, though it does tend to have something of a lasting problem, in that it just doesn't. Not to say it wouldn't last the lifetime of your home, but it's no stone in that regard. Depending on how the wood has been treated, where you live, and the kind of use it sees will determine just how well it holds up. For manufactured materials, brick and man-made tile flooring has been around for centuries as well, of course. They can certainly hold up, maybe not quite as well as stone, but brick and porcelain tile can get the job done. More popular coming out of World War II era was the prevalence of synthetic materials like linoleum and vinyl. These often are made to take on the appearance of wood or stone, but at a much lower price point and ease of installation. Quartz makes up an interesting middle ground, as it is a fabricated (sometimes it is called engineered or man-made) material with more than 90 percent crushed natural quartz and resin. Manufacturers are able to take quartz and other minerals and mix them with resins, polymers and even glass in some cases to come up with a tough surface that shares many qualities with natural stone without some of the drawbacks. Quartz tiling can also be had in a much wider array of colors, shades and patterns than natural stone, meaning you can match it to just about any design motif you might have going. Oh, and it's tough stuff as well.
Pros and Cons of Stone Flooring
So, if you do decide to go with a natural stone option, there you have a few options to choose from, each with their own pros and cons to consider. They do all share some characteristics as well, such as sensitivity to acidic chemicals and the fact that they need to be sealed regularly to maintain their finish properly. We'll get more into those points below.
Marble Pros and Cons
Marble would almost literally scream the word "elegance" if it weren't so uncouth to do so. It's timeless, opulent and can be as understated or as bold as you could want, depending on the slab. Some with stark blue-grey streaking over white, some featuring deep blacks with gold accents, or possibly a classic and restrained pure white. Pros: Has a look that can't be matched by other stone or synthetic materials Available in a wide range of shades and patterns Can increase home value Cons: Not quite as durable as other stones on this list Most expensive material on this list on average Requires more careful maintenance than most other stone
Travertine Pros and Cons
Similar in durability to marble or limestone, travertine is a popular choice for flooring indoors or out. While it may not be quite as tough as slate or granite, you only need to look to the Colosseum of Rome to see that it can stand the test of time.
Pros: Features warm, earthy tones Comfortable under the foot due to relative softness
Cons: Like marble, it is more susceptible to scratching and other damage Requires more careful treatment to prevent staining due to composition and light colors
Slate Pros and Cons
Formed deep in the earth's crust as shale with the right combination of heat and pressure, slate tile has a duller and slightly more uneven look than some others on this list. This also makes it a strong choice for slip resistance, if that is an important factor for you. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns popular with rustic modern motifs. It is more stain resistant than other stones on this list, takes water well, and is highly durable. Slate, however, tends to be a little brittle at the limits and can be cracked if laid on an uneven subfloor or if something heavy is dropped on it.
Pros: Earthy and dark shading for a natural rustic look Least maintenance of the stone featured here Good slip resistance
Cons: Can crack if installed incorrectly The uneven, clefted look isn't for everyone
Granite Pros and Cons
Granite is one of the hardiest natural stones, ranking high on the Moh's scale of hardness. Granite is an igneous rock, formed from slow cooling magma underground to form a very tough stone. However, because granite is very hard and unforgiving, when installing it as flooring, the subflooring must be completely level and have the strength to support its heft. Pros: Quite tough for use in flooring and countertops alike Unmistakable look of granite has prestige of its own Cons: One of the heaviest flooring options Careful installation needed to avoid cracking
Maintaining Natural Stone
As previously mentioned, each one of the stone options mentioned here need to be sealed in order to maintain their finish, prevent staining, as well as to take care of the grout between the tiles. These stones are naturally porous, meaning liquids can seep beneath the surface and leave a stain. They are also susceptible to chemical etching from acidic chemicals, which can look like a simple hard water stain, but is actually permanent damage to the stone. Because of this, it's also important to use a cleaner that is pH neutral to maintain seal integrity and to avoid streaking or hazing while cleaning the surface effectively.
We recommend Granite Gold® Stone & Tile Floor Cleaner® for use on natural-stone and man-made tiles alike while also playing nicely with grout. Looking to read more on natural stone care? We have plenty of guides and how-tos on caring for stone flooring or countertops made of stone materials such as granite, marble and travertine.
Of course, you can always get in touch with the Stone Care Experts at 1-800-475-STONE to see if we can help you with your stone needs. Also be sure to check out our full line of stone care products, carefully crafted with three generations of stone care expertise!