Words to the wise before you commit to purchasing.
Marble or granite? Light or dark palette? Acid-washed or tumbled? 13” x 13” or 18” x 18”? Rounded edge or 90-degree angle?
Yikes. The choices, options and decisions required of natural stone flooring seem endless. As are the price levels. It can all seem a little perplexing to the unknowing shopper.
That’s why, when it comes to natural stone, knowledge is power. And knowing the basics before you buy is just plain smart.
A little wisdom now can help you decide which stone flooring satisfies your needs, which size best matches your living space and so on.
Thus this section. It covers many of the things you should understand about natural stone flooring before you lay down your hard earned money.
One thing is certain, no two stone floors are identical
The beauty of natural stone is that no two pieces are ever the same.
Each piece has its own natural traits such as colour, veining and markings, as well as hardness and porosity. Your floor is truly one of a kind and totally individual. Exclusive.
A natural stone tile floor begins with giant pieces of stone that are mined from the earth and transported to factories where they are cut into thin slabs.
Each slab is unique, displaying the affects of the physical events of its ancient history.
The slabs are then cut into individual tiles. Depending solely on Mother Nature, and Father Time, each tile cut from the same slab might look completely different from the next.
Veining and crystallization may be abundant in one tile, yet be virtually missing in another.
Appearance may vary from tile to tile, but that only adds to the elegance, charm and magic of natural stone.
With natural stone, variety is the spice of life
Variations in natural stone are to be expected and, frankly, welcomed.
So the samples you view at our store can have totally different veining patterns or colour variations compared to the stone installed in your home.
Also, please remember that it is not possible for you to hand select your natural stone.
Understand that irregular markings, lines, veins and crystallization are not cracks or imperfections, but rather a natural part of the stone’s beauty.
Think of it all as forming the “personality” of your flooring product.
Also, keep in mind that if you choose a combination of natural stone products, of the same colour and type of stone, for different rooms in your home, they will not match.
And no natural stone tile will have a perfectly smooth surface. Even after the tiles are polished there may be small chips or pits that may be visible in different lighting.
Being a natural product, natural stone tiles will vary more in thickness, squareness and length compared to man-made ceramic tile.
Therefore, when your natural stone tile is installed, it will not be a perfectly smooth surface from tile to tile.
Finally, natural stone also varies in hardness, which is the scratch resistance of a mineral. Talc is the softest mineral and diamond is the hardest.
This is key when choosing a stone. Be sure to think about what types of activities will be taking place where the stone is installed in your home.
For example, you don’t want to install a soft, porous type of stone flooring in a high traffic area. Our best advice is to ask us.
Things to know about the top 6 natural stones
To be a smarter shopper, here’s an overview on six popular stones: granite, marble, limestone, travertine, slate and tumbled stone.
Granite is among the hardest and densest of all natural stone.
Made up of quartz, feldspar and mica, it’s one of the hardest stones next to diamond.
It also resists staining and scratching better than any other natural stone due to its density.
Granite makes a spectacular statement in kitchens, entryways and bathrooms, or as an accent with other natural stone tiles.
Marble is crystallized limestone that comes in a variety of colours and usually shows a veining pattern that adds to its appeal.
Marble is a classic addition to your home, bearing the signs and marks of earth’s events over eons of time.
Marble is more porous than granite, making it more susceptible to staining and therefore is better suited to foyers, bathrooms, fireplaces, studies or libraries.
You should know that green and black marble is not recommended for wet areas of the home, such as a shower.
Green marble will absorb water and then curl and warp.
Black marble, when wet, can exhibit “spalling” at veins, which means small pieces of the stone may break away.
Limestone has a subtle look and is often offered in a “honed” or matte finish.
Limestone is created by the accumulation of organic materials such as shells and coral.
This stone will require preventative maintenance over time, as it is very porous.
As it is a softer and more porous stone it may not be well suited to all areas in the home because it stains easily.
This stone should be sealed to protect the it’s natural beauty and performance. (More on sealing below.)
Travertine is a unique stone due to the “fill process”. In its original form, travertine has thousands of holes running through it.
These holes are filled and then the stone is polished. The stone polishes to a high sheen and the fill areas remain dull offering you a distinctive and beautiful floor.
However, like limestone, travertine will require preventative maintenance performed over time, due to its porosity.
Slate, a rustic-looking stone, has become increasing popular over the years.
It’s available in numerous colours and shades in warm and earth tones.
Slate offers some of the most dramatic colour variations from tile to tile.
colours range from rich reds, oranges and golds, to mauve, lavender, green, blue, black, rust and brown. Just think about the possibilities!
Slate tile is very durable and ideal for inside and outside applications.
All slate has a natural clefting along the surface that gives this stone its distinct textural “layered look.”
Tumbled Stone has an antique look. These tiles come in many sizes and are popular choices for borders or decorative strips.
Their Old World look is reinvented using modern techniques. Pieces of marble, travertine and limestone are tumbled and distressed to evoke a timeworn look of stone from centuries past.
Tumbled Stone is often crafted into accent strips, mosaics and smaller sizes such as 4” x 4” and 6” x 6”.
This type of stone is a design component that is both rustic and elegant simultaneously.
Between you and us, know this about grout
Natural stone tile grout lines are typically filled with un-sanded grout and are usually much thinner than ceramic tile installations.
Grout can match, contrast or coordinate with your stone tile.
Remember that grout will outline each tile creating a visual picture frame.
If you want the grout to be less apparent, choose a grout that is close in colour to the stone.
A contrasting grout colour, either darker or lighter, will make the grout lines more visible and thereby will create a checkerboard effect.
Grout colours applied in your home can be slightly different from the sample you viewed in our store.
This is due to differences in temperature and humidity during installation.
Even when the same grout colour is used, it is common to see slight differences between the grout used for floor tile in one room and the grout used in another room.
Exact layouts, type of grout and grout joint widths are determined by the tile setter at the time of installation and are governed by the actual size and shape of the tile, and the exact dimensions of the areas to be covered.
To finish off the job, we recommend sealing
In fact, we highly recommend it, and that it be performed by an experienced professional.
Sealing your natural stone flooring makes it less porous, more stain resistant, and protects the stone’s original beauty.
There are various types of sealer depending on your type of stone. We recommend consulting with us about sealing your flooring.
You should also remember that, once your flooring is installed, you’re responsible for maintaining all caulked areas to guard against water damage.
Wise flooring shoppers understand the complete cost of ownership
The “cost per square foot” of your natural stone floor is just one part of the entire project cost. To ensure there are no surprises, and the natural stone you select fits within your overall project budget, be sure to ask us to calculate the total cost of your floor covering project.
Here’s a list of potential added costs you may incur:
Demolition/disposal of old floor covering. Depending on the existing floor covering, this can be an expensive item; also, be sure to include the cost to dispose of the old floor covering.
Subfloor preparation. Depending on the condition of the subfloor, it may require additional work.
Natural stone installation. Determine the cost per square foot to install it.
Materials required to complete the installation. Your new natural stone floor may require additional materials to install it properly.
In addition to the total project cost, you should also know the cost of cleanings to maintain the beauty and life of your natural stone floor. We can help you estimate them.
The classic look, inviting charm and pure elegance of natural stone flooring can turn a beautiful home into a showcase. We sincerely hope the information in this section turns you into a smarter shopper -- before you invest in your dream floor.