Natural stone flooring options
Floors usually undergo heavy traffic in your home. They are expected to cope with the traffic flow on a daily basis. Added to that, floors are susceptible to spillages, heavy weight objects that rest on it and they have to look good whilst doing all that. Floor coverings can make a room look dull or it can brighten it up and that's why it is important to choose the perfect floor covering for your home that will suit your personal needs and still make your home stylish and beautiful.
Natural stone floors are very popular; they come in different shades, textures and type. The great thing about stone finishes is that not only are they beautiful, but stone is a very durable floor covering. This is why a stone covering is ideal for areas with a large amount of traffic flow, like your kitchen for example.
One characteristic of stone floors is that they can be cold. This can be great for the summer months because of the cooling effect, but it is not the same for the winter months, unless it is in a position that benefits from natural heat or if undertile heating is applied. Stone floors are also handy in pantries, as it will offer a degree of natural refrigeration.
Granite is perhaps one of the most popular stones because of its rugged charm. Scratches and most damages can be buffed out and its wear and tear capabilities are considerable. However, because granite is heavy, you will have to ensure that your floor can take the weight. Granite can be found in a range of colours, from shades to blacks to whites with integrated tints of browns, yellows, pinks and blues. The patterns that these colours create give granite its character and beauty.
This type of stone, if installed properly, is one of the most extravagant and classy types of floor finish. However, marble is not waterproof and is easily scratched or stained and therefore utmost care has to be taken with it. Italian marble is labelled as one of the best types of marble. Made from crystallised limestone that is subjected to sustained heat or pressure, marble is available in many colours.
Travertine is a very cost-effective stone covering and it is popular for this reason. The pitted holes make it a permeable stone and therefore requires careful sealing and maintenance. "Granite, marble and travertine are all very low in porosity and therefore a penetrating sealer must be used," says Graham Ashley or Tile and Floor Care.
As suggested by its title, sandstone is made from grains of sand and other minerals that are compressed. Sandstone is a good floor option because it requires low maintenance and is cheaper than most other stone floor materials. Colours range from tan, brown, yellow, red, grey and white. The colours depend on where the sandstone is found, for example, the western United States produces predominantly shades of red, whereas Indian and Chinese sandstone provides a palette of hues.
Created from water, limestone is formed mainly from calcite which is a mineral made up of crushed pieces of marine sediment. Limestone is not suitable for high traffic areas. The variety of colours that limestone offers makes it suitable for most themes and schemes. Limestone is softer than other stone options; therefore, it should be sealed to avoid any moisture intake. Regular maintenance is required for this stone. Use Tile and Floor Care HP Sealer and Top Seal for limestone floors.
Available in a myriad of colours and patterns that can add colour and brightness to a room, slate is known as the drama queen of floor coverings. Slate will not fade and reacts well to water and stains; conceals dirt very well. It is ideal for the outdoor, kitchen and bathroom areas. Popular shades of slate are grey and black; however, it also offers a range of other colours that contain a natural shine due to the presence of mica minerals. "When protecting slate, the surface is of utmost importance," says Ashwell. If the surface is damaged a different colour from below will be exposed, for example a brown tile may expose a black core. "There are two ways to protect slate," says Ashwell, "firstly, you can apply a sealer that will protect the tile from the top and secondly, apply a penetrating sealer that will bond and strengthen the tile," he adds. Recommended products are Deep Seal, HP Sealer and Top Seal.
next: stone floor maintenance
source: the home handyman magazine - feb 2009