Natural stone floors have been around since the beginning of time. As long as people could quarry the stone, they have been able to use it as flooring and building material.
The most common types of stone flooring is made out of granite, marble, slate, limestone, or travertine. Each stone has its own unique look, and comes with its own list of pros and cons.
Granite – Granite is a common type of igneous rock that was formed when a molten material cooled and hardened. Because it is formed naturally, no two pieces of granite will ever be alike. Granite is a hard, durable material that comes in a wide range of colors and patterns. It will not scratch, but it can chip or crack if it is struck hard enough. A downfall of granite is that it is a porous material. Granite floors will need to be periodically sealed to keep them waterproof and to prevent staining.
Marble – Marble is a metamorphic rock – meaning that the original sedimentary rock was subjected to high heat that caused it to go through a physical or chemical change. Marble comes in a variety of natural colorations and veining patterns. Marble is prone to staining, scratching, and chipping. It is also sensitive to acids and caustic chemicals.
Slate – Like marble, slate is also a metamorphic rock that underwent a physical and chemical change after being exposed to high heat. Slate is a softer stone, making it more susceptible to scratches. Some types of slate are more absorbent than others. More absorbent pieces of slate will need to be sealed periodically, while the denser slate may not need sealed at all. Two other disadvantages of slate are that it has a gritty texture and that it only comes in a limited range of color options.
Limestone – Limestone is a sedimentary rock that is mainly comprised of calcium carbonate. Corral, shells, algae, clams, mussels, and oysters accumulate and form the limestone. Limestone usually comes in lighter shades, but it is also available in red and brown colors. Limestone is porous and will need to be sealed. It is also a softer stone, and it is more susceptible to damage. Limestone is typically cheaper than other types of natural stone.
Travertine – Travertine is a type of limestone that is formed around mineral spring deposits. Travertine is usually in earth tones, and it is visibly porous. The stone will need to be sealed. Travertine is much easier to install and fix than certain other stone floors.
Depending on the type of stone, there is a variety of colors and natural patterns available. Because stone is a natural product, there can be a lot of variation between the individual stones.
Pros: Stone floors are durable and easy to keep clean. It also works well with radiant heat systems.
Cons: Some stones are higher maintenance than others. Depending on the porosity of the stone, the floor will need to be regularly sealed. Stone is uncomfortable to stand on, and can easily scratch of chip.