Walking and Working on Natural Stone

Natural stone flooring can provide your home with a durable, beautiful and functional addition to your living environment. Natural stone includes a variety of materials gathered from mountainous areas including marble, granite, sandstone, travertine, quartzite, limestone, slate, onyx, and rocks. When one shops for natural stone for any type of function, one should know the properties of each variety of stone. For example, stone tile is rated on its level of absorption. Impervious stone is material that does not absorb liquids and are often used in areas of high traffic. Granite is considered the most waterproof, or the most impervious of the natural stone tiles, and so is perfect for any high traffic areas. Vitreous stone is used typically for outdoor projects and for mid to light traffic areas indoors. Semi-vitreous stone tiles are semi-absorbent and requires more and more maintenance with more exposure to liquids. Non-vitreous tiles are the most absorbent types of stone. Sandstone is considered the most absorbent of all the natural stones.

The coefficient of friction measures how slippery the stone tiles are. Higher coefficients equal more friction (more traction). It’s important, especially in areas that are often wet (e.g. bathroom or kitchen) because you want to have a stone tile that has fairly high friction in these areas and in high traffic areas. Some stone tiles are graded for quality. Grade may refer to thickness of the tile, size and shape of the tiles and the surface condition of the tiles. The best quality is the lowest grade (i.e. Grade 1). Grade 2 materials have small defects. Grade 3 tiles have flaws such that they can only be used for very narrow applications. In addition, oxidation of trace elements in various stone materials can cause some types of stone to disintegrate over time. These tiles would not be good to use outdoors since oxidation is accelerated in an outdoor environment.

Therefore, consider carefully what type of natural stone flooring you will have in each room. A bathroom, for example, is a very moist environment and any stone flooring must be well maintained in order to be durable. Slate is the material recommended for bathrooms for it resilience and ability to repel most moisture without damage. It is also a good choice for the walls, although marble may be a more stylish choice for bathroom walls.

For kitchen countertops, most people choose granite because it resists staining quite well. However, granite tends to be very porous and so needs to be sealed regularly. Soapstone and slate are two other natural stone materials used on countertops. Soapstone must be sealed just like granite because it is highly porous. But slate is not porous and hardly needs any type of maintenance. Slate may not be considered as ‘beautiful’ as granite, but is much easier to care for.

For the kitchen, natural stone flooring is best using a high friction stone that is non-porous. Limestone and slate are two of the best materials that fit this description. Both are also low maintenance stones that will make your kitchen look lovely.

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Comments 3 comments

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

This is a very informative hub! I just learned a lot of things I didn't know about stone flooring. I just installed a stone tiled floor in my entry way and to honest, I don't know what kind of stone it is. A good friend of mine is part owner in the flooring company, so I trust her judgement. I still like to know these types of things myself though. I will keep all this handy, so when I redo my counter tops, I can refer back to this. I am voting this up, useful, interesting and sharing! You did a great job here! :)

Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 3 years ago from Indiana

I agree with sgbrown - very informative! I love natural looks and what better way than to do it with the real thing. Limestone is big around here (Indiana) for buildings and sculptures.

Better Yourself profile image

Better Yourself 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks sgbrown! Glad you found helpful information, and I hope you are enjoying your new stone floors!

Thanks Kris Heeter! Limestone is a great and beautiful material.

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