Natural stone is prized for its appealing look and impressive durability. For some homeowners, it makes an obvious choice for floors, most commonly seen in kitchens, bathrooms and foyers. The hard part, however, can be picking out the right one. If you’re considering installing natural stone floors in your home, here’s what you should know beforehand.
Chances are there’s an option that’s right for your home no matter what your preferred style is. Slate floors can work well in a rustic setting but are equally suited to modern interiors with a black or gray color scheme. Marble is, of course, a timeless favorite for a decidedly upscale aesthetic, whereas travertine floors are perfect for creating a look that’s formal, yet warm. Limestone and sandstone are two other popular choices that can contribute to an earthy aesthetic with beige- and cream-colored tones. If you’re struggling to find the right shade or texture, granite is always an excellent material that comes in a wide range of colors and patterns.
Aside from appearance, there are a variety of grades and ratings assigned to natural stone that will help you to determine the most practical option. For floors, important factors to consider are strength, abrasion resistance, stain resistance and absorption rating (for your countertops, you’ll also want to check if the stone is sensitive to acids). Depending on the quality of the stone, these grades can vary, though the most common weakness for different types of natural stone is absorption rating. While granite and slate tend to fair the best in this category, sealants can help to protect other natural stones from absorption and staining.
If you’re planning to use natural stone for your new terrace or patio, there are other factors to take into account, such as freeze-thaw cycling. When water is absorbed and temperatures drop below freezing point, the water will turn to ice and expand, which then cracks the stone. Coefficient of friction is another one to keep in mind, as this corresponds to the traction that you’ll feel, which is especially important when walking on this surface in the rain.