Are Stone Tiles A Good Idea For The Home?

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Stone tiles can be an excellent way to bring some unique colors and textures into a room, but are they really right for your space? Because of its hardness and sheen, people often think stone will make a room look too rigid and cold — when in reality, the right stone can actually make your space look just as warm and inviting as a rug or a well-worn hardwood floor. In fact, you might not even be aware of all the different kinds of stones you can use for your floor tiles, and what the pros and cons of each are. Ready to take a look? We’ve got all the info you need below!

Natural stone floor tiles have been used for centuries: some of the most ancient and beautiful buildings in the world feature intricately designed stone floor mosaics, great slabs of elegant marble, or smooth pieces of limestone underfoot. There endless shapes and patterns you can make out of tile, as well as a luscious palate of earth tones to choose from. In addition, each tile is unique and often has its own special blend of hues, which can allow you to bring many different colors and textures into your home.

The overall look and feel of stone is luxurious and upscale. Not to mention, it won’t create or attract dust and debris like carpet does, and although the cleanup requires some particular steps in order to prevent scratches and damage, it’s also not particularly difficult nor any more taxing than keeping a carpet in good condition.

Stone is also a durable material for your floor, though this also depends on the kind of stone you choose. Limestone and travertine both look lovely underfoot, though their softness and porosity make them more ideal for slower traffic areas and rooms without a lot of water going around (i.e. probably best to choose a different stone for your kitchen or bathroom). However, stone tiles need a very strong and sturdy subfloor, as the material is very heavy. It also tends to be more expensive than either carpeting or wood floors, though its natural beauty is worth the cost for many homeowners. Finally, some stones can scratch or break more easily than others, so it’s a good idea to have some extra tiles on hand when you get the floor installed. This will allow you to have replacement stones from the same batch used on the original floor, making it easier to match the colors and make the repair seamless.

The most popular stone tiles are slate, travertine, marble, granite, limestone and sandstone. Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of each:

Slate

Pros:

  • Generally the cheapest stone
  • Wide range of colors: Browns, grays, and blacks primarily, with reddish-orange and green accents
  • Very durable and strong, resistant to scratching
  • Comes in two textures: natural cleft texture, which has an uneven surface, and honed/polished texture, which is flat and even.
  • Great for high-traffic areas

Cons:

  • Perfect installation is a must: if slate is laid down on uneven floor or isn’t well bedded, it can crack and break

Travertine

Pros:

  • Wide range of earth hues: mostly yellows and browns but can also be green, gray, and reddish-purple
  • Has a more matte appearance, which can add warmth to the room

Cons:

•Mostly made of calcite so it’s soft and prone to scratching and staining

•Must be regularly re-sealed because it’s highly porous

Marble

Pros:

  • One of the most desirable stones. Comes in shades of white and gray, can be pure white or have intricate veining
  • Widely used in ancient architecture, adds elegance and drama to any room
  • Can be shiny or matte

Cons:

•Prone to staining and scratching, can be difficult to maintain

•Needs to be resealed periodically

•Tends to be quite extensive

•Particularly prone to water damage and staining, and staining and etching by household chemicals and acids. Avoid using outside and wipe up any indoor spills immediately

  • Polished surface difficult to maintain in high-traffic areas

Granite

Pros:

  • Very hard and durable, resistant to staining and scratching
  • Huge range of colors and very distinctive speckled texture
  • Can be polished or matte
  • Doesn’t need to be sealed as often as other stones because of its scratch- and stain-resistance
  • Cons:
  • Perfect installation is a must: if slate is laid down on uneven floor or isn’t well bedded, it can crack and break
  • Subfloor also must be able to withstand the weight of granite since it’s much heavier than other stones
  • Not as cheap as slate but not as expensive as marble

Limestone

Pros:

  • Beautiful warm, soft earth tones, primarily in yellows, browns, and tans
  • Matte finish helps bring out this warmth
  • Tends to have a striped texture or mottled texture

Cons:

•Primarily made of calcium, which makes it prone to staining and scratching. However, it’s more resilient than travertine

  • Porous and absorbs water
  • Better for low-traffic areas
  • Can be difficult to clean, must be careful to only use pH neutral cleaners
  • Must be resealed regularly

Sandstone

Pros:

  • Very hard and durable, though not as hard as slate or granite

Cons:

  • Porous and absorbs water and can stain, not great for bathrooms or outside
  • Can scratch easily
  • More muted and limited colors, browns, gray and reds

It’s important to choose the right stone for the right room: high-traffic areas and areas with a lot of moisture, like a kitchen or bathroom, require something like granite, slate or sandstone because of how they can resist scratches, stains, and water damage. Sandstones and travertine can be wonderful in living rooms because of their softer, more muted appearance, and a rug can be used to help prevent scratches. Looking for some more inspiration? Check out our floor tiles here!