The beauty of a natural stone floor is that no two are ever the same. Each has its own unique color, veining, and natural characteristics such as hardness and porosity.
Each has it’s own style. A one-of-a-kind presence and personality.
If your goal is a flooring solution for the way you live that is truly unique, undoubtedly individual and purely personal, natural stone is a solid choice.
But deciding on which stone can be challenging. To help you with this wonderful problem we’ve created this section on Natural Stone Styles.
With a lot of information here and a little imagination on your part, you can begin to see what type of natural stone is your type.
So come along! Together we’ll get you another step closer to a decision.
First, remember that typical natural stone floor tile sizes are 12”x12”, 13”x13”, 16”x16”, and 18”x18.”
Next, you should be aware that there are two types of edges for natural stone floor tile: a polished bull nose edge that has a rounded or curved appearance, or a polished straight 90 degree edge that gives a more modern and clean look to your space.
To help you understand the types of natural stone, we’ve put this glossary together. Always with the goal of making you a smarter shopper.
(You can also impress your friends by throwing these terms at them.)
There are two basic types of stone used in the building industry:
* Agglomerates (Manufactured stones) that consist of natural stone chips suspended in a bonding, manufactured material.
Natural stone can be grouped into three classes.
Igneous rock is formed when molten rock (called lava or magma) cools and hardens. Granite is an example of an igneous rock.
Sedimentary rock is formed from deposits that have undergone consolidation and crystallization. Limestone and sandstone fall into this category.
Metamorphic rock is created when other kinds of rocks are changed by great heat and pressure inside the earth. Marble, slate and quartzite are examples of metamorphic rocks.
Here are the names and definitions of some of the more popular natural stones:
Granite is an igneous stone that is extremely hard, dense and resistant to scratches and acid etching. It is an ideal stone for use in flooring and in food preparation areas. Hundreds of varieties of granite exist.
Sandstone is a sedimentary stone that is primarily composed of loose grains of quartz sand that are rough in texture. A number of varieties are available.
Limestone is another sedimentary stone, it’s formed from calcite and sediment and comes in many earthen colors.
Marble is a derivative of limestone. It is a metamorphic stone that can be polished. Marble is characteristically soft and easily scratched or etched by acids. There are countless types of marble from around the world.
Travertine is a crystallized, partially metamorphosed limestone, which because of its structure, can be filled and honed and is dense enough to be a type of marble.
Slate is a metamorphic stone that has a sheet-like structure. It is composed of clay, quartz and shale, and comes in a multitude of colors including reds and greens.
Agglomerate Stone is a manufactured stone made from natural stone chips suspended in a binder such as cement, epoxy resins or polyester.
The most well known agglomerated stone is poured-in-place terrazzo, used in building for thousands of years.
Today, some of the most popular manufactured stone products are quartz products.
These products offer the look of natural stone but are stain and scratch resistant, offer consistency and strength, and are virtually maintenance free.
Now, let’s take an even closer look at some of the most popular natural stone types available today, and provide you with some recommended applications.
For durability, you can take granite for granted. Of all natural stone, granite is one of the hardest and densest, second only to diamond.
Made up mostly of quartz and feldspar, it resists staining and scratching better than any other natural stone, making it an ideal choice for your kitchen floor.
In fact, granite is durable and wearable enough for almost any application you can think of.
It’s also beautiful in foyers, bathrooms, libraries, or as an accent with other natural stones. Mother Nature produces granite in a variety of rich colors such as “Black Galaxy”, which is a luxurious black stone with small white or gold crystals.
“Tropical Brown” is another very popular choice made up of tan, gold, brown and black flecks, while “Gallo Veneziano” is comprised of more vibrant golds, browns and blacks.
Everyone marvels at the elegance of marble. Marble has a legendary elegance. It was used throughout the ancient world because it was soft enough to be worked with tools but hard enough to last through the ages.
Once considered the domain of the rich and famous, marble can be used in many flooring applications throughout your home.
Just what is marble you may ask? It’s a crystallized limestone that is not as hard as granite.
Marble comes in many different color variations and usually displays a prominent veining pattern with luxurious swirls and patches of contrasting color that make marble famous. Can you imagine it in your home?
Some popular marbles today are Crema Marfil, a light tan color with rich, creamy veins, and Dark Emperador, a popular dark brown marble which has dramatic veins of white.
Carrera marbles, also very popular, come in varying shades of white.
Consider limestone and impress friends with your rock solid knowledge. Limestone has a more subtle look and is actually a “young” marble.
It is created by the accumulation of organic materials such as shells and coral that gives it a unique, natural look. You can impress friends at your first home party with that fact.
This more porous stone comes in a diverse range of neutral colors from ivory to golden brown.
This range of colors makes limestone a versatile design option for flooring.
Look mom, cavities! A member of the limestone family, Travertine shares some similar characteristics such as being soft and porous.
Travertine is formed with many small cavities and holes that can be filled in with cement or resin, or left unfilled for a textured surface.
The surface is then polished to a rough or highly polished finish.
The filled-in areas remain dull which creates an interesting contrast.
Like limestone, travertine can be used in flooring in numerous rooms in your home.
Want flexibility? Slate is great. Slate is a highly versatile stone that gives a natural, rustic appearance to any room.
Slate can be used for interiors as well as exteriors, making it the perfect product to bring the outdoors inside your home.
All slate has a natural “clefting” along the surface that gives this stone its unique textural, layered look.
This stone is made up of clay and shale, which is very dense.
Slate is water resistant, which also makes it ideal for exterior applications, such as patios and pool surrounds.
Slate colors range from rich reds, oranges and golds to mauve, lavender, green, blue, black, rust and brown.
If your style is about texture, no other natural stone has the dramatic texture and color of slate.
We finish this section on finishes.
All natural stone is fabricated with a particular type of surface finish.
Some common types of surface finishes we see today are: polished, honed, acid-washed, saw-cut refined, flamed, split-faced, tumbled and brushed.
A polished surface creates a beautiful glossy shine from the natural reflection of the stone’s crystals.
The mirror-like shine is accomplished by using progressively finer polishing heads during the polishing process, similar to the way that sandpaper smoothes hardwood furniture.
The finer the sandpaper, the smoother the surface. Make sense?
The polish may last a long time or may be unstable depending on the type of stone.
Granite, marble and limestone are frequently polished, and require varying degrees of maintenance to preserve the shine.
A honed surface provides a flat, matte or satin finish creating a more informal and softer look.
This finish is created by stopping short of the last stage of polishing.
A honed finish shows fewer scratches, and requires very little maintenance.
Marble, limestone, and slate would be your best choices for a honed finish.
An acid-washed finish is shiny with small etching marks (pits in the surface). This finish shows fewer scratches and is much more rustic in appearance than a honed finish.
Most stones can be acid-washed but the most common are marble and limestone. Acid washing is also a way to soften the shine on granite.
Saw-cut refined offers you a matte finish. After initial cutting, the stone is processed to remove the heaviest saw marks but not enough to achieve a honed finish.
You can purchase granite, marble and limestone this way, typically on a special order basis. Please consult with your retailer.
A flamed finish is achieved by heating the surface of the stone to extreme temperatures, followed by rapid cooling.
The surface of the stone pops and chips leaving a rough, unrefined texture.
This process is usually done with granite. Flamed granite has a highly textured surface, making it ideal for areas where slip resistance might be a concern. Like in your shower areas.
Split-faced gives you a rough texture, but one not as abrasive as flamed.
This finish is typically achieved by hand cutting and chiseling at the quarry, exposing the natural cleft of the stone. This finish is primarily done on slate.
Tumbled delivers a smooth or slightly pitted surface, and broken, rounded edges and corners.
There are several methods used to achieve the tumbled look.
3/8” thick tiles can be tumbled in a machine to achieve the desired look, or 3cm tiles can be tumbled and then split, creating two tiles that are each tumbled on one side.
Marble and limestone are your primary candidates for a tumbled finish.
Brushed features a worn-down look achieved by brushing the surface of the stone, simulating natural wear over time.
Natural stone is a beautiful, unique and timeless wonder. With the information you’ve gained from this section, we wonder if it just may be the flooring solution for the way you live.