As an informed consumer, you’ll make a decision you enjoy now and one that proves right in the years to come. This stone floor guide is your source for:
- An overview of natural stone floor materials
- The wear and durability of each
- Pros & cons of natural stone flooring
- Natural stone floor prices
Introduction to Natural Stone Flooring
Let’s get to know the stone better that these gorgeous floors are crafted from.
Granite is an igneous rock which means that it was once molten rock from the earth’s center before rising into the earth’s crust where it cooled and hardened. The stone includes large crystals that are very rough when raw, but when cut and polished, are glassy smooth.
Granite flooring is available in nine basic colors with many variations of each. They are white, gray, beige, yellow/gold, pink/rose, green, blue, brown and black. Variations of each create more than 2,000 different “looks.”
The rich veining in granite is created by the presence of other minerals such as mica (brown), feldspar (rose) and quartz (pink, black, white). Granite with heavy veining is considered a premium flooring product.
Marble is a metamorphic rock, which means that it has changed form without becoming molten. The change is caused by heat and pressure. Marble is available in a diverse range of colors including white, off-white, gray, rose, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown and black. Veins of various minerals produce a sophisticated beauty.
Slate is another metamorphic rock, and it is composed of clay, quartz and shall. Its tones are somewhat earthy in a range that includes beige, yellow, gray, green, blue, brown, black and multicolored stone. It features more of a blend of colors than a base color with veining like you see in granite or marble. The effect is more rustic than the elegant aesthetics of granite and marble.
Travertine is a sedimentary rock formed by the accumulation of carbonate mineral precipitates found in ground and surface water and natural springs. It is a form of limestone. Travertine looks like some types of marble with a deep finish and some veining. This beautiful stone flooring is available in warm tones of off-white, beige, yellow, gold, brown, taupe, salmon, red and red.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock formed by the accumulation of calcium carbonate often used by sea creatures to form their shells and skeletons. The variation in limestone colors is accounted for by the presence of other minerals. Limestone tends to be more understated than other natural stone floor materials with a pleasing spectrum that includes white, off-white, cream, yellow/gold, green, beige, pale rose, blue and gray.
Common natural stone tile sizes are 12”x12”, 16”x16” and 18”x18”.
Natural Stone Flooring Wear and Durability
When natural stone is properly installed and sealed, its durability is fantastic. In homes and buildings around the world, some stone floors have been in use for hundreds of years.
Granite is the most durable and ideal for kitchens. Slate is tough and water resistant, so it’s another fine choice for kitchen remodeling. The others should be used with caution in kitchens. The surface of marble is more porous, so is susceptible to staining if the seal fails.
Floors should be sealed on a schedule recommended by the manufacturer. When the surface dulls, natural stone floors can be polished to restore the gleam and sealed to maintain it against wear and stains.
See the Natural Stone Flooring Maintenance and Care Guide for a wealth of details.
Natural Stone Floors Advantages and Disadvantages
These natural stone flooring pros and cons will help you decide whether these materials make your short list or not, and they’re ideal for comparing natural stone to other types we cover in our guides.
Natural Stone Flooring Pros:
- As the name implies, they exude natural beauty
- Each floor is uniquely beautiful due to variations in the stone
- A pleasing range of colors are available, so you’ll find one to match your countertops, cabinets and decor
- Cool to the touch (though this might be a disadvantage in winter)
- Excellent durability, especially granite and slate, when properly sealed and maintained
- Cost for some styles is consistent with solid wood flooring
Natural Stone Flooring Cons:
- Must be sealed properly and regularly to resist stains from spills and water
- Can chip when a heavy object falls on it
- High-end stone is very expensive
The Cost of Natural Stone Flooring
See our Natural Stone Flooring Price Guide for complete details, but here is an overview of stone flooring costs installed – the material, supplies and labor to complete your fabulous floor.
Natural stone flooring prices are lower than prices for stone slab countertops because flooring comes in tiles while countertops use larger, thicker slabs. Like most materials, stone flooring is available in good/better/best lines.
- Good natural stone flooring cost: $2.00 to $7.25 per square foot
- Better natural stone flooring cost: 6.50$ to $12.00 per square foot
- Best natural stone flooring cost: $9.50 to $16.50 per square foot
Natural Stone Flooring FAQ
This natural stone floors Q&A covers additional important information.
How often should natural stone be sealed?
Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the product you choose. Typically, it is annually to about every five years.
What is the concern with marble flooring for the kitchen?
There are three. First, it is softer than granite, so it chips more easily. Secondly, it is more porous, so stains more easily. Finally, some marble styles, especially granite, spall or flake apart when wet for a period of time.
Is natural stone flooring installation a DIY project?
Possibly, but the installer should have good experience installing stone tile flooring, grouting it and making sure it is sealed correctly. Put it this way: there’s a lot that can go wrong, so you want to be sure you know what you’re doing. Our Natural Stone Flooring Removal and Installation Guide outlines the process to help you decide if you want to give it a try.
Are pets hard on natural stone?
Heavy dogs with sharp claws might scratch the seal, leaving the stone at risk for stains. Pet messes are bad for stone flooring too.
What stone finishes are available?
Most stone flooring is available in:
- Polished: A mirror-like, glossy finish
- Honed: A very smooth surface but little gloss
- Tumbled: Stone is tumbled with sand, pebbles and other objects to create an aged or weathered look some find attractive
- Antique brushed: This is a gentler way to give the stone an old or rustic look
How much material do I need for the work?
Most installers recommend that you purchase 7% to 10% extra to account for trimming and to have extra on hand for replacement of tiles. The replacement will be a perfect match because it will have come from the same quarry at the same time.
Related Content in this Series
View other guides in this series which you may find useful.