During the last ten year or so natural stone tiling has been gaining popularity amongst homeowners and builders, and these days it is the first choice for the majority of customers – so what is stone tiling, and why exactly is this form of tiling doing so well?
If stone has been taken from the ground – in any way – it can be classed as natural, and these days this is the buzzword which attracts many consumers who are looking for an alternative to synthetic tiles.
Typical types of natural stone tiling
Granite – a strong and hard wearing material which is also dirt resistant is typically popular for ties in high traffic areas such as hallways.
Slate – this stone is composed of shale and quartz and it comes in various colors, some being light and others darker. The textured surface is slip resistant which makes it great for bathrooms, hallways and patios.
Basalt – this dark grey hard stone is very like granite. It is actually volcanic rock, and is used in holistic hot stone therapies because it retains heat extremely well, making it a good choice for bathroom floors which are nicer when warmer to walk on.
Limestone – be aware that limestone can be both hard and soft, and this affects where it can be laid for maximum benefit and a decent length of life.
Marble – this natural stone is made from dolomite or limestone subjected to intense heat for a long period of time. It always looks elegant and luxurious, and although not cheap it does last for a very long time. It’s most popular in bathrooms.
Sandstone – great when a smooth finish is essential, these are popular for larger, country or rustic style homes.
Travertine – lighter coloured, rustic, natural stone tiles with a range of uses. It’s been around since the Romans and looks great as both floors and wall tiles.
Quartzite – this has a charming natural sparkle as it is made from a mix of sandstone and quartz crystals. It usually looks amazing in bathrooms and kitchens.
This is one of the key reasons for the shift. Not too long ago tiles made from natural stones such as marble were way out of reach for most ordinary folk, but now they can be sourced for very reasonable costs, in comparison to before. Of course, not all natural stone tiles are in the same price bracket, but they are definitely cheaper than they ever have been in the past.
Other types of natural stone tile simply weren’t around to see and buy, limestone being a good example. Plus that too was very expensive until the price dropped when awareness of grew through features on lifestyle shows and magazine articles, and demand for it grew. (Be careful when buying Travertine as some suppliers are known to provide sub quality tiles labelled and priced as premium quality.)
Its unique look
Natural products are never going to be uniform in looks the way a factory produced product is, and this desire to have unique tiling is always appealing to people. So while standardised beauty was popular in the form of porcelain tiles, the more rough and ready individuality of natural stone tiling has won the hearts (and wallets) of the nation.
This doesn’t mean that natural stone tiling looks rather like a random garden rockery though, as they will all share the base color you chose, but be all individual in a clear or subtle way. If you go for something like silver-colored travertine the colors can be quite contrasting, which is an appealing look to some buyers. Those who prefer something less obvious can play it safer with something like white limestone.
The choice of finishes
There are three basic finishes for natural stone tiles: polished, honed and tumbled. Polished tiles have a reflective surface with a nice shine and the edgings have been cut so they are straight. Honed tiles also have straight cut edges but the surface is more matt-like. If you are looking for a more weathered look go for the tumbled finish.
Their flexibility, but can all natural stone tiles be laid anywhere?
The easy answer is no, but there are types of natural stone which are perfect for all areas of your home (and patio). Every type of natural stone is made from different materials, some, like white limestone, are softer, others, such as black granite are much harder, and it is this point which matters when you decide which tiles to choose for particular areas of your home, whether inside or out.
Softer stones are generally not recommended for areas with a lot of foot traffic or in rooms like kitchens where they can easily get stained, even when sealed, so that’s hallways, kitchens and possibly living spaces too, but they are mostly fine in a bathroom. On the plus side you can treat these tiles periodically to bring them back to life, but why give yourself so much extra work and expense? So the moral here is to go for dense or hard stones for busy areas.
Basic maintenance keeps it looking great
All natural stone tiling needs to be coated with a sealant once laid, and some re-sealing at times throughout its life, but this is not difficult or terribly expensive. You can also hire professionals to come in and do it, along with any minor repairs the tiles need. This gives them a huge advantage over man made tiles which once scratched or chipped are unrepairable.
They are easy to clean
A quick mop with a regular floor cleaner (no bleach or other harsh products), or even better with a dedicated stone tile cleaning product, is enough.
Overall then there are many reasons why natural stone tiling is the most popular choice for both floor and wall coverings, and with so much choice there’s a look and a price point to suit everybody.