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Stone Flooring Buying Guide Basics

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Stone flooring can give your home a refined, elegant and distinctive look. Stone flooring is a natural element and the stone used is quite literally the actual rock extracted from quarries dug deep in the earth. Giant blocks of stone are cut from the quarries and transported to factories where the blocks are cut into slabs. The tiles of stone that will make up your flooring are cut from these slabs in various sizes.

Your Home Environment

Overall, stone is a highly durable material to use in flooring. However, keep in mind that each stone type has distinct characteristics which may limit where it can be installed within your home. It's important to learn about the factors within a home environment which can affect the life of stone flooring. Knowing the durability of stone and what can possibly affect its finish will help you select the right stone flooring type for your project.

Acid Sensitivity

Some stone types are highly sensitive to acids. Liquids like lemon, vinegar, and even cleansers that contain acids, can damage your stone by eating away at the sealer and ruining the stone's finish.

Recommendation: If you are set on the look of stone in your kitchen or dining room, consider both a high quality sealer and a tumbled finish (defined in the "types" section of this Buying Guide) which can hide minor imperfections caused by spills or kitchen mishaps.

Foot Traffic

Stone is considered one of the strongest natural materials to use in flooring. In normal residential use, stone will last a lifetime.

Recommendation: Consult your flooring retailer about underlayment and sealer options that can add support for softer stones.

Wet Areas

Although stone is naturally water resistant, some stone and finish types can become very slippery when wet.

Recommendation: Choose a stone or finish type that provides more texture and offers natural slip resistance. If you are concerned about slips on stone flooring already installed, place floor mats or wet areas.

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Room–by–Room Practicality

Stone flooring is incredibly customizable to your needs and tastes. However, consider the following recommendations for stone flooring in specific home areas:

Bathroom/ Kitchen/ Outdoor

Stone flooring is naturally water–resistant, making it a great option for bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor areas. In your kitchen and bath look for a stone floor that also resists scratching, staining and can stand up to acids. For outdoor flooring like patios and walkways, be sure to consider the weather conditions in your area.

Other rooms

The same traits that make stone ideal for use in kitchens and bathrooms carry over to other potentially wet rooms. Stone floors are ideal for laundry rooms and mudrooms, as well as entry halls.

Living Room/Dining Room

Stone can add beauty and charm to any living or dining area. Because of the various types and finishes available, stone can be used to create anything from a very casual and informal look to the most formal and elegant atmosphere.

Bedrooms

While stone may not be the first choice you consider for your bedroom, it can create an elegant and romantic atmosphere. If cold feet are a concern when getting out of bed, an area rug easily solves the concern. Also, radiant heat is a great option for stone flooring. Stone may not be the best choice for children's bedrooms. See "children" in Lifestyle Elements.

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Lifestyle Elements

Before choosing the stone and finish types for your project, it is wise to consider pets, children, noise transfer and any special needs you have. Considering all these components can point you towards selecting the right stone for your home.

Pets

Most stone flooring is durable enough to handle pet traffic. Stone types and finishes that scratch or stain easily may not be the ideal choice for homes with pets.

Recommendation: Keep your pet's claws trimmed, and clean up any accidents as soon as possible.

Children

If you're searching for a floor suitable for children to sit and play on, stone flooring can be ideal for its ability to hold warmth in the winter and stay cool in the summer. On the other hand, stone is a hard surface for children to stumble or fall on; and some types of stone may become slippery when wet, posing a slight hazard for children.

Recommendation: Consider using rugs or mats for added comfort and protection. Choose a textured type of stone and finish or sealer for extra slip–resistance.

Noise Insulation

General household noise like voices, television and music may be greater than with most other flooring types. If installing stone on a secondary level, soundproofing will limit the transmission of noise to the floors below. To reduce excess noise on your stone flooring, choose the right underlayment.

Recommendation: There are various underlayments available for muffling sound from hard floors. Refer to the manufacturer's recommendations for underlayments.

Special Mobility Needs

For people who require the use of a mobility aid such as a wheelchair or walker, stone offers a hard surface making it a good choice for stability. However, stone is a poor choice for those at risk to injury from a fall.

Recommendation: Textured stone floors are less slippery then polished or smooth stone. Try larger stone floor tiles so that mobility devices have fewer seams to go over.

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Basic Care

When planning for any new type of flooring, it is important to know the required maintenance before it's installed. Stone can be sealed for added protection. It's important to care for your stone flooring so it maintains the look and feel it had when new.

DOs

  • DO use a dust mop and vacuum to remove and dirt or debris before using a damp mop.
  • DO place floor mats at entrances to rooms with stone flooring to catch loose dirt and debris.
  • DO vacuum, sweep or dust stone floors regularly to clean any dirt and debris that is tracked in.
  • DO use a floor cleaner recommended by the manufacturer.

DON'Ts

  • DON'T use acidic products on marble, travertine, or limestone.
  • DON'T assume that any cleaner is right. Find a cleaner for your specific type of stone.

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