By: Ezra Plank
Last updated: November 23rd, 2014
Throughout history, natural stone has been used to build mankind's most imporant edifices. It is not only beautiful, but it lasts forever. In the distant past, it was difficult to obtain, and was therefore only used for royal structures.
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In modern times, stone flooring is readily available in a multitude of varieties. While it is more expensive to buy than other types of flooring, it can save money in the long run due to its durability and ease of upkeep. And it really increases the resale value of your home, if you decide later to put it on the market.
Since stone is a product of nature, it is subject to irregularities in its appearance. This means that every piece of stone flooring is unique. What you see in a catalog or on the internet will not be exactly what you get when you buy it. So the floor that you install will not only be one of a kind, it will have a wonderful inconsistency in its appearance.
When choosing what type of stone flooring to install, first familiarize yourself with the properties and uses of the various types of stone available.
Types of Stone Flooring
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- Limestone - An abundant sedimentary rock. It is easy to work with due to its softness, but this makes it undesirable for use in highly trafficed areas. Limestone is also easily attacked by acids, so don't use for kitchen floors.
- Travertine - Another sedimentary rock having the same chemical composition as limestone, but formed in such a way that it has a honey-combed structure. This causes its surface to be irregular, and gives rise to two varieties: unfilled, for a natural texture, and filled, for a perfectly flat surface.
- Sandstone - A very porous sedimentary rock, composed of compacted sand. This must be thoroughly sealed for use as a flooring material, and is usually used only for outdoor decks.
- Granite - A dense, non-absorbent igneous rock, which has a variety of colorations. It is resistant to bacteria and stains, so can be used almost anywhere.
- Marble - A metamorphic rock which is soft enough to be carved, but hard enough to be durable. It is perhaps the most beautiful stone when cut and polished, and is thus used for other purposes, as well as for flooring. But it has the same chemical composition as limestone, so it is easily stained and attacked by acids.
- Slate - A metamorphic rock renowned for its use as flagstones. Due to its layered structure, it is easily split into thin sheets. But like any rock, its variability makes it uneven in thickness. However, like any metamorphic rock, it is very durable.
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Installation and Cost
Installing stone flooring is much more difficult than laying other types of floors. It is best to leave this job to a professional.
- Since stone often varies in thickness, the mortar must be adjusted in order to make the surface of the floor relatively smooth.
- The hardness and irregularity of stone means that when it is cut to fit, an industrial saw with a diamond blade must be used.
- A rigid underlayer must be pre-installed, so that the stone flooring does not crack from its own weight.
To calculate the cost of your stone floor, the square foot price is only the beginning. Add delivery charges and installation. The latter is highly variable, and includes (1) removal, storage, and replacement of furniture, (2) removal and disposal of the old floor, (3) installation of the subfloor, (4) grouting, and (5) sealing - to make the floor less porous.
Due to the variety of choices available, this page will be split into two parts. The second half will show you the cheapest stone flooring available online. It will be published shortly. If you just can't wait, please send me an email to give me some motivation for speeding up the research and writing.