What is Natural Stone Tile?

An Egyptian Pharaoh’s chief architect is credited with the invention of stone architecture around 2630 B.C. Natural stone flooring tiles once only graced the homes of the elite and privileged in castles and pyramids. Improved technologies have made the process of creating natural stone flooring more affordable, though the effect is as lustrous and opulent now as it was in ancient times.

It is said that Mother Nature never repeats herself and that wisdom is especially true when it comes to natural stone. These innate variation between every slab due to mineral content is compounded when one considers the many options for style, color, size and finish.

Natural stone tiles typically come in four sizes: 18” x 18”, 16” x 16”, 13” x 13” and 12” x 12”. Two types of edges are available with natural stone tiles: a polished, rounded edge and a polished 90-degree edge. Natural stone flooring comes from three basic kinds of rock: sedimentary (limestone and travertine), Igneous (granite), and metamorphic (marble and slate). Several finishes are available, including polished, honed, acid-washed, saw-cut, flamed, split-faced, tumbled and brushed.

Because there are so many choices available in natural stone flooring, it is advised that you visit a retailer to see and touch the stone. Then you will be able to choose the one that speaks to you.

Natural stone can be used as an entire surface or for borders or decorative strips. Decorative tiling usually comes from tumbled stones that have a slightly pitted or lovely smooth surface. The corners may be rounded or broken. The tiles are generally smaller. The tumbled finish is best with limestone, travertine and marble.

When it comes to caring for your natural stone flooring, you’ll find that dirt, grit and sand can damage the surface. Vacuums can be used, but not with the beater bar as it might scratch the flooring. A broom and old fashioned dust mop work well. Wet mop when needed. Liquid Ivory soap is a good choice, but you must rinse well to avoid streaks or a film. Avoid cleaning products that contain vinegar, lemon juice, abrasive cleaners or ammonia-based cleaners.

Natural stone flooring sits at the top of the pricing pyramid. For the materials and installation costs, the minimum price point is around $12 a square foot and about $17 and up for the higher end. Designer floor tiles could easily be $30 and up per square foot.