Why Choose Natural Stone Flooring and How to Maintain it

Posted by Terry Guilford on

Stone has been used for flooring for generations and it is a durable and attractive solution to this day. However, those in the floor maintenance industry constantly come across customers who have been sold inappropriate solutions to their flooring problems and are struggling to maintain them.

In this blog I will give you a basic outline of the types of stone used for flooring, their various strengths and weaknesses and the best ways to maintain them. Before we start on the stone itself, let us consider the type and needs of the environment it will be used for. If you are lucky enough to live in a warm dry climate then virtually any stone will be suitable as a floor with the caveat that even the houses in these climates have kitchens and bathrooms. So, what is special about kitchens and bathrooms and why does climate matter? Well starting with climate, there are two factors; one cool stone is perfect in hot weather and two dry climates mean less wet cleaning of the floor. So now you may have made the assumption that water or rather liquid is the common denominator and you would be right.

No, this probably shouldn’t be another paragraph, but I got bored with that one, back to water or liquid, whatever, it causes chaos on soft permeable stone such as travertine, limestone and some marbles. These surfaces will need frequent cleaning and occasional application of sealers to prevent staining and possible pitting. Travertine, in particular, has been very popular due to its appearance and price point but its suitability in wet environments is questionable. For all types of stone floors, we recommend a designated (but not stone specific) floor cleaner and for each stone type listed below we will recommend the correct specialist sealer. Our Stontex range comprises of selection of professional quality products used by specialist stone floor maintenance contractors but that are available to the DIYer, they are not to be confused with products available in retail outlets.

Slate

Quite a durable and stain resistant surface, generally thought of as grey in colour, but can contain reds and greens. To bring out the best in terms of colour, it needs a colour enhancing sealer. Treated in this way it can be used in wet environments and its texture makes it quite suitable in terms of slip resistance.

CLEANING – Stontex Multiclean for day to day maintenance, Stontex Heavy Duty Grime Remover for serious work.

SEALER – Stontex Rapid Dry for non-colour enhancement but high quality and durability, Stontex Platinum Stone Sealer a cheaper water based alternative again non colour enhancing, Stontex Colour Intensifier for full colour enhancement.

Granite

This stuff is super tough and suitable for just about anywhere although probably best used in its textured form for wet areas. Although it is generally thought of as impermeable, it is worth sealing. If you have the shiny variety it will be hard to scratch - but if you do manage to (scratch it), Lord help you as it will be expensive to polish it out and not many will take the job on.

CLEANING – Stontex Multiclean for day to day maintenance, Stontex Heavy Duty Grime Remover for serious work.

SEALER – Stontex Rapid Dry for the highest quality and durability, Stontex Platinum Stone Sealer a cheaper water based alternative.

Marble

Probably the one we all think about when we talk about stone floors - nothing says elegance and sophistication better than a highly polished marble floor. However, that highly polished look comes at a high price and before you pick marble you had better consider if you can afford the financial and time cost that a marble floor can entail. Like all natural products, suitability as a floor varies with some types of marble being tougher and more stain resistant than others but they will all require professional polishing from time to time and will probably benefit from a sealer being applied in areas subject to liquids and high traffic. The level of polishing required will depend on the amount of damage done, light scratches may be removed by honing and polishing but heavy scratches will need grinding out and then honing and polishing.

CLEANING – Stontex Multiclean for day to day maintenance, Stontex Heavy Duty Grime Remover for serious work.

SEALER – Stontex Rapid Dry for the highest quality and durability, Stontex Platinum Stone Sealer a cheaper water based alternative.

Limestone

This is a quite a versatile stone in that it can look quite smooth and polished (although not highly polished like marble) or it can be tumbled to give a more rustic appearance. As it is softer and less dense than marble it will need protecting with a sealer, acidic liquids in particular will etch the surface of the stone causing a drastic change of appearance.

CLEANING – Stontex Multiclean for day to day maintenance, Stontex Heavy Duty Grime Remover for serious work.

SEALER – Stontex Rapid Dry for the highest quality and durability, Stontex Platinum Stone Sealer a cheaper water based alternative.

Travertine

I covered most of the aspects of this in the third paragraph (the unnecessary one, remember?). Hugely popular due to its price and appearance, it very often contains quite large holes that are sometimes filled with resins in order to give it a more harmonious appearance. These holes, even when filled, means the stone can be quite weak and may break which will involve more filler being used. They will generally require professional maintenance to look their best and will definitely require a sealer to prevent staining and to make cleaning easier.

CLEANING – Stontex Multiclean for day to day maintenance, Stontex Heavy Duty Grime Remover for serious work.

SEALER – Stontex Rapid Dry for the highest quality and durability, Stontex Platinum Stone Sealer a cheaper water based alternative.

If you are considering a stone floor go to a reputable specialist and ask lots of questions about the suitability of different stones for the rooms you intend to fit them. Consider also the suitability of the substrate to take the weight and the implications that it will have on the levelling compounds and adhesives that will be required. Finally, do not forget that stone flooring may be thicker than the current floor covering and this will mean you may require special transition strips and possibly your doors to be trimmed.


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