Choose the Placement of the Stone for Covering Your Floors

Edited by abdoul sow, Eng, Lynn, Nerissa Avisado and 3 others

More and more people are now choosing to use stone as the material for their flooring. This is because the stone is a very interesting material, and there are many advantages to using it. In addition to being durable, the stone is very aesthetically appealing. A house with some of its parts done in stone just exudes an atmosphere of durability, permanence, and quality. There is a wide range of stones to choose from so the first step in using this material as flooring for any part of your house is to find the one that best suits you. Choosing the right stone involves more than just picking tiles with the right surface appearance and color.


There are two basic types of stone you can use as material for the floors or walls of your house: cast stone and natural stone. Cast stone is made by binding natural and manufactured materials such as sand, crushed stones, or gravel. These are mixed with mineral coloring pigments to simulate natural stones. While not as expensive as natural stone, cast stone frequently looks just as attractive and is sometimes more durable than natural stone.

For purposes of construction, natural stone refers to naturally occurring substances which can be cut and polished for various purposes in houses or commercial buildings. The most popular stones for use in construction today are slate, marble, limestone, travertine, granite, and sandstone. Brownstone and coral are both popular stones as well; in fact Boston has sections that are predominantly made of brownstone. Each of these has its own distinctive characteristics, and as you choose the one that will serve you well, there are several things you need to consider.

Natural Stone Characteristics to Consider

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    Absorption rating
    If you plan to use natural stone for your floors or your walls, be sure to ask about the absorption rating of the stones you think you might purchase. Tiles made of natural stones can be non-vitreous (highly absorbent), semi-vitreous (less absorbent but still absorbent), vitreous (non-absorbent enough to be used for low to medium traffic both indoors and outdoors), and impervious (resistant enough to absorption of liquids for use in high traffic, and even commercial areas). Of all natural stones, granite is the least porous, travertine, limestone, and slate have medium absorbency, and sandstone is the most porous.
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    This is usually applied to the condition of the tile's surface as well as its thickness, shape and size. Grade 1 tiles refer to high-quality tiles with relatively uniform appearance. Grade 2 is used to describe minor defects such as irregular surfaces, scratches, or chips; while Grade 3 materials may have major defects in the surface, size, and shape. Grade 3 materials are only appropriate for providing accent or a rustic ambiance.
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  3. 3
    Friction Coefficient
    This refers to how slippery a tile is. The higher the coefficient, the less slippery the material is, and the more traction it has. This is a very important characteristic, especially when choosing tiles for kitchens, bathrooms, and commercial areas with a lot of traffic.
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  4. 4
    Indoor-Outdoor Rating
    This measures the suitability of materials to indoor or outdoor environments. Non-vitreous materials are vulnerable to staining because of acid rain or dirt. These may also crack when their crevices are filled with materials that may freeze and expand. Slippery stones (with a low friction coefficient) may become hazardous when there is rain or snow.
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  5. 5
    When natural stone materials are formed, they often include bits of iron which can show as red or amber streaks and shades in the surface of the tile. However, when exposed to an outdoor environment, this iron content may oxidize or rust. When it does, the tile's strength can be compromised.
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The Pros and Cons of Using Natural Stone


Like most things, natural stone has its good points and not-so-good points. In terms of benefits, natural stone tiles are unique and original. These often bring a natural look that makes a house or a building connected to the great outdoors and are non-polluting. On the minus side, most natural stones are relatively porous and often need a coat of sealant to protect their surfaces. In addition to that, some stones can scratch easily and are brittle. Still, natural stone is beautiful, and if you get the right stone for the right purpose, they can last for decades with the right care.

If you want to save money, go for cast stone instead of natural stone. These now come in beautiful styles, and different finishes as well.

Preparing to Lay Out Your Flooring


After you have chosen your material, you can opt to buy tiles in the size that best fits the area that you will cover. Most tiles are available in the following standard sizes: 12 X 12, 12 X 24, 13 X 13, 16 X 16, and 18 X 18. In general, the larger tiles look best when you are trying to cover large areas while the smaller tiles look best when you are trying to cover small areas.

Tile finish - Choosing your tiles means deciding what type of finish you want to see on your floor. There are several types of natural stone finishes, and your choice really depends on your personal taste. However, some finishes are better suited to certain uses than others.

  • Polished finish - The tile surface is shiny; it reflects light and allows the grain of the stone to show. Marble and filled travertine are usually given this type of finish to protect the tiles against stains and dirt.
  • Honed finish - The tile surface is given a smooth but matte finish; this type of finish allows a more subtle display of the stone's natural patterns and color. It is also a less slippery finish so it is often preferred for tiles used outdoors.
  • Antique or tumbled finish - The stone is placed in a chamber where small rocks rub against it to give it a weathered, scuffed and yet smoothened appearance.
  • Brushed finish - The tiles are brushed so that they look smooth but aged; the differences in the texture of the stone are allowed to surface, giving the tiles a slightly embossed appearance.
  • Bush hammered - The stone is hammered by a sharp metal leaving it with marks and ditches which make it non-slippery. This type of finish is most useful for tiles used in swimming pools and stairs.
  • Flamed - The stone is subjected to high temperature so that tiles acquire a rough, non-slippery, cratered surface ideal for providing a rustic ambiance. This type of finish is usually applied to granite.
  • Splitface - The stone is divided into two to expose the rough surface that looks like a naturally broken rock. This is popular for wall decoration; tiles finished this way are usually cut in small sizes.

Tile size - The regularity of square tiles make them ideal for creating a classic, traditional background that will adapt to all types of décor. Aside from the usual tile measurements, you can ask your hardware or construction supplies store to cut out tiles in whatever size you like. You can opt for paving material measuring 15 X 15 and lay this out to finish your flooring. There is no denying, though, that having tiles cut to your specification will not only cost you a pretty penny; custom sized tiles are harder to replace should you need to do some repair work in the future.

Finally, Laying Out Your Tiles ...


Laying out your tiles in classic style means using symmetry and picking out the tiles that will make a small room bigger, and big rooms more interesting and stately.

  1. 1
    Measure out the area you want to cover and compute the number of tiles you need to cover everything
    1. Make sure you buy an extra box or two so that if you need to repair some areas in the future, you will have material to use (even if the manufacturer stops making the tiles you are using).
    2. Ask your friendly salesman to assist you as you compute, and include breakage in your estimate.
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  2. 2
    Start by finding the center of the room and lay out 4 tiles there with their inner corner right smack in the center you identified
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  3. 3
    Begin to add tiles outward from the center until you get to the edge
    You will notice that you won't be able to fit full tiles in that area of the floor.
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  4. 4
    When you get to the last full tile, measure the remaining area and make a paper pattern if necessary, to guide you in cutting the final irregular tiles.
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  5. 5
    If you don't have the tools to cut these last pieces cleanly, ask the hardware or a masonry shop to do it for you.
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  6. 6
    You apply the appropriate adhesive as you go along; making sure you have some clean rags and firmly but gently wipe off excess adhesive before it dries up.
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Laying out tiles in an irregular manner can be done quite easily if you get crazy cut tiles from the hardware; these come in the usual sizes (12 X 12 and so on) but each "tile" is actually made of several pieces already fitted into a square. All you would have to do is apply the adhesive and clean up after. Follow the same directions used for regular paving, and start at the center of the area, moving outward till you get to the last full tile.

Tips, Tricks and Warnings

  • Although marble is frequently requested for countertops, granite is the better stone for kitchen counters and table tops. It is the hardest and densest natural stone; its feldspar content renders it water resistant while its silicates make it non-reactive to acid.
  • Because of their subtle and muted shades, limestones and travertines are popular stones for living rooms and family rooms.
  • Slate is ideal for patios and atriums because of it has earthy colors, a non-slippery texture, and it does not show dirt easily.
  • You will need to make a 15 percent allowance for breakage when you buy tiles. If you are covering a 100 square meter area, have enough extra tiles to cover 10 square feet.
  • If you want grout that is nearly invisible, you will probably need to have your tiles installed by a professional. Different tiles need different grout joints. For example, marble requires a grout joint of 1/18".
  • Stone tiles generally need a solid subfloor for stability and support.

Questions and Answers

Do you know how to clean stone floors?

I have beautiful stone floors that I do not want to ruin with soap or chemicals. I have tried: I have used soap which seems to dull the stone's natural beauty?. I think it was caused by: Water is not enough to clean a stone floor but at least water does not damage it.

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Categories : Interior Decorating

Recent edits by: Donna, Jen M, Nerissa Avisado

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