Whether you’re planning a renovation or a new home build, there are seemingly endless choices to make everywhere you look. Cabinets, countertops, backsplashes, doors, blinds, and, of course, flooring. What makes this even more difficult is that the choice of one can completely upend your plans for another, forcing you to start all over again.
Seeing as how you landed on this page, we think it’s safe to say that you have probably settled on stone flooring or are at least strongly considering it. That’s a great first step, but the choices don’t end there! There are countless natural- stone materials to choose from, each with strong pros and cons over each other and other flooring materials. So here are our top picks for homeowners in 2020:
On historical precedent alone, marble must be king of the hill when it comes to stone flooring. Dating back to the ancient Greek and Roman architecture, marble has been a staple building material for any building of real importance. For that reason, it provides a literally timeless and elegant look and feel that just can’t be replicated by anything else.
While the looks of marble are difficult to match by any other material, there are some small drawbacks. Marble tends to be a little more maintenance-heavy than other stone options, as it is more easily scratched and tends to be more porous than other choices. Marble also tends to be one of the more expensive options out there as well, rising in price with more exotic looking pieces.
- Unmatched, classical elegance
- Will last a lifetime when cared for properly
- Available in a wide range of shades and patterns
- More expensive than other options
- More maintenance-heavy when compared to other stone
Making for a great option in everything from countertops and flooring to backsplashes and showers, granite is the stone world’s jack of all trades and master of… well most. Weighing in at a 6-7 on Moh’s scale of hardness (as opposed to marble’s 3-4), granite is seriously tough stone and more than capable of making for about as low maintenance as you can get with natural stone.
Yes, granite still needs to be sealed regularly, but it is naturally more resistant to stains, bacteria and scratches. Like marble, granite can be had in many different shades, colors, and patterns, though none that match the stark white of marble. Granite also tends to be more affordable than marble and some other stone options on this list.
- One of the toughest options on the list
- Reasonably affordable as far as stone goes
- Wide selection readily available in most areas
- Still does require the same type of maintenance as marble, if less often
- While it is more affordable than marble, there are less expensive options on this list
A popular choice for outdoor patios and walkways as well as bathrooms and showers, travertine is a tough stone that has been making a resurgence with modern rustic theme designs. Travertine is comparable to limestone in terms of common colors and shades, but offers more variation in pattern and veining, and tends to be a little tougher as well.
Travertine is, however, more porous than other stone choices, so special care needs to be taken to maintain the integrity of the stone’s seal. That texturing helps with grip, however, especially in areas that are often exposed to water, such as bathroom tile or in outdoor areas. Just keep that stone-safe sealer on hand!
- Offers a bolder and more varied look over limestone
- Better grip when wet than other options
- Relatively expensive compared to some more common choices
- Requires more frequent sealing than most
Slate is one of the most versatile stones out there in terms of looks and functionality. While we tend to think of slate as just being a relatively flat grey, it can be had in brilliant shades of gold, copper, green, violet, red as well as deep black. Slate also offers natural texturing that not only gives it a unique look, but it also makes for great grip underfoot.
While slate is generally a very durable material, it is susceptible to chips and clefting due to how it was formed. Also, the unique texturing of the stone doesn’t lend itself to easy DIY installation, making it susceptible to cracking over time if done incorrectly.
- Wide range of unique shades and patterns
- Strong flooring that provides great grip
- Can chip easier than some other options
- Still needs regular sealing
- Can get expensive with more exotic patterns
Once primarily used in flooring and around pools, flagstone has made its way into many homes in recent years with the rise of modern rustic designs. One of the trademarks of flagstone is that it’s available in a huge range of unique patterns with interesting contrasting streaking. However, depending on the project that fact can make it difficult to find enough matching stones to complete a project.
Flagstone is easy to clean and can stand up to regular foot traffic quite well, but there is more variance in hardness and porosity with flagstone when compared to others on this list. That means you’ll need to keep an eye on the integrity of the stone’s seal in different spots around the floor to make sure it’s well-protected.
- Interesting and elegant patterns
- Tough enough for heavy use outdoors and around pools
- Often difficult to match pavers across large stretches
- Inconsistent porosity and hardness
- Can get expensive
Have more questions or concerns on how to care for your natural stone? Consider reaching out to our team of stone care experts with three generations of stone-care experience dating back to the 1950s at 1-800-475-STONE. Be sure to check out our full line stone care products to make sure you’re doing your natural stone justice.