If you’re considering natural-stone flooring for your home, knowing the differences between porous stone and non-porous stone is important.
Unlike manmade flooring solutions, natural stone is an organic substance that has been quarried from the Earth.
Think about a rock or stone that you may find outside. Depending on the minerals and composition of the rock, it may have tiny holes all along the surface. Similarly, your natural-stone flooring may also have tiny holes – or pores – depending on its composition.
What Is Porous Stone?
So, is granite porous? The short answer is yes. Other natural-stone flooring such as marble and limestone are porous stones as well.
But what does that mean and should it impact your decision to put natural-stone flooring in your home?
Before we get to the different types of porous natural-stone options you could choose from, let’s define what a porous stone is.
The porosity of stone is the measure of tiny, open spaces on its surface. It is measured in a percentage based on the volume of these holes. A high-porosity percentage means your natural stone has more tiny holes in it and vice versa.
Porous stone flooring also has an absorption rate, which refers to how many pores the stone may have or how large the pores may be within that given stone. The more absorbent a stone is, the more likely it is to stain or etch if not sealed properly.
However, proper maintenance, including cleaning, sealing and polishing your natural stone, will reduce the chances of stains and help your natural-stone flooring keep its original luster.
So, simply saying that granite is porous does not give you the full picture. If you were to compare some porous stone flooring options, you’d discover that granite is the most impervious to absorption, and sandstone is the most porous.
This also does not mean that non-porous stone options are superior to their porous counterparts.
Both porous and non-porous stone varieties have their pros and cons. Similarly, there isn’t necessarily a “best choice” of porosity when it comes to natural stone. What really matters is selecting a natural-stone sealer and adopting a maintenance routine that is made specifically to promote the longevity of your natural stone regardless of its porosity.
Porous Natural-Stone Flooring Options
There’s no denying that natural-stone flooring adds a stunning look to your home. Your porous natural-stone flooring options are versatile and can provide a luxury aesthetic to any room. But each one has its unique look, durability and – occasionally – different maintenance steps to be aware of in order to remain stain-free for years to come.
As we mentioned, granite is porous and it is one of the most popular natural-stone options available. However, it’s important to note that the care of your granite may vary depending on its location.
Granite countertops with matching granite floors are quite the statement, but it is essential to realize that their upkeep is slightly different. They are both porous and require regular cleaning with a stone-safe granite cleaner and require a natural-stone sealer to protect them from stains, etches and soil build-up. However, while granite countertops can be polished with Granite Gold Polish®, stone flooring should not be polished using polish spray as it becomes very slippery and can become a hazard. It’s best to hire a professional stone restoration specialist with the proper tools and training to polish your floor.
Limestone is a unique stone that adds a rustic feel to any part of the house. Limestone’s porosity is very similar to that of granite and needs to be sealed and polished on a regular basis.
High-density limestone tends to be more durable and choosing a high-density limestone for high-use areas of your home may help keep the limestone’s appearance even in between your stone sealing routine.
Marble originates as a sedimentary stone. Over eons of time marble will metamorphosis into a harder rock that can be used for countertops and flooring. When used as flooring, it also requires special care and sealing. When marble is cared for properly it is a durable material with a wide variety of use.
That being said, it’s important to wipe up liquids and any other messes as soon as they occur. Even if you cannot see visible dirt or grime on your marble surface, you should be cleaning it daily with a stone-safe cleaner.
Travertine is much like granite flooring, with a timeless elegant look. It also requires a similar amount of maintenance and upkeep. Travertine may have a bit lower cost than other natural-stone flooring options, but doesn’t sacrifice durability. This makes it a great option for high-traffic areas like an entryway or kitchen.
To keep travertine floors looking their best and avoid staining from juices and other liquids, you should stick to a regular routine of cleaning, sealing and polishing. You should also get into the habit of sweeping daily or multiple times a day to prevent debris from potentially scratching the floor’s surface.
Of all of the porous natural stones on our list, sandstone is the most porous. In fact, one of the stand-out features of a natural sandstone floor is that it has a unique, textured look and feel. It also comes in a wide range of colors such as red, white, pink, brown, tan, yellow and gray, lending multiple diverse options to any space.
Like other porous natural stones, cleaning often and sealing regularly are recommended. If your sandstone flooring is located in a low traffic area, it’s possible that this could be done less frequently. However, if your natural-stone flooring is in the kitchen, bathroom or entryway, adhering to a regular maintenance routine made specifically for porous natural stone is the best way to protect its look and integrity for years to come.
The truth is, you can’t over-seal natural stone surfaces. Frequently sealing maintains maximum surface protection, penetrating stone surfaces to provide superior, long-lasting resistance to staining, etching and soil build-up.
You can regularly check the integrity of the seal with an at-home water test. Pour water (about 3 inches in diameter) on the surface in several locations and let it sit for 30 minutes. If you see a dark mark or ring, the water is penetrating the stone and it’s time to reseal.
Nonporous Natural-Stone Flooring
Since we defined porosity in the last section, we can then discern that non-porous stone flooring options lack porosity. This means that they do not hold or absorb liquids in the same way and will not stain as easily when not sealed.
Although they are less prone to staining, non-porous flooring still requires regular maintenance in order to stay as beautiful as the day you install it.
The Importance of Sealing Porous Stone
Regardless of the porosity of your natural-stone flooring, it is important to use a natural-stone sealer such as Granite Gold Sealer®. While other common household solutions may contain harmful ingredients that damage your stone, Granite Gold Sealer® is a water-based formula that maintains maximum surface protection against staining, etching and soil build-up on granite and other porous stone surfaces.
It is the trusted solution of homeowners everywhere who want to maintain their granite, marble, limestone and other natural-stone flooring.
As third-generation Stone Care Experts, we have spent many years finding the perfect solutions for natural-stone care. So, if you have a specific question about the natural stone in your home — whether porous or non-porous — our Stone Care Experts are here to help. Feel free to give us a call at 1-800-475-7866.