A natural stone floor is a real feast for the eyes. Natural stone tiles are available in many variations and easy to maintain. If you are looking for a floor of high quality and with a natural look, read the article below because we explain what types of natural stone tiles there are and what specific properties they have.
WHAT IS NATURAL STONE?
Natural stone is a rock formed from either solidified magma (igneous rock) or from strata that have been petrified under high pressure over the centuries (limestone). So it is completely formed by nature.
Only hands were involved to extract the rock and further work it. Natural stone is extracted all over the world. In Belgium, it is mainly the white and dark limestone types that are used such as Gobertagne, Arduin (Belgian bluestone), slate, and black marble.
TYPES OF NATURAL STONE FLOORS
The geological structure of the earth’s soil differs all over the world, resulting in so many variations of natural stone. The most known types of natural stone are limestone, slate, granite, marble, quartzite, gneiss, and travertine. The colors of these stones vary from light white to deep black and can be variegated, plain, or veined. The surface of natural stone can be processed in various ways, creating a high–gloss or a matt or rough surface. Known methods of processing are: sweetening (matt gloss), flames (flame pattern), sanding (rough surface), and polishing (high gloss).
1. GRANITE FLOOR
Granite is an igneous rock. It consists of solidified magma and is very hard. It is resistant to acids (an advantage over marble), is scratch and wear-resistant, and can be used both indoors and outdoors. It is available in a large number of gray tones, but also in black, blue, and red tones. It is one of the most expensive types, but also one of the most wear–resistant and easy to maintain floors.
2. (BELGIAN) HARDSTONE
Freestone is limestone and is formed from sediment layers that have been compressed under high pressure over millions of years. Freestone has a gray bluish appearance and is characterized by its special drawing that arises from fossil remains in the rock. Bluestone is mined in both Europe and Asia. Well–known types of bluestone are Belgian bluestone, Indian bluestone, Chinese bluestone, and Vietnamese bluestone. It is an unprecedented, popular variety and, in addition to being used in floors, it is also used for terraces, worktops, window sills, decorative elements, churches, monuments, and other buildings.
3. SLATE TILES
Slate consists of several layers of clay sediment, quartz, and other minerals. It is often extracted in the mountains. It is often used as roofing, siding, furniture, and floor covering. A slate floor has a beautiful, specific shine and is available in various color tones such as green, yellow ocher, gray, brown, and black.
The disadvantage of these natural stone tiles is that the top layer can wear off over time. After all, slate consists of layers and sometimes a thin layer can splinter. This is usually not a problem in normal use and this form of light wear is simply inherent to the material. It also gives this floor its natural charm. Slate is one of the cheaper types of natural stone.
4. NATURAL STONE TILES IN MARBLE
Marble is crystallized limestone. It is a fairly hard type of stone and has a luxurious appearance. It has been used for floors, stairs, walls, sinks, and facades since ancient times. A marble floor can be polished in different ways.
You can choose a high–gloss effect or a matte gloss. It is also possible to brush or burn the marble, which gives the floor a weathered effect or a flaming pattern. Marble is available in white tones as well as in yellow and red tones. A natural stone floor made of marble is easy to clean, but you have to be careful with acids, chemicals, and aggressive cleaning agents.
DIFFERENT NAMES FOR NATURAL STONE
There are many names for the different types of natural stone. The process of confusion often starts at the quarry where the various stone layers differ in structure, color, and quality.
To distinguish between the types of stone, the quarry uses all kinds of self–made brand names. Subsequently, middlemen give the rock other trade names, which only increases the confusion. Nowadays people try to put an end to the proliferation of trade names by recording them in registers as much as possible. There are also NEN standards that must guarantee quality.
CONS OF NATURAL STONE TILES
Natural stone tiles consist of one hundred percent naturally formed materials. Since soil structures are never exactly the same everywhere, not even at one location, the composition of the rock is always unique. Natural stone tiles are therefore not (always) uniform in terms of composition.
CERAMIC OR NATURAL STONE TILES?
Nowadays you have very good ceramic tiles that are almost indistinguishable from natural stone. They are usually cheaper, although you also have more expensive varieties. Ceramic tiles are durable and last a long time, but that in fact also applies to natural stone. If you think a natural look is the most important, it is best to choose natural stone. Do you find uniformity of the tiles more important? Then go for ceramic tiles.
MAINTENANCE NATURAL STONE FLOOR
A natural stone floor can be protected with a special protective layer. This is especially advisable for light floors and tiles with a rough surface. There are protective products that are applied once (coatings, impregnating agents) or periodically (wax, soap agents). Some general maintenance tips:
Regularly sweep the floor with a soft broom.
Vacuuming is good with a parquet brush.
Remove stains as soon as possible with a neutral (PH 7) non–aggressive cleaning agent (no acid or alkaline agents) and water. This is especially important with marble and other limestone floors because acids can attack the natural stone.
When in doubt, only use agents specified by the manufacturer. Aggressive agents often lead to dull spots.
Don’t use too much soap. Soap leaves a greasy film after frequent use.