Stone tile in your home or office offers an unparalleled sign of sophistication and style. There is no doubt that when you choose stone options, you are looking to make a statement.
No floor covering is older than natural stone, more beautiful or more earthy. Natural stone was ancient man and woman’s design element, a primary material of construction and an original medium of creativity. We know stone and understand well its features, advantages and benefits. We know how it is created and how to integrate it into your home and lifestyle. Now, we want you to know!
Below are more great flooring options for your home or commercial property…
We want you to know all about natural stone, to understand, learn and experience this historic and versatile product so you can decide if it’s the smartest flooring choice for you.
Why design with natural stone?
Well, for a number of reasons.
Natural stone is strong and stable to live with. It exudes a rich, organic, beautiful surface and has a confident, timeless “presence” in any room.
Rub your hand across any natural stone product. Can you feel the eons of time it took to produce this natural wonder of Mother Earth?
It’s a fact. The formative process for natural stone began millions of years ago, deep beneath the surface of the earth.
A combination of heat and pressure created blocks of natural stone, including granite, marble, travertine, limestone, and slate.
As the earth’s crust began to grow and erode, it pushed minerals up from its core, forming massive rock deposits, which we refer to as “quarries”.
Walk across a natural stone floor and tread on the same material quarried and constructed by ancient people of nobility and notoriety.
From ancient monuments like the pyramids in Egypt and the majestic Greek and Roman temples, to the great civilizations of India and China, natural stone has been an important part of architecture throughout history.
It is the world’s oldest building material — imagine its beauty and elegance in your new home.
How old? In 2500 B.C., Djoser’s Step Pyramid in Egypt, the first structure to be made entirely of natural stone, was constructed using huge blocks of granite and limestone.
Today, natural stone quarries are found in many countries throughout the world such as Italy, China, Spain, India, Canada, Mexico and also here in the United States. Recent advances in the stone industry’s equipment technology have greatly impacted the process of extracting stone from the quarry and installing it in a home. Modern tools can accomplish this with such speed and efficiency that now natural stone is accessible to all and is beloved for its durability, personality and aesthetics.
Indeed, nothing compares to the beauty of natural stone, and nothing can create pride quicker than when you walk into your home and onto a natural stone floor. And while it is typically more expensive than ceramic tile, natural stone will virtually always increase your home’s resale value. That’s important to know when shopping.Today, there is a large selection of natural stone to choose from, and we will be showing you and explaining about each stone family in detail.
In these sections on Natural Stone you can count on learning about granite, the hardest and densest stone, marble, known for its rich, luxurious quality, limestone, a softer, more porous stone, and the popular travertine.
We will also take an informative look at slate and tumbled stone, America’s favorites in rustic settings.
As a side note, you should be aware of a product called Manufactured Stone. (Also called Agglomerate Stone.) It’s a synthetic stone product that can be used for flooring and you can learn more about it in the How It’s Made section.
We invite you to discover the many wonderful facets of Natural Stone and see if it is the right flooring for you.
Natural stone includes Marble, Limestone, Slate, Travertine, Sandstone and Granite. Each one possesses different properties such as absorption, wear (oxidation), aesthetic quality, friction coefficient, impact, workability and temperature. Each attribute affecting where and how it can be used, installed, maintained, and of course the expense.
It is important to understand these characteristics in order to determine whether it is appropriate for a specific location.As you shop for natural stone tiles, these are the factors that you should question retailers about:
The absorption rating refers to how porous a given material is. The more absorbent it is, the more susceptible it will be to stains. In addition if its a cold climate, it may be susceptible to cracking damage in freezing conditions.
There are 4 levels of absorption that a tile can have
Non-vitreous: This is the highest absorption level. In most cases non-vitreous tiles should not be used in any damp environment. Not typically for use outside, bathrooms or kitchens.
Semi-vitreous: While these stones are less absorbent, but the more liquid they are exposed to, the more maintenance they will require. Not ideal in any wet location.
Vitreous: The standard absorption level for flooring tiles and stone with this designation are appropriate for most low to mid traffic indoor and outdoor installations.
Impervious: These stones are water resistant. They are often used in high traffic commercial applications.
For example, Sandstone is the most porous natural stone material, Travertine, Limestone, and Slate have medium absorbency, and Granite is relatively waterproof.
A grading system used to rate the quality of materials in terms of size, shpae thickness of the stone and the quality of the surface. They are:
Grade 1- high quality, uniform materials.
Grade 2 – minor defects such as chips, scratches, or irregular surfaces.
Grade 3 – major flaws in size, shape, surface, or chipping, making them appropriate only as accent pieces, or in certain rustic decorative applications.
In addition to aesthetics, how they perform under certain conditions matter s well. Coefficient of Friction refers to the measures of how slippery various materials are. The higher the coefficient, the more traction a tile will have. This number is especially important in moist environments such as bathrooms and kitchens, as well as high traffic commercial areas.
For example, the ADA mandates that flooring have a equires that flooring possess a minimum of a .6 dryness coefficient.
That being said, some natural stones are better suited for outdoors than others.
Non-vitreous materials will be subject to staining through dirt and acid rain, as well as cracking when absorbed materials freeze and expand. Stones which have a low coefficient of friction will also pose a slipping hazard during rain and snow storms.
Natural stone materials are formed beneath the earth over millions of years, and often contain a variety of disparate elements. Sometimes iron is present in these materials, which can manifest as bright red and amber hues in the surface of the stone. The problem in an outdoor environment is that, those traces of iron can oxidize, a process more commonly known as rusting. This can cause the entire tile to degenerate over time.
Not to mention that every “natural” stone is of the earth and is as unique as the earth itself, meaning so is every installation. The earthly qualities of stone help in the reconnection of your world to the “natural” world. Because of that, there is no direct manufacturing, making stone a “green” material and environmentally friendly. But with anything perfectly imperfect in nature, there are some things to watch out for. Most stone is very porous, or are brittle and chip easily, or scratch so they need to be sealed to maintain its durability.
Before deciding on stone, talk to the natural stone specialists at Fine Floorz to help you understand the characteristics of that you like, so they can educate you on the installation options, along with the care and maintenance required to get the most of your investment.
Think of it this way: the earth has been preparing your natural stone for millions of years. Doesn’t it make sense that you prepare your home for the flooring before it arrives? Of course it does, and that’s why we’ve prepared this section for you.
Being prepared and involved beforehand will help insure that the process is done smoothly and efficiently, and, hopefully, eliminate expressions of “If only I had checked on…”
Below are the key things you should know about before installation day,
Tip #1: few of us are naturals at installing natural stone flooring.
Installing this type of floor is heavy, difficult work, labor intensive and extremely exacting. It’s simply not for the weekend do-it-yourselfer.
We strongly recommend you call upon a reliable, seasoned, dedicated professional to install your natural stone floor. Ask us for help in this matter.
That way you can be assured of a beautiful, efficient and correct installation.
However, while installing natural stone flooring is a skill that is developed through years of experience, your understanding of the basics of installation will increase your knowledge of the process, and enhance your confidence in the professionals working in your home.
As with most flooring products, the first step is to prepare the substrate, the surface on which the stone tile will be laid. Using professional installers will insure that the correct materials and methods are employed.
With cement subfloors, installers can opt to apply the mortar directly to it and simply lay the tile.
Wood subfloors, however, usually require a CBU or cement backer unit for support and a moisture barrier.
It’s important to note that movement in the substrate material can sometimes occur. For example, water penetrating the grout and/or freezing and thawing temperatures can sometimes cause tile to rise, crack or chip.
To help prevent this, some installers will use a material called Ditra.
Ditra is an underlayment that provides a solid foundation for the tile, while still allowing for slight movement of the substrate without damage.
For example, in the event that water penetrates the grout in a bathroom, it provides a protective waterproof barrier.
Your floor will now come to life.
The installer will measure the area and snap chalk lines for an accurate layout, then determine which pieces of tile will need to be cut to fit the area.
Tiles that need to be cut are measured and marked with a pencil.
The installer then uses a wet saw with a 10-inch diamond blade to cut through the stone tile.
The freshly cut edges are smoothed by hand with a white stone.
Once the layout has been determined, the installer can begin setting the tile.
Your beautiful new floor is about to be born.
Thinset mortar, which is a cement based adhesive, is applied to the surface with a notched or grooved trowel.
The tile is then placed into the thinset and pressed firmly into place.
Wedge or butter? Know the difference.
Stone tile is typically installed with narrow grout joints, meaning the tiles are laid very close to each other on all sides.
If it is a large tiled area, installers may use plastic tile wedges or spacers to maintain consistent spacing between each tile. In small areas they may not use these at all.
The installer may back butter the back of the tile with thinset mortar which will strengthen the bond between the tile and mortar already laid on the substrate.
As the installers move along setting the tile, they continually check to make sure the newly tiled area is as level as possible.
Since stone tiles vary in thickness and size, the amount of thinset mortar applied is adjusted where needed.
After all the tiles are set and the thinset mortar has fully cured, the installer fills the joints between the tiles with grout.
Un-sanded grout is most commonly used in natural stone installations.
This type of grout is used because it is able to fill the small joints more easily and will not scratch soft stones like sanded grout might. Your installers think of everything.
Un-sanded grout is a dry, Portland cement-based product that is mixed with water onsite.
The grout mixture is spread over the tiled area with a grout float to fill in all the joints.
A sponge is then used to remove excess grout from the surface of the tile, while leaving the grout in the joints to cure.
And that is how your beautiful natural stone floor is professionally installed.
What to know and do before installation day
Deal first with your furniture.
Remove all furniture and other objects and materials from the areas where the installation will take place. Some installers will move your furniture, but there may be an additional charge for doing so.
Before moving, you’ll also need to empty the contents of china cabinets, closets and the like.
Be aware that the area of installation must be climate controlled (heated or air conditioned). Indoor humidity should be maintained between 45-65%.
Now address your old floor covering.
Please consider how your old floor covering will be taken up and disposed of. This can be a time consuming task. We recommend that you check with us about the cost and the method of disposal.
If you prefer to remove your present floor covering, do it at least one day prior to arrival of your natural stone product to allow for cleanup and floor preparation. If removing old carpet, please leave tack strips in place and pull the staples out of the floor from the original pad.
What will you do about your trim?
In many cases, moldings and baseboards need to be removed for natural stone installation. Your installer may do this but at an additional charge and they will probably not be responsible for damage or breakage due to dry or brittle wood.
Painted baseboards, woodwork and paint may need retouching after the installation is complete. If necessary, this is your responsibility.
Next, address the subflooring.
Your existing subfloor may need to be prepared to receive the natural stone, or a new subfloor may be required. We suggest you discuss this with us and, if subfloor work is necessary, that it be done by qualified professionals. It is important that the subfloor be as clean and level as possible.
Ensure that the doors swing free.
When natural stone is installed, there’s always the possibility that the doors, especially closet doors, basement and bedroom doors, may not clear the new natural stone and swing free.
Some installers will remove doors in order to install the natural stone and re-hang them if possible. They probably won’t shave or cut down doors to insure clearance. You should check with us as to their policy and the cost. You may need to arrange for a qualified carpenter to provide this service after the installation of your new natural stone floor.
Stay on top of the clean-up.
Installing new natural stone will produce waste. Usually these materials are collected by your installer and left at your trash collection site.
Check with us before the day of installation so you’re clear about the clean up, if there are added costs to do so, and ask about the plan for natural stone remnants.
What to know and do during installation day
Home is the only place to be.
Be prepared to be at home the day of installation and be available in case the installation crew has questions.
Your presence will insure that the correct natural stone is installed in the right areas.
Because it is difficult to estimate the length and circumstances of each job, some installers may not be able to give you an exact time of arrival. We suggest you be flexible and keep in touch with us.
The best laid floors are laid safely.
Your installers will use a variety of tools and techniques that can make the work area hazardous. Please make sure that children and pets are kept out of the work area on installation day.
Walk-thru and talk it through.
We recommend that, prior to the completion of the installation, you walk thru the job with the chief installer. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions and be clear on any final details.
What to know and do after installation day
Breathe free and easy.
If you are sensitive to dust and odors, good ventilation should be established for 48 to 72 hours after installation.
When it comes to installation day be prepared.
Know what to do, when and how. Understand the needs of the installers and the installation process and your natural stone installation will run smoothly and you will be left with a beautiful product to enjoy for years to come.
n a way, Mother Nature has taken care of your natural stone flooring for millions of years. Now it’s your turn.
In this section we’ve outlined what you need to know about caring for your beautiful natural stone today and maintaining its timeless look for many tomorrows.
Plus, knowing what’s expected of you regarding upkeep can be a determining factor in which type of natural flooring you choose to buy.
All reasons why we called on our years of natural stone experience and created this important section.
So read on. Get to know exactly how to take care of your natural stone investment and it will reward you and your home for many years to come.
To keep natural stone clean, fight dirty.
Sand, dirt and grit do the most damage to natural stone surfaces due to their abrasiveness.
Floors should be dust mopped frequently using a clean, non-treated dry dust mop or broom.
A vacuum cleaner can be very helpful, especially on textured floors, but it needs to be in good condition and have no beater bar, so as to avoid scratching your beautiful floor.
Vacuum cleaner attachments are also useful for hard to reach areas.
Be preventative. Walk-off mats or area rugs on either side of exterior entrances will help collect loose dirt before it reaches your stone floor.
Make sure that the underside of the mat or rug has a non-slip surface.
These mats need to be kept clean, as well. So shake, shake, shake!
Damp mopping your natural stone floor will help keep it looking beautiful for life.
Call on us to suggest specialty products designed for use on your stone floors.
Always blot spills immediately. A neutral pH detergent or pure soap, such as Liquid Ivory, and warm water, can be used for spills or periodic complete cleaning.
Be sure to rinse the floor thoroughly and dry the surface with a soft, clean cloth. Too much cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks. Change your rinse water frequently.
Do not use products that contain lemon juice, vinegar or other acids on marble, limestone or travertine.
You should avoid using products that contain abrasive cleaners, cleansers (dry or soft) or any ammonia-based cleaners on any stone. These products will dull its luster.
Also, do not use retail grout cleaners, scouring powders or bathroom tub and tile cleaners on your stone.
For heavens sake please don’t mix bleach and ammonia; this combination creates a toxic and lethal gas.
To remove algae or moss from your stone in outdoor pool, patio or hot tub areas, flush with clear water and use a mild bleach solution.
Finally, note the following.
You should know that once your natural stone is installed it is your responsibility to properly maintain caulking in heavy water-use areas to prevent damage.
Additionally, it’s best to take care when moving heavy objects across your stone floor to avoid scratching or chipping.
Cover furniture and table legs with protectors to guard your floor against damage.
Remember that each stone has its own level of porosity that makes some stone floors more susceptible to staining than others.
So, based upon your lifestyle and the type of stone you choose, sealing your stone may be an option to consider.
We recommend that the sealing be performed by a reliable professional.
A natural stone floor is a work of wonder that needs a little work from you.
But time spent caring for it will help maintain its classic beauty and unique personality for years to come.
A natural stone floor provides a very pleasant look, but it does require some special care and attention which might, at times, be quite costly when compared with other flooring. This is especially the case if you opt to hire a professional repairer or restorer rather than attempting to do the work yourself. Here, we shall be discussing the basic steps you should follow in order to try to repair any holes that might develop in the natural stone floor.
Step 1: Examine The Floor
First of all, examine the floor well to check for any holes and other defects. If you notice any, try to ascertain the reason behind their development in order to be able to treat them accordingly, while making sure to prevent any new holes from developing.
Step 2: Sand the Hole
It is best that you hand-sand the hole to prepare it for the subsequent processes. Use some water to wet it while sanding for better results. Holes or small scratches will, in the vast majority of cases, be rough and have some loose small stones at the edges. Hence, if not sanded well, you will find problems filling it adequately, causing small holes to remain. This will ultimately end up ruining your work because if the hole is not filled in a solid manner, it will develop again over time.
Step 4: Clean the Hole
The next step is to clean the hole of any dust or other residues that might have accumulated around the hole’s edges and nearby areas. It is also recommended that you clean the area with some suitable cleaner diluted with some water. Before proceeding to the next step, make sure that you have allowed the hole to dry completely.
Step 5: Apply the Grout
Once you are done, start to apply some grout inside the hole. Make sure you use a good quality brand and one which is suitable for your stone. Use sparingly in order to fill the hole well. Any excess will then have to be cleaned off before drying up. Make sure you do not leave any open parts, as even if they are small, they are porous and will end up ruining the work and requiring you to repeat the whole process after a short period of time. Also, make sure to follow the particular instructions for the brand of grouting you use when applying it.
Step 6: Apply Sealer
At this point, you need to apply some sealer. You can apply it either by means of a brush or by using the tip of a soft cloth or small towel. If you are aware that your natural stone floor is very porous, it is best that you apply more than one coating of sealer for better final results.
By following these steps carefully, you will manage to repair any holes in your natural stone floors yourself.
Any floor that is above the level of the surrounding ground on which the structure is built.
Acrylic monomers are injected into the cell structure of the wood to give increased hardness and then finished with a wear layer over the wood.
A slightly different chemical make up than Polyurethane with the same benefits.
Added to the urethane finish for increased abrasion resistance of the wear layer, which is becoming extremely popular on the better grade wood floors.
A cement slab poured below the level of the surrounding terrain.
A quality of oak. Better Oak has some small knots and very little dark graining.
These products have a very distinctive groove in them. Beveled edge planks lend themselves to an informal and country decor. With the urethane finishes applied at the factory today, the beveled edges are sealed completely, making dirt and grit easy to be swept or vacuumed out of the grooves.
In the summer months, when the humidity is higher, wood will expand and gaps will disappear. If there is too much moisture it may cause the wood planks to cup, or buckle.
Advanced technology that allows the use of space-age ceramics to increase the abrasion resistance of the wear layer.
A quality of oak. Clear Oak has no visual blemishes or knots and is extremely expensive.
Engineered wood plies that are stacked on top of each other but in the opposite direction is called cross-ply construction. This creates a wood floor that is dimensionally stable and less affected by moisture than a 3/4” solid wood floor. Cross-ply construction allows the plies to counteract each other which will stop the plank from growing or shrinking with the changes in humidity. The other advantage for you is versatility. You can install these floors over concrete slabs in your basement as well as anywhere else in your home.
A type of warping with a concave condition; the sides are higher than the center.
Each board is just slightly beveled. Some manufacturers add an eased edge to both the length of the planks as well as the end joints. Eased edges are used to help hide minor irregularities, such as uneven plank heights. Eased edge is also called micro-beveled edge.
One of the three common types of wood floors. (Others are Solid and Longstrip Plank.) Engineered wood floors are generally manufactured with 2,3, or 5 thin sheets or plies of wood that are laminated together to form one plank. Most engineered floors can be nailed down, stapled down, glued down, or floated over a wide variety of subfloors, including some types of existing flooring.
Finish in Place
Finish in Place, or unfinished hardwood, is installed in the home and then sanded. The stain and 2-3 coats of urethane finish are then applied. The urethane finish, brushed or mopped on, is known as a “floor finish” not a “furniture finish”. Finish in Place floors may be screened and recoated to rejuvenate the finish and revitalize the floor’s natural beauty.
Floating Floor Installation
With the floating installation method the floor is not mechanically fastened to any part of the subfloor. A thin pad is placed between the wood flooring and the subfloor. Then a recommended wood glue is applied in the tongue and groove of each plank to hold the planks together. The padding has its advantages: it protects against moisture, reduces noise transmission, is softer under foot, and provides for some additional “R” value. Some engineered floors and all Longstrip floors can be floated.
The recommended mastic or adhesive is spread on with the proper sized trowel to adhere the wood flooring to the subfloor. You should know that engineered wood floors and parquets can be glued down. Solid strip floors and plank floors can only be nailed or stapled.
Each wood species has its own unique graining and texture. The graining on the boards is determined by the way it has been cut. Natural variations in the color and grain are normal and to be expected.
Janka Hardness Test
This wood hardness rating test measures the force needed to embed a .444 inch steel ball to half its diameter in a piece of wood. The higher the number the harder the wood. Although this is one of the best methods to measure the ability of wood species to withstand indentations, it should be used as a general guide when comparing various species of wood flooring.
On a piece of wood, the round, harder, usually darker in color, cross section of where the branch joined the trunk of the tree.
Laminate is a manufactured product that simulates the look of hardwood, ceramic tile, natural stone and many other types of flooring.
Long Strip Plank
One of the three common types of wood floors. (Others are Engineered and Solid.) Long Strip Plank floors are similar to Engineered floors and have several wood plies that are glued together. The center core is generally a softer wood material and is used to make the tongue and groove. A hardwood finish layer is glued on top of the core. The top layer can be almost any hardwood species and is made up of many smaller individual pieces that are laid in three rows. This gives the effect of installing a board that is 3 rows wide and several planks long. Long Strip floors come in a wide variety of domestic and exotic hardwood species and when damaged they are easy to replace.
Moisture Cured Urethane
A similar chemical make up as solvent-based urethanes, but this finish needs the humidity (moisture) in the air to cure.
Are used to cover expansion joints and to enhance the performance and appearance of the hardwood floor. In many cases, moldings and baseboards need to be removed for hardwood installation.
This method is typically used with the 3/4″ solid products, however there are adapters available for thinner flooring sizes as well. 2″ nailing cleats are used with a wood flooring nailer and mallet to attach the flooring to the subfloor.
Number 1 Common
A quality of oak. Number 1 Common Oak has more knots and more dark graining.
Number 2 Common
A quality of oak. Number 2 Common Oak has more knots and more dark graining.
A cement slab that exists on the same plane as the surrounding terrain.
When shopping for a hardwood floor you will see boards in various sizes. The narrower board widths are referred to as “strips” and the wider units as “planks.” When we think of solid wood floors we generally are talking about a 3/4″ thick plank that is 2 1/4″ wide. This is the classic strip wood floor, although it is possible to find a narrower width or a slightly thinner gage. The strips are generally in random lengths from 12″ – 84″.
A clear, tough and durable finish that is applied as a wear layer.
Pre-Finished Wood Floor
Pre-finished hardwood flooring comes ready for installation in your home. The hardwood boards have already been sanded, stained and finished at the manufacturing plant. In many cases this can provide a harder, better- protected surface. Several coats of urethane are sprayed on the boards and then they are UV dried for a very durable finish. Pre-finished floors offer a wider variety of wood species and save hours of labor and cleanup. They also may be screened and recoated to rejuvenate the finish and revitalize the floor’s natural beauty.
Each species has its own unique graining and texture. The graining on the boards is determined by the way it has been cut. Rotary Cut is a cutting process that displays a larger and bolder graining pattern.
A quality of oak. Select Oak has some small knots and very little dark graining.
Each species has its own unique graining and texture. The graining on the boards is determined by the way it has been cut. Sliced Cut is a cutting process that shows a more uniform pattern.
One of the three common types of wood floors. (Others are Engineered and Longstrip Plank.) Solid wood floors are one solid piece of wood that have tongue and groove sides. When we talk about solid wood floors, we tend to think of floors that are unfinished, but it’s important to know that there are also many pre-finished 3/4” solid wood floors. Solid wood floors are sensitive to moisture and because so they are used in nail down installations and are not recommended for installation below ground level, or directly over a concrete slab.
Oil is used as part of the chemical make up of the polyurethane finish.
The edges of all boards meet squarely creating a uniform, smooth surface that blends the floor together from board to board.
With this method 1-1/2 to 2 inch staples are used versus nailing cleats to attach the wood flooring to the subfloor. A pneumatic gun is used to drive the staple into the wood flooring and subfloor.
When shopping for a hardwood floor you will see boards in various sizes. The narrower board widths are referred to as “strips” and the wider units as “planks.” When we think of solid wood floors we generally are talking about a 3/4″ thick plank that is 2 1/4″ wide. This is the classic strip wood floor, although it is possible to find a narrower width or a slightly thinner gage. The strips are generally in random lengths from 12″ – 84″. The most common wood species used for solid strip floors are red oak, white oak, maple, cherry, white ash, hickory or pecan.
Tongue and Groove
The joining of two boards, one board having a tongue on its edge that fits into a groove in the edge of the other.
Un-Finished Wood Floor
An Un-Finished wood floor allows you to have a custom job – you choose the wood species and it’s sanded and the stain is applied on site. With Un-Finished you also have the chance to level the surface of the entire floor after it has been installed.
Factory wood finishes that are cured with Ultra Violet lights versus heat.
Water is used as part of the chemical make up of the polyurethane finish.