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Stone flooring - Installation costs, styles, maintenance requirements

Stone is the number one flooring choice for homeowners seeking to enhance their property's value. This material is known to stand the test of time, preserving its natural beauty and moisture-resistant properties. Stone tiles suit many home styles, giving spaces from master bathrooms to hallways and living rooms a luxurious feel. It won't be an exaggeration to say that stone is a middle ground in the world of flooring materials made to last. Nevertheless, the choice of stone floor tiles is abundant, and you should arm yourself with the knowledge about each type to acquire the best fit for your budget. Features like porosity, scratching resistance, and vulnerability to staining will help you determine whether this or that flooring type meets the room where you're going to install it as well as your level of upkeep expectations. In this detailed stone floors installation guide, we will walk you through every aspect you must know about this flooring, from its types to maintenance and the best rooms to install. Keep reading to ensure you invest your hard-earned money in the flooring material you won't regret.

Stone flooring - Installation costs, styles, maintenance requirements

Basic facts to know about stone flooring before its installation

Stone flooring is manufactured from natural rock extracted from the depth of the earth and prepared for use as a floor covering. This material is 100% recyclable and contains zero additives, making it an excellent choice for homeowners who lead a sustainable life. 

Stone floors mostly come in tiles gathered into intricate designs, adding a luxury feel to indoor and outdoor areas. Thanks to their unmatched wear and moisture resistance, stone floor tiles last up to 100 years with diligent maintenance. And you can rest assured that you will get the most out of them during their lifetime. From silky and quite-to-the-touch surface to staining and dirt resistance, the stone flooring performance will meet and exceed your expectations. 

Keep reading to learn more about this unique flooring material and decide whether it can be a worthwhile investment in your home. 

The service life of stone flooring

All floors made of natural and engineered stone are considered durable, with the average lifespan ranging from 50 to 100 years. Nevertheless, their longevity might depend on the stone type, the room where it's applied, and the maintenance level. To pick the right stone flooring for your home, consider the level of durability you need and your household composition (are there pets or kids).

Slate is the least durable of all stone flooring types, while granite is considered the most durable, ranking a seven on the Mohs scale. It's impossible to scratch and virtually impervious to liquid and spills when properly sealed. 

Upkeep requirements for stone flooring

While being durable and wear-resistant, floors made of natural stone must be upkeeped to maintain their perfect appearance and performance. You will need to clean, polish and even seal your stone floors. The level and frequency of maintenance depend on the type of natural stone that forms the flooring basis, as well as what wear-and-tear it's exposed to over time.

Here are the basic recommendations to follow to keep your stone floors in mint condition for the period of their service life: 

  • Cleaning: swiping, vacuuming, and mopping

Regular upkeep of stone floors involves dusting and mopping every two to three days as dust, dirt, and tiny particles can get trodden into the stone, causing scratches and premature deterioration. Use a soft-bristled broom and microfiber cloth to clean your stone flooring surface gently. Avoid acidic and alkaline cleaning detergents as they can wear down the stone's sealant and cause damage. The best cleaners are those with a pH of 7. Putting too much detergent and liquid on the stone's surface can also worsen its sealing.

  • Caring about stone floors with grout lines

Use a scrubbing brush and special cleansers to remove debris and grime from stone floor tiles with crevices and grout lines. Pay special attention to cleaning this type of flooring, as particles, grease, and dirt can get caught in the grout lines, making tiles susceptible to permanent damage.

  • Eradication of stubborn stains

Depending on the type of stone flooring, it might be vulnerable to stains. That is why it's essential to blot up any spills on the stone flooring surface as soon as possible, using a mop and special detergent (check if it's out of acidic or vinegar). Make sure to flush the area with water and cleaner and rinse a few times. After that, dab the cleaned area with a dry cloth. If you're troubled with cleaning off stubborn stains, call out a professional.

  • Polishing of stone flooring 

The stone floors should be polished from time to time to preserve their appealing and smooth appearance. A couple of polishing approaches can be applied, including diamond honing, which involves pads with microscopic diamond coating, crystallization (or vitrification) using chemicals, and regular polishing with a baffling machine. Depending on the stone flooring type and the amount of foot traffic it bears, a floor technician can recommend the best polishing approach. 

The best areas in the home for stone flooring installation

Natural stone is versatile, aesthetic, and moisture-resistant, which makes this flooring material suitable for virtually any residential and commercial property. The stone floor tiles commonly used in homes include marble, granite, and slate. Here are the rooms that will get the most advantage from installing these stone floors: 

  • Kitchen. Natural stone variabilities, especially marble and slate, are perfect for multiple elements in the kitchen, including countertops, backsplashes, and floors. These materials do not absorb water and can withstand high foot traffic. Besides, they are easy to clean from grease and dirt. 
  • Bathroom. The best stone types for humid and damp conditions are those lacking porosity, as they're best for repelling water. Consider installing slate, marble, or granite stone floors in your bathroom to ensure their long service life and an eye-catching appearance. 
  • Living room. Marble and granite flooring can add value to your living room, making it posh and visually spacious. Sandstone and travertine are also suitable for living rooms, as they withstand high foot traffic, adding a sense of space and elegance.
  • Entryway. Stone floors are ideal for hallways and entryways. They are durable, stable, water-resistant, and can withstand much foot traffic. Granite will be the best bang for your buck if you need a floor for an entryway that will last for decades,

What are the types of stone flooring?

Stone is a unique flooring material that appears in different types, finishes, and cuts, offering astonishing versatility and matching multiple interior styles. Depending on the way of manufacturing (some are just quarried and cut while others are mixed with other materials and resins)and processing, stone floors vary by their look, characteristics, and value. Keep reading to explore different stone flooring types and what they can offer for your home.

  • Granite

Mohs scale: 7

Cost per sq.ft.: $8 - $16

Common uses: bathrooms, kitchens

This natural stone flooring is one of the most sought-after due to its elegant look, unmatched durability, and scratch resistance. Stains are also not a problem for granite when it is sealed.

This material is available in abundant colors and finishes and suits virtually any room in the house. Nevertheless, due to its high installation cost and natural hardness, granite is mainly used in high-traffic or humid home areas, like kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways. This flooring solution also suits wheelchair-accessible homes as it has ultimate resistance to scratches. Plus, it is simple to clean and does not require regular polishing.

Granite can also become a great paving option if you seek an extra durable and fascinating stone material for outer areas like driveways and patios. Natural beauty and low maintenance requirements make granite indispensable for modern interior and exterior designs.

  • Marble

Mohs scale: 3-4

Cost per sq.ft.: $7 - $14

Common uses: bathrooms, entryways, living rooms, home offices, kitchens

Marble is a durable flooring material with a smooth texture and distinctive white-creamy hue with gray veining. It is associated with a classic, luxurious look that helps upscale any house area. Marble is less durable than granite, yet it still has high resistance to scratches and moisture. It perfectly matches kitchens and bathrooms, especially its white variation. 

Marble flooring comes in slabs and tiles that run the full range of sizes from large format to small mosaic. This robust material can be cut in virtually any shape, from round and square to hexagonal and rectangle. Its moisture-resistant and antimicrobial properties make marble a top choice for countertops and floors. 

Nevertheless, marble is a calcium-based material that makes it vulnerable to etching from acidic household products and cleaning detergents. The marble surface should be properly maintained to ensure its longevity. If you're used to cooking in your kitchen a lot, installing marble flooring might not be the best idea. Otherwise, you will deal with regular upkeep spending.

  • Travertine

Mohs scale: 4

Cost per sq. ft.: $3.50 - $10

Common uses: bathrooms, living rooms, entryways

Travertine is a high-porosity natural material formed in hot springs where limestone is regularly exposed to hot water. Thanks to its unique properties and pastel color scheme, travertine gained popularity all over the country, becoming a cheaper alternative to marble. 

This material is dense and moisture-resistant, which makes it an ideal flooring material for living rooms, bathrooms, laundries, and hallways. Nevertheless, just like marble, travertine is prone to etching and can be damaged by harsh detergents and acids. That is why it requires proper care and is not recommended to install in highly-used kitchens. 

Those who live in a private house with a swimming pool will appreciate the properties of travertine as a decking. It is sandy in color and has a slip-resistant surface. Besides, it does not overheat in the sun and feels cool on hot summer days. Travertine also suits as a driveway paving material, ensuring maximum stability and non-skid properties. 

  • Limestone

Mohs scale: 3-4

Cost per sq. ft.: $3 - $10

Common uses: bathrooms, entryways, home offices, kitchens, living rooms

This natural stone floor is less popular than its marble and travertine counterparts, yet it possesses multiple properties that make it a decent flooring choice as well. Thanks to its earthy hues and rustic look, limestone is equal to natural wood, enhancing a home's comfort and coziness. Besides, limestone can offer you something extraordinary in terms of design. As it forms in shallow marine water, it can feature some fossilized corals, shells, and creatures. 

Limestone is distinguished by its durability and stain resistance, suiting homes with kids and pets. Besides, it's also used for driveways and parking lots as it simply withstands freezing conditions and high levels of wear and tear. 

Due to the high porosity, this stone should not be installed in areas that are exposed to acidic foods and drinks. Besides, limestone should be carefully maintained and cleaned with non-abrasive detergents.

  • Slate

Mohs scale: 2.5-4

Cost per sq.ft.: $6 - $11.50

Common uses: bathrooms, home offices, kitchens, living rooms, entryways, patios, driveways

Slate is metamorphic material distinguished by its unique cleft texture and fine grain. It is aesthetic and durable, suiting both indoor and outdoor areas like patios and driveways. Homeowners are commonly recommended to grab this stone flooring option as a reliable yet cheaper alternative to granite. 

The best part about slate is its versatility. This flooring material comes in dozens of colors, including bright ones like purple and green. The type and amount of iron in the slate determine the shade. 

The possible issue with slate flooring is a quality gap between two similar products. Some slate floors have maximum density and resistance to chemical damage, while others can be just the opposite. That is why it's crucial to have a professional flooring installer or a consultant by your side when selecting slate flooring for your home. 

  • Sandstone

Mohs scale: 6-7

Cost per sq.ft.:  $5 - $9

Common uses: kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms, home offices, patios, entryways

Sandstone is a sedimentary rock with a high porosity level that is 100% eco-friendly as quarried from the cores of mountains. This natural material is made of quarts, cemented silicates, feldspar, clays, and silt, making it soft and vulnerable to staining and scratching. Nevertheless, it's durable enough to last for decades with proper care.

Sandstone is commonly installed in kitchens and living rooms to add luxury and warmth to the space. Its color scheme can range from red and brown to light beige and sandy. Sometimes, it might even appear in black, gray, pink, and white. Besides, floors of this type come in many different finishes, from smooth and textured to split. The color of the sandstone is often solid with a minimal pattern, like light striations.

How much does stone flooring cost?

The average cost of stone flooring ranges from $8 to $45 per square foot, including material and labor. Nevertheless, the ultimate cost of a finished project highly depends on the stone flooring type, the size of the area to cover, and the state of the subfloor.

Installing stone flooring yourself can cost around $14 per square foot, including material. However, as we said before, this highly labor-intensive project can hardly be accomplished well without professional help. That is why you should expect to spend around $24 per square foot, including material, for the work of a dedicated flooring installer. 

It's worth mentioning that stone floor installation costs also depend on the material cost itself. For instance, less expensive stones like slate and limestone can cost from $5 to $12 per square foot for labor, while the most sought-after and costlier stone flooring variations like granite and marble can cost $7-$14 per square foot.

Other factors that affect the cost of stone flooring per square foot include:

  • applying a sealant to prevent stone damage ($1 - $3 per square foot, depending on the sealant type)
  • removing old flooring ($2 - $6 per square foot, depending on the level of complexity)
  • replacing backer board to enhance a floor's moisture resistance ($5 t $8 per square foot, depending on the level of complexity)
  • applying stone floor finish ($1 - $2 per square foot, depending on the finish type)

Why entrust the installation of stone flooring to a professional team?

Stone tiles are heavy and complicated to operate and cut. Plus, they are not uniform and require extra skills to be installed evenly. It is important to note that this material can only be laid on a properly prepared surface. Depending on the type of subfloor, the contractor will need to install a backer board to ensure it can bear the weight of a natural stone. When stone flooring is needed to be connected with another flooring in an adjacent area, installing a transition strip is a must, as stone is thicker than other floor coverages.

Installation of stone flooring is complicated, exacting, and labor-intensive. That is why it's recommended to approach it with professional assistance. If you want to ensure proper installation and the best return from your investment in a new flooring surface, consider hiring a local flooring professional who can prove his expertise by certification, reviews, and portfolio. 

MyHomeQuote is here to assist you with the contractor searching process. Just share your requirements and location with us, and our system will match you with the top flooring experts nearby.

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