How to choose flagstone flooring

flagstone flooring

Flagstone flooring conjures up images of fabulous buildings, seeped in history. From installations in grand country homes and majestic churches to chocolate-box cottages, these are floors of a bygone age.

‘Flagstone’ is believed to be derived from the Middle English word ‘flagge’ meaning turf, and the Old Norse language ‘flaga’ meaning slab. It is an old term that’s been used for centuries. Typically, flagstone flooring is a generic flat stone split into layers and used to create pathways, roofs, memorials and more.

It made its way indoors around the 13th century; predominantly inside the castles of the Anglo Saxons. Back then, flagstone flooring was hewn from sedimentary rock, usually a form of sandstone and had a distinct patina.

Size matters

In terms of appearance, most people consider flagstone flooring to be of a particular size; a stone floor laid in a random pattern, or a floor containing random lengths. In their mind’s eye, it’s rustic, traditional and aged.

In our own hometown of Burford, in the Cotswolds, you’ll find fabulous flagstone flooring in most older properties. Today, flagstone flooring is highly sought after for new homes too. Our own collection of flagstone flooring includes 14 flagstones, most crafted from limestone. The term ‘flagstone’ refers to the final look they achieve. Some of the limestone flooring from our collection can also be laid to create a flagstone-look; by choosing random sizes, differing lengths and a particular finish.

So what are your options?

If you’re looking for truly authentic flagstone flooring – you might consider a reclaimed floor. Most of these stone floors originate from houses in France and Italy.  Typically, the large flagstones measured 100mm thick and were laid without a damp proof membrane. Today, it’s impractical to lay such a thick stone (let alone successfully salvage it in one piece) so they’re cut down into tiles with a thickness of around 20/30mm. The top layer is the original worn surface; the reclaimed flagstone, but nothing goes to waste. The remaining material underneath can be reworked; the surfaces are treated to create further worn tiles. These are made to look reclaimed, similar to the original surface - it really is a labour of love, with a price tag to match. Not for the faint hearted but if you’re looking for something that is a true original, then this is the one for you.

Buying new

New flagstone flooring is essentially more feasible and affordable and key considerations centre on finish and size. When it comes to finish, a keen eye is important - you or I might look at various flagstone flooring designs and comment on the colour and texture of the stone. Here at Indigenous, Joss closely studies the finishing; what have they done and how good it is? When you regularly source stones, you can quickly disregard material that doesn’t come up to scratch, in terms of appearance, quality and origin. Europe – and in particular France - probably leads the way here but the Middle and Far East are becoming popular choices too. There’s a lot of knowledge in this area and this is how the industry moves forward. You need an expert eye and an ear to the ground to source the very best material. Some manufacturers are now inserting a ‘dye’ into stone to achieve that authentic ‘patina’; currently the final result is not yet quite right but it’s important to keep an open mind when it comes to new innovations. Sometimes they’re bad (and even truly awful) but sometimes they can be really good too.

When considering the size of your flagstone flooring, this pretty much comes down to personal taste, where the floor is being laid and what type of look you want to achieve. Some flagstones are now coming through in much bigger sizes. This tends to push the price up, because they need to be expertly cut and the original piece of stone needs to be of significant size.

Our top 3 tips

To help you narrow down the flagstone flooring options, think colour, texture and size.
When it comes to colour, a contrast to the surrounding décor often works best. With texture, carefully check the quality of the finishing. This could be the difference between expert or mediocre!
Choose a size to suit your space. Smaller formats often work best in smaller rooms but it’s really down to personal choice.

And the price?

flagstone flooring

What’s great about flagstone flooring is that it’s available to suit a wide range of budgets. A limestone flag at around £45 per sq/m can offer a wonderfully pocket-friendly, reclaimed look, whilst our hugely popular Burgundy Flagstone - with its distinct pillowed edges - will cost around £119 per sq/m. Our most popular flagstone flooring is currently Shire Aged, which sits between the two at £61 per sq/m.  Or, if you’re looking for the real deal, our reclaimed floors are at the top of the pile, at between £278 and £293 per sq/m.

Beware of flagstone flooring imitations. Porcelain stone-effect flags aren’t flagstones at all. Take a second closer look and you’ll see the difference.

So, which types of flagstone flooring are steering the trends?

Sourcing stones from different quarries remains very popular and allows you to achieve an original flagstone look, in a mix of colour tones that complement and contrast each other. A careful eye is needed from the stone supplier to ensure the colour mix is aesthetically pleasing and that the tones work well together.

Our industry continues to explore new and different finishes. Heritage Tumbled is our existing Heritage Limestone that’s been sandblasted and brushed to create a very different looking stone, and essentially a new product. This type of finish is ideal if you want to use the stone outside, as the textured slab creates a good non-slip surface for paths, patios and pool surrounds. As, historically, flagstone flooring was laid inside and outside, there are lots of people that want to achieve this authentic look – and the results can be absolutely stunning.

Yellow tones tend to be less popular these days, even in the Cotswolds where most of our buildings are varying buttery shades.  Creams and beiges are still sought after but pale grey flagstone flooring is incredibly popular, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Dark black and blue tones can look particularly stunning too. But looks are no longer pigeon holed; an authentic flagstone in a very contemporary barn conversion can look absolutely stunning. Be brave; natural materials never go out of fashion!

Find out more about our flagstone flooring collection, visit our homepage, join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Or pop into our Burford showroom to talk through some interior ideas over a coffee!

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