Stone flooring ‘jargon buster’

With so many fabulous options available, choosing stone flooring can be a mind-boggling business! And, the masses of different stone-related jargon do very little to help untangle the confusion. So, here’s a brief summary, which will hopefully help make things a little more straight forward.

Burgundy pillowed and broken stone flooring

Stone flooring, as a general term, covers lots of possibilities, including limestone, marble, travertine, granite, flagstone and sandstone. ‘Flagstone’ is a confusing term.  It doesn’t refer to a type of stone flooring but is a word used to describe a particular aesthetic or look; normally a large and majestic paver, as opposed to a smaller stone slab or ‘tile’. Most flagstones tend to be made of limestone.

Different types of stones have different looks and feels. For instance, travertine is characterised by small pitted holes. There are also lots of different stone flooring finishes to consider; these are really important as they will determine the final look. The finish is all about the surface and the edge of the stone.

Stone flooring surface finishes

The most popular stone flooring surface finishes include tumbled, honed, polished, brushed, acid treated and sandblasted:

  • Tumbled stone flooring has an aged finish.
  • Honed stone has a flat, smooth surface, which gives a contemporary look.
  • Polished surfaces also have a smooth finish, but with more of a sheen.
  • Acid treatments etch the stone’s surface; this provides good non-slip qualities.
  • Sandblasting and brushing opens up the surface, giving a textured look and softening the colour tones.

Finishes can also be combined, to accentuate a specific look. For example, a honed surface may be polished, or a rustic stone tumbled and brushed.

Stone flooring edges and grouting

‘Edge’ options include square, broken, chipped, hand-chipped and pillowed. These refer to the look of the outer edge and they play no small part in the finished look. For example, a square edge tends to create a contemporary look, whilst a broken edge gives a more rustic, vintage feel.

It’s important that your tiling installer uses the correct adhesive and grout, to suit the finish and edge treatment of the stone flooring chosen.

The size of the grout joint and the grout colour should never be overlooked; this can make or break the final look. In terms of size, a wider joint will create a more rustic look and a narrower joint will create a more contemporary feel. The edge of the stone will often help steer the decision here; the irregular edge of rustic stone will look better with a wider joint. Although, it would be hard to achieve a tight, narrow joint with a chipped edge. 

In terms of grout shade, creams, beiges and greys tend to be the most popular options, but you can pretty much have any colour you like. The colour should complement the stone flooring and bring out the inherent shades within it, so choose carefully to make sure that it’s a good match.

Stone flooring patterns

If you come across terms like Opus, Versailles or Random Length, you’re in pattern territory. Rather than coming in a specific sized slab, some designs are offered in a pattern, including various different sizes so that you can create a specific configuration. Some designs also come in random sizes, so that you can create a rustic, hotch-potch effect, as opposed to a more contemporary, linear look.

Most types of stone flooring will need to be sealed after laying, to prevent staining. Additional wax treatments can also be applied to create more sheen, enhance colour tones and gives an authentic, leathery look. These types of treatments can also act as a second barrier. Make sure that any products used are suitable for the type of stone you’re treating and that application instructions are carefully followed; to give the best possible finish.

If you’re looking for some flooring inspiration browse our collection, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Or, pop into our Burford showroom to talk through ideas, and compare different stone samples over a coffee.

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