Limestone is a popular choice for those seeking a natural stone flooring which can bring a subtle touch of style and sophistication to the home interior.
Available in a choice of colours which includes both light and dark shades, limestone flooring is a hard-wearing option which offers plenty of versatility,
making it suitable for a broad range of potential applications.
So what is Limestone?
Originally formed in warm shallow seas from decomposing organic marine sediment, such as coral, algae and shells, limestone is a sedimentary rock which
has a calcium carbonate content of 50% or more. A rock which contains (often visible) fossil debris and is common all around the world, limestone can
also be found in the UK where the two major sites are the Cotswolds and the Peak District. Quarried limestone can vary in colour: In the Cotswolds,
for example, limestone found in the north of the region is the colour of rich, golden-brown honey, whilst stone sourced from southern quarries around
Bath is much more creamy.
Durability and colouration
The look of limestone is usually a good indicator of its durability, with lighter shades tending to be softer in texture and darker shades much more hard-wearing.
So naturally, this has implications for its application in the home. An elegant chalky-white limestone floor will look stunning in low-traffic areas
such as a bathroom, but would soon wear and become discoloured if laid in a busy living space. Limestone quarried in the Jura region of south Germany
is regarded as one of the toughest varieties of all. This type of limestone typically occurs in sedimentary layers, which means that the stone recovered
from each layer can be very different in colour, even though it may originate from the same quarry.
Processing of limestone floor tiles
As with any natural stone product, the kind of processing limestone floor tiles undergo after they have been cut has a major effect on their
character and visual appearance. For instance, honing is a process in which the limestone tile is ground down to a smooth, flat surface. This removes
any natural shine and often deepens the colour, leaving a matte, non-reflective finish and a very consistent surface profile. However, tumbling (or
antiquing) a tile is a process which simulates ageing and is designed to create a softer looking surface which appears well-weathered and worn, and
has rounded or rustic edges.
Polishing, which usually works best on the harder limestones with a fine grain, involves lightly grinding the stone and/or using polishing compounds to
produce a smooth, sparkling surface sheen which is pleasingly reflective and has a sharp edge. As the term suggests, brushing is a finishing technique
which uses steel or nylon brushes to take away some of the softer material. This produces a lightly textured, non-slip surface which is more resilient
and wears well. Brushing also tends to preserve more of a stone’s original colour than is the case with tumbled limestone floor tiles.
A glance at some limestone tiles in the Indigenous range will illustrate how the attributes and finishing options described above can work in practice:
Abbey Honed, which is a popular choice for kitchens and bathroom floors, is a cream-coloured
limestone with pale ivory and pearl tints and occasional mottling effects. Its honed finish and crisp edges always work well in contemporary interiors
and can be also be used on walls.
Abbey Tumbled is the same creamy limestone tile after it has been gently tumbled.
This creates a very popular tile with rounded broken edges and an aged appearance which would enhance any traditional property, or even provide
an opulent contrast in the right modern setting.
Its blue-grey tones mixed with paler shades give the Ink limestone tile a gentle, mottled
appearance. When laid, its honed square edge creates an almost invisible joint, giving this limestone flooring with its subtle swirls of colour
an ultra-contemporary appearance. With neutral interiors very much in vogue, this pastel grey will add a touch of elegance to any home environment.
Alternative finishes on the same limestone tiling also allow homeowners the option of creating an ‘inside-outside’ design scheme with a seamless flow
between spaces. And such sophisticated effects can be further enhanced by adding larger format tiles and choosing to lay tiles in random lengths.