Stone flooring
green marble flooring in a bathroom

Stone flooring: a buyer’s guide

Advice on installation, cost and keeping your floor looking great for years to come

By Andrea Manley |

Whether a split-face limestone mosaic or large-format marble slab, stone flooring is unmistakably luxurious.

‘Natural stone is an investment, but it will last a lifetime and get better with age,’ says John Forde of Beswick Stone. ‘The beauty of stone is in its natural, unique variations — no two slabs are completely alike and the subtle shifts in tone add depth.’

Options include limestone, slate, travertine and marble. Whichever you select, the surface treatment will have an impact on the look of the floor. A polished tile has a glossy sheen, honed surfaces are smooth with a slight sheen, a tumbled finish has an aged look, and riven slate is split to reveal its natural texture.

Prices vary enormously depending upon the grade and quality of stone. In general, slate from a tile warehouse is at the lower end of the scale, while limestone from a specialist supplier is a premium price.

As well as the cooling benefits of natural stone in the summer, it can also be used with underfloor heating for warm feet in the winter.

With tumbled edges and a textured surface, this design comes in varying lengths for a random pattern. Large worn ivory sandstone tiles, 50xfree lengthsx2cm, £75 per sqm, Floors of Stone

With tumbled edges and a textured surface, this design comes in varying lengths for a random pattern. Large worn ivory sandstone tiles, 50xfree lengthsx2cm, £75 per sqm, Floors of Stone

Types of stone flooring

Durable limestone is suitable for high-traffic areas such as the kitchen or hallway and comes in hues ranging from white to black. It costs from around £40 per sqm.

Sandstone is characterised by its subtle texture and, as with limestone, can be used indoors and out. Expect to pay from £50 per sqm.

Slate comes in dark, earthy shades. Its surface is naturally textured, but smooth honed finishes are available. Tiles can be calibrated, with the riven surface removed from the back to give a uniform thickness that’s easier to install, or uncalibrated. Prices start from around £40 per sqm.

Each marble tile has unique veining and colour, and it’s extremely porous so needs meticulous sealing to prevent staining and discolouration. The surface can be highly polished, honed or tumbled to give more grip underfoot. Expect to pay upwards of £80 per sqm.

Any type of stone tile can be tumbled for a weathered or distressed look. ‘Edges can be “soft” or “heavy” tumbled depending on the look you want to achieve, but heavy tumbled edges will give a more rustic finish, ideal for country cottages,’ says John.

green marble flooring in a bathroom

These large-format Seaspray green marble tiles vary in tone from emerald to mint. £26.94 each or £148.17 per sqm from Fired Earth

Installing and caring for your stone floor

Laying stone floor tiles is a skilled job and the installation fee will make up a good proportion of the overall project cost. The tiles must be laid on a fixed solid substrate such as ply, concrete or wood and secured in place with flexible adhesive, as any movement will cause them to crack.

Insulation, damp-proof membranes and screeds can interfere with the stone’s breathability, and this requires careful handling.

The tiles will need sealing immediately after installation and resealing from time to time to keep them in good condition and stop the ingress of water and dirt.

Clean with an appropriate stone floor product as household detergent will strip the sealer from the surface.

Slate Parquet Riven tiles in a country cottage kitchen with whitewashed stone walls

These Ca’ Pietra Metropolitan Slate Parquet Riven tiles are £84.06 per sqm from Hyperion Tiles

Stone-effect flooring

Thanks to technological advances, porcelain flooring can now be bought in a stone effect that’s virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. It doesn’t require sealing and can be cleaned with more traditional cleaning products, combining the practicality of porcelain with the look of real stone.

Beswick Stone offers tumbled limestone-effect porcelain tiles that are slim, strong and easy to install and maintain. ‘Our flagstone-effect porcelain tiles are large-format and available in a range of natural stone colours and finishes – they will add farmhouse-chic or that classic touch for your interior design project,’ says John.