Natural stone tiles are an amazing item that can be used both as the primary material or as an accent for your home decoration. Due to the great variety of stones and their marvelous qualities, choosing the right one for your project might be a bit tricky. With this quick guide we will try to give you some practical advice on how to choose natural stone tiles, what to look for and which are the right questions to asks.
Before you buy
Naturally, before you consider buying anything, you need to have a clear idea of the overall concept. Even though natural stone tiles blend perfectly with almost any other material, design and style, we strongly recommend that you draw a plan of how and where you are going to use them before making the order. On one hand, these tiles are on the higher price spectrum, which is understandable given their high quality and long life; on the other, their installation also requires certain skills or professional help.
In other words, natural stone is not the best material to experiment with on the go. You need a precise and detailed plan of what you are going to do. You can look for inspiration online or consult a professional designer. It is possible to come over ideas that you haven't think of or which are more appropriate for your home or budget. You will find suggestions on how to combine different stones or what other materials to use. Using a special design software will allow you to visualize the project, choose the appropriate colours and elements.
The budget is another important item that you need to determine prior to starting any work. It is up to you to choose a fixed, flexible or semi-flexible budget but once you decide on it try to follow it. You can decide on some items, where you are willing to allocate more money in order to get higher quality.
Another thing to do is ask your family and friends about their opinion and recommendations. You may discover some aspects of the job that you haven't thought of. The best advice can come from people who have recently used natural stone tiles for their home renovation. They can share their experience, what influenced their decisions, the issues they faced and also suggest some shops, manufacturers or tile experts that you can use.
Last but not least do a little research online to check what are the different types of natural stone offered. Some of the most popular are granite, marble, travertine, limestone, slate, quartz, sandstone, etc. They have a lot of common features like their durability, long life, natural beauty but each of them has its unique specifications as well and makes one a better choice for a certain project. Below you can find a few tips on how to pick the right stone depending on several aspects.
In line with your overall design idea
Natural stone tiles are perfect for recreating any design and style. It is interesting that one type of stone can be used to form different décor and settings. It will depend on its finish and nuances as well as on the combination with other materials. If you have a favourite style you can browse the web to see which stones are preferred choice for it. Here are a few examples:
Marble and limestone are an ideal flooring option if you want to welcome the Mediterranean style at your home.
The rustic style is dominated by natural materials such as wood and stone. It is quite typical for styling a kitchen or a dining room. Combine metal pots and pans, wooden furniture and the farmhouse riven slate for a beautiful look that emphasizes nature and brings warmth and tranquility. Limestone and flagstone are also suitable for evoking this look.
Sleek and chic design in any room is best achieved with marble. Marble is considered the king of all stones and is the epitome of luxury. Its glossy finish reflects the light and can brighten any space. Marble is one of the most popular stones used for bathroom decoration and is an awe-inspiring solution for the contemporary kitchen. Look for Italian Carrara marble if you want the highest quality for your home project. Polished granite tiles or counter tops, especially black granite is also a smart choice for modern style décor.
If the industrial look is what fascinates you, then there is a stone for you too. This is an aesthetic trend that is inspired by the look of old factories and industrial places and therefore concrete is one of the main materials associated with it along with weathered wood and exposed bricks. Riven slate or grey granite tiles are an excellent choice if you want to replace the concrete floor.
Travertine and limestone with their warm, natural nuances are a great idea if you want a room reminiscent of old times. Travertine has been used in baths since the Roman age and combined with murals or mosaics it is the perfect choice for recreating this atmosphere. Walls painted in warm yellow nuances, copper pots and pans and limestone floor is the best way to welcome the Victorian age at your kitchen.
Some questions that you can ask are:
Can you show me some bespoke projects with marble/limestone/granite?
Do you have any before and after photos?
Do you have any experience with rustic/industrial/Mediterranean style?
Which stone would you recommend for my farmhouse kitchen/contemporary bathroom design?
Depending on the purpose of natural stone tiles usage
Which natural stone to choose highly depends on the purpose of the tiles. The main difference comes to whether you are going to use them for internal or external projects. There are some stones such as granite and slate that can be used for both and you just need to find the appropriate stone colour and finish (see below). Some tiles on the other hand, are better for indoor projects.
Almost all natural stone tiles offered on the market can be used for various internal projects. These include: marble, travertine, slate, granite, limestone, quartzite, etc. Marble is one of the most popular stones for internal projects. It is used primarily in the bathroom and in the kitchen, but can be an excellent accent in the living room as well. Limestone and travertine are also some of the stones that are better suited for internal usage. They are porous stones, which even after being sealed, may crack in freezing temperatures. The natural stones, listed above can be used in the house for floors, walls, vanity and kitchen tops, around fireplaces, backsplash areas or for decorating columns. Bespoke items such as sinks and bathtubs can also be made out of marble, granite, even semi-precious stones such as amethyst. Natural stones are also suitable for accessories – table tops, lamp stands, candelabra, etc.
You can't mistake with granite for any of your external projects. It is the most resilient of all natural stones and is a perfect choice flor paving patios, alleys, outdoor kitchen floors, etc. Slate is another stone that is quite suitable for outdoors. It has been used as roof material for centuries since it is water proof and withstands adverse weather conditions. Sandstone is also often used for patios or other external projects. Mosaics are also a nice decoration for the garden alleys or external walls. Benches, tables, chairs and other pieces of furniture are another way to utilize natural stone in your outdoor project.
Some questions that you can ask are:
Is this stone more appropriate for internal or external usage?
Can these marble/granite/travertine tiles withstand high traffic/adverse weather conditions?
Which tiles are a suitable flooring option for pet owners?
Should I choose granite or travertine tiles for my bathroom?
Based on the stone surface and finish
Most stones can be used both inside and outside, for walls and floors but if they are with the proper surface and finish. Therefore, you need to check if the stone you have chosen comes in the appropriate finish for the place you have in mind. Here are a few tips to consider:
Sawn and riven finishes are more appropriate for exterior tiles. Keep in mind that often tiles, like riven slate tiles, are not calibrated and you should be careful with the installation.
Honed and tumbled tiles are preferred for locations with heavy traffic and are suitable for wet areas, since they make the stone surface non-slippery. They make the surface of the stone smooth and matted and are suitable for evoking natural warmth and romantic atmosphere.
Polished finish gives marble and granite a shiny, glossy surface suitable for modern and contemporary design projects. It brightens the room since the tile can reflect the natural light. It should be used mainly for walls, however, since it makes the tiles quite slippery and is definitely to be avoided for floors in wet places like the bathroom or near the pool.
There are some finishes, which serve purely decorative purposes. Like the antiqued finish that aims to add years to the look of the stone or the epoxy treatment of tiles, which improves the visual characteristics and the resistance of the stone.
A tip to remember: Regardless of the stone surface and finish, natural stone tiles need to be properly sealed after installation in accordance with the manufacturer recommendations. This is valid both for interior and exterior projects. Ask at the shop, where you are buying them, for the best sealant for the stone you have chosen. Follow the instructions and reseal regularly in order to prolong the life of the tiles and enjoy them longer.
You can find more interesting details about the different stone finishes here.
Some questions that you can ask are:
Do these marble/limestone tiles come in other finishes?
Do you have travertine tiles in this nuance that are honed and filled?
What are the different finishes you offer for granite tiles?
What finish can you recommend for my kitchen floor tiles?
Consider size and price
The size and the price of the natural stone tiles is a significant factor to be considered upon purchase. We can divide this element into two. The first thing to consider is purely the size of the tiles. Smaller tiles will make a room look bigger and are generally a preferred option for tiling shower walls, backsplashes and the like, while bigger tiles are the best solution for floors both inside and outdoors.
The other aspect of size that is related to the price is the quantity. Look around for bargains when you start shopping. If you are planning to renovate your kitchen, for example, you can check whether you can get a discount for ordering floor tiles, counter top and backsplash tiles in one go. Seasonal discounts or clearances are an excellent way to get high quality tiles at a bargain price. In some cases, it can be wise to choose reclaimed stone, especially for garden projects. If you want to decrease your carbon footprint on our planet you can consider buying local stones, rather than imported ones. Survey the market before you proceed with the purchase to make sure that you are getting the best for your money.
Some questions that you can ask are:
Would I get a discount for a bulk order or buying additional materials such as grout, sealant, etc.?
Is delivery included in the price?
Are there any free samples?
Are the tiles discounted because they are the last of the line or because of some quality issues?
These are some of the main aspects that you need to have in mind if you have decided to improve your home with the help of natural stone. Keep this guide handy so that you can use it whenever you need. If you have any tips that you can offer, we would be more than glad to read your comments. Meantime, we invite you to browse the great variety of tiles that we offer online or come and visit our showroom in York, where our helpful assistants will be able to answer any questions you may have.