Flooring Fundamentals: Stone 101

Let’s face it—investing in new flooring is a stressful process. From agonizing over which type of flooring is the best fit for your home, to finding a flooring company and finally having it installed—the flooring purchase cycle can be overwhelming and confusing. But why should it be?

Here at Flooring Professionals, we get it, and we’re here to help! We have created a website to help you find a flooring professional near you, along with a blog full of flooring tips and resources. One of these resources is our Flooring Fundamentals series, where we dive into the world of flooring and help you learn the basics about each of the major flooring categories before you even set foot in a flooring store!

Get ready for a crash course in stone flooring—from price, construction and maintenance to color, style and key terms. Flooring Professionals is here to put your mind at ease and help you find the perfect flooring to fit your needs!

What is Stone Flooring?

Natural stone flooring is the product of a variety of naturally-occurring types of stone that have been quarried, planned, finished and cut to size. Stone flooring has a beautiful, sophisticated appeal like no other. Furthermore, stone flooring offers a unique quality no other type of flooring can—it’s natural, organic appeal that in some cases, was over 300 million years in the making!


Varieties of stone flooring fall into one of three basic  categories: sedimentary, igneous or metamorphic rock.

Igneous Rock: the result of lava or magma cooling and hardening. Granite is an ideal example of igneous rock.

Metamorphic Rock: formed when igneous or sedimentary rock is exposed to high levels of heat and pressure within the earth’s crust. Examples of metamorphic rock include: marble, slate, and travertine.

Sedimentary Rock: the result of layers of biological deposit compaction, consolidation and crystallization over an extended period of time. Examples of sedimentary rock include sandstone and limestone.

Agglomerate Stone: Also known as Manufactured Stone, this type of stone is a synthetic blend of natural stone chips, suspended in one of a variety of “binders”, such as cement, polyester or epoxy resins. Varying combinations of these natural stone elements create the wide variety of styles, textures and colors found on today’s market.


Stone tile is available in a variety of sizes—those most commonly available include: 12” x 12”, 13” x 13”, 16” x 16”, 18” x 18” and 20” x 20”. Larger stone tiles require less maintenance, as they necessitate less grout, and tend to make smaller spaces appear larger. On the other hand, smaller tiles allow for greater flexibility in design, put a greater emphasis on the stunning texture of the stone itself, and are easier (in general) to replace if a tile was to crack in the future.


Furthermore, stone tile is typically offered with one of two types of edges: bull-nosed and polished straight edge. A bull-nosed edge tile has a polished rounded-edge look, whereas a polished straight-edge tile has a pointed, 90 degree angle which creates more of a clean-cut, contemporary look.

Absorption Rating

There are four levels of stone tile absorption. A stone tile’s absorption rating indicates how porous a given tile is. The higher the porosity (aka the more porous), the more susceptible the tile is to stains and cracking.

Non-Vitreous: The highest stone flooring absorption level, as non-vitreous stone is the most porous of all of the stone flooring types. Non-vitreous stone should not be used in damp environments, such as bathrooms, mud rooms, etc.

Semi-Vitreous: While semi-vitreous stone is less porous and therefore less absorbent than non-vitreous stone, the more moisture it is exposed to, the more maintenance is required for continued upkeep.

Vitreous: The standard absorption level for tile flooring. Vitreous flooring is appropriate for most low to mid traffic spaces, both indoor and outdoor.

Impervious: As impervious stone is the least-porous, it is the least absorbent and therefore the most resistant to liquid. Impervious stone is idea for high traffic and commercial applications, as it is stain and scratch resistant—and therefore rather easy to maintain its natural beauty.

When to Choose Stone Flooring

When considering stone tile for your next flooring project, the first question to ask yourself is whether natural or manufactured stone flooring is more your style. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. For example—on the one hand, natural stone offers a one-of-a-kind, organic look with sleek and stylish appeal. On the other hand, manufactured stone mimics the texture of natural stone, while enhancing a number of the already attractive benefits of its natural counterpart—including increased strength, scratch resistance, chip resistance and stain resistance—all at a lower price point.

Looking for more advice on stone flooring? Visit your local Flooring Professional for more tips and tricks on stone flooring application, installation and more!



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