The Constructor

Natural Stone Flooring: Properties, Benefits & Drawbacks

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Natural stones are the most elegant and luxurious flooring material for building construction. They are quarried from the earth's surface and possess superior properties compared to artificial stone products. 

Figure-1: Slate Natural Stone Flooring

The typical natural stones used for flooring are marble, granite, limestone, sandstone, slate, and travertine. The suitability of natural stones for a specific location is decided by understanding their characteristics and features.

This article explains the essential properties, benefits, and drawbacks of natural stones that should be considered for different site conditions. 

Properties of Natural Stones

The essential properties of natural stones that need to be considered while choosing natural stones for a specific purpose are:

  1. Rate of absorption
  2. Grade
  3. Rate of oxidation
  4. Coefficient of friction

1. Rate of Absorption of Natural Stones for Floors

The rate of absorption of the natural stone shows how porous the stone is. The higher the absorption rate, the higher is its susceptibility to staining and cracking under freezing conditions. The rate of absorption of water can be decreased by polishing the floor.

Based on the rate of absorption, natural stone tiles can be classified into the following types: 

Non-Vitreous Natural Stones: These are natural stones with a high absorption rate and are not recommended for damp environments.

Semi-Vitreous Natural Stones: These are less absorbent, and their maintenance increases with their exposure to liquids.

Vitreous Natural Stones: These stones have a standard absorption rate for flooring tiles and are recommended for low to mid-traffic applications indoors and outdoors.

Impervious Stones: These stones can resist the absorption of liquids and are easy to maintain. They are highly recommended for high-traffic commercial applications.

Among different types of natural stones, sandstone is the most porous natural stone, while granite is least pervious to water absorption. Whereas, travertine, limestone, and slate have a medium rate of water absorption. 

2. Grade of Natural Stones for Floors

A standard grade system is used to rate the quality of natural stone floor materials. The grade refers to the size, shape, thickness, and condition of the surface.

Mainly, there are three grades:

3. Coefficient of Friction of Natural Stones for Floors

The coefficient of friction measures the slip rate of various flooring materials. The higher the coefficient, the more traction it possesses. This measurement is more important in environments such as bathrooms, kitchens, and high-traffic commercial areas. The Americans with Disabilities Act recommends a minimum dryness coefficient of 0.6 for flooring material.

4. Oxidation of Natural Stones for Floors

As natural stones are formed beneath the earth, they contain disparate elements. Iron present in the natural stones, when exposed to the outdoor environment, undergoes oxidation, which is commonly called rusting. Rusting can cause the entire tile to deteriorate over time.

Figure-2: Rust Formation on Natural Stone

Benefits of Using Natural Stones

The benefits of using natural stone for flooring are:

  1. Each natural stone is a unique creation.
  2. The natural color and texture of natural stones give a warm look to the floor space. 
  3. Natural stones are natural and eco-friendly.

Drawbacks of Using Natural Stones

The drawbacks of natural stone flooring are:

  1. Except granite and some unique slate stones, all other natural stones are porous and require a sealing agent to protect their surfaces.
  2. Natural stones like marbles can get scratched easily.
  3. Some commonly found natural stones are very brittle and will chip easily.

Before selecting natural stone for flooring, always research the characteristics of the natural stone and its suitability and maintenance required for that specific application.

FAQs

What are the important properties of natural stones used for floors?

The essential properties of natural stones that need to be considered while choosing natural stones for a specific purpose are:
1. Rate of absorption
2. Grade
3. Rate of oxidation
4. Coefficient of friction

What is the coefficient of friction of natural stone floor tiles?

The coefficient of friction measures the slip rate of various flooring materials. The higher the coefficient, the more traction it possesses. The Americans with Disabilities Act recommends a minimum dryness coefficient of 0.6 for flooring material. 

Read More

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How to Install Natural Stone Cladding by Wet Method?

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