Natural Stone, Travertine Buying Guide

Natural Stone Buying Guide

Natural stone is probably the most elegant and fashionable way of tiling a floor. Its beauty is centuries old, its applications are limitless. Stone has been the major building block of human civilisation for many years.


At Travertine Store, we specialise in natural stone floor tiles and this article provides some insight on what stone is and what to expect from it.


What is Natural Stone?

Natural stone refers to products that have been quarried from the earth. It has various types and colours. Generally, natural stones include:

Travertine

Marble

Limestone

Slate

Quartzite

Granite

Sandstone

Onyx etc…

Each type of natural stone has different characteristics, Travertine is softer compared to marble, whereas granite is harder than marble. The buying process starts with the question of:


Why choose natural stone?

Simple answer is: If you'd like a long lasting product whilst also adding a luxurious look and feel to the property, natural stone is the natural choice! There is no comparison to printed, man-made porcelain or ceramic tiles.


What type of natural stone do I need?

This is a very important question that needs to be answered. As listed above, there are many types of natural stone products available.

Travertine:  It has many colours and finishes, is easily available in the UK and can be very competitively priced due to its ease of production.

Marble: Harder than travertine, it can be used on applications where durability is required. It’s probably the most luxurious looking amongst most stone types.

Limestone: A close relative of marble flooring with some softer, some harder types available. There are very light coloured as well as very dark types of limestone so there is a huge selection of ranges to choose from.

Slate: Slate is durable, easy to work with and comes in striking colours. Black – Multicolour – Oyster – Green colours are the most popular.

Granite: Mainly used as worktops, this hard stone provides a striking balance between cost and durability.

Sandstone: Popular for patios, its neutral colours and finish options can provide marvellous designs.

Finishes:

Finishes are what make a natural stone stand out from others. There are many finishes available on natural stone surfaces:

Honed: Matt finish

Polished: Shiny finish

Brushed: Textured Finish

Tumbled: The edges are rounded giving an antique look. Usually the surface will have open crevices that you can leave or fill in after fitting. 

Chiselled Edge: The edges are more tumbled than normal which gives the impression of hammered edges.

Sandblasted: By spraying the surface with abrasive components (sand, cement etc…) at high pressure, the surface becomes textured and more resistant to slipperiness.

Flamed: The surface is subjected to flames by a special torch and cooled down with cold jet sprays to create a special textured effect.

These aren't the only finishes that exist but are the most commonly used.


Applications

Now you know what natural stone is and what to expect from it. The question is where to use it.

There is no right answer for this, it all depends on what type of design you’d like to achieve.

In general:

If you're going for a modern design, opt for more contemporary finish with straight edge (honed or polished). The colour of the tile depends on the ambiance and tones you wish to achieve.

Kitchens: We advise to go for more durable tile as kitchens are one of the most used areas in a property.

Bathrooms: This all depends on the design. Any type of tile would do. Marble – Limestone – Travertine – Granite are all fine to use. Make sure to use simple colours for best results.

Hall ways - Living Room:  Travertine – Limestone – Marbles are recommended. Try to go for lighter colours rather than darker ones if these spaces aren't well lit.

Outdoor: You need min 20-30mm thick tiles depending on the material. They need to be frost proof. Best to go for tumbled travertine or sandstones. We also have some limestones available for outdoor use.


Ordering & Delivery

You ordered either online or over the phone. Our sales team emails useful information about what happens during natural stone delivery.

Accepting delivery in a proper way is critical to avoid problems. Please check the condition of the pallet and also remove the plastic cover and look around to spot any signs of breakages.

We ship the goods in excellent condition, however stone tiles are very fragile until they are fitted, even the most durable ones will be susceptible to damages if handled incorrectly.


Fitting

Fitting stone tiles are different than laying porcelain or ceramic tiles.

The majority of customer complaints after installation turn out to be the result of wrong installation procedures.

Since the tiles are the most visible parts of any installation, there is a tendency to blame the tiles first, but usually this is rarely the case. However your builder – tiler has to make sure:


       To use the correct ancillary products for the items (adhesive, grout, sealer etc)

       To reduce flexibility in the floor to a minimum.

       To use the correct substrates for the item

       To use de-coupling membrane if required


If your builder – tiler is not knowledgeable in laying stone or agglomerated stone tiles (i.e. quartz tiles), problems will occur which will cause issues for the fitter, the customer and seller of the tiles. Therefore try to research as much as you can. If you look at reputable sites you should get a lot of important information and guides.

Please ask your tilers about:


               - The substrate: Ask as many questions as you can, even though you may not understand the answers completely, this will help you to gain general knowledge when getting multiple quotes. In every quote, you will have more insight into substrates, plywood, flexible adhesives, grouts, sealers etc.

               - De-Coupling Membrane: Find out if you need de-coupling membrane (Crack matting). De-coupling membranes are generally useful to separate the tiling layer from the substrate layer and effectively reduces the stress on the tiles in case of movements in the substrate.

 


Above is a typical example of movement in the substrate which resulted in cracks along the same line.

If your tiler has no knowledge of de-coupling membranes, we strongly recommend that you find an alternative fitter.

               - Grouting & Sealing: Do not underestimate the importance of correct grouting and sealing. The tiles can maintain grout residue if not cleaned properly, or will get stained in event of any spillages due to lack of sealer. Remember to apply sealer twice, before and after grouting.

               - Honed & Filled Travertine: We generally do not recommend honed & filled travertine and quartz tiles with underfloor heating.  If you have or about to purchase these products, please ask your tiler about their suitability. His reply will shed light on how much information your tiler has about this issue.


Maintenance

Natural stone tiles will last forever. Testament to this are the many structures made of stone that have been around for hundreds of years.

As durable as stone may be however, in order to preserve the look of it, extra care is required.

               - Never use acidic material on natural stone surfaces. PH neutral cleaners (soapy water or natural stone cleaners) are recommended.

               - Sealing is essential. Natural stone tiles are porous so any liquid spillage will be soaked by the stone and will leave undesired marks on the surface.

               - For filled travertine tiles, using high heeled shoes may damage the fillers on the surface, re-opening its crevices.