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All about stone and tile

Stone and product types

Limestone

The classic stone for interiors. Often light in colour, but with colours that can range from grey to black, limestone always has interesting shell and fossil patterns. Limestone is versatile and durable. It ages beautifully and only requires a little cleaning and treatment to ensure that it lasts for generations.

Marble 

Marble is an exceptionally hard stone, though it is essentially a limestone, characterised by swirls and veins (which result from impurities in the minerals such as iron oxides, clay or sand) and by a wide variety of colours – white through to black, including pink, gold, green and grey.

Sandstone

Sandstone is a little less hard than limestone and other stones, but it has been used historically for major buildings such as cathedrals, as well as for ornamental stone such as fountains and statues because it is easy to carve. It is a sedimentary rock, and like sand may be any colour, but is usually tan, brown, pale pink or red, or even white or black.

Slate

Slate makes wonderful, characterful floors – with metallic colouring and natural undulations. It is very hard-wearing and, because of its darker colouring, less demanding in terms of maintenance than many stones.

Terracotta

From the Italian meaning ‘baked earth’, terracotta is made from clay. The fired body is porous and so tiles are usually glazed in order to seal them. Colours vary across pink, yellow, orange, brown and the classic fiery red depending on the iron content as it reacts with oxygen during the baking process.

Travertine

The natural surface-pits in travertine stone are usually filled with grout, leaving the stone with an aged look of instant character, or with special resins for a more sleek appearance. One feature of travertine is that small holes will appear in the surface from time to time – this is nothing to be unduly concerned about as these holes can simply be filled with a little grout.

Travertine is easy to care for but is a better choice of product for areas which are not so heavily used. Travertine is closely associated with Italian architecture and design.

Full-bodied porcelain

Full-bodied porcelain is consistent in composition. There is no glazing – so any pattern or colour runs through the entire thickness of the tile, and therefore the colour and pattern do not diminish with use. These tiles are less susceptible to scratching (unless they are supplied in a ‘polished’ finish) and are ideal for very heavy commercial use floors and walls.

Glazed porcelain 

Glazed porcelain has a glass layer. This is usually a high-definition image of a stone, cement, marble or pattern applied to the surface of a high-tech engineered porcelain tile. The colour and pattern are only surface-deep but still very strong and resistant to wear. Glazed porcelain is suitable for domestic and, where specified, commercial use floors and walls.

Glazed ceramic

Ceramic tiles are generally made from a clay mixture that is fired at a high temperature. These tiles are then glazed with a base colour then over-printed or hand painted with a pattern. Glazed ceramic is suitable for domestic floors (where specified) and walls.

Encaustic cement tiles

Cement tiles differ from ceramic tiles in that the pattern or figure on the surface is a product of different colours of clay, rather than a glazed application – this is called the encaustic technique where pattern is inlaid into the body of the tile, so that the design and colour remain, even as the tile wears. Cement tiles will age naturally and develop their own patina with time, like natural stones. Cement tiles are suitable for domestic and commercial use floors and walls.

Terrazzo cement tiles

The same technique is used as encaustic tiles (see above), but ground marble chips are added to the top layer to add extra durability and visual effect.

 

Finishes

Our stones come in a range of finishes – these may be for aesthetic or practical effect. In a bathroom, for example, you may want a more textured finish for better slip resistance. If you are restoring a heritage property, an ageing process such as distressed will help you to match existing materials.

 

Our proprietary hand and crafted finishes.

Artisan Aged™ sits between honed and distressed finishes for a more elegantly aged look.

Artisan Antiqued™ replicates all of the qualities of time-worn ancient flagstones by hand-working and smoothing the surface and rounding the edges.

Artisan Distressed™ leaves the stone with a flat surface and edges that are softly chipped and rounded by hand to give the look and character of old stone floors

Artisan Worn™ is a smoothing process to create the effect of antique, time worn flagstones.

 

Other stone finishes available from Artisans:

Ancient heavily etched and worked surface followed by a further process that knocks back the grain exposure to ensure the character remains.

Etched is a sand-blasted finish for texture and low slip use. The process gives the stone a bleached look.

Honed leaves the surface smooth and flat.

Polished the next level of smoothing up from honed. The level of polishing usually relates to the hardness of the stone – the harder it is the finer it can be polished.

Riven and Rockface – naturally split stone where the surface texture will vary from tile to tile or the quarry the stone is produced in.

Satino is a type of textured surface created by a high-pressure brushing process. The edges are usually left square.

Seasoned is a combination of tumbled and satino with rounded edges and a textured, surface.

Tumbled. The stones are put though a large vibrating tub full of pebbles that erode and softly round the edges and lightly texture the surface.

Velvet or Heavy Velvet. The stone is sandblasted to give it a bleached, etched effect and then undergoes the satino process which gives it an orange-peel look and velvety feel.

Vintaged fetters the edges and leaves either a honed or satino surface.

Weathered hand fettered edges, open-grain surface.

 

Decorative and tile finishes available from Artisans:

Matt low sheen with some texture or graining

Satin low sheen and smooth to touch

Gloss highly polished

Textured very matt with some relief to the surface

 

Stone patterns

Suitability

The most important thing to establish is if stone can be used in the intended location. The surface you intend to fix the tiles to is called the substrate. Not all substrates are suitable to receive stone. A wooden floor will require special preparation and most substrates will need some form of general preparation.

Style

The overall design feel that you are seeking will be determined mainly by your personal taste but the style of property will probably also have an influence on your choice. If you want an informal feel and maybe an antique look, then you may wish to consider a random pattern. If you want to achieve a smarter look then you will probably consider a more geometric pattern with all of the stones the same size and in a flat, honed finish.

Finish

The stone finish that you select is a really important decision, as it has a big impact on the final look of your floor or surface. Remember that stone looks quite different in different lights – be sure to view the stone in the intended setting before making a final choice.

Practicality

Another consideration is how practical the stone will be in the intended application. Some are more suited to particularly demanding rooms such as a busy kitchen for instance. Also, remember some finishes can make your floor more slippery. All stone, by its nature, is hardwearing.

How to care for your natural stone floor

Natural stone is like wood. There are hard stones and there are softer stones, just as there are hard woods and soft woods. As long as you select the right stone for the job and your lifestyle, caring for a stone floor does not have to be a chore. Here are a few simple steps to ensure your stone floor gleams for many years to come.

Firstly, keep your floor as free as possible of loose dust and grit with regular vacuuming or sweeping. This will greatly reduce the ‘sandpaper’ effect of dirt getting compacted into the surface and joints. Then, we recommend washing the floor firstly, to remove the dirt that a vacuum won’t pick up, and secondly for hygiene.

We strongly recommend that you use specialist cleaning products for stone. The harsh, acidic supermarket products will ‘bruise’ the stone and erode protective sealants. Ideally, use a product that is PH neutral, bio-degradable and environmentally-friendly. Using the correct specialist cleaning product will greatly reduce the frequency of more intensive cleans and even the re-seals that may be needed for the more porous types of stone.

General wear of the surface from foot traffic over the years exposes capillaries within the stone. Over time these can accumulate dirt and grime. Therefore, we recommend a more intensive clean every 3-4 years, with a heavy-duty product that will dissolve ingrained dirt and grease.

A common misconception is that every stone floor needs resealing every few years, but it is true for the more porous stone surfaces. You can normally tell if a stone does need resealing by wetting the stone and leaving for around 5 mins before wiping off and if the water leaves a mark by darkening the stone this will mean the stone is becoming more porous.  If you do decide to reseal your stone, you should give it an intensive clean with a product that penetrates the surface prior to resealing with an impregnating sealer. You may, however, decide your floor doesn’t need resealing but could do with being refreshed. Applying a surface refreshing product every 4 – 6 weeks will help with this.

Important Information

Do not use any of the following products on your stone floor: bleach-based cleaners; washing-up liquids; strong de-greasing detergents; anything that contains natural acids or alkalis. Avoid non-specialised supermarket cleaning products. Avoid using steam cleaners – they may clean some surfaces, but the hot steam can remove the sealer and repeated use will ‘spall’ and damage the surface.

A recommended regime with Stone Essentials ancillaries

Our Stone Essentials range covers all the bases for a cleaning and maintenance regime that will ensure your stone floor grows old gracefully.

Routine cleaning.

All Clean is the Stone Essentials product for your routine cleaning. It’s suitable to use on stone, it’s an antibacterial detergent and can be used weekly or even daily without detriment to the stone as long as you dilute it as per the instructions on the bottle.

Intensive & spot cleaning.

For a really deep clean, we recommend Stone Essentials Deep Clean, heavy-duty cleaner which uses a combination of effective solvents and cleaning agents to dissolve ingrained dirt, grease, heavy soiling and many other problematic stains. The less you dilute it, the stronger the solution – but you must carefully follow the instructions on the bottle.

A surface refresh.

If you refresh your floor by applying a sheen with Stone Essentials Easy Sheen every 4-6 weeks, for example, you may find you do not need to completely re-seal stone.