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Although part of the attraction of natural stone is the beauty and aesthetics which stone tiles can bring to a space, it's important that you consider other factors when choosing natural stone, too. But how do you know what you should be looking for? Well, visiting a natural stone specialist such as The Stone Gallery is an excellent start, and in the meantime, here are our five top tips to help you with your decision:
Starting with the fun aspect of the aesthetics of the tiles, choosing a tile size to suit your space is an important factor to consider when shopping for natural stone. As a general rule, small stone tiles are ideal for use on walls, whereas stone flooring suits bigger tiles better. Don't forget that you can mix and match tile sizes; for example, large scale flagstone style tiles work well with the likes of a travertine mosaic border.
Possibly the most important aspect of choosing natural stone is checking out its technical characteristics and suitability for the intended environment. For example, if you're using stone tiles in your bathroom, you'll need to check their suitability for use in a wet area, as rough textured stone tiles and overly glossy natural stone are both unsuitable for use in the bathroom. And if you're using natural stone outside, has it been tested as frost resistant? These are the sort of considerations you'll need to think about.
Natural stone is a material which will last the test of time, but it will only do so with a bit of tender loving care. Check with your natural stone supplier whether the stone tiles you're considering need to be sealed for the purpose they are intended for, and if so, if they can recommend a specific product to do the job.
It's also worth checking with them whether you'll need a special cleaning product, as certain products can't be used on certain stones, as they either degrade the sealer or, with the likes of marble and limestone, the stone itself may be particularly sensitive to the acid in cleaning products. You can normally purchase good quality, pH-neutral cleaning products for stone tiles from the sealer manufacturers, and these normally come with a guarantee not to harm the stone.
If you're installing stone flooring, you'll need to consider your chosen stone's slip resistance. For exterior, swimming pool or bathroom use, check with your natural stone supplier how well the stone tiles you're thinking of perform in wet conditions. Many quarries will apply an extra texture to stone tiles to improve their slip resistance, and your supplier should be able to explain which finish will be appropriate for your needs.
The final consideration when choosing natural stone is the installation cost. You'll need to find a contractor who is experienced in installing stone tiles, as they are more complicated to lay than ceramic and porcelain tiles. Speak to your natural stone supplier about the type of substrate needed, and make sure that your contractor knows what is required of them.
If you simply don't know where to begin, a visit to the Stone Gallery will set you on the right path. Our showroom has a huge range of stone tiles to help you choose one which is appropriate to your needs.
Remember that you'll also be able to find other tile types at the Ceramic Tile Warehouse, and Park Street Interiors can help with any kitchen, bathroom or bedroom refits you may be undertaking – and all three companies are located within the Art of Living triangle. And so what is our best tip of all? The Art of Living can help you choose natural stone to suit your needs!