Using natural stone tile



Slate tile comes in a variety of colors and patterns, making it a great tile to enhance this earthy décor.

Shoshanah Siegel/Signal Tribune

Natural stone is one of the most stylish and fashionable materials you can use for your flooring. Because it comes out of the earth, it adds quality and warmth that no other material can provide. You can use it inside and out. You can use it in any room in your home.

Because natural stones come from the earth, there can be a variation of color and quality, so check out the options and the pros and cons. Be sure to order enough material to complete the job because you don’t want mismatched lots. I would order an extra case or two to have on hand in case one breaks or needs to be replaced in the future.

In this article, I will look at five of the most popular stone-tile materials: marble, granite, sandstone, travertine and slate. Here are the characteristics of each option, where they are best used, how much they cost and the pros and cons of each.


The ancient cities were made of this stone. Marble is formed when limestone crystallizes as a result of high pressure and high temperatures while underground. As it crystallizes, it becomes harder and denser. This hardness allows it to be smoothed and polished during processing. Marble is known for its beautiful veining and for creating gorgeous inlaid patterns.

Suggested uses: Living areas, hallways, kitchens and baths (flooring and walls). Vintage wood furniture such as tables, hutches and sideboards have been paired with marble. However, it can also stand alone in modern furniture.

Pros: Beautiful veining and is highly resilient. Great patterns can be created with inlaid marble. Because it is natural, no two tiles are ever the same. Professional sealing can promote better wear.

Cons: Prone to staining. For example, red wine does stain white marble. It shows wear quickly from acid-based products.

Cost: $5 to $50 per square foot


Granite is one of the hardest natural stones, which is why it is used frequently in kitchens. Granite is formed from cooling magma underground. Because the cooling process is slow, granite builds both strength and hardness as it goes through the process. It is made up of a variety of minerals, including quartz and feldspar, which gives this stone its granular composition and texture. Granite does well with a professional sealing, as well.

Suggested uses: Living areas, indoors and outside, hallways, kitchens and baths.

Pros: Beautiful patterns and colors. Highly resilient.

Cons: It is a very heavy material needing added support for both countertops and flooring. Has a cold feel.

Cost: $3 to $15 per square foot


Sandstone is a porous, durable sedimentary rock composed of cemented sand-sized grains, predominantly quartz with silica, iron oxide or calcium carbonate. Like sand, sandstone may be any color, but the most common colors are tan, brown, yellow, red, gray and white.

Suggested uses: Used for countertops, flooring, showers, porches, stepping stones, pavers and vertical surfaces.

Pros: Consistent colors, resilient especially when professionally sealed. Cons: Limited color choices.

Cost: $10 to $40 per square foot


Travertine is a form of limestone, deposited by mineral springs, especially hot springs. Travertine often has a fibrous or concentric appearance and exists in white, tan, cream-colored and even rusty varieties. It is formed by a process of rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate, often at the mouth of a hot spring or in a limestone cave. This stone has been around for centuries and is found worldwide. It is a soft and a porous stone. It needs to be professionally sealed before being installed and maintained on a regular basis.

Suggested uses: Living areas, hallways, kitchens and baths.

Pros: Comes in rich, earthy tones. It feels soft underfoot.

Cons: It can scratch and stain if not treated. It is susceptible to stains from acidic foods.

Cost: $3 to $10 per square foot


Slate is formed deep in the earth as shale and under the right conditions of heat and pressure. Slate tile has a duller and slightly more uneven look than its other natural stone predecessors, which also makes it the tile of choice if slip-resistant flooring matters to you. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns, often providing a rustic or modern look and feel. It is more stain-resistant than other stone choices, takes water well and is highly durable. Slate can be cracked if laid on an uneven subfloor or if a heavy object is dropped on it. Because slate is formed in layers, in rare cases it has been known to flake or peel. It’s important to treat with a sealant immediately after installation and maintain the sealant on a regular basis.

Suggested uses: Living areas, hallways, entrance, kitchens and baths. Indoors and outdoors.

Pros: Dark, earthy color pallets with a natural, rustic look. Tends to be more resilient than other stone. Cons: Tiles can be uneven due to the layering quality of the tile.

Cost: $5 to $20 per square foot

I hope you now feel like you have enough info to be a savvy shopper. Which one would you chose?

Shoshanah Siegel provides color consulting, as well as space planning, remodeling, upgrading and staging through her firm Your Color Diva. She can be contacted at (562) 427-0440 or at [email protected] . Samples of her work can be found at nahsiegel/your-color-diva. Siegel has received her 2nd Badge for “Customer Satisfaction” on Houzz.