How to choose stone flooring

Stone is the perfect choice if you want flooring that's both practical, hardwearing and beautiful. Here's all you need to know before you buy.

Things to consider

While colour, pattern and finish may be at the forefront of your mind when choosing stone, do consider the practical questions first.

* Does your home have timber floor joists and are they capable of withstanding the extra weight?

* Does your budget stretch to underfloor heating, as stone can feel cold?

* Do you have small children or pets who might find the surface hard and unrelenting?

A stone floor is a large investment, so think it through. One complaint about stone in kitchens and dining rooms is that glass and chinaware will break if dropped, while bathrooms can become slippery.

Positive side

* Virtually indestructible, it is easy to clean if sealed properly, allergy-friendly, and a good choice for wet areas as it withstands damp and flooding.

* It is a natural material that comes in a vast choice of colours and finishes, from pale marbles to black slates, and a surprisingly lively colour palette in between with yellows, blues, greens and pinks created by mineral content. Natural variations add interest – look for grain, veining and even fossils – and you can alter the character of any stone with a finish such as a high-sheen polish, an understated matt or even a weathered effect.

* Finally, despite its reputation for being cold underfoot, stone is a great insulator, keeping cool in summer and retaining ambient heat in winter.

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