How to choose real stone flooring

Real stone makes for timeless flooring. From rustic, textured slate to modern, ultra-smooth marble, Jo Messenger looks at the options

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Stone floors of all types are often found in rooms throughout the house. With the recent upsurge in popularity of underfloor heating, which works particularly well with stone, this enduring material is now seen as a viable choice for most rooms in the house.

From the palest marble and limestone to the darkest slate and granite, the design possibilities of stone flooring are vast. Large-format sizes are currently the most popular for a smooth, seamless look and to create uniformity in an open plan space. For a rustic traditional look, smaller tumbled or aged tiles and flagstones are perfect.

stone age chollo limestone

Chollo limestone costs from £66 per m² at Stone Age

How much does stone flooring cost?

Prices vary enormously and will depend on the grade and quality of the stone. Most stone is newly quarried but reclaimed slabs are available, which, although considered more environmentally friendly, are usually more expensive. Expect to pay upwards of £30 per m² from a high-street or national retailer and up to and over £500 per m² for high-grade or rarer stones.

Stone floors are widely considered to add value to a property, but choose wisely as, once laid; you won’t want to change them for years. They can also be very difficult and expensive to remove.


Easily split into various thicknesses and available with a textured finish, slate works well in wet areas.

Slate exists at the cheaper end of the spectrum, costing as little as £10 per m²  from a highstreet or online supplier, up to £50 per m² for interesting colours and textures from specialist suppliers.


Available in a wide spectrum of colours, often with mineral specks or subtle veining granite is a flexible choice that can be adapted to most house styles. It comes in different finishes, but it is the polished form that fully reveals the colours and patterns. Colours range from blue and purple shades through to grey and olive green, and they often include rusty red markings.

Granite floor tiles typically cost from £30 per m² for basic and uniform, black small format tiles. Expect to pay, on average, between £50-£70 per m² for larger format tiles, that have a more interesting and colourful finish. The limitless variations of granite flooring colours and textures means that it is hard to put a price on some of the rare examples available. It is very possible to spend in excess of £150 per m² to find the perfect patterning for your floor.


Starting its life as limestone, under certain conditions its components crystallise to form the veins typical of marble. In its purest form, it can be found in a wide range of other shades, from various greys through to green and black.

fired earth bridgehampton stone tiles

Marble floors come in at a similar price to granite, with an equal number of variations in colour and texture on the market. Expect to pay from £50 per m² for the most basic tile, to as much as £150 or £200 per m² for decorative tiles or tiles with specialist colour-ways and finishes.


Occurring in many tones, from nearly white to the more common warm honey, as well as rarer greys and dark browns Limestone is often a rustic. Textures range from even-grained stones through to smoother types with fossils and coarser, open-textured varieties. Some can be polished to resemble marble.

There is a lot of variation in the price of limestone tiles. The cheapest you will come across are around £30 per m² for a basic option, the average price is between £50 – £80 per m², but much like granite and marble, you can end up spending up to £200 per m².


Travertine has a porous surface with small holes that give it a sponge-like appearance; higher grade, premium travertine has fewer pits with a more vibrant colour. It can be sourced ready-filled from some suppliers; otherwise it will need to be filled in situ.

The cheapest travertine options are very affordable, starting from around £15 to £30 per m² and giving a similar effect to limestone. The most you will look at spending on travertine tiles is around £70 per m².

Where can you lay a stone floor?

Stone can be cold and hard underfoot, and this needs to be considered when deciding where to lay it. If you have a north facing room that has the potential to become cold, a stone floor may not be the ideal choice. In a south facing room, stone will adopt the ambient temperature and warm with the sun. You can always soften a stone floor with a rug and it is advisable to put any furniture on a carpet to avoid damaging the stone surface.

China and glass will almost certainly break if dropped on a solid stone floor, but this can be true of almost all floor coverings. Some polished surfaces can be slippery in bathrooms, but there are textured tiles with none-slip finishes available to solve that problem. The best way to find out if a floor covering is suitable for your space is to ask your supplier, if your selected tile isn’t appropriate, they will be able to suggest a similar option that is.

Underfloor heating

Solid stone flooring is the perfect partner for underfloor heating because of the ease at which it absorbs and emits heat. This means that the traditional worry of stone flooring being cold doesn’t have to be true.

This can be especially useful in a bathroom or kitchen and if the underfloor heating is most cost effective when it is run at a constant low temperature. Not only will it feel pleasant under bare feet, but it is also an effective way of reducing the risk of damp because of the constant ambient temperature in the room.

How to lay a stone floor

It is completely possible to lay a stone floor by yourself if you take your time, have the correct tools and make sure you follow some directions. If you have the time, patience and don’t mind making one or two mistakes, then you could save yourself the cost of installation. For the sake of a weekend’s work, you could use the £2-£3000 of installation costs elsewhere.

Many suppliers recommend professional fitting for natural stone, as getting a perfect finish requires skill and experience. An uneven subfloor, for example, can lead to cracking, and your fitter will know the correct adhesives, grout and sealants to use.

If you have invested in expensive flooring, or have a finite number of reclaimed floor tiles, it is advisable to have a professional fit the flooring for you. There are also other considerations, such as whether your joists will take the weight of large tiles or thick flagstones – timber floors may need strengthening. If you do decide to lay it yourself, do your homework first or at least have a professional assess the job for you.

Keynes Mix limestone is available in a classic Roman opus pattern and as W40cm random lengths, both £34.80 per m² from Beswick Stone

Where can I find a reputable fitter?

Ask your supplier if they offer a fitting service or if they can recommend a local tradesperson. Otherwise, the websites, and are good places to start

How to maintain a stone floor

Your stone floor will need to be sealed to prevent damage and staining, and will require sealing at regular intervals afterwards. Your supplier or installer will be able to recommend the most appropriate products to use and should provide you with advice on looking after your chosen material. Once you have the correct product, cleaning the floor yourself is a simple job.

Using cleaning products that aren’t recommended can leave behind a film, which can attract dirt and may need chemical removal at a later date. Regular sweeping will keep loose dirt away and, if needed, stone can be professionally cleaned and restored.

Solid stone flooring glossary

  • Honed – a smooth, matt surface for a natural look
  • Tumbled – an aged or distressed finish created by the tumbling process, which uses a machine with water and stones to give softer edges
  • Riven – stone, usually slate, is split to expose the natural texture for a rustic look
  • Brushed – a finish that is created by stiff bristles for a slightly rough appearance
  • Hammered – the surface has been finished with a pocked effect
  • Pillowed – a description used for stone that has soft, rounded edges
  • Polished – smoothed for a glossy finish
  • Flamed – a textured, non-reflective surface produced by a flame; sometimes referred to as a thermal finish