8 DIFFERENT STONE TILES AND THEIR FEATURES
Stone has a long history of being the preferred building material for the privileged and elite, but with today’s processing techniques stone is far more affordable and a smart choice for homeowners and renovators. Renovating with stone invariably adds value to a home, is easy to maintain, and unlike many other types of building materials, only improves with age. It’s because of stone’s longevity and variety that most homeowners like to get a good understanding of the different types of stone available and their qualities before making a decision. So let’s look at 8 different types of stone and their features:
Slate is a fine grained metamorphic rock that develops in layers under pressure. It’s an extremely versatile building material most often used in flooring and roofing, but also in landscaping and for wall tiles, worktops, and fire surroundings.
Slate floors may have seemed like a fad in the 80s and 90s, but the timeless elegance and durability of the stone has ensured they remain a good investment in any decade. Slate floors laid in the 80s and 90s are still looking good, far outstripping the life of ceramic tiles and carpets laid in the same era. It’s no wonder that slate flooring is experiencing a revival in the Australian home. Slate has also emerged as a style trend in commercial spaces, seen everywhere in restaurants and chic small bars.
Slate floors are hardwearing, easy to clean, and non-combustible, making them perfect for fire-prone areas. Affordable and practical as they are, most people choose slate for their homes because they’ve fallen in love with its natural beauty and texture. Available in a huge range of earthy colours, slate is free from nasty odours or chemicals. Allergen-free, natural, and economical, slate is family, wallet, and planet friendly.
Welsh slate is the most hardwearing slate you can have on your roof. It’s waterproof, temperature resistant, chemical resistant, colourfast, and non-fading, even in UV light. Welsh slate is generally replaced every 100 years, usually because the timber roofing beneath them has failed. The tiles themselves can last for 100s of years.
Pattini is an affordable fine grained black slate with an attractive longitudinal grain down its length. Pattini slate has been used in Europe, Ireland, and the UK for over 14 years and has a projected lifespan of 75 years.
Reminiscent of the grey-green colour of many Australian eucalypt leaves, Vermont slate tiles actually come from Vermont in the United States. Although they’re at home amongst the eucalypts, Vermont tiles also bring an understated elegance to the urban environment, like in the stunning restoration of the old Sydney TAFE building in Ultimo.
Inspire slate is a manufactured or ‘faux slate’ which is indistinguishable from natural slate once it’s on the roof. Inspire slate withstands hail, the weight of roofers, and is virtually unbreakable. Lighter than natural slate, these are easier to lift and fix, reducing installation costs for most projects.
Sandstone, in all its colours and textures, has been used for thousands of years thanks to its reliability and easy nature. It was also readily available in early colonial days and was one of the prominent stones used in Sydney’s heritage buildings. Nowadays, sandstone is still a feature inside and out of beach houses, suburban bungalows, and million dollar mansions.
Sandstone comes in a variety of colours and textures. Natural Split sandstone splits along planes, revealing vivid yellows, golds, browns, pinks, and eucalyptus greens. The intricate surface of natural split Willow sandstone offers homeowners character, depth, and grain you won’t find in processed surfaces. Honed sandstone is sandstone that has been polished with fine abrasives to give a smooth surface with deep colours. The lightly sandblasted finish of Coogee sandstone tiles have a characteristic grain and colour that is perfect for a beachy aesthetic.
Quartz has always been popular as a decorative stone for high end applications, but it’s becoming increasingly popular as a replacement for ceramic wall tiles. Offering low maintenance, durable, non-slip surfaces, the Sofala and Grey Gum quartzite varieties add elegance to any environment, and are especially practical around bathrooms and pools.
Whether you’re building an ancient Roman palace, the foundations for the city of Venice, or the presidential home, limestone is a stone of choice. It’s also a fabulous stone for contemporary homes. Limestone forms over millions of years from the calcium in sea shells and the bones of sea creatures that settle as sediment on the ocean floor. The result is a durable stone that handles exposure and humidity well.
Limestone is notoriously difficult to photograph, and always more beautiful when seen in real life. When you visit a showroom make sure you check out the Blanco and Simena varieties. Blanco is a bright limestone from Turkey that is great for flooring, bathroom areas, and kitchen splashbacks while Simena is a fine-grained limestone best suited for indoor use. Limestone is so effective in brightening up a dark room that a limestone floor is sometimes used instead of installing a skylight.
As beautiful as it is, limestone takes on a new life when you apply enough heat and pressure. This new stone has a crystal structure which allows it to be polished to bring out the classic colours and veining of marble.
Marble brings elegance to any home, and often different varieties are used together for a stunning result. Nero marble is a brooding black with a white veined surface that pairs beautifully with the off-white Bianco, which has cream and golden highlights. An exciting new variety of marble is Blue Moon, a light grey and white colour that combines the classic elegance of marble with the muted tones of contemporary design.
Travertine has long been associated with the grand buildings of Europe, including Rome’s Colosseum and the Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris. Travertine is a type of limestone that is formed in hot springs or limestone caves. It comes in a variety of styles including classico, walnut, mocha, and pewter, but the most important consideration when choosing travertine tiles is to make sure you source them from a reputable supplier.
The distinctive holes in travertine that distinguish it from other stones are formed by water that once flowed through the stone. These holes can be filled, although they are often left unfilled to achieve a more natural look. A good supplier will make sure that your tiles don’t have too many holes and that they are dense enough for their intended purpose.
If you’ve come from anywhere else in the world you may be confused when Aussies talk about bluestone. In fact, if you come from interstate you might even be a little confused. It doesn’t help that you won’t find a description of bluestone in a geology book, either. Across Australia bluestone takes on different meanings, but we all generally agree that it is a hard, rugged stone with a bluish tinge. So in Victoria, basalt is bluestone. In South Australia it is schists and siltstone, and in Queensland it is porphyry.
Two premium bluestones, Mali and Bellambi, are a type of basalt especially suited to different finishes. These versatile bluestones can be finished for many applications. Generally, you’d use sawn bluestone for paving, honed for indoor walls, flamed for wet areas, brushed for a soft finish, and natural for cobblestone driveways and paths.
True granite contains quartz, mica, and feldspar, but in the stone trade granite refers to almost any igneous rock that can take a polish. The colour and texture of granite depends on the minerals in the stone and the rate at which it is cooled.
Granite has a well earned reputation for toughness and easy maintenance, which is why real estate agents love to highlight the old granite benchtop in their listings. The benefits of granite, however, can be enjoyed all throughout the contemporary home. The unpolished, soft honed granites like Wildwood are very much in vogue for foyers, living areas, kitchens, and bathrooms. Flamed Silver Grey granite offers durability and slip resistance for outdoor areas and is especially popular for patios and around pools.
Now you know more about the different qualities and features of natural stone, why not browse our selection and see what will best complement your home or garden?