Natural Stone: Top Ten Mistakes

These are a couple of examples of mistakes you can make when selecting a stone surface for floors, walls or counters.

  1. Cheap travertine — I list this first because it is such an unforeseen nightmare. Travertine is graded on the amount of fill present. If there is a lot of fill, large unsightly holes will appear that will have to be refilled. If the “d” grade travertine ever needs to be ground or flattened, in many cases will simply disintegrate. When choosing travertine, do yourself a favor and take a strong look at the faux travertine in porcelain. High grade travertine has a similar price point to any other high grade stone.
  2. Combining marble with granite inlay. Or inlays of any type on a stone floor. They are tough to refinish, and since the granite is harder, diamond floor grinders sometimes don’t work the way they are supposed to. If the floor is to be polished the compounds used to polish each is different, refinishing can be more difficult.
  3. Ceramic tile, porcelain, wood, glass or copper inlays with natural stone. See examples above.
  4. Choosing the wrong finish in a stone floor. Many people choose a hone finish only want to have it polished. Some choose a polish finish and have no idea the upkeep necessary, and want it honed. If you are thinking of stone choose a finish you can live with.
  5. Skimping on install budget. Stone flooring installers are an elite group. Check references with customers and check distributors. Be sure they do excellent work. Expect to pay more. The saddest thing in the world is someone who buys a cheap stone and combines it with a weak installer.
  6. Improper sealer application. Have a firm, thought out, fully explained strategy for sealer application, or your installer might apply a sealer that will completely change the finish of the floor. And never ever allow a product to be applied with a steel wool pad referred to as a crystalizer.
  7. Avoid black marble. Black granite is OK, but not black marble. If you do insist on a black marble take a sample tile to a restoration company that face polishes stone and have them confirm the stone is not doctored.
  8. Using sanded grout. Have the installer use non-sanded grout. Sanded grout makes the floor virtually impossible to refinish, because dislodged sand can become embedded in the diamond disks and scratch the floor.
  9. Using stone in a shower. In all my years in the business I have only seen one stone shower that looked great after a number of years. After every shower, the couple would squeegee and towel dry the entire shower. Soap residue and minerals from the water take their toll on the stone from day one.
  10. Like 9 above, using marble on a kitchen counter where it can be subject to acid etching.
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I am the owner and founder of Fabric & Tile Masters and have decades of experience with all of the categories I write about. We refinish stone walls, counter and floors every day.
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