Conservatory Flooring: Advice on natural stone flooring selection
Many people choose to build a conservatory to create additional living area without the need for moving house or applying for formal planning permission for an extension.
The choice of flooring in this case is usually either carpet or laminate flooring. However, if you think of your conservatory as a 'gateway' to your garden then you may want to consider a more hard wearing and tolerant surface such as a natural stone tile or slab.
This is a porous sedimentary rock. As a surface it can be quite soft and stain quite easily. The risk of potential stains can be largely averted by impregnating or sealing the surface of the limestone. The advice before doing this is to make sure the surface is very clean before application. I guess else you will seal in the dirt you're trying to keep out (a similar thing is true of Scoth Guard like agents used on carpets - as I discovered to my downfall!). Soft limestone is fairly easy to do minor damage to and so expect to see a little wear and tear over the years. If this is likely to irritate you then you're better off choosing a man made tile or one of the harder natural stones. Being anything from almost white to a soft brown limestone can be dazzling on a sunny day and yet look cold on a cool day outside. As of Dec 2005 limestone floor tiles/slabs can be bought from around £30-35 per square metre.
Again a porous material and so much the same advice holds as for limestone. One exception is that they come in a great deal many more colours, from white to red and brown. This can have issues when trying to lay out a consistent colour pattern on the floor as the batch of slabs you get could have considerable variation in colour from slab to slab. As of Dec 2005 sandstone floor tiles/slabs can be bought from around £15 per square metre.
Firsly slate isn't just dark grey. It comes in a wide variety of colours from beige to green to almost jet black. As you would expect, from a material most commonly used to roof houses, it's non-porous. However, it can still be marked and so you may want to consider some form of protective coating. A very smooth surface is achievable with slate giving quite a clean finish to a room is layed professionally. As of Dec 2005 slate floor tiles/slabs can be bought from around £15-25 per square metre.
A well polished marble floor shines out and burns the word indulgence into the mind of the observer. Think about the last posh hotel you visited. Marble is a metamorphised limestone, that is limestone that has been heated to the point of allowing it to re-crystallise. Marble is very hard wearing and easy to clean, but still should be protected with a sealer. It can contain large coloured veins which need to be considered when tiling. Don't try and follow a vein as invariably it will run out and then look odd with some of the floor matching and some not. Better to instead lay the slabs with the veins in roughly the same direction, but don't get too hung up about it. A marble type that has many veins is easier to match than one with a few very thick veins. Marbles better durability and looks are reflected in its increased price. As of Dec 2005 marble floor tiles/slabs can be bought for around £55-65 per square metre.
'Hard as granite' - nuff said really. Granite is an igneous rock and is extremely hard wearing. It is available in many different colours from grey with speckled pink to almost black. Again though it should be treated with a protective coating. As of Dec 2005 granite floor tiles/slabs can be bought for around £55-65 per square metre.
Floor Slab Sealants
These prevent dirt, oil and grease from impregnating the surface of the slabs and will cost about £2 per square metre of floor area to use.
Which natural stone tile to choose?
All stone floor types can have that 'wow' factor and either look rustic or elegant. The choice is down to cost and what the surrounding decor (wall colour, furnishings, etc) will take in terms of tile colour. It is recommended that for all of the floor surfaces the tile seller is asked to recommend a protective sealant to protect the tile surface. When the expected lifetime and considerable cost of the floor is taken into account one can see the false economy of not applying anything to the tiles. Unless you have loads of time or are proficient at laying tiles properly then consider getting a professional in to do the work
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