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If you currently have a ceramic tiled floor or even porcelain tiles, you will know that they look good and are easy to maintain but if you are thinking about changing the design of your room (or just the flooring), whether it is your kitchen, bathroom, hallway or conservatory, then no decision will be complete without considering natural stone tiles as an option.

You may think your budget will not stretch to natural stone but they are available in a range of prices so don’t discount them until you have checked out what’s available. But before thinking about the cost, why would you want to choose natural stone in the first place?

Flooring is a key design element in any home that can set the whole tone of a space, but it is not easy or cheap to replace and often needs to fit with a range of styles should you decide to alter your décor over time. So it is important for both design and cost consequences that you make the right choice first time.

Natural stone is beautiful and durable with individual characteristics that simply can’t be matched by mass-produced ceramic or porcelain tiles, which are all the same and offer no interest to the viewer. Certainly porcelain tiles now come in “natural stone” effect but these are usually poor imitations of the real thing because they do not contain the natural variations and slight imperfections that make natural stone so unique.

But even though stone tiles are durable, they do need good, thorough maintenance and will need to be sealed with an appropriate sealant after installation. You will be able to get advice from a reputable supplier about the particular products best suited to different types of stone.

But more importantly than all of this is the look of the tiles and your own personal preference about what sort of design statement you want to make. Will it be ultra-contemporary, traditional, rustic or classically understated? All of these personal preferences will influence your choice. Marble is perfect for a classic, luxurious look or slate for the ideal rustic flooring in a country cottage. Highly polished limestone creates a contemporary feel and some travertine floor tiles manage to combine elegance with a rustic edge. All are impressive.

Don’t forget to think about how the colour of the floor will complement your furniture, fittings, accessories and artwork. Pale golden limestone floor tiles are a perfect background for a neutral design scheme or a bolder one using bright colours. On the other hand dark slate tiles or black marble will define the design scheme and can mean that other items in a room have to be chosen carefully to avoid the scheme becoming over-dark (or worse, drab and depressing).

But natural stone is versatile and can look great anywhere providing the style and colour is selected carefully to suit your own personal style of interiors. It can be a key element that creates harmony between a number of different rooms.

A few final considerations:

Safety – remember that highly polished surfaces can be slippery when wet so may not be the best choice in bathrooms or wetrooms.

Samples – make sure to view samples in your own home under your own lighting conditions (not the bright lights of a showroom)

Cost – shop around for bulk buys, discontinued lines and special purchases of natural stone. You won’t regret choosing them rather than ceramic tiles or porcelain tiles.

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