What stone-look flooring is most eco friendly?


What stone-look flooring is most eco friendly?

Asked by lee kottke

We're building a guest house at our NE Oklahoma ranch. Limestone is right look but I hear it's too soft and stain absorbent for a practical rough-use and easy care floor.

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Polly Osborne, FAIA, LEED AP's picture

When considering an eco-friendly flooring, it is important to review the followingfactors:

  • durability,
  • mining terrain impact,
  • distance from your location,
  • resourceconservation, and
  • radon or other toxin issues.

Durabilty is a matter of material hardness and impermeability. That beingsaid, many people have years of happiness with floors of limestone or marble,both materials that stain and are somewhat soft.

Manmade materials, such asconcrete or tile can have recycled content to help with resource conservationand can be made to be virtually impervious. Local quarries can give you a localproduct and allow you to see how they are repairing the land after mining thestone.

Radon is of concern in some areas with natural stone, most specifically granite.You can check with the epa whether this is a concern in your area here.


As you said, limestone does stain, but rather pleasantly, and can be sanded clean. Slatealso stains, but again, the dirt can be removed.

  • Granite, hard as it is, can stillstain, as can most other stone.
  • Sealing any natural stone is a good idea toprotect it.

If you want something completely impervious your best solution is porcelain.

  • There are many stone-like porcelains on the market, some with recycled content.
  • Most of them attempt to look like terrazzo, marble, limestone or travertine.

Flooring options I'd recommend you consider

It is my understanding that Oklahoma has a number of local quarries, so that isthe first place I would explore for a unique material. That also allows you to pickprecisely the stones that appeal to you, and possibly get something very specialand indigenous to your area.

Another option is to use concrete. Using a high fly-ash concrete incorporates awaste material, fly-ash, which adds strength to the mix.

  • There are many coloroptions to choose from, using integral stains and/or powder "hardeners," thatare thrown on as the concrete is curing.
  • If you are using integral color, you canalso "seed" the concrete with stones to increase the organic look, and grind it tobring out the beauty of the stones you have added.
  • Be sure with concrete thatyou incorporate expansion joints into your design to allow the concrete to crackalong the path of your choosing, not its choosing. These expansion joints can begrouted later if you wish.
  • Concrete should also be sealed.

Adobe is enjoying a come back as a flooring option. Here the local soil is mixedto create approximately 30%-50% sand mixture to which Portland cement isadded for stability. This creates a much softer feel than concrete, but it might nothold up to your rough use.

Determining the right floor for you

In conclusion, when determining the right floor for you, think local, strong, mayberecycled, and safe.

  • If it extends outside, consider whether it is slippery.
  • If it is amanufactured product it is easy to get information on safety, cleaning and on itsdurability.

However, a local stone can give you something so special, you'll bethe envy of the neighborhood.