We used marble flooring throughout the house. One advantage
of stone over ceramic is that stone can be precisely cut, whereas
ceramic tiles can't be. This let us place the tiles close together
(appx 1/16"), to minimize the amount of grout. This was important
to us because grout is hard to keep clean. Using larger 18" tiles
allowed further minimization of the grout.
We chose a white, plain grout material, and did not apply a
sealant afterwards. The marble itself was also not sealed.
Here is a picture of the floor in our living room and dining
We chose stone rather than hardwood for several reasons. First,
it was the most compatible with our choice of a slab foundation.
A hardwood floor would have to have been installed on top of wooden
runners. The runners would have been nailed to the concrete, and
the floor would then have been nailed to the runners. This would
have left a 1/2" air gap under the floor, which would have
been a perfect place for mold to grow. After we moved in, we had
a water spill from our washing machine -- this would have been
a huge problem with a wood floor. Another problem with wood is
that it has to be finished, and the finishing materials are in
general fairly toxic. They also need to be refinished every 10
years or so, with heavy sanding, lots of dust, etc. Stone floors
avoided all of those problems.
We chose marble rather than other stones because of its attractive
appearance. The cost was roughly the same as a high-quality hardwood
floor, at appx. $10/square foot, including materials and installation.
You might enjoy the following books about flooring from