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What is Flagstone Flooring?

A piece of sandstone, which is often used to make flagstone flooring.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2014
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Flagstone flooring is flooring made from flagstone, a form of sedimentary rock which is well-suited to splitting into flat slabs for flooring, roofing, and other projects. Many stone floors are made with flagstones, and the practice of using flagstones in floors is centuries old. Home supply stores usually sell several different styles of flagstone flooring, and additional variations can be ordered directly from manufacturers.

Rather than being a specific stone, “flagstone” is actually just a type of stone. Flagstone is characterized by being sedimentary, and formed in layers, which make it easy to split into flat slabs. Depending on how the stone is processed, it may be ground to make an especially even surface, or left slightly rough. Flagstone can be polished to a high sheen, or left with a slightly matte finish, and it comes in a range of colors including gray, blueish, green, brown, red, yellow, and cream. Sandstone is a common choice for flagstone flooring.

Some people like the aesthetic of flagstone flooring, since it can look very attractive. This type of flooring is also easy to care for, as long as it is installed and sealed properly, and it can add significantly to the resale value of a structure. By thinking ahead, people can also install heating and cooling systems underneath their flagstone flooring, using the floor as a radiant heating or cooling source during especially cold or warm weather.

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Flagstones can be purchased in the form of slabs which are set and grouted by hand, or in the form of tiles, which tend to have more regular shapes and standardized bottoms to make them easier to lay. Some companies make flagstone tile with a mesh backing, so the tile can simply be rolled out on the floor and cut to size, without having to worry about spacing the tiles properly for grouting since they are already precisely spaced on the backing.

There are several key issues to be considered when installing flagstone flooring. The first is the condition of the subfloor. If older flooring is being replaced with flagstones, the subfloor should be examined for signs of rot, mold, and mildew, and it should be reinforced or replaced as needed. It is also critical to seal flagstone flooring to avoid staining and to prevent water from leaching through to damage the subflooring. Many companies sell pre-sealed flagstones, but the floor should be sealed again after grouting, and it may need to be periodically stripped and resealed.

When caring for flagstone flooring, the best regimen involves frequent sweeping, and occasional mopping with warm water only, as chemicals and soaps can stain the flooring. It is also a good idea to felt the bottoms of chairs, tables, and other furniture to avoid scuffing.

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