Sandstone Bathroom Tiles

Porous Problems In Wet Environments

Sandstone flooring, laid as tiles
davidf / Getty Images

Sandstone flooring is a beautiful natural choice for a variety of interior locations. Unfortunately, the inherent porosity of this material makes it difficult to maintain when used in bathrooms, which can be very moist and humid. While a rigorous and regular maintenance routine can make it possible to retain the look of this material in such a space, often the effort required is greater than the benefit, prompting the use of similar but different bathroom flooring options.

Sandstone Bathroom Flooring Water Problems 

Absorption Rate Of Sandstone Flooring: 1% - 6%
This refers to how much water is retained by weight in a cubic inch of sandstone when it is submerged in water and then removed. Sandstone is fairly high in its absorbency when compared to other natural stones. However, there are a few particular sandstone materials which will be better at resisting water penetration than others.
Stains: The first thing that you have to worry about with sandstone flooring is that absorption makes every liquid spill a potential permanent stain. Because color filled liquids can sink down into the material, they can also discolor it from the inside, causing damage that is impossible to repair without replacing the tile.
At the same time, sandstone is made of alkaline materials. That means that if an acidic substance, such as most soaps and cleansers, comes in contact with its unprotected surface a chemical reaction can occur in the form of a permanent stain.
Warping: The absorption rate of sandstone also makes warping a problem. In bathrooms, the high level of heat mixed with humidity in the air means that water can get deep down into the material structure of a sandstone tile. In some cases, this can cause warping, which can lead to cracks and uneven breaks in the floor. Unfortunately, humidity can attack a sandstone tile from every side so even sealing the surface will not always work.

Mold and Bacteria: Even clear water, which won’t necessarily stain sandstone bathroom flooring, can cause a problem because it can seep down into the structure of the material and cause the growth of mold and bacteria. This can be an insidious problem that causes not only blemishes in the tiles but also health risks to the air of the entire room.

Sealing Sandstone Bathroom Flooring

If you decide to use sandstone flooring in a bathroom then it is essential that you seal it on a regular basis. In most cases, sandstone can be sealed annually, but, in a bathroom, it may be necessary to do this every 3 - 6 months. You have to use both a penetrating sealer which will clog the pores in the sandstone, as well as a barrier chemical that will create a protective surface over it. It may also be advisable to use an extra finish coat to provided added protection.

Cleaning Sandstone Bathroom Floors

The main concern with maintaining a sandstone bathroom flooring installation will be keeping up with a regular chemical sealant application regiment. Once that is done, the floor can be swept or cleaned with the soft hose nozzle of a vacuum. If necessary a sponge can be used with warm water to clean stains, as long as the liquid is toweled up afterward. You should never soak a sandstone floor with water, or use any acidic cleaners on it.

More Bathroom Flooring Options

Clefted Sandstone Bathroom Flooring

The texture of sandstone can vary quite a bit, from natural, clefted material which has a rustic almost bumpy feel, to smooth polished shimmering surfaces. In a bathroom clefted natural stone is generally preferred as it can give you the safety of traction even when the floor is wet. At the same time, you have to make sure that the clefting will not be so extreme that it is uncomfortable on bare feet.

Appropriate Sandstone Bathroom Flooring Uses

Extra Bathrooms: If the bathroom is only used on occasion, and isn’t often showered or bathed in, then an extra bathroom in the house may be able to support sandstone flooring. Bear in mind you will still need to keep up with a regular sealing regiment for when the bathroom is used.
Guest Bathrooms: The bathrooms attached to guest rooms are often seldom used and may also on occasion be appropriate for sandstone flooring. The use of floor mats near showers, tubs, and sinks will help to cut down on problems, and of course sealing the floor before use is essential.
Half Baths: If it is a half bath with just a sink and toilet and no actual shower then sandstone flooring may be appropriate. As always, sealing is still required, and stains may occur, but the less water and moisture present the better.
Powder Rooms: In rooms used for dressing or makeup where moisture and humidity are not a problem then sandstone flooring can be used. Regular sealing maintenance is always necessary but removing the water and soap acid stain damage issues makes this a much more viable floor surface covering option.<br/>

Faux Sandstone Bathroom Floors

There are many ceramic manufacturing companies that print man made tiles with colors and even textures designed to match the look of natural sandstone. These are often a great option in the bathroom, as that print is actually a melted glass glaze that makes the clay material impervious to water damage. The drawback, of course, is that it is a manufactured and not a natural material and so there is some difference in the feel and tactile touch of the tiles.