Limestone vs. Marble for Floors

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Limestone and marble floors may have intricate inlays.
Limestone and marble floors may have intricate inlays. (Image: Thomas Brown/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Limestone and marble are both natural stones that make beautiful, long-lasting floors. The stones have similar qualities, but create a very different look. Your main consideration in choosing between limestone and marble will probably be personal taste, followed by cost and durability.

Aesthetics

Although limestone and marble are both natural stones, they have a very different look and feel. Limestone usually has a soft, natural, matte finish suitable for contemporary homes or homes with a Tuscan flavor. Marble is usually polished to a high gloss and has a harder, crisper look. It works well in traditional home settings.

Cost and Availability

Marble comes in many shades, such as white, gray, black, red, taupe or brown, and usually has a variegated, or marbled, pattern throughout. Cost varies widely, too, and can range from as low as $2 per square foot to more than $14 per square foot, as of publication time. Limestone generally comes in limited natural shades, such as taupe or clay. These tiles do not usually have variegation, although some tiles may have fossils in them. Cost for limestone typically runs $4 to $7 per square foot.

Durability

Both marble and limestone are highly durable, stain-resistant natural stone choices. Marble may be more likely to become stained or cracked, but proper installation and care can minimize these problems. Marble and limestone tiles are installed in similar fashion with a thinset foundation and grout. A stable, level subfloor is necessary to prevent cracks in the stone floors.

Care

Both marble and limestone tiles require regular maintenance to keep them looking new. Sweep floors regularly with a dust mop or broom to remove sand and dirt that can scratch the floor's surface. Wet mop the floors as needed and wipe up spills immediately. Use only cleaners with a neutral pH that are recommended for natural stone. Annual polishing and sealing by a professional is recommended to reduce staining and wear.

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