Limestone is a popular material for many homeowners to use on their walls and floors. It has a soft, creamy finish, often with a matte surface that gives homes from Contemporary to Country a little extra detail and style. Limestone can be divided into two basic groups, each of which has its own general appearance and characteristics.
When most people think of limestone they are probably thinking of the sedimentary stone that formed on shell reefs. It’s made of mostly calcite, and may be studded with fossils.
This type of limestone can vary from very soft to moderately hard, and some types can even take a high polish. Regardless, every type of limestone in this class reacts negatively with acids and alkalines, so a spill of vinegar on the floor will result in a foaming action that will begin to dissolve the stone. Some limestones, such as Lagos Azul are so soft that even some types of hard water can eventually lead to pitting and etching of the stone surface.
A less recognized form of limestone is known as lithographic or French limestone. Quarried in the hills of France and Belgium, this limestone is much harder, and has a slightly different appearance. While smooth to the touch, this stone appears to be rough or studded with holes.
French limestone is much older than other forms, dating back to the Jurassic period. It’s made of plattenkalk deposits that split into thin sheets. It formed in stagnant, hypersaline lagoons, rather than shell reefs and does not have the same type of fossil studding.
It does react the same way to acids and alkalines, but it wears much longer and is much heartier than other types of limestone. It is not uncommon, in fact, to find French limestone floor tiles that have been reclaimed from centuries old farmhouses, and that still have centuries of use left in them.
Homeowners looking for a very hard, long lasting floor tile that has the matte, smooth beauty of limestone may want to consider French limestone as an alternative.