For centuries, stone has been found underfoot in dwellings around the world. From the narrow cobblestone streets of Europe to the walkways in Charleston, stone has been laid before us in the pathways as we journey through life.

There are good reasons for stone’s enduring performance as flooring. It is unrivaled in strength and aesthetics. With simple routine care and minimal maintenance, stone’s beauty will grow over the years.

Limestone and travertine provide a subtle backdrop for those wishing to highlight more prominent elements in their homes.

Exhibiting a fairly uniform surface with regard to color, veining and textures, limestone is the ideal choice for a more subdued appearance in a minimalist setting. Creamy whites, golden yellows, beiges and smoky blue-grays are predominant colors.

Travertine is an exquisite material that is ideal for instilling an Old World ambiance. Its surface variation can be somewhat more diverse and rugged than that of limestone, so evaluate your preference well.

Travertine is usually found in earth tones, beginning with pale ivory and running to rich shades of gold, red and brown. The beauty of travertine is that it never actually appears as one color, but instead is characterized by tonal variations and veining.

Slate can be used to create visually exciting floors. Colors and textures are vivid and earthy, and rugged surfaces are ideal in areas of high traffic. At home in the foyer, hallway, bathroom and mudroom, this flooring will add appeal to an uninspiring space.

Polished and elegant, marble and granite mirror the world around them. These stones evoke more formality.

From classic black-and-white checkerboard patterns to intense, dramatic red hues, these stones guarantee an unforgettable statement. Because they can become slippery, a honed or brushed finish will add traction and ease of maintenance.

Education is the key for successful stone floors. Do your homework, be realistic about your wants and needs, select what you love, and hire a skilled installer.

Andrea Antunes McGilton is project manager at Distinctive Granite and Marble, with showrooms in Okatie; Lady’s Island; Pooler, Ga., and on Hilton Head Island.