Natural stone is a specialist product and it is important to use an installer who knows what he is doing and has experience of the product. Any reputable retailer will be able to give you a set of installation instructions however there are some scenarios where you are completely reliant on the skill of the installer. Examples of this are
- An experienced installer will check the colour and size of all tiles before installation to ensure colour variation is spread across the floor
- An experienced installer will discuss with the client which tiles they like ( and use more of them in the middle of the floor) and which tiles they like less ( and use them for cuts and clips )
- An experienced installer will know when a floor is dry and the right time to apply sealer
- An experienced installer will know about the various wax’s and products available to enhance a stone floor to suit a client’s requirements
- An experienced installer will be able to get a 2 – 3mm grout line
- An experienced installer will solve problems – a jobbing builder will create problems
We sold a rustic slate floor recently to a lady in Newcastle. She used her own builder to install. She contacted us after the floor had been laid and the builder had been paid asking if it was normal for the grout joints to be so wide. It was immediately apparent when she sent in a photo was the reason the joints were wide is because the builder had laid the floor upside down.
To avoid ending up like the lady in Newcastle it is essential to use an installer who lays stone floors week in and week out and not to be tempted by a lower cost lower experience option. You would not use an electrician to do the plastering and therefore it is rarely a good idea to use a builder to lay stone floor tiles. Any reputable retailer will be able to provide an installer. The advantage of using them is they will know the products and how they are meant to look.
Will sealer darken or change the appearance of stone?
It is essential to seal a floor as this will protect it from stains and marks. The best sealers today are made from silicone and are translucent. There will be a slight smell when they are first applied but this will disperse quickly. A matt stone sealer will not change the colour or appearance of a stone floor. A polished stone sealer will add a slight sheen to the surface of most stone tiles.
It is possible to darken most rustic / more open stones with a wax such as Lilothin Classic wax. These products will darken the overall tone of the tile. If applied by a tiler with a buffing machine they will also add a slight sheen to the surface. This can work very well with a rustic material such as terracotta tiles – however, it is always best to try a sample patch first.
Polished or high-density limestones and marbles will not absorb a wax. It Is possible to raise the sheen on these floors with products such as Lilothin Multiseal however, it is not possible to darken polished or high-density hard stones.
What is the tightest grout line I can have on a stone floor?
Stone tiles are cut with a diamond tipped saw which can be between 0.5mm – 0.75mm thick. Therefore whilst a tile on paper may be declared as 400 x 600mm there will always be a small amount of variation from tile to tile. British Standards declare an acceptable variation is + 2mm / -2mm across a floor. Therefore assuming a tile is cut square ( ie both sides are parallel it is possible for a competent installer to lay a floor with a 2 – 3mm grout line. It is impossible to get tighter than this due to the variations described above.