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Stone Flooring Installation (2) Advisement and Steps

Updated:2007-11-14 15:41:02

Advisement #1: installing natural stone flooring yourself doesn’t come naturally.

Installing this type of floor is heavy, difficult work; labor intensive and extremely exacting. It’s simply not for the do-it-yourselfer.

We strongly recommend you call upon a reliable, seasoned, dedicated professional to install your natural stone floor. Ask your retailer for help in this matter.

That way you can be assured of a beautiful, efficient and correct installation. Which is precisely what our goal is for you.

However, while installing natural stone flooring is a skill that is developed through years of experience, your understanding of the basics of installation will increase your knowledge of the process, and enhance your confidence in the professionals working in your home.

So please allow us to cover some of the basic steps your professional installers will perform.

There’s no substitute for a good substrate.

As with most flooring products, the first step is to prepare the substrate, the surface on which the stone tile will be laid.

With cement subfloors, installers can opt to apply the mortar directly to it and simply lay the tile.

Wood subfloors, however, usually require a CBU or cement backer unit for support and a moisture barrier.

It’s important to note that movement in the substrate material can sometimes occur. For example, water penetrating the grout and/or freezing and thawing temperatures can sometimes cause tile to rise, crack or chip.

To help prevent this, some installers will use a material called Ditra.

Ditra is an underlayment that provides a solid foundation for the tile, while still allowing for slight movement of the substrate without damage.

For example, in the event that water penetrates the grout in a bathroom, it provides a protective waterproof barrier.


Smile, it’s time to lay your tile.

stone laying

The installer will measure the area and snap chalk lines for an accurate layout, then determine which pieces of tile will need to be cut to fit the area. Tiles that need to be cut are measured and marked with a pencil.

The installer then uses a wet saw with a 10-inch diamond blade to cut through the stone tile.

The freshly cut edges are smoothed by hand with a white stone.

Once the layout has been determined, the installer can begin setting the tile. Your beautiful new floor is about to be born.

Thinset mortar, which is a cement based adhesive, is applied to the surface with a notched or grooved trowel.

The tile is then placed into the thinset and pressed firmly into place.

To grout, wedge or butter, that is the question.

Stone tile is typically installed with narrow grout joints, meaning the tiles are laid very close to each other on all sides.

stone installation

If it is a large tiled area, installers may use plastic tile wedges or spacers to maintain consistent spacing between each tile. In small areas they may not use these at all.

The installer may back butter the back of the tile with thinset mortar which will strengthen the bond between the tile and mortar already laid on the substrate.

We’ll level with you, this is precise work.

As the installers move along setting the tile, they continually check to make sure the newly tiled area is as level as possible.

Since stone tiles vary in thickness and size, the amount of thinset mortar applied is adjusted where needed.

grout floors

At this point think joint.

After all the tiles are set and the thinset mortar has fully cured, the installer fills the joints between the tiles with grout.

Un-sanded grout is most commonly used in natural stone installations.

This type of grout is used because it is able to fill the small joints more easily and will not scratch soft stones like sanded grout might. Your installers think of everything.

Un-sanded grout is a dry, Portland cement-based product that is mixed with water onsite.

The grout mixture is spread over the tiled area with a grout float to fill in all the joints.

A sponge is then used to remove excess grout from the surface of the tile, while leaving the grout in the joints to cure.

And that is how your beautiful natural stone floor is professionally installed.

(To be continued....)


source: World Floor Covering Association (WFCA)

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