Luxurious Surfacing Material
Installing stone tile in your bathroom can not only add the beauty of natural stone to your walls and floors but also increase the value of your home. The best part is that introducing granite into your bathing space is just as simple as installing ceramic tile in your bath. The only real difference in the installation process is that you will require a wet saw with a diamond blade due to the hardness of natural stone.
Limestone, marble and granite are the bath designer’s stones of choice, and while natural stone tiles may be slightly more expensive than ceramic pieces, the price has actually come down in recent years. The trend in stone size selection has increased over the years from subway sized pieces to much larger 12×12 inch or bigger sections.
When handling and installing natural stone in your bath, you do have to be a little more careful than when working with ceramic.
This is primarily because natural stone is not a manufactured material. Therefore, the minerals that make up the stones pattern are distributed unevenly throughout the compound which could potentially make it brittle and subject to fracture along the mineral lines so try not to jar the product too much.
Compensating for the Thickness of the Natural Element
Another unique feature of natural stone that you should be aware of when installing in your bathroom, is that some plates may be slightly thicker than others. Therefore you may need to adjust the amount of thinset underneath your tiles to compensate for this difference in thickness to make sure your surfaces are level.
Due to the integral properties of naturally occurring stone when it is cut, there will be a thin layer of dust on the bottom of your stone tiles. This dust residue needs to be wiped off with a damp cloth and clean water before you install the covering material in your washroom.
If this is not done, it will reduce the adhesive ability of the thinset to bond properly with the tile, to create a snug and stable floor. And don’t forget to let the surface dry completely before you lay down your sections.
Marking Where the Tiles Will go
Just like ceramic, when installing stone in your bath, you need to do a dry run by laying out your pieces to see if they will fit in the allotted space on your bathroom floor. Next, you need to mark your layout grid lines on your lavatory floor by snapping out chalk lines to serve as guides to keep your stone tile square with your walls.
Pick up, count and stack your tiles strategically in different sections of your floor so you won’t have to be going back and forth each time you need a tile. Mix your thinset with a low speed (below 300 rpm) mixing drill or use a mortar paddle from your tiling tool box and let it sit for about ten minutes before applying the mixture to your floor.
Apply the thinset using a trowel to your sub-floor inside the grid lines on the floor, but do not cover the chalk lines or else you won’t be able to see your grid. Also, apply some thinset to the back of your stone slabs (called buttering the tile).
Adjusting the Layout Grid
Set and level the stone pieces (using a straight edge) on your floor within the confines of each grid, use plastic spacers between the joints and adjust the pieces with a slight twisting motion to align your tiles along your layout lines. Continue installing your stone tiles in the room, spacing the slabs as you go.
When installing stone tile in your bathroom, it’s sometimes a good idea to let the rest of your floor tiles (sometimes called field tiles) set overnight before you attempt to finish off your edge tiles as these will normally need to be cut because your bathroom floor is rarely if ever completely square and your slabs will sometimes be different sizes.
Cut the edge pieces using a wet saw with a diamond blade and bevel off the edges with a rubbing stone or sandpaper wrapped around a block of wood. Set your edge tiles in the thinset mortar, remembering to butter the back of the stone slabs.
Let the mortar cure for twenty-four hours. To finish up the installation process, you need to mix up a batch of unsanded grout, just enough to work on one small section of your floor at a time.
As a special note be aware that stone tiles are naturally porous, so to avoid your pieces absorbing too much moisture from the grout you need to mist them using water from a spray bottle before you apply the grout to your stone surfaces.
Using a float, apply the grout over your pieces and remove the excess grout, wait about fifteen minutes and then using a damp sponge or cloth wipe off the grout haze from off the top surface of your floor.
It’s important to work in one small section of your floor at a time; this will ensure you are able to wipe off any excess grout haze before it has the opportunity to harden on your stone tiles.
Continue the grouting process until your bath floor is completely grouted. Let the grout cure based upon the manufactures specifications. Once the grout is dried, seal your tile and grout lines to care and protect your stone tiles and prolong the materials natural beauty.
As you can see installing stone tile in your bathroom is not that different from installing ceramic tile in your loo, but the elegance and atmosphere it creates are well worth the effort.