How to Install Natural Stone Tiles
Natural stone tiles can be the best replacement for ceramic tile flooring. You will need to prepare the floor for installation before you begin and this process can be demanding. Here is an easy guide that will help you install natural stone tiles if you are a beginner.
Step 1 – Remove Old Tiles
Using a chipping hammer or electric hammer drill with a chisel will help to remove the tiles and the thin-set from the floor. This tool will help you control your movements better. Start from one corner of the room to remove old tiles. Hold the tool steadily and aim it at the groove of the tiles. Apply pressure to the power tool as it digs under the tiles.
Remove the old thin-set from the concrete floor to get a level and smooth subfloor. To do this, run the hammer drill on the thin-set to break it up further. Remove the remaining thin-set with a concrete grinder. Use a nylon broom or a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner to pick up the dust and tile chips.
Step 2 – Prepare the Area for Tile Installation
Measure the floor area to estimate how many tiles will be needed to cover the floor. Always be sure to purchase extra tiles in case you might need more. Lay down the tiles and arrange them according to your layout plan. Use a wet saw with a masonry blade to cut the stones to fit in the area you need. Mark the area where you would start the installation. It is best to start from the middle of the floor so that any cuts at the edges are uniform on opposite sides.
Step 3 – Install the Tiles
Mix the thin-set with water and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the proper mixing ratio. Apply thin-set on the underside of tiles using a notched trowel. It is important to dampen the back of the tile first using a grout sponge. This will avoid the tiles from absorbing too much moisture out of the thin-set and will slow down the setting time. This will also strengthen the bond between the tile and the thin-set.
Also, spread thin-set on the floor over a limited area so the thin-set doesn't get to dry too quickly. You may need to add more thin-set on the floor to ensure that the tiles all sit level and even. Set the first tile and continue to the next one. Be sure to use the proper spacers that are available in different thicknesses so that your grout lines between the tiles are uniform throughout the floor. You can also use toothpicks for a thin even grout line.
Step 4 – Apply the Grout and the Sealer
Once the thin-set begins to dry, clean the tiles with a wet sponge and wipe the surfaces clean with some rags. It should then be left to dry for about 24 hours before applying the grout.
You can mix your grout next and spread it over the joints with a float, making sure that they're properly and fully filled. The excess grout and muddy film left on the tiles can then be cleaned with a damp sponge and wiped dry. After this, seal your floor with a natural stone sealer.