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Hints & Tips

Advantages of Natural Stone

Natural Stone Tiles are Distinct and Unique

You should always view several pieces of the tile that is to be installed before the installation begins. Since it has been created by nature, not only are no two pieces exactly alike, those two pieces may not even be very similar.


Slate, flagstone (sandstone), marble, granite, travertine and limestone. Each stone has unique characteristics and maintenance requirements. Generally, you should seal natural stone tile before grouting, unless you are planning on using the grout colour in the stone as a design element.

Most natural stones are not resistant against common household acids (like lemon juice) or oil stains. Therefore, you should use a penetrating sealer for all natural stones after installation.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions on frequency of re-application.


  • Timeless, unique appearance
  • Design capabilities of through-body colour material
  • Perceived value
  • Durable countertops and floors (granite)
  • May be re-polished if scratched

Natural Stone vs. Ceramic Tile

Natural Characteristics

Understand that many natural stones may contain small naturally-occurring cracks (fissures), granite countertops may have some pitting and each stone has its own unique characteristics. Cracking and pitting are common complaints heard from consumers who were unaware of these characteristics when they selected natural stone. A common saying in the stone business:

“If you want consistency and uniformity, then select porcelain tile”.


The most common way to install ceramic (or porcelain) tiles is using the thin-set method with a 3/16″ or greater grout joint. Stones are commonly installed using a medium-bed or mud-bed installation with a grout joint 1/16″ – 3/16″. A thicker setting bed allows the installer to level the product and create a more level installation.



If you own a large quantity of stone flooring, you will want to have it deep-cleaned on occasion. Also, most stones require a grout release before installation and a penetrating sealer after installation. A penetrating (or impregnating) sealer needs to be re-applied periodically per manufacturer’s instructions. Go to manufacturer’s websites for detailed maintenance instructions (i.e.,,,, etc.)



Granites are the hardest of all natural stones, and there are some stone types that approach the hardness of granite. All polished stones scratch dull, yet some honed stones may be more difficult to clean than polished. A natural (through-body) porcelain tile can be up to 30% harder than granite.

Installation Principles

This system consists of four integral components. The failure of any component means the failure of the entire installation.



What is the condition of the substrate that you’re going to set the tile on? Is it clean and ready for tile? Is it properly cured? How will cracks be prepared? Is it level? Are there any humps, bumps or dips? How will you address expansion joints? The number one job complaint received by the Tile Council of America (TCA) revolves around inadequate preparation of the substrate and no expansion joints. Use the TCA Handbook for information regarding the placement of movement joints.



Overall, tile is much better than it was 20 years ago. There are a few sub-standard products, but by and large tile is a bargain over the life of the product when compared to other flooring surfaces.

Trim. Make sure that the trim shapes perform the intended function and that they coordinate in colour, shade, thickness and overall dimensions with the tile.

Installation Materials. If you skimp somewhere, don’t skimp here. As a matter of fact, many thin-set manufacturers offer lifetime warrantees on their premium polymer or latex modified setting systems (thin-set and grout). Pennies a foot for a lifetime warrantee? Sounds like a bargain insurance plan to me!



Sure tile is a great DIY product, however, you cannot beat the finished look of an installation when completed by a true professional. A professional tile setter will make sure that the substrate is ready to accept the tile, select the proper installation materials, layout the installation in a manner that will enhance the overall appearance and give you an installation that will last at least 40 years.

Caulking and clean up. The difference between a good installation and a poor installation is in the details. The caulk joints, the grout clean up and the overall condition of the installation is critical to produce a beautiful job.


Most slip-fall accidents don’t come from the wrong product being installed, but from inadequately maintained surfaces. As a rule, tile should be cleaned with a neutral cleaner. Vinegar, the cleaner we all used to recommend, won’t harm most tiles, but can destroy the grout – don’t use it.Installation in progressChange your mop water often. Hint: throw a quarter in the bottom of your mop bucket, when you can’t see it- change the water.

Sealing. Glazed ceramic tile is never to be sealed. All stones must be sealed. Many unglazed porcelain tiles must be sealed. Sealing the grout can bring the absorption of a latex modified grout down to less than 1% absorption. Sealing makes it easier for you to clean your grout, but your grout still requires cleaning (where’s that self-cleaning grout?). My personal recommendation: pick out a dirty coloured grout and you’ll always be happy.


Caring for Stone

Natural Stone Is An Investment That Will Give You Many Years Of Beautiful Service. Stone Is A Natural Product And Simple Care And Maintenance Will Keep It Looking Beautiful. These Are Recommendations From The Marble Institute Of America.



Use coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices. Many common foods and drinks contain acids that will etch or dull the stone surface.

Use trivets or placemats under china, ceramics, silver or other objects that can scratch the surface.




Clean stone surfaces with neutral cleaner, stone soap (available at hardware stores or from your stone dealer) or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water. Use a clean rag mop on floors and a soft cloth for other surfaces for best results. Too much cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks.

Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on marble or limestone. Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft cloth. Change the rinse water frequently. Do not use scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface.



Stlyish tiled bathroom

Dust interior floors frequently using a clean, non-treated dry dust-mop. Sand, dirt and grit do the most damage to natural stone surfaces due to their abrasiveness. Mats or area rugs inside and outside an entrance will help to minimize the sand, dirt and grit that will scratch the stone floor.

Be sure that the underside of the mat or rug is a non-slip surface. Normally, it will take a person about eight steps on a floor surface to remove sand or dirt from the bottom of their shoes. Do not use vacuum cleaners that are worn as attachments or the wheels may scratch the surface.

Bath and other wet areas In the bath or other wet areas, using a squeegee after each use can minimize soap scum. To remove soap scum, use a non-acidic soap scum remover or a solution of ammonia and water (about 1/2 cup ammonia to a gallon of water). Frequent use of an ammonia solution may eventually dull the surface.



In food preparation areas, the stone may need to have penetrating sealer applied. Check with your installer for recommendations.

If a sealer is applied, be sure that it is non-toxic and safe for use on food preparation surfaces. If there is a question, check with the sealer manufacturer.




In outdoor pool, patio or hot tub areas flush with clear water and use a mild bleach solution to remove algae or moss.



various tiles

  • Do dust mop floors frequently
  • Do clean surfaces with mild detergent or stone soap
  • Do thoroughly rinse and dry the surface after washing
  • Do blot up spills immediately
  • Do protect floor surfaces with non-slip mats or areas rugs and countertop surfaces with coasters, trivets or placemats
  • Don’t use vinegar, lemon juice or other cleaners containing acids on marble, limestone, travertine or onyx surfaces
  • Don’t use cleaners that contain acid such as bathroom cleaners, grout cleaners of tub & tile cleaners
  • Don’t use abrasive cleaners such as dry or soft cleansers
  • Don’t mix bleach and ammonia – this combination creates a toxic and lethal gas

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