Tips for Installing Natural Stone Tiles

When we remodelled our kitchen a few years ago, while I battled to make certain decisions on the finishes, there was one thing I was absolutely certain of: I wanted natural slate flooring. The look of natural stone – with all it’s imperfections and idiosyncrasies created by years of Mother Nature’s hard work creates such beautiful texture in a space and I desperately wanted that stunning natural element in the space to play off the straight lines and more contemporary look of the rest of the space.

Swoon Worthy - White kitchen with slate flooring

What I hadn’t bargained for was the additional work that is involved in laying a natural stone floor. We made things a little more complicated by also installing underfloor heating as well but it was possibly the most challenging DIY we undertook up until that point.

The reason it was so challenging is because laying natural flooring, with all it’s beautiful but inherent inconsistencies creates it’s own issues – natural stone, unlike other man-made tiles, must be sealed and stains easily. The tiles are not perfectly cut in terms of thickness so you will have some areas of the tile that are thicker and others that are thinner which entails a bit of experimentation with varying the thickness of your adhesive to create an even floor. The colours of your tiles will also not be completely uniform – this can be a stunning effect on a floor of course, but if you are looking for perfection, then natural flooring may not be for you.

However, if you are in love with the look of natural flooring and you can appreciated the natural variation you will find in nature, then perhaps these tips will help you to bear in mind the different challenges you will face if you decide to install natural flooring in your own home.

Swoon Worthy - natural slate stack

Firstly all natural stone must be sealed, there are different sealers for different types of stone & finishes, so choosing the correct sealer is the first priority.

All light coloured natural stone should be fixed with a white adhesive, darker stone can use grey.

Working clean is another priority. Natural stone is porous and can easily stain prior to sealing. There are many different opinions on when to seal, whether to do so prior to fixing or to seal once fitted and many manufacturers have different instructions so your answer on when to seal will really depend on which brand of sealer you’ve purchased.

Stone Travertine

When laying uncalibrated tiles such as natural slate, it is better to allow for a deeper bed of adhesive which we found out via trial and error. This helps to allow for the differing thicknesses of each tile. Alternatively, you could back butter the thinner tiles with additional adhesive before laying them. A level will certainly be required for every tile you lay so bear in mind this additional time required to get a perfectly even floor.

If like us, you are laying natural stone over electric underfloor heating, keep in mind that it’s best practice to install an anti-fracture membrane between the heating element and the tiles. The last thing you’ll want is lifting or cracking of your tiles once they’ve been layed, grouted and sealed!

Natural stone can vary in shade from tile to tile so it is always best to dry lay the tiles onto the floor so you can avoid grouping and creating a variation of shades or tones evenly on the floor.

Burren-Limestone

I hope these tips will assist you when laying your own natural stone tile! Of course, if you ever need assistance, our customer service team is here to help and don’t forget, you can always order free samples to ensure you get exactly the beautiful look you require for your own home!

Image sources: 1 & 2 – Swoon Worthy / 3 & 4 – Tile Mountain

As a multi-award winning interior design content creator, Kimberly Duran is an Interior Design-obsessed American ex-pat, who chronicles her decorating journey and dispenses interior design advice in her personal blog, Swoon Worthy. When she’s not helplessly drooling over all the latest trends in design, she’s adding things to the imaginary ‘shopping basket’ in her head, she likes to get messy tackling DIY projects with her partner in crime, Wayne, stalking eBay for vintage bargains and filling her home with her favourite neutral – gold.