Natural stone comes in many forms and it can create a magnificent effect for many different floor types – none more so than paving. Laying natural stone is a straightforward DIY task if you follow these few simple steps.
Preparing to lay natural stone
Inspect the tiles. No two natural stones are exactly the same, as their name suggests. Each stone will have patches of light and dark so you should aim for an even spread rather than grouping dark or light tiles/patches. Make sure particularly beautiful sections are not hidden under furniture but are where they will be enjoyed. Inspect each tile to check for any cracks. Damaged tiles can be broken up and used as filler or corner pieces.
Clean the tiles. The waxy coating which is used to protect natural stone in transit should be cleaned after they have been laid on the floor but before grouting. Grime can be wiped off using a damp sponge.
Laying natural stone
The floor needs to be completely clean, free of dust and loose debris that can cause the cement to come unstuck after it has been laid. If you have laid a new concrete base for your tiles, ensure it has at least six weeks to dry before laying the stones.
Spread the thinset on the floor – this will create an even surface for the tiles to lay on. Set the first tile in a corner, and proceed to lay them all one by one, using a toothpick or spacers to seperate the joints. Finish by laying the cut tiles in the same way.
Measure the area to determine how many full squares are needed and how many will need to be cut. Mix the thinset (adhesive mortar) in a bucket and apply to the edges of the full tiles first, followed by the cut tiles around the edges. Apply the thinset with the smooth end of a trowel first, then the notched side, working in small sections at a time.
Maintaining natural stone
Natural stone is subject to staining so it needs to be protected as soon as it’s been laid. This will preserve its life and improve its appearance. Firstly, a residual remover should be used to clean the paving. A wet mop or sponge can be used for this.
Once clean, natural stone should be sealed and protected. One of two products does the trick here. Using an enhancer will bring out the colour of the stone and give it a glossy feel. Alternatively, simply sealing the tile will prevent staining but without changing its appearance. You might also consider using ramps in key places to avoid damage.
The sealed and protected tiles can be checked by sprinkling water on them. The water should sit on top of the natural stone if the seal has been applied effectively.