There's a common misconception that laying natural stone tile is harder than laying ceramic or porcelain tiles; maybe it's because of their luxurious qualities, but most people are a little afraid of making a mistake or breaking the stone tiles. But if you're thinking of installing stone flooring, you shouldn't worry: it's an easy way of adding a touch of style to your home, with relatively minimal DIY skills needed.
Preparation is key to any DIY project, and stone flooring is no exception to this: if you're working on a new construction, you can pour a layer of concrete to create a level subfloor; if it's a remodelled floor, you'll need to install water-resistant backer board which is specifically designed for laying tiles on top, as this will be waterproof and will reinforce the tile joints.
Next you'll need your maths skills to work out how many stone tiles you will need. To work out the surface area, multiply the length by the width and then add 10 - 15% more to the sum to allow for cutting and fitting extra pieces of tile around the edges of your stone flooring. Remember when purchasing your stone tiles that you'll also need to buy the appropriate adhesive to fix them; speak to the team at your stone merchants, as different types of natural stone retain moisture at different rates, and surfaces differ from stone to stone – from rustic rough-to-the-touch natural stone through to highly polished surfaces – so it's important to get the correct mortar or grout.
As a general rule, when laying square stone flooring, you should lay the stone tiles from the middle of the room outwards to ensure that any cut tiles are at the walls and not in the centre of the room. However, if the walls of the room you're working in aren't completely straight, you should consider which part of the floor needs a straight edge and start tiling from there. Remember the last tiles to be laid will be uneven, so you should plan for these to be installed in a less obvious part of the room. For rough cut stone flooring, the layout of the natural stone should be worked out before fitting the smaller tiles in-between the larger flagstones. You may need to use a hammer to break off smaller parts of the natural stone tiles for filling the gaps.
Once you've decided on the layout of your stone tiles, the next step is to mix your adhesive and spread a good amount on the floor before finally fixing your tiles. You should use a spirit level to ensure that the floor and each individual tile is level and that no 'lips' appear from tile to tile. Once your floor has fully set, you should use a stone sealer to help protect your stone flooring and prevent stains; your stone merchant will be able to advise on the best sealant for your new stone flooring.
If you're still unsure on how to lay your stone flooring, or just need some advice on grout and sealants, as well as a fantastic selection of brilliant natural stone tiles, visit the Stone Gallery, part of the Art of Living triangle, for help from our friendly and knowledgeable team. We'll help you pick the best tools for the job, as well as be on hand should you need some advice regarding the stone tiles themselves. And what's more, for over one million in stock tiles and beautiful interior decor ideas, our colleagues at the Ceramic Tile Warehouse and Park Street Interiors respectively will be on hand to help, as they are also part of the Art of Living group. Whether it's help choosing the perfect interior for you, or expert knowledge on installation, we're here to help.