General questions on all kinds of stones

TOPIC: Advice wanted - User Queries and Answers by Expert

Advice wanted - User Queries and Answers by Expert 5 months 2 weeks ago #2485

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A 1286: I am planning to use travertine for the floor, walls, and roof for my bathroom with shower in the bali-style, where the bathroom/shower opens to the outside garden and there is a door from the house to the bathroom. In bali, I saw they use all kinds of stone and tile for the room. Any problems with using travertine? How would one attach it to the walls and ceiling, should I remove the drywall and replace it with a special under layment? Any pointers would be appreciated. benjamin. Dec 29. Reply
R4: Remove the drywall and replace with 1/2" backerboard. Of course you will need to use waterproof membrane in the shower. Use a premixed epoxy thinset for the ceiling and walls if you want to go all out. Epoxy is not cheap, and you will need to find a stone/tile distributor for the material as Home Depot and Lowes don't carry it. Good luck. Hage, USA, Reply
R3: I would definitely suggest that the ceilings and walls be sheathed out of cement backer board in lieu of drywall. The drywall is not as resistant to moisture as the cement backer board. The tape the seams with a liquid latex fortified portland cement based thin set mortar (e.g. LATICRETE 211 Crete Filler Powder White mixed with LATICRETE 4237 Latex Thin Set Mortar Additive). Once the taping treatment hardens, use the same 211 + 4237 to install the stones. If the floor substrate is concrete or a portland cement mortar bed, you can use the same 211 + 4237. There should also be a shower pan waterproofing membrane in the installation system. Attached you will find a detail drawing that depicts a shower application. Art, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
R2: No there is not any problem with using travertine in the setting. Use a tumbled product for ease of livability. Yes in a completely wet space as a balinese or snail shower you would need to have the installation done by a qualified professional. This type of installation is not for the DIY because water proofing and ceiling tiling is difficult and precise.
Natural stone is a great choice and I would recommend you spend your time on learning how to properly maintain the installation after it is done.
Please be thorough choosing your stone contractor and check references before you begin. Good luck, Steven. USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
R1: Dear benjamin: Travertine will do just fine, providing that you understand its physical and chemical limitation (especially if polished) and, consequently, learn how to take care of it properly. If you contact me directly I'll be glad to send you my free written guidelines on the subject. The installation of travertine tiles is not any different than the installation of other natural stone tiles. Just use white thin set all the time. On the walls and the ceiling you can use a rapid-setting material and install "butt-joint" . On the floor and inside the shower enclosure you will leave 1/16" gap in between tiles instead, to be grouted with wall-type grout (on the floor, too). Sheetrock is OK on the walls and ceiling. Inside the shower, however, is a big NO-NO! In there you must use Wonder board or other similar material. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
A 1284: My husband began installing a marble floor without seeking advice. He did not leave any space between the tiles while laying because he didn't see any in the beautiful floors in Las Vegas. Will anything bad happen? Colleen, USA, Dec 24. Reply
R1: Dear Colleen: 1. The tiles will eventually begin to chip along the edges.
2. Every time you mop the floor some of the water will go under the tiles, and, eventually, they'll begin to get loose and crack. 3. Hard-to-remove dirt will accumulate in between the tiles. Sorry. Ciao, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

A 1260: With reference to A1074, installing of leaving a 1/16th gap between granite tiles, what about butting them together and using caulking material where the beveled edges meet? barbara, Dec 13. Reply
R2: No never do that! Always leave a grout joint! Always fill the grout joint! If not you are asking for installation failure, efflorescence, and wasted money. best regards Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R1: It all depends where you install the tiles. If it's a wall I don't see any problem. If it's a floor, or the inside of shower stall, then the extra stickiness of the caulking material over wall-type grout will not be enough to grant a sound installation. What you could do -- providing that you know what you're doing -- is to put a full bead of caulking on the edge of an already installed tile, before you butt-joint the next one to it, and so on. I hope I was able to explain myself. If not, contact me and I will try to elaborate further. Ciao and have fun, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

A 1259: When you are fabricating a granite countertop with a sink cutout, at what length (on average) does the integrity of the granite become so compromised that you will decide to piece the countertop versus trying to have one seamless piece? How would having one open end on the countertop versus two fixed cabinets or structures on each end, effect you decision, if it would at all? Thanks, Michael, Dec 13, Reply
R1: Dear Michael, Overall my first thought is how much experience do you have with stone?
There is not a set directive concerning you question. I always base it on variables. First we assess what type of stone we are working with. Second we always rod our cutouts so part of your concern does not affect us. Third we study the size of the material versus the size of the installation as a whole. Which way we are going to run the granite etc. best regards, Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
A 1258: We are looking for a product that fills in the small pits to apply to natural stone countertops after we install them. Can you help? Dec 12, Reply
R2: Use either clear acrylic glue or a shellac stick. best regards Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
R1: Yes I can; It's penetrating epoxy glue. Now a couple of pieces of advice: 1. Don't bother with it. 2. If you still insist, call a pro to do it for you. by and large it is not a DIY project. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

A 1249: I just redid a bathroom with glass mosaic tiles in the shower and marble and glass tiles on the floor. What are the best products to use in the shower and on the floor? Thank you. Adrianne. Dec 10. Reply
R3: I am assuming you are asking what installation method and materials you should use for the mosaic installation. If that is correct - see the attached drawing that depicts your application.

R2: Hi Adrianne, You have some options:
#1 go to Home Depot and buy Tile Lab stone soap.
#2 go to Lowe's and buy Miracle Seal Stone Soap.
# 3 (THE bEST PRODUCT) called P-24 Stone Soap, this product is imported from Germany is an excellent no
rinse soap product. If interested you can e-mail me back & I could ship this to you. Only professional craftsmen or dealers can order this. My company specializes in the restoration of natural stone and marble. Only a small amount is needed and the bottle can last for about 1 year of cleaning if you use it as I direct. If you use other non stone cleaning products you will damage or dull your marble. Atkin, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R1: Dear Adrianne: For the shower stall you can use any product that you can find off the shelves of your local supermarket. For the floor -- due to the presence of the marble tiles -- you will need specialty products for stone, namely a pH neutral stone detergent. Now that I answered your question, I would like you to reciprocate by answering my own question, which is: "Since you'll be walking on that floor, and pH active substances may be spilled on it (perfume, wrong cleaner, such as toilet bowl cleaner, some formulation of glass cleaner to clean your mirror, etc.) therefore the marble tiles will deteriorate and, eventually, need resurfacing (it's only a matter of time), HOW ARE YOU GOING TO TACKLE THE PRObLEM, CONSIDERING THAT YOU HAVE GLASS TILES MIXED WITH THE MARbLE? I'm sure that the showroom you bought the tiles from, and the guy who set them on your floor, and, maybe, your interior decorator have everything figured out already. So, please, I'd love to have such deep knowledge shared with me, if it's not too much trouble. As a long time marble refinisher, I wouldn't have a clue. Unless, of course, you refinish the marble tiles individually on hands and knees with a small machine. Assuming that you can find someone who's capable and willing to do that, I can promise you, it's going to come out a lousy job to begin with, and -- at my rates -- you might as well have the floor ripped out and reinstalled anew. but, like I said, I'm sure that the professionals listed above have this matter thoroughly covered for you already. So, please, let me have their deep dark secret. I'm even willing to pay money for the information! Ciao and have fun, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

A 1239: Thought the site was terrific. The comments in the "expert help" were great and very informative (even humorous at times). I'm tiling a fireplace hearth and surround with travertine. The hearth is at floor level. I took up the old ceramic tile that seemed to be laid over an approximately 1" mortar bed. Under the mortar there was dirt and small rocks (even some broken glass fragments) that was used as filler, I guess. This is an old house built around 1905 with a basement. It has 2 x 10 beams under the first floor but only 1 beam seems to run across the front edge of the area where the hearth will be (It's about a 16" x 60" space.) Can you suggest what I should do for the preparation? I was thinking about taking enough of the debris out to lay a 1" mortar bed and then put a cement backer board on top of that with thin set. Any advice would be welcome. David. Dec 5. Reply
R2: David.. How thick is this layer of dirt etc? what is holding it up if there is only one beam crossing the front of it? My suspicion is that the original builder used this dirt layer as a means of insulating the hearth material from any wood framing members that are supporting it. If you are planning to use your fireplace, you need to make sure that any changes you make to it do not bring any masonry materials into direct contact with any
combustibles, so in making this modification, find something to replace the dirt layer that is not only fireproof, but will not transfer heat to the wood underneath. I've used a blanket material that is used to separate the sheet metal layers in triple insulated stove pipe and commercial range hoods, and have also used asbestos board, but I don't believe that it is available anymore. ( haven't built many fireplaces the last ten years or so). Check your local markets, and ask some local masons for there suggestions, and I'm sure you will find a solution that is both safe and effective. Good luck, JVC, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R1: The way you're thinking, you're right on the money! Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply
The response was helpful. Having multiple responders was great and confirmed what I intended to do. Tried other sites also but got no response. Thanks again for the advise of your experts. David

A 1233: How can I re-attach the arm of St. Michael to the statue on my grandmother's headstone? John L.
Dec 3, Reply
R2: The reattachment can be complicated because adhesive alone will not do the trick. You need professional assistance. The arm needs to be cored out on both sides of the break and a stainless steel rod needs to be glued with epoxy in there. Then the aesthetic portion of the repair can start polishing and filling as necessary. best regards Steven, USA, Expert Panelist. Reply

R1: What is the composition of the statue? Marble, Granite, ???? If is stone - you can use a rapid setting epoxy putty designed for this purpose. Art, USA, Expert Panelist. Reply

A 1223: I have 3/4" tongue & groove OSb or "chip board". Over the top of that I have a vinyl floor which I plan on removing. The joists are 16" on-center (I think). I appreciate your advice. Ron. Nov 26. Reply
R2: Ron, You will need a cementious underlayment that is screwed and glued down. Over that use a latex modified thinset. This does not address levelness of the substrate only deflection. Good luck Steven, USA, Expert Panelist. Reply
R1: Thanks, Please see the attached detail drawing that provide you with several installation options. From the info you provided you will need to add an additional layer of plywood or install a mortar bed to achieve the required thickness of the installation system. Hope the info helps. Art, USA, Expert Panelist. Reply

A 1219: We are replacing a drop-in range for a slide-in model. On each side of the range is 18" wide countertop. We have a friend giving us granite countertops to replace the laminate countertop taken out. Is there anything special we need to do to install this? Or will regular silicone do the job? We were told that you had to put wood underneath this before installing on the wood cabinets. Is this true? Is there a site we can go to to walk us through this? Thank you! Angela. Nov 26. Reply
R2: Hi Angela, As with many things the answer is "it depends". I would suggest you get a stone fabrication & installation facility in your area to give you a hand. Though I have seen it said many times that consumers can do the installations themselves I believe that using a professional with a proven track record is the way to go.
Remember the old adage "you get what you pay for". best regards Steven, USA, Expert Panelist. Reply

R1: Thank you for your inquiry - Please note that countertops can be installed any number of ways - ranging
from direct bond to the counter frames themselves with silicone to a complete bedding of the stone over a suitable backer surface. Attached you find a detail drawing that depicts the latter. You can omit the waterproofing layer if you choose. Hope the info helps. Regards, Art, USA, Expert Panelist. Reply

A 1210: Your article A 1004 on the installation of marble tiles in the bathroom was quite informative. In addition to the information provided, are there any concerns, issues or special considerations when laying marble on top of hydronic radiant flooring that has been poured with 1.75” of light weight concrete? My question relates to the warming and cooling of the surface as it relates to both the thin-set mortar below and the grout; are special additives required? Your assistance would be greatly appreciated. Kindest regards, bernie. USA, Nov 22. Reply
R2: Radiant heat systems can present some challenges for stone and tile installation. The cycling of the heating system can cause expansion and contraction of the entire installation system. Please see the attached detail drawing that depicts this application. The use of liquid latex additives in the mortar bed / thin set mortar system accommodates a lot of this movement. Additionally, the use of anti-fracture membrane in the system prevents future hairline cracking that can develop in the system due to the cycling of the heating system. Hope the info helps. Art, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R1: bernie, There has not been any specific negative qualities regarding under floor heating whether by electricity or water. The only real concern has been what to do if the area covered malfunctions. best regards, Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

A 1209: Hi, I've found some great looking granite 12X12 tiles at a reasonable price. I've had varied opinions on floor backing, sealing and mastic. Could you please walk me through the correct procedure for laying my tile? It will be installed on the bathroom floor & on the walls above my fiberglass shower unit. Thanks Ron, Nov 21. Reply
R2: Ron, In the first place you may want to check the absorption of the products you want. You then may want to choose a surface other than polished for slip resistance and check the absorption again. beyond that I need more information before I tell you how to install it. by the way, Why isn't who is selling and installing it for you helping? I would want more enthusiasm from those people if I was paying them. Keep in touch & let me know how it turns out. best regards, Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R1: Please note that there are many types of acceptable substrates for the installation of stone and tile.
Additionally, there are various types of installation materials for specific applications. In order to narrow down what is suitable to use, determine what the existing substrate is now - how thick it is - is it structurally stable and able to support the stone installation, the application - wet or dry area interior or exterior? Once you determine these factors - we can then tell what you can use. Hope the info helps. Regards, Art, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

A 1197: Need information on how to polish edges of granite tiles. Can it be done by a homeowner? If so how? Nov 20. Reply
R1: I will say no to at least 95% of consumers who ask this question. The equipment cost and time leads me to say contact a local marble & granite fabrication facility to do it. best regards, Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

A 1189: We are a group of students of architecture at belgrade University and are doing a research project on up-to-date materials used in making mosaics. We need Your help in finding references about these materials (detailed descriptions, performances, prices, ...) through catalogues, brochures, etc. Please be as kind as to notify us about the possibilities of obtaining these data. Thanks in advance. Nov 16. Reply
R1: Unfortunately for you it will not be as easy as sending the email to us. You have natural stone, ceramic, porcelain, glass, composites and a whole host of other products to use. Enjoy the research phase and keep us posted. best regards, Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

A 1169: Is it standard to be able to get a LEVEL surface with tile - we had 1000 sq ft installed over previous carpeting. What is the standard industry acceptable mismatch in level of tiles? Installer reinforced floor, laid 3/4 inch dur-rock then 1/4 inch porcelain tile - 14 inch, marble / stone-look tile, diagonal lay with 1/8 sanded grout lines. Although it does not necessarily look bad overall, there are areas that are bothersome to me as you see edges/ledges especially in sunlight. I am wondering if this is acceptable? I have also seen, (especially in commercial), tiles that are absolutely flat, level - no high/low spots. The installer assures me his work is "good." How can I get a second opinion now that the work is completed? AND then what can I do about it??? Entry foyer, hallway, powder room, family room, kitchen, laundry room - one continuous area. Thanks, Linda, USA, Nov 7. Reply
R3: The guideline for thinset floors is the maximum variation should be no more than 1/8" (4mm) cumulative over a 10'(3M) linear measurement and no more than 1/32"(0.79mm) variation between individual tiles. I will generally say that the subfloor should be 3/4" plywood with a 1/2" durock. This only helps with the deflection of the floor. Levelness is a factor of how flat is the floor. Though I never admit to this fact, my good friend Maurizio will tell you about grind in place installations that get rid of lippage. What I would not usually admit to is that I was taught this method here as well. We generally used it in commercial applications. Hope this helped, Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R2: The condition you are describing is called "lippage". This condition can be caused by tiles or stones having a degree of warpage - in other words the stones or tiles may be "bowed" or "cupped" and do not lay flat. If this is the case with the materials you used, it may be a condition that can not be overcome on your project. However, if the tiles and stones are "flat" and are not warped. The substrate can also be a factor. If the substrate is not rectified and made smooth - lippage can occur. Also, the experience of the installer can also come into play in installing areas smooth as possible floor. Hope the info helps. Art, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R1: Dear Linda: Those steps that you see are called "lips". The industry standard of acceptability is 1/32" (you basically don't even notice it). Above that, despite the assurance of your contractor that he does good work, you a have the right to have them rectified. Since it's porcelain, your floor can't be ground flat. (If it were marble or granite it could have, providing that it was grouted with SANDLESS grout, which is not the case here). Therefore the only remedy is the replacements of those tiles. The alternative is to live with it and erase the name of that contractor from the list of "My Favorites". Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

A 1148: Help! Can you tell me how granite slab is installed on a kitchen counter? I am buying a new home and the granite the fabricator has installed has a large crack in it. They have applied a fiberglass backing and inserted steel rods to, presumably, strengthen the granite's integrity. Is this standard procedure for all installations, or only for repair jobs? Marceline, USA, October 20, Reply

R2: Dear Marceline Lee: Yes, fiberglass backing and roding are fine. It remains the fact that -- for the way you report it -- your countertop has a crack that shouldn't be there! Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R1: The installation method is different depending on the thickness of the stone. 2-CM material will usually have a substrate installed first then the actual slabs installed on the substrate. 3-CM material can be installed directly on top of the cabinets and adhered with either epoxy or silicone. As to the fiberglass and rods, they are used many times at veins and areas where the stone needs to be cut out. the fiberglass mesh is used more with type C or D marbles. The procedure sounds like what they do for repair jobs rather than actual normal procedures. There are many facets to an installation that I could go on about that I would bore you and all others with the details. As to your particular situation it probably will hold together but they should also apply resin to the fracture from the top as well and polish it back out so that it feels smooth. It may have been easier to replace the piece than to do all this but I don't know what the circumstances were. Please email me back with any other specific questions you want answered. Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

A 1145: Please send info on the proper way to install travertine stone. I'm looking for info on how to correctly seal a honed travertine floor. Thank you. USA, Oct 16, Reply

R1: Providing that the joist are posted right (16" o.c.) and that they have the right deflection rating (L720 or higher), you have to have a 3/4" subfloor, on top of which you'll bond a 3/8" or 1/5" playwood, and a 1/4" hardbacker on top of the latter. You will then set your travertine tile by using preferably 100% soilid setting material (epoxy) (to avoid migration of moisture through the core of the stone during the drying period that can generate discoloration), or, at least, white thinset. To seal it properly, I recommend you to follow the direction of the manufacturer of the sealer. According to the make of the product, there are variations in its application. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist. Reply

A 1136: We are building our house and sub contracting the work out in regards to ceramic and marble tile installation, we have 3/4 ply down on the floor joists, what should we do to install ceramic or marble on the
floor how is thin set, then durock (how thick) screwed or can it be nailed, then mastic, then tile...or is there a better and more recommended way and lastly we are getting quotes for $2.50 sq ft for ceramic tile installation and they want $4.00 per sq ft for marble, should there be such a big difference when they are both 12 x 12 tiles and how are these prices for the dc capital area??? and would you recommend putting the tiles first then the interior doors or the doors then the tiles? thanks for your help. USA, Oct 11, Reply

R4: O.K. First Screw and glue the backerboard down opposite of the pattern that the 3/4 subfloor was installed with. Use modified thinset not mastic to install.Pricing-- I would not touch it for that. Doors-- the casing can be undercut and the installers would probably remove the doors and stack them in a room for you to reinstall later. Good luck, Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R3: Thank you for your inquiry - Provided that the floor joists are spaced no wider than 16" on center (they should also be at least 2" x 10" in size), you can "laminate" 1/2" thick cement backer board to the 3/4" thick tongue and groove exterior grade plywood subfloor using a suitable 2 part (liquid latex mixed with a thin set mortar). Also fasten it down with screws. Tape the joints with the same mortar and then install the tiles with the same mortar as well. If you choose a light or white colored marble, use a white thin set mortar. If the marble you choose is either resin backed or water sensitive (greens, reds, some blacks), you must use a 100% solids epoxy adhesive. Please note that stone installations are generally more expensive to install than ceramic tile, since more time is required to ensure that the stones are installed flush and smooth. However, both the ceramic tile and stone installation quotes you were given are very competitive. See the attached drawing on the installation described. Sequence the work, so that damage to the stone flooring can be kept at a minimum. Hope the info helps. Art, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R2: In my opinion, you should definately use the cement board of some type. Screwing or nailing to me is personal preference with the contractor as the material is very heavy, I don't think you would have a problem with either method. However, screwing may be more stable. The pricing you were given is very good for the DC area. I am surprised that it is not more. Marble is set differently in that the grout lines should never exceed 16" and should not contain sand. Ceramic installations can use wider grout lines to compensate for irregular tiles and may contain sand. Reply

R1: The installation method you indicated is OK for ceramic. It would be OK for marble, too, providing that's not a large room (150 square feet or less). For more than that I'd prefer 1/5" cement board ("wonderboard"). Of course, you want to do the doors afterwards. As far as pricing is concerned, consider yourself lucky. I charge $ 5.00 for ceramic and $ 8.00 for marble and granite. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

A 1130: Need information on how to prepare, design and create a mosaic, outside using ceramic tiles. Till, USA, Oct 9, Reply

R1: Hello, Start with what you want it to look like. Now draw it. Specify how many colors you want in the mosaic. Create a small mock up so you can see how your tiles will cut. Now expand the mock up to full size. Note that there will be a lot of waste. Now have you ever installed tile before outside? I ask because the freeze/ thaw cycle is important. Remember the materials you use outside need to not absorb a lot of moisture. The installation requires different adhesives, grouts, and caulks. Good Luck, Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

A 1129: What is the process for calculating the total square foot requirement for kitchen countertops. I have measured the surface, but do not know how to convert those measurements to square feet. Judy, USA, Oct 8. Reply

R4: Dear Judy McKenney: It's not so straightforward. A rule of thumb is to figure the exact footage, then add 15% for waste. There are several factors involved, though, that alter such an empirical formula greatly.
How many seams is the client willing to accept and where? What kind of shape does the countertop (or even only part of it) have. Fancy shapes always translate in more waste, that must be accounted for. What kind of granite did the client choose. Sometimes, because of logistic reasons, from certain parts of the globe, only (relatively) small blocks can be quarried, consequently the slabs are smaller, which translates in a higher percentage of waste. Hard to answer, Judy. Talk with your fabricator, ask questions, feel him out.
If he doesn't want to disclose his criteria to you in a way that's acceptable (to you), keep shopping.
Ciao, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R3: Simply divide the number of square inches by 144. example: 29" x 36" = 1044". 1044" divided by 144= 7.25 square feet. Simply add areas together. bob, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R2: Calculation for square feet is: Length in inches X Width in inches = ???? then divided by 144 = Sq Feet. Hope that helps you. bill, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R1: Dear Judy: 1 sq. ft = 144 sq. inches. Multiply the length by breadth, you will get the area in sq. inches (if measured in inches). Divide sq. inches by 144 and you will get sq. ft. 12 inches make one linear / running foot. 1 Inch = 2.54 centimeters. burzin, India, Reply

A 1128: My wife and I are in the planning stages of building a house and would like to use Kansas sandstone. Can we have our brick mason lay the stone or should we find a true stone layer? We live in a small town in Mississippi and there is not very much stone used in building here, mostly for landscaping. Also I had someone mention to me about "shiners" in the stone that make the job look bad if present. Mark, USA, Oct 8, Reply

R3: Mark: If you live in a small town then your brick mason may be the person to use. I would question the individual about layout, culling material, and specific practices about washing the stone before installation (stones with a lot of dust on them don't stick). be involved with your project and help select the stones you want installed. Remember this will increase the waste factor substantially. Good luck, Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R2: As a long time stone mason, I had many opportunities to lay brick also. Although competent, I never felt as comfortable working on a brick wall as I did with the stone. Friends who are brick layers by trade, find that the stone gives them the same feeling. I guess that it all depends on what we work with the most, but in my experience, if it is put together with mortar, a good mason will give you a good job no matter what the material. If the stone you are planning on using is to be laid up in an "ashlars" pattern, particularly if it is a formal three unit stone, your brickies shouldn't have any problem at all. If it is to be laid up in a random, or a flagging pattern, and your masons have no experience with stone, then there will probably be some excitement and consternation involved. What do your masons have to say about it? Have you even asked them how they feel about working with stone? One thing about sandstone, is that because of its porosity, the material needs to be kept damp to prevent flash setting of the mortar, and weak bonding. Of course, some brick need to be treated the same way. Also, since sandstone is a silicate, the dust produced by cutting, or hammer, is not the best thing in the world for the lungs. but then, the clays that brick are made from also contain silicates. Finally, never heard the term shiner used in reference to stone, but in brick work it refers to a brick laid with the backside out. Reply

R1: I don't see a problem with brick mason if he can show proof of his competence (insurance, prfessionalism, etc.) and history (past completed projects). I have not heard the term shiners. bob, USA, Reply

A 1125: What is the best subfloor system for marble, and ceramic tiles?
1. Plywood and cement board?
2 OSb and cement boards?Oct 5, Reply

R4: The same depending on weight. Pini, Usa, Expert Panelist, Reply

R3: The sub-floor specified will depend on factors. The floor joists spacing. and whether the floor is flat. You could use Ditra matting from Schluter in lieu of cement board. You may need to use a wire lathe and mud system. Check your substrate before you proceed and email me back with the results. best of luck, Steven, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

R2: The plywood and cement backer board route would be better. See the attached detail for a sample installation. be sure to use a high quality Liquid Latex Fortified Set Mortar to install your stone. Hope this info helps. Regards, Art, USA, Reply

R1: No practical difference. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist. Reply

A 1106: I would like to buy some "do it yourself" or indeed any books or other publications about making terrazzo. Do you know of some suitable publications and a source of supply? I would be very grateful for your assistance, Thelma, Sept 22, South Australia. Reply
R1: the books I know about on this subject would be the Terrazzo Association manual. I believe their web site is, Fred, USA, Expert Panelist, Reply

A 1090: I would like wholesale sources for metal table frames ready for mosaic tile installation. Also any good reference material on natural stone tile installation for interior or exterior use, specifically tables & benches. Thanks, Todd, USA, Sept 5, Reply

A 1082: DIY: I would like information on tile and it's various uses. I have some 12 '' square tiles (marble design) and would like to do something creative with them. Any ideas?? I want to put a family picture on it and seal it to use as a hot plate. Is that doable, and how? Please give me any tips or advice you might have. Thanks, Getta, USA, August 31. Reply

A 1074: DIY: I would like to know where to get information (experience, recommendations, instructions, warnings) on installing 3/8" thick 12" square granite tiles on a kitchen countertop (can't afford a slab but want the look) and how to do a bull nosed edge. Also, how do you determine which granites are more porous than others? Is Giallo Veneziano porous? Thanks for any help. Nancy, USA, August 23. Reply

R1: Dear Nancy: A question comes to my mind: "What do you know about installing tiles?" If you know the first thing about it, then installing granite tiles on top of a kitchen cabinet, is not much different from installing any other tile. I recommend to use white setting material, to leave 1/16" gap in between tiles and, if possible, to use caulking material instead of (unsanded) grout. (Caulking is stain-resistant.) As far as the "bullnose" is concerned, just forget about it. You can't do it. You don't have the equipment, the material (between shaping machine and bit, and honing & polishing equipment and material, we're looking at some 5K or better!), not to mention the skills. Try to find a goodhearted local fabricator that is willing to do it for you.
Yes, "Giallo Veneziano" is a very porous stone. by my standard it's at the very borderline of acceptability. To find out if a "granite" is porous or not, dip one or two fingers in a cup of water, then run them, with a circular motion, over a couple of square inches, on the polished side of the slab or tile. If it soaks up the water right away (i.e. it becomes dark), away you wanna stay! (From that stone, that is). You may find somebody who's going to tell you that if you seal it everything is going to be all right. Don't listen. When a stone is extremely porous, even the bestest (!) sealer (including the one that I make) will turn out to be just a fix in the long run (and not even "that" long, anyway!). Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist. Contact

A 1037: DIY: Kitchen, dining and foyer area of recently purchased house has tile that is unfinished and I was told it was Satio tile (spelling may be incorrect). Need to know how to lay it, grout it, finish the front door threshold, clean it and seal it. Thanks for any info, barbara. USA, July 17, Reply

Q 1025: DIY: What techniques can be used when putting down sandstone on a sand pack foundation of a court-yard. Prefer mortar joints to prevent tracking in sand. buddy, USA. July 03 reply

Q 1020: DIY: What is a good rule of thumb for checking the price of a granite fabricators bid? They roughed out a fabrication bid of $45/SF on my new countertops with semi-circle ends on the 6x3 island and approx. 122 SF of total countertop area in kitchen. Wanted to check their pricing for fabrication and installation. Sean, USA.
June 25 reply
R1: The best way to check a fabricators price is to get more than one to do a quote for you. I know in my area that around $90. per sq ft installed is the "going rate". Also check about "additional costs" examples being the edging, delivery to site, sure what the price quoted includes. Tear are other sometimes "additional costs" of a job. beware the add can turn a great price into not such a bargain. I personally always get 3 quotes for anything I am spending a goodly amount of $ on. Good luck, bill, USA, Expert Panelist. Contact

A 1004: DIY: I want to know how to install marble tile in my bathroom. I have purchased the marble and I want to install myself. bob, USA. June 8 reply
R1: Dear bob: I hope I'm not too late. Installing marble tiles in a bathroom floor is not any different that installing the same marble tiles in a, say, foyer floor. If you know what you're doing, walls are no brainer, either. What you should be most concerned about, however, is your shower-stall. First off, after the plumber is done with your pan, you install the floor in the stall (I suggest to use tiles 4" x 4": they make the floor less slippery), after that, you install the tiles on the wall. Now, the most important thing you must worry yourself about is to leave a proper gap (1/16") between tiles, so that you can properly grout them. I've been noticing, in all too many occasions, that some "Michelangelo" has set tiles in a shower-stall butt-joint. I have to admit it, they look prettier, but ... The problem is that the grout will not go in between the tiles, but will only bridge the little gap represented by the beveled edges of the tiles. That grout has no root, and under the continuos action of warm water hitting it, will eventually come off. At that point, water WILL start getting behind the tiles and, by gravity, down under the tiles on the floor of the shower, creating all sorts of bad problems, the only solution of which is to rip-out the whole stall. And you do not want that, do you! The corners where the walls meet with each other, and where the walls meet with the floors should be caulked, rather than grouted. Grout is not flexible, caulk is. Every month or so, do monitor your grout and caulk lines. You must be obsessed with that! Good luck,
Maurizio, USA. Expert Panelist. Contact

A 1002: DIY: 1. How should a granite stone slab feel like when it is installed? Should it feel smooth all over the surface? Is it acceptable to have small dents in the stone that can be felt when running your hand across the surface?

2. When marble or granite floor is made with smaller pieces, what is the acceptable industry standard for the mismatch in the level of the pieces w.r.t. each other? Rakesh, USA. June 1 reply

R1: Small is a relative term, but yes most all granites will have small holes or voids running through out it. Once cut and polished these small voids will show in the surface and can even be felt. This is very natural for grantie, because it is a natural product, it will have characteristic little "dents" that you can not polish out. Hope that helps you. bill, USA, Expert Panelist. Contact

R2: The small dents may be minerals plucked from the stone - possibly mica (black) or weathered minerals that won't take a polish. Compare the surface with the sample that you chose from. Jim Man, Australia, Expert Panelist. Contact

R3: One of my favorite and most repeated statements is that "The vast majority of the stones traded as granite are in fact related to granite like a cat to a cow!" So, if you take, for example a basaltic rock such as the South African Absolute black granite, or an Anorthosite one (of the Labradorite family) such as the Norvegian blue Pearl or Emerald Pearl, (and some other stones), they will feel as smooth as "you know what". True granite, however, such as the Italian bianco or Grigio Sardo, or the Spanish Porrino, do present small cavities (natural fissures) all throughout their texture. Granidorites, such as the American Dakota Mahogany have this natural phenomenon further enhanced; so much so that you can distinctly feel those indentation while running your fingers over the surface of the stone. Of course, being a natural product, there are difference also between batches of the same stone. Unfortunately, the stone industry World-Wide is pretty much unregulated, therefore there is not any official grading of the stone, as you have, say, with lumber. Good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist. Contact

A 989: Inform me about banker Masonry. Deajavou. USA. May 19 reply

R1: banker masonry: stones are worked by hand in the traditional manner to the exact profile of the template. Daniel, Slovakia, Expert Panelist. Reply

Q 910: Please explain "dry pack" method of setting to me, i.e. how is it better? What does it involve? Durability? Christine, March 18, USA, Reply
R1: The Dry Pack method is a portland cement and sand mixture applied in a thick configuration. Generally, the thick mortar bed ranges in thickness from 1 1/4" to 2 " thick. The mixture is generally 3 parts coarse masonry sand and 1 part portland cement. For better performance a liquid latex additive is used in place of water to fortify and strengthen the mortar bed. In lieu of using of mixing local sand and cement on the job site, adhesive manufacturer's now provide pre-blended, pre-bagged thick mortar bed mixes. You just have to add the latex additive to the mortar at the project when you are ready to go. The mortar bed can also be placed in two configurations; a bonded method - which is attached to the concrete structure with a latex fortified portland cement based "slurry bond coat", or an unbonded method - which is placed over a "cleavage membrane" (plastic sheeting or felt paper) and reinforced with wire fabric. Once the mortar bed is placed, you have two options. You can either allow the mortar bed to harden, and then "thin-set" the stone using a liquid latex fortified thin set mortar or apply a slurry bond coat to the fresh mortar bed and the backs of the stone and "beat" them into place. This method is desirable for installing stones that may be irregular in thickness and provides an extremely flat and smooth floor. Hope the info helps. Regards, Art, USA, Reply

A 987: Inform me about standard thickness of granite countertops. Ira, USA. May 18 reply
R2: Dear Ira: There are no standards (official, that is). In general, however, kitchen countertops are manufactured in either 2 cm. (approx. 3/4"), or 3 cm. (approx. 1 1/4"). In the case of the 2 cm. a "lamination job" is recommendable. Lamination is the application of a strip of the same granite under and all along the edges of the counter. After the glue is properly cured, the shop operator will provide to shape and polish the edges as chosen by the customer. I like this kind of fabrication better than the 3 cm. In fact, visually it looks thicker than the 3 cm. (it is, in fact, 4 cm. -- approx. 1 1/2"). Overall it is lighter, which means that it's more "cabinet and floor friendly", but it is indeed stronger where it counts (along the edges, that is). Good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist. Contact

R1: 3/4" you can double it at the edge. Pini, USA. Contact

A 941 a: I'm in the process of buying a granite counter top for my kitchen. Prices range from $ 70 to $90 linear ft. I found a dealer selling it at $55 a linear ft installed. What questions should I ask to make sure I'm getting quality product. I don't know if there are different grades of granites. Christopher, March 16, USA. Reply

R1: Dear Christopher: Wow, man, in which part of the country do you live? Here in the Northeast we're talking about $120 linear ft.! And that's without the sinkhole, the faucet-holes and the backsplash! Since, wherever it is that you live, the cost of a slab can't be any lower than here in the Northeast, I would have three questions for the guy who bid $55 installed.
1. Are you related with Santa?
2. How do you manage to steal granite slabs without getting caught?
3. What kind of medication are you on?
The average cost of a granite slab is around $11 per square foot. The average cost for templating and installation comes in at around $12 per square foot. So far we are at $23 per square foot, that translates into $48 per linear foot. How can one possibly manage to fabricate (labor), amortize the machinery (rather expensive stuff), pay his overhead and make a profit out of $3.5 per square foot ($7 per linear foot) beats me and -- in my humble opinion -- any logic. As far as different grades of granite is concerned, the answer is YES, there are, but ... NO, there aren't! See my answer to Q 909. You're a lucky fellow, all right! Ciao, Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist. Contact
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