How to Lay Natural Stone Tile

A stone tile.
  • 5-7 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 750-2,000
What You'll Need
Natural stone tiles
Backer board (cement)
Thin-set mortar
Measuring tape
Utility knife
Mesh tape
Tile spacers
Rubber mallet
Grout float
Diamond-blade wet saw
Tile spacers
Vacuum cleaner
Household detergent

Natural stone tile is among the most durable of flooring options for commercial and residential spaces. Natural stone tiles are easy-to-maintain, and are available across a wide range of colors and patterns. Use the following information for installing your natural stone tiles.

Step 1 - Get Started: Cleaning Installation Surface

Get started by thoroughly cleaning the installation surface. The presence of dirt prevents the mortar from adhering properly, compromising the bond with the tiles. Use a vacuum cleaner to eliminate the smaller dust particles. If the surface has grimy stains, wash it with some water and household detergent. Allow the surface to dry properly before proceeding.

Step 2 - Installation Surface Preparation

The subfloor should be level and firm. If the surface is even slightly uneven, the tiled surface will develop unwanted slopes. You can use a leveling compound to fill small holes or depressions. Using a cement backer board is recommended for severely uneven floors, or when the flooring surface is prone to repeated water stagnation. Measure the flooring surface using a measuring tape.

Mark the cement backer board according to these measurements. Use a utility knife for cutting the backer board. Use thin-set mortar for installing the backer board. Apply thin-set mortar and spread it with a notched trowel. Lay the backer board upon it. Further stabilize the backer board by screwing it with a screwdriver and backer board screws. Stretch the mesh tape over the seams between boards. Use the trowel for spreading some thin-set mortar over the mesh tape.

Step 3 - Take Measurements and Cut Tiles

Use chalk lines for defining the layout of tiles on the prepared surface. Ensure that you create some margin for the grout joints, that take space between adjacent tiles. Pay special attention to the number of tiles that need to be cut, to create a uniform layout. Use a wet saw with a 10-inch diamond blade for cutting edges of such tiles. Use a white stone to smooth the edges of the cut tiles.

Step 4 - Re-check Layout of Tiles

You need to confirm the layout of the tiles before installing them. Place the tiles on the floor and arrange them in a preferred manner. It is advised to use tile spacers between the tiles. This helps to get a better approximation of the space used by grout lines.

Step 5 - Lay Tiles

Use thin-set mortar for laying the tiles. Ensure that you don’t over-dilute the mortar. Apply mortar over the installation surface with a grooved trowel. Install just two or three tiles at a time. Prepare and spread the mortar accordingly. After laying each tile, press upon them with your hands. Insert plastic spacers between the tiles to maintain even spacing. Tap down repeatedly upon the tiles, using a rubber mallet. The mortar has a curing time. This is usually about 24 hours. Allow the mortar to cure properly. Usually, the packaging information details the precise curing time.

Step 6 - Grout the Natural Stone Tiles

Prepare a batch of un-sanded grout, according to the instructions on the grout’s packaging. Spread the grout into the tile joints. Use a grout float for this. Use a wet sponge to wipe away the excess grout. Allow the grout to dry properly.