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Guide to Buying Stone


Are you building a new home? Are you restoring or  re-decorating your old home? Are you an Architect or Interior Designer  confused with which tile to specify? The selection of tile and stone can be difficult, confusing, and frustrating. There are hundreds of choices to make, and, if you have done any shopping, I'm sure there has been an endless flow of advice. The following information and guide have been  designed to make the selection process easier, less confusing and  enjoyable, and maybe even prevent a few hairs from going gray. Study the information presented to become familiar with the types of tile and  stone available.


What type of decor will you be using in the room? A  Southwestern style may require a Mexican tile floor.  If the room is  very elegant, marble or granite may work best.  When selecting the  tile, take into consideration the decor of the room and whether the tile compliments the mood.  Choose colors and styles that you will not tire of easily.  Tile will often last as long as the house, so be sure you  are happy with your selection. If in doubt, consult with an interior  designer.  Many tile and stone stores have designers on staff that will be more than happy to assist you with the proper selection.


One of the biggest mistakes made in tile selection is  choosing a stone or tile that is not suited for the traffic it is to  receive.  Some marbles are very soft and should not be used in an area  that will receive high traffic.  A busy hotel lobby is a poor choice  for some softer marbles, but may work well in a residential foyer.  How easy does the material scratch? Refer to the tile selection guide under scratch resistant.  An easy test to perform is to run a pocketknife  blade lightly across the tile.  If the blade leaves a scratch, it will  probably wear poorly in high traffic areas.  For the Architect or  Designer refer to ASTM C241- Abrasive Resistance.


I will never forget one of my clients.  She was a  gourmet cook, who had installed beautiful, white marble on her kitchen  countertops. The marble was highly polished, very soft, and not sealed.  In less than a month, the marble was stained with every color of the  rainbow, and had lost its deep shine. Look carefully at the use the tile is to receive.  Determine how easily it will stain or etch.  If you  are decided upon using marble in a well-used kitchen countertop, be sure to seal it properly before damage occurs.  Refer to the tile selection guide for acid resistance and absorbency. The more absorbent the tile  or stone, the more likely it will stain if not properly sealed. For the  Architect and Designer refer to ASTM C97-Absorption and Specific  Gravity.


Unfortunately, cost is usually the deciding factor when selecting tile or stone.  Cost can also be very misleading.  An  inexpensive stone or tile, may fit into your budget, but if it wears  easily, the cost of restoration, repair, or replacement, will often  exceed the initial cost. Thoroughly investigate the maintenance  requirements of the selected tile.  Shop around, and ask lots of  questions.  The tile and stone market is very competitive, so bargains  can be found. Warning: Tile and stone are available in different grades. The poorer grades may be cheaper, but will have imperfections and  flaws.  Examine each tile carefully before it is installed.

It is also a good idea to buy spare tiles in the event  that repairs or replacements or required later.  This is especially  important with marble and ceramic since colors and patterns can be  impossible to match later on. Whatever your budget, do your homework and buy the best quality you can afford.


It is astonishing how many injuries occur each year due to slipping and falling.  When choosing tile, or stone, be sure it is  not slippery.  A highly polished granite tile on a shower floor may be a poor choice and a slip hazard. Honed, textured, or flamed finished  tiles may less slippery. There are treatments available that can be  applied to the surface of tile and stone to make it slip resistant.  These treatments can be expensive ($1.00-3.00 per sq. ft), but will  allow the use of ordinarily slippery tiles.  Check with your tile and  stone dealers for further information.  For the Architect or Designer  refer to ASTM test methods for coefficient of friction.


Who will do the installation?  Many tiling projects  can be performed by the Do-It-Yourselfer, but certain tile, such as  marble, should be left to the professional installer.  Be sure to  choose an installer who is familiar with the tile type you have  selected.  Installation of ceramic tile differs from that of stone.   Likewise, a good marble installer may not be familiar with ceramic  installation.  Refer to our brochure on hiring a professional, or help  with selecting a good installer.

What is the condition of the sub floor (the floor the  tile is to be installed on)?  Is there an existing floor material or  tile?  Many times the sub floor will have to be prepared before  installation can begin.  If you are tiling over an existing vinyl or  tile floor, different setting materials are required to ensure that  proper bonding of the new tile will occur. If in doubt ask a  professional for advice.


Maintenance is the most overlooked factor when choosing stone or tile.  Just because a stone or tile cost more doesn't mean  its maintenance requirements are less. There is no such thing as  maintenance free! Twenty cents per square foot vinyl requires  maintenance just as much as a thirty dollar per square foot stone.  Be  sure to investigate the maintenance requirement of the tile or stone you select before you buy.  Ask to see the maintenance guide for the tile  type.  Consulting with a friend, neighbor, or other personal contact  with the same type of tile to gather their experiences regarding the  ease or difficulty of maintenance, may be helpful, too.

 Maintenance is a factor of wear and use, not the cost of  the tile.  The information presented in this brochure will help in the  proper selection and care.

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