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laying natural stone floor tile ‘patterns sets’

Natural Stone pattern sets offer an alternative style to the more standard looks available by laying fixed length or even random length, square or rectangular tiles. Pattern sets are made up from sets of square and rectangular tiles of different sizes that should be laid in a pre-determined design. This article outlines how to lay pattern sets successfully.

20 September

Natural stone floor tiles are generally available in four formats, a rectangular 600mm long by 300mm or 400mm wide; 600mm x 600mm square; ‘free-length’ which have the same width with random lengths; and ‘pattern set’.

Square tiles are laid in a linear straight line, whereas rectangular tiles offer the alternative of being laid in an overlapping ‘brick-bond’ design. A ‘pattern set’ consists of a number of varying size square and rectangular tiles laid in a traditional pre-determined design.

StoneStore offer two tiles in a pattern set format, premium quality travertine and tumbled limestone:

  • Silver Travertine is a tumbled antiqued tile with a rustic surface texture, a subtle grey background sits beneath interesting beige waves and swirls.
  • Our Dijon tumbled limestone comes in a Grand Opus pattern set, its lovely biscuit tones are adorned with intricate grey fossils, with an antiqued surface and worn edges.

Where to start tiling, or ‘setting out’ as it is known, is as much about where your last set will finish as where to fix the first set. Whether the tiling is done by a tiler or if you’re planning to tackle the job yourself, it’s prudent to sketch a plan as a reference point for when fixing begins. Laid on floors, pattern sets should be laid one set at a time, keeping grout lines consistent and tight to avoid encroaching into adjoining sets space.

It’s the norm to tile under islands to achieve a sharp finish, but bear in mind how the island sits in relation to the other fixtures and fittings. Pay attention to how true the walls are, particularly if the room has been extended to form a kitchen/diner, or the tiling runs into a conservatory or hallway. Doing a dry run will avoid having slithers of tile in high usage areas such as at doorways, and at sinks and cooking areas.

With natural stone tiles we recommend a high specification, white rapid setting flexible adhesive, such as Kerakoll H40 Marmorex. Formulated with micro-beads of Carrara marble (instead of sand like basic adhesives), H40 Marmorex is the very best adhesive available, and was created specifically for use with natural stone tiles. Due to the varying tile sizes within the set, laying tiles to a pattern will require more than the normal amount of tiles to be cut at the edges of a room. Kerakoll Marmorex is ideal for this installation issue, as workability second to none, and a long bucket life means the adhesive wont ‘go off’ whilst you leave the room to cut the tiles.

Once fixed, but before sealing, newly laid tiles should be cleaned with LTP Grimex to remove surface residues and impurities. Often this stage of preparation is overlooked as tilers will simply wipe the surface with water. This is inadequate, as small dust and dirt particles not visible to the naked eye, will be imbedded in the pores of the tile during the installation process.

Providing an invisible barrier of protection, we recommend LTP Mattstone impregnating sealer for tumbled natural stone tiles. We recommend one coat before and one after grouting.

One more key thing before proceeding to the sealing stage is to check residual moisture in the tile. Water from the adhesive and from cutting the tiles can leave moisture in the tile which needs to evaporate before the sealer is applied. Tile adhesive should be allowed to dry in line with manufacturer guidelines, and tested for moisture with a moisture meter. Failure to check for sufficiently dried tiles will result in the sealer failing to protect the tiles, and patchy uneven colouration across the installation.

Sealing the tiles will make daily maintenance easier. As part of your cleaning routine use LTP Waxwash, a high-quality liquid soap suitable for all types of natural stone. A gentle cleaner containing a trace of linseed oil especially formulated to clean the most delicate surfaces.