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ADVICE WANTED!   July 31, 2002
www.findstone.com   info@findstone.com

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Q 2351: I am building a patio with a stream down the middle. I was able to do the water feature with liner and thin stone. Now I want to build a small stacked stone wall around my oval reservoir with stone that are 3 - 4 inches thick and assorted lengths and I am not sure how to cut the curves and top cap block. Any ideas? I am also pouring cement around 3 very large slabs of stone (around a ton each) one of the stones has settled and is now 3/4 of an inch lower than the other two. Any ideas on how to raise the stone or lower the other two stones to make them level? Thanks Roger, July 30, Reply
Q 2310: We are building a new house. I would like to go for a shiny black granite countertop in my kitchen. I like the look of absolute black but would like to know how to tell if I am getting a good product and how do I go about installing the 12" x 12" tiles. What do we use to set them? I have been told that silicone is the wrong choice. We live in Missouri. Thanks, Helen, July 26, Reply
R2: Dear Helen: Absolute Black is an excellent stone, provided it has not been dyed. Mike, USA
R1: Dear Helen: About the setting material I would use a product available at the HD by  Custom Builders and labeled: Stone Setting Adhesive. Keep 1/16" gap in between tiles and use unsanded grout to finish the job.Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA 
Q 2307: Hi. We are replacing our entryway door, but would also like to put ceramic tile in the foyer. Is there a rule as to what should be done first - the door or the floor? We have gotten mixed answers from different people. We are concerned b/c the door we are ordering is a fiberglass door with a full glass light - with two full sidelights. Afraid of what we would do if door is put in first and cannot clear the tiles - and afraid if do tiles first, there may be a gap where the new jamb and tiles meet. Please advise. Thanks, Mary, 
July 26. Reply 
R1: Dear Mary: No, there are no rules; only common sense. First you put down the floor (you can't make that thinner than necessary for a sound installation, can you!), then the door jambs must be adapted, if necessary, to the new situation. Ciao and good luck, 
Maurizio, USA
Q 2306: We recently inherited a Carrara marble fireplace mantle. It is in eight sections and we would like to install it in our late 1800's home. Can this be done "do it yourself" or will it require professional assistance? The two up rights and the center medallion have holes in the back for mounting. How would we use these to mount the mantle? Thank you Jeff, July 26, Reply
R3: Dear Jeff: Get a pro. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
R2: If you do not know why the holes are there, then you definitely need to call a pro. Mike, USA
R1: Jeff; Personally, I would engage the services of a good, knowledgeable, and reputable stone setter for this. Unless you've had some experience, you will get in over your head with this one. Good luck, JVC, USA,
Q 2303: We are planning on going with blue pearl slab granite for our kitchen counters. I have read in your advice column that it does not have to be sealed. Our fabricator says that we should seal it anyway and that he recommends that all stone countertops be sealed. Will it hurt to seal it? Vohl, July 26, Reply
R2: Dear Vohl: I can see that your fabricator's brains have been sealed real good by the  "salesmen"! No, it won't hurt the stone to seal it anyway, but it may create problems. And your fabricator will be the last person in the world able to solve them, since they wouldn't even know where they come from! Mother Nature made Blue Pearl (an anorthosite from Norway) one of the best material possible for a kitchen countertop. Why tamper with it just for the heck of making the "salesmen" happy and wealthy??!
You're welcome to print this out and have you fabricator read it. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
R1: Dear Vohl: In this instance your fabricator is wrong. Trying to seal Blue Pearl is a waste of time. The stone is too dense to accept a sealer. Mike, USA
Q 2301: I  have read your expert advice page and am impressed. We are building a new home and am doing all the work ourselves, my husband is a contractor. We want absolute black granite 12x12 tiles on our kitchen counter, Could someone give us installation advice? The granite supplier is trying to sell us sealer. I figure the grout will need sealed but your site says that the granite will not have to be sealed. Any help would be appreciated I would like to do this right the first time. Please don't email me and tell me to hire someone. Thanks, Helen, July 26, Reply
R2: Dear Helen: OK, I won't tell you to hire a professional! Unfortunately I won't even give 
you any tips on the installation of those tiles, because I have no intention of writing a book on the subject. The grout could use sealing (although, being black, wouldn't show anything if stained). The black "granite" tile won't
Ciao and good luck, Maurizio,
R1: Dear Helen: Use a thinset on 3/4" backerboard. Use round toothpicks to space the tiles for your grout lines. Use a white cloth and acetone and rub it on a couple of tiles to make sure they are not an inferior product that has been dyed. If black rubs off on the cloth, reject the lot. Tell your granite supplier that you will be conducting this test, because if he is ignorant enough not to know that Absolute Black is so dense that no sealer would ever penetrate the stone and instead would merely sit on the surface, then he is certainly ignorant enough not to know that some black granites have been dyed. He also would not be aware that the sealer will cause its own problems in the future. Mike, USA
Q 2291: I have been reading your site and I must say that I am impressed with the 
vast amount of knowledge that exists. Thank you!
My question is this: I notice that for floors and counter tops and places that get wet (showers) you are recommending a 1/16" grout spacing. I understand the reason for that. For walls, you sometimes recommend doing a butt-joint. What about a fireplace surround and a ~12 sq. foot floor space in front of the 
fireplace? Can't I just butt-joint the granite tile all around the fireplace considering that there, more than likely, won't be any water near the fireplace? Thanks! Rob, 
July 24. Reply
R1: Dear Rob: Absolutely. I can see that you can use your own head! Congratulations! Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
Q 2288: Hi, I need some help please. I did a mosaic tile countertop in my Mother's dry bar. It's been completed for about a month, (fyi -I used non sanded grout) so I'm sure it's cured by now. Here's my question. I would like to put some sort of acrylic or poly coating on it. My goal here is to have some sort of clear coating over it so that I can preserve the mosaic and never have to worry about anything touching the tiles or grout itself. A tile installer who was doing some work in Mother's kitchen told her he had heard of people using Mod Podge over tile mosaics???? Have you heard of this and does it work. If not, do you have any suggestions as to what type of coating I can use. Also, should I use a grout sealant before I put any sort of "clear coating" on it? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! Brandy, July 24, Reply
R1: Dear Brandy: Sorry, but I am a stone guy, not a clear coat one! I am highly opinionated on how stone (mosaic or what-have-you) should look like, and my opinion doesn't certainly coincide with yours. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
Q 2286: I am trying to find information about how to install and maintain natural stone floors. These stones will be collected from my own property and used as a floor. I need information about how to do this before I try and error it. If you could tell where to even look I would be thrilled. Tabatha, July 24, Reply
R1: Dear Tabatha: My best suggestion is that you start working with a well established tile 
setter specializing in natural stone as an apprentice for, say ... a year or so (two would be better). By then you'll know what to do next. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
Q 2280: Could you recommend the best type (not brand) of grout for a granite tile kitchen countertop please?  Thank you. Monica, July 23, Reply
R1: Dear Monica: Epoxy-grout would be very definitely the best choice, but it's only sanded and not easy to handle. The next best thing is unsanded grout (wall-type) mixed with acrylic. Once properly cured (a few days) it should be sealed with a stone impregnator / sealer. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
Q 2274: I am doing job in green marble what kind glue should I use? Where can I buy it and for how much? Thanks, Frank. July 22. Reply
R1: Dear Frank: Theoretically you should be using epoxy-based setting material. However, at the Home Depot there's a setting material from Custom Builders dubbed Stone Setting Adhesive (or something like that!). It's much more practical to use than a two part epoxy and won't create any of the problems that regular thinset would. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
Q 2238: Hello. This website is very informative and it must be very time-consuming for you to respond to everyone. I have noticed that in several of your comments, you infer that the "granite" people think they have in their homes is not granite at all. What might it be instead? I am asking because we have recently purchased a home with "granite" countertops but we do not know what they are or who installed them. After reading your site, I realized that we might have a problem already. The "granite" has a surface scratch (looks like a score mark) about an inch in length and about an inch from the sink... we assumed it was an error when the sink was installed and didn't make a big deal of it as it was a surface mark (we hope). The building inspector suggested we get someone in to polish it out but we thought we could live with it. I'm interested to know what you think. Where do people buy the products you recommend for cleaning countertops? Are these cleaners non-toxic (we have a small child)? Thanks for your time and expertise. Sincerely, Rebecca. July 15, Reply
R1: Dear Rebecca: I always put the word "granite" in between quotation marks, because, in fact, appproximately the 98% (no, it's not a typo) of the stone traded as granite are not granite. They can be gabbro, dolerite, larvikite, anorthiste, gneis, porphyry, granidorite, anidrite, etc., through a long list. That doesn't mean that they are not as good as true geological granite. As a matter of fact, some of them are better than granite; at the other end, unfortunately, there are "granites" that, in my opinion, should be banned altogether. But, hey, it's just me!
As far your problem is concerned, a scratch could have happen to any stone, true granite included. Yes, you do need a professional stone refinisher to take a look at it. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
A 2159: I had Baltic Brown granite installed in my kitchen. I love the look, however, I have some concerns. First of all, one slab has many wheel marks---29 in all. These marks are different sizes of what looks like a 9" circular mark. Only one is almost a complete circle. These marks can not be seen during the sunny part of the day, however, cloudy times or when the sun is going up or down or when it is dark----you can really see these marks! The owner of the granite company has been to my house and told me the marks were from a 9" polishing head that is used on the big machines in Italy. He tried to make me believe that it is very common and that if the industry did not accept these marks, granite would not be as affordable as it is. I told him that my other three slabs do not have one circular mark and that I can not believe that this is as common as he is stating. He was unable to find one mark on the others, however, he said that if he replaced this one slab chances are that it too would have these wheel marks. He also said that industry standards allows for these wheel marks. Is he correct---or is he feeding me a bunch of garbage?
Another concern I have, his installers cut the holes for my faucet without protecting my $500 cast iron sink. They then dry wiped some of the granite dust out. We did not touch it and a week later a second person came to check the work and he cleaned it out with something very strong smelling. After almost 1/2 hour of rubbing very hard and polishing my sink he was finished and the sink looked great. Now his magic shine has worn off and I am finding very small scratches in my sink. Can the granite dust cause this? Is it industry standard to not protect a $500 sink from the mess caused by drilling faucet holes?  These wonderful installers also chipped a 1" chunk of granite off the end of my back splash---right on the end next to the window for all to see. They filled it with a black epoxy that obviously didn't match the shine of the granite. The owner of the company also said that this met industry standard, however, he would replace it. Something tells me that this is not industry standard.
My last issue is a gap between the bottom of the backsplash and the countertop. One 30" section of the backsplash does not sit flush with the countertop. It has been filled with caulking 2 times and according to the owner----it needs it again. He isn't sure what caused it, however, it might be their saw that did it and that it really wasn't a big deal. Shouldn't the backsplash be flush with the countertop? Is there an industry standard on gap size? Also, where does one go to find these "industry standards"? Thank you, Susan, July 4, Reply
R1: Dear Susan: Inasmuch at times I feel like an idiot Don Quixote by denouncing the bare 
truth, the fact that so called "Industry standards" are conspicuously nonexistent keeps haunting the industry back. The result -- based upon your side of the story -- is the presence of "Michelangelos" on the loose like the guy you've been dealing with. Of course, you don't have to accept a slab with grinding marks. (Besides, Baltic Brown doesn't even come from Italy.) You don't have to accept a "repair" like the one performed with epoxy, either; as well as you don't have to accept any gap whatever between the backsplash and  the countertop surface. And if the guy insists at saying that "everything is within industry standards" you tell him flat out to his face to either show you such "industry standards" in writing, or to shut the heck up and do the job the way common sense suggests.
And, by the way, when everything is done to your satisfaction, do NOT allow the guy to seal your Should you wish, you can get my free maintenance guidelines for residential stone installation by hitting the link at the bottom of this page's left side bar. Treasure them; I highly doubt you'll ever get anything like that from your "Professional fabricator" (By the way, feel free to print this out and show it to him. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, there's a remote chance that a "shock treatment" may just do him some good!) Ciao and good luck,
Maurizio, USA
A 2140: I am a landscape architect and I have designed a pool terrace paved w/ concrete pavers. The pavers are installed and the client would like to have a bull nose for the pool coping (the tile is 7/8" thick). What kind of router bit should he purchase? Thanks, Erez. June 30, Reply
R1: A diamond router bit, quarter round, radius = 3/8", Miguel, USA.
A 2100: I am installing 3/4 inch Blue Pearl granite on an island which will have a 12" overhang. The granite will be set on 3/4 inch plywood. Will I need to provide additional support for the overhang and if so any suggestions? Thank You, Bruce, June 21, Reply
R1: Dear Bruce: If the plywood is solidly bonded to the slab you should not, but ... as they say, "Better safe than sorry!" Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA 
A 2060: We are about to install a porcelain tile floor. We have 30 year old cabinets which we are keeping (they are in beautiful shape and we love them). Presently there is 2 layers of linoleum and a layer of plywood. We have had a few tile installers come in. One said to remove the lower cabinets to level out the floor then tile and the put the old cabinets back in. He would use liquid level and thin set to level. The next tiler said not to take out the cabinets to use wonderboard and thin set. The third tiler said not to remove the cabinets because they are old and may shift and the drawers may not slide as they should, to use thin set with a 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch trowel to level the floor and the to use wire not wonderboard which would be stapled to the plywood. What should we do. Remove the cabinets? Use wonderboard or use wire? Please help. Mary, June 14, Reply
A 2051: We are in the process of having kitchen counters installed using Cafe Brown granite. The installation is "complete" but the seam between two slabs is visible and rough. When I run my fingernail over it, it catches. The contractor claims he can repair it - he sent a crew over and they used power polishing machines on the area. I can't tell any difference. In the process of running a razor blade over the seam to "clean the epoxy" off, they put a chip in the granite about the size of a small pencil eraser. 
I haven't given them the final payment ($3,000) yet. Can you recommend a true professional I can call to come and look at the work. I live in Orange County California (about 20 miles south of Disneyland). What do I do. JOHN, June 12, Reply
R1: Dear John: Simply demand your fabricator to come back and fill the chip properly with epoxy filler. 
Should you wish, you can get my free maintenance guidelines for residential stone installation by hitting the link at the bottom of this page's left side bar. Treasure them; you'll be glad you did! Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
A 2018: How much it cost to per SF to clad a facade with polished black granite 1" thick 1.5' x 1.5' on metal studs? I am an architect. Hosam, June 4, Reply
R1: Dear Hosam: As much as the market bears. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA 
A 2005: Hi there! I have have lots of experience laying ceramic tile but am looking forward to a project with granite tile, I would like to laminate granite bullnose to the edges of the front tiles also and hope you can suggest the proper "glue". Thank you! Merry-Lee, USA, June 3, Reply
R1: Dear Merry-Lee: Epoxy. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
A 1984: We are planning to install Travertine in our family room. When we pulled the old carpet out we realized that the prior owners had put down particle board as a subfloor. At one point I remember reading about some kind of floating floor installation of travertine that did not use an adhesive. Is this possible and if not, what could we use with the particle board subfloor. Renee, USA May 29, Reply 
R1: Dear Renee: Floating installation of travertine (typically sawn-finished and unfilled) is for outdoors installations only (a patio, a driveway, etc.) I would put either a 1/4" or 1/2" cement board (according to the flexibility of the subfloor) over the particle board, then install with the thin-set  method (white thin set only).
Check out my maintenance tips toward the end of this page side bar. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
A 1977: I read the postings on granite seams and would like to check if I have understood the reasons why seams might be necessary. My understanding is that seams are needed: 
- if a length of a counter is longer than the slab or if the counter involves an L. 
and may be needed:
- in areas where the granite might crack due to stress if not cut and seamed (near cut-outs); 
- to avoid fissures or other "defects" in the slab. I would appreciate any comments on this. Thanks, Barbara, May 28. Reply 
R1: Dear Barbara: You've already said it all! Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
A 1971: I want to know what is a fair price to pay for having stone installed or laid per square foot on approximately 230 square feet of patio including materials. Herb, USA, 
May 27. Reply 
A 1969: I am getting ready to purchase 700 sq ft. of the Perlato Royale Agglomerate. I see that a mortar is best and would like to lay it with a tight grout. Wondering what blade would work on my tile saw with this product of 95% marble chips and resin and also what is meant by the PEI rating of cals V. Listed as indoor/outdoor so seems it is versatile. Your guidance on maintenance & installations of Perlato Royale Agglomerate stone would be appreciated. Ed, May 26, Reply
R1: Dear Ed: Installation? The same like marble tiles (white thin set, 1/16" grout gap,  unsanded grout). Maintenance? Should you be interested at receiving our free guidelines for maintenance of residential stone installations, hit the reply / contact button at the end of your own question and ask for it. I'll be glad to E-mail them to you. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
A 1959: I have inherited an assorted range of marble (and granite) tiles (the standard 12x12, 3/8 in. thick kind). They all have a highly polished finish. I would like to embark on a mosaic floor project; I have a small diamond wet saw which works great, so I'm eager to start, but I have two questions: What's the best way to "un-hone" the surface so that it has a natural, worn look? I can imagine grinding the edges a bit for a vaguely 'tumbled' effect to soften the look, but what about the super shiny surface? Would it be better to consider a process in situ, once the mosaic is installed, or could it be done more easily on the individual tiles before cutting into mosaic components? Also, what sort of grout is best if I want the mosaic pieces to have as small a seam as possible? Ciao & Grazie! -Cynthia, Boston, May 24, Reply
R1: Dear Cynthia: Unless you know how to grind a floor perfectly flat, you can't hone (mechanically, at least) your "tessera" after they've been installed. Besides the chipping of the edges as you indicated, I would use muriatic acid to chemically hone the marble (it will keep the same depth of color. If you use phosphoric acid instead, it will lose depth and become pale). As far as the granite is concerned, unless you cat get your hands on some Hydrochoric Acid, you will have to hone them by wet-sanding, again before installation. As far as the seaming is concerned, since to do mosaic requires a lot of patince anyway, I would take my time to "wipe" the edges of the single pieces with a thin layer of unsanded grout, then butt-joint the pieces to one another. Of course, you will clean the excess of grout with a sponge every two of three square feet (before it dries, that is). Ciao & Prego,
Maurizio, USA
A 1944: My family is building a new home and we have selected for our kitchen and the foyer to be covered with black granite shiny tiles. The builder's selected contractor had advised us that they should be hired for the job given the "extensive experience and expertise" that they have in doing this type of job. That for black tiles, it is very easy to look bad if we hired somebody who do not know what they're doing. Therefore, we end up paying this contractor over $12000 for this job. However, after he sent someone to put the tiles in, we went and reviewed the job. We are horrified at how uneven they were laid. Not only were there difference in spacing between the tiles, it is also uneven in the way that some tiles are not flat. Almost to the point that someone may trip over a corner! 
After he surveyed the situation, he is not willing to re-do the job even though he admit that they did not do a good job. He is now suggesting that he will grind down the whole entire floor (foyer to kitchen) to make it level/even/flatten out, and then polish it. However, he said the color may wear out a little and he won't guarantee results. 
Maurizio, your help and response would be so very greatly appreciated. We have no experience nor expertise and do not know if we should allow him to do this grinding down of the tiles. Please let me know what you think. Thanks! Venessa, May 21. Reply
R1: Dear Venessa: No, by all means, do NOT allow the guy to try grinding your floor!
His installation is totally faulty and you have a legal case as big as your entire house and then some. Grinding "granite" and refinishing it requires a professionalism that is almost up there with the pagan Gods!! The guy is totally unqualified. A proven professional would not charge any less than $ 20 to 25 per square foot to do a job like that (I know I wouldn't!). And if the job is done by a competent contractor, there will be no loss of depth of color, either. Demand your GC to replace the floor and take his butt to court if he refuses. You can't lose! The official industry standards for "lippage" (those sticky corners) is 1/32". We're talking about less than the thickness of a dime. If you need additional assistance, hit the "reply" link at the end of your posting and ask to get in touch directly with me. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
A 1931: I think your website is very informative. Our house was built last year (in New Hampshire) and we had Thassoss White greek marble (pure white-no veins) installed in our approx. 300 sq ft foyer floor. Unfortunately the gen'l contractor hired an installer without much marble experience; the first problem was that the grout lines were about 1/2" wide but it was really the second problem that caused the first re-installation, that is, the tiles started to "buckle" and move until almost all the tiles were tilted. So that floor was ripped up and Thassos was laid again by a different installer about 9 months ago but we are now facing a third installation for the following reasons and could use some advice to avoid a fourth mess; first I should point out that the subfloor is plywood / Advantech, then dur-rock nailed down; thin-set and unsanded grout were used.
1) The floor has cracked in a series of straight lines that mirror the seams of the plywood subfloor; and where the cracks aren't fully formed you can see the marble "dimpling" inward; the contractors solution to this is to add more supports to the floor in the basement in case that floor is moving from pressure. Would any tile have cracked, or is Thassos especially sensitive? It is very thick marble. Also, the contractor says that instead of dur-rock they will be using a German product (Schluter??). Will that help?
2)There are still a number of individual tiles that have "moved" i.e corners sticking up and down. Why? How can this be prevented?
3) We still think the grout lines are too wide (1/8 ") and the white grout is impossible to keep clean. The installer claims that the grout lines "are close enough". Should we hand them toothpicks next time? Is there different grout that would stay cleaner? What is the standard width of grout lines? 
4) Are we crazy to have this installed again? Is Thassos an appropriate marble for an entry? Is there another pure white marble that would be more durable? Thank you for any advice you may have. Tom, May 19, Reply
R1: Dear Tom: First off, I'd fire -- without a second thought and a single iota of regret -- your GC. He obviously knows nothing about marble. Remember: You'll never get a different result by doing the same thing over and over (in this case, using the same GC)!! 
Second, after the proper celebration that will be in order after you fire the guy, you have to make sure that the joists holding the floor meet the L 760 flexion value requirement. If you don't have enough (stiff) support from the joists, no matter what you do on the subfloor, and no matter what stone you use (granite included) you will have an installation failure, period.
Third, to do a very good job with no "lips", and with the grout-lines in a way that won't collect dirt, you should consider a "grind-in-place" installation. Especially in the case of White Thassos, such an unrivaled installation technique would give you a perfectly flat, monolithic floor (you won't feel the grout by passing a fingertip over it, since it will be 
perfectly flush with the tiles). By the way, you're right, the grout-lines shouldn't be more than 1/16". Which goes to prove once more -- as if there was any extra need -- that both your GC and his installers are plain incompetent.
If you have a hard time finding someone in New Hampshire who can do "grind-in-place" installation, hit the "reply" link at the end of your very question and ask to get in touch directly with me. I'll be glad to help you. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
A 1924: Wow, nice site! We had just purchased a 1929 bungalow in Kansas and in our backyard we had found stacks of slate tiles. They are a 1/4" thick and are 11.5"x 5.5". They seem to be a green natural cleft variety. I have no idea how long they have been out in the elements. What do you think they were originally used for? My guess is, they were used for the outdoors somewhere. We are restoring this home and I would like to reintroduce them indoors by replacing a laminate kitchen countertop with these slate tiles. 
My questions to you are: 1) Can I do that? 2) Would there be a better use for them? 3) If I can turn them into a countertop, What is best way to install them? Janet, May 17, Reply 
A 1905: I am currently having installation quotes from several people. I am thinking of putting in travertine tile, 18x18. Area is about 480 sqft. (dining,  kitchen, guest bath, entry way, high traffic areas). What would be some of the key questions to ask in addition to actually seeing reference work? Looking at 1/8" spacing, straight lines for laying tile, etc. Are there advantages to polishing vs.honed (no shine)? What about installation, tile set, slip-sheet, etc? Prices have been ranging several thousand dollars. Some of my quotes include materials and labor. What advice can you offer? Thanks, Larry, May 15, Reply
R1: Dear Larry: 1/8" grout gap? ... I dislike you already!! :-) 
1/16" is the gap you want, and you also want to make sure that wall-type grout (sandless, that is) is used.
About what to put under the tiles, there's no specific rule. It all depends from your subfloor. White thinset is a must. Actually, considering the "weird reaction" that the migration of moisture through the core of the stone can general (mold) on some of the tiles, you may want to consider using rapid-set cement, like the one available at the HD, by Custom Builders (it's called stone setting adhesive). You can grout after 2 hours and, most importantly, you won't have any "surprise" due to migration of moisture. It's more expensive, of course, but, in my opinion, well worth the extra dough! Polished versus honed. You don't want polished travertine (or marble) in a kitchen, that's for sure (unless of course, your kitchen is going to be just a show-place!!) About the rest, it all depends what you like. Sure enough, honed does require less maintenance than polished. About pricing? I'd choose the highest bidder. But hey, it's just me!! Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
A 1904: We are installing "granite" 12x12 tiles ("Colorado gold" ? from Home Depot) on our new kitchen counter top  
(Will plan to do the lemon juice test as soon as I get home.) 
We don't have the option to hire someone to install. We have laid tile before but not granite. 
1. The builder has put down plywood over the surface. Should the tile be installed on this or should we place backer board?
2. We've been told to use thinset is this ok?
3. We also plan to use un-sanded grout with a 1/16 grout line.
Please give us your words of wisdom, Thank you,  Maj and Joe, May 15. Reply
A 1857: We are in the process of choosing flooring materials for our new house (under construction). We have an inner courtyard which leads to a water feature outside, it is covered for the most part by the overhanging roof about 4 ft is exposed . Is it possible to use sandstone flooring around the courtyard and water feature( the inside of the water feature is glass mosaic) ?, we live in Kuala Lumpur where we do experience heavy rainfall in certain months of the year. Prema, May 14. Reply
R1: It is possible to use flagstone type material in this setting. One problem is that the overhang may not allow the surface of the stone to dry out sufficiently between soakings. You may have to contend with mold accumulation. The first order of priority is making sure the site allows water to run off and away from your hardscape. Second, proper preparation of the substrate to receive the material is important. Third is making sure the material is installed properly. Fourth, Make sure frequently and often after the installation is complete to assess that the grouting is not loose or washed away. Regards, Steven, USA
A 1852: I am putting granite tiles in my shower. One person told me to use grout, another told me not to. PLEASE ADVISE, Tutoness, May 14. Reply
R2: Dear Tutoness: Take a gun and shoot dead the person who told you not to use grout. Not only will you not go to jail, but you will be awarded a medal, too!!! 1/16" gap for proper grouting (a round toothpick) is the mandatory industry standard. "Butt-joint" is illegal. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
R1: Use grout. I am concerned that you are taking such a difficult project. Is this your personal shower? Tread carefully, because shower wall failures lead to very expensive repairs. Regards, Steven, USA
A 1846:Hello, My name is John , 3 years ago we installed a 12x12 jade green, (heavily serpentine) shower and tub surround, the GC and the Sub both tried to convince the client to use another material but alas she wanted this. WE took the precaution of backing each piece with epoxy, before setting with 100% acrylic and latex. Hoping this would work, I thought about using epoxy and even tried but at the time most of the product I could find had no body and took forever to set up, now latticrete has a product we like very much., cures in 3 mins or 40 min. Anyway I digress, the marble has begun delaminating, because of the expansion and contraction, some leaching and warping are happening as well. What can we do next better next time so this does not happen again, I installed a shower the same way over 12 years ago and it stands today, same tawain green marble. What Happened? Your expert help would be appreciated if you have the time. Thanks, John,May 14.Reply
R2: Dear John: Somehow, water found its way behind those tiles. There's no other  explanation. Is there grout or caulk missing? Check it out and you will see that it's probably the case. Did you, for any chance (I sure hope not), installed those tile "butt-joint"?
Regardless, for what you're reporting, the solution to the problem is only one solution. Painful (to the wallet), but feasible: The whole stall has to be ripped out and installed anew.
Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
R1: You did not indicate whether you ever impregnated the serpentine after you installed it. Basically, the moisture attacked from the front. The epoxy rendered the back as a nonporous area. No transpiration occurred. Serpentine then warps and delaminates. Keep the water proofing on the substrate, install the serpentine with 100% epoxy and impregnate after completion. Check the grout and caulk periodically, impregnate as necessary. Remember the stone will require consistent maintenance. Regards, Steven, USA
A 1844: What is the best way to cut 1" thick Brazillian Blue Stone? I need to cut several pieces from a 30"x30" slab to fit around a fish pond. Any help you could lend would be most appreciated. Thank You. Ken, May 14. Reply
R1: Take it to a stone fabrication facility and pay them to cut it for you. This is the best way. Regards, Steven, USA
A 1840:I want to install slate tiles to my new fireplace surround and to the hearth. What is your advice as to the type of adhesive, grout and sealer (if applicable)? How should the slate be cared for and what precautions should I take? One product I was looking at is a "tumbled" slate do you see any problems with this? also let me know the installation process, Smith, May 14. Reply
R1: Read answer 1839 for my suggestion. The material is nice and if well installed looks quite good. Regards, Steven, USA
A 1839:Can you tell me your opinion on installation of granite tiles on a kitchen counter top. Do I need to put in a water proof membrane? Do I use thin-set or mortar? Do I need a grout line or do I just try to fit them as close as possible. What type of grout do I use. How do I get them all level? My builder is just laying down plywood to tile on. Do I need backer-board? Smith, May 14. Reply
R1: The answer to all your questions is Yes. Specific to the grout joint you want about a 1/16" and nonsanded grout. My suggestion is for you to buy a book with pictures and maybe go to your local home improvement and sit in one of their tile seminars. As I have said before, I consider this a moderately difficult to extremely difficult DIY project. Regards, Steven, USA
A 1837: How should I install granite 12x12 tiles on new kitchen counter tops? I need advice on adhesive, grout and the insulation process. I plan to edge with wood trim. Thanx! May 14. Reply
R1: You should go to your local home improvement store and sit in on one of their seminars to make sure this is what you really want to tackle. Your local bookstore can sell you manuals with pictures to follow as well. I regard this as a moderately difficult DIY project. Write back after you research it. Regards, Steven, USA
A 1829:We recently had tumbled stone backsplash installed in our kitchen. The contractor filled in the holes with grout and insisted this is proper. We wanted the rustic look with the holes left unfilled. Was this a proper installation? Alyse, May 14.Reply
R3: The short answer is that it was a correct and proper way to install the grout. You may also grow to appreciate in the future as the sealed tiles will not allow food particles or sauce splatters to inhabit anywhere but the face of the stone. Apply an impregnator to aid in cleaning and enjoy. Regards, Steven, USA
R2: Dear Alyse: There are no standards that can rule what you have to like or not. Technically there's nothing wrong with the installation, but if you liked to holes better ...
Should you be interested at receiving our free guidelines for maintenance of residential stone installations, hit the reply / contact button at the end of your own question and ask for it. I'll be glad to E-mail them to you. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
R1: The short answer is that it was a correct and proper way to install the grout. You may also grow to appreciate in the future as the sealed tiles will not allow food particles or sauce splatters to inhabit anywhere but the face of the stone. Apply an impregnator to aid in cleaning and enjoy. Regards, Steven, USA
A 1823:Our builder says that in "floating" our 18"x18" travertine stone in cement over a plywood floor, there will be irregularities in the height of some stones, i.e. they can have up to 1/32" difference in height at the edge of stones. We thought that in floating it, the stone-layer will achieve a smooth, regular surface. Can you tell me what the specifications are for such items?,Steve, May 14.Reply
R2: The maximum variation from stone to stone is 1/32". This refers to "lippage". Lippage may result from the actual stone itself, the way the tiles were manufactured, or the quality of the installation. It is good that the installer brings this to your attention before the installation. Regards, Steven, USA
R1: Dear Steve: 1/32" (no more than that!!) is the top limit for "lippage" as industry standard. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
A 1822: I just had a new shower floor of 1" carrara marble mosaic tiles installed. It was installed over a new lead pan. After a few days, I started getting dark areas on some (but not all) of the tile floor. My tile installer did not use a sealer on the tile. He now says the tile has absorbed water and has to dry out and then he will apply a sealer. It's 9 days of drying already and no difference. Will this ever dry out and will the sealer work after this, Jmjaniak, May 14. Reply
R2: It is possible that not enough time has elapsed. It could take 30 days. Sometimes if the installer uses a gray rather than a white thinset this may occur as well. Regards, Steven,  USA 
R1: Dear Jmjaniak: If the contractor used white thinset, then it will eventually dry, If he used gray thinset, it won't. A sealer has no function whatsoever in the picture. Not now, not later. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA 
A 1811: We kindly ask you to send us some information regarding the most appropriate mounting adhesive, and protection solution for green slate - natural cleft (used outside), Carmenciat, May 14. Reply
A 1810:I am wanting to cover our front porch in stone. The guy at home depot said I shouldn't use an isolation membrane, but a book I'm looking at did. Other than Thinset, what do I need to use?, Lisa, May 14.Reply
R1: It depends on the substrate and whether or not water will run off from it. I suggest you get a second opinion from a local installation professional. They will be able to accurately identify what needs to be done. Regards, Steven, USA 
A 1793: I am installing tumble marble as a backsplash. I will be applying sanded grout before sealing. If I wait 24 hours, will a cleaner help remove the grout haze without affecting the grout? Otherwise, what should I do to avoid grout haze? I later intend to use color enhancer and would not mind purchasing Thanks, Rodolfo May 14.Reply
R1: Dear Rodolfo: To remove grout haze, providing that you cleaned the excess off as thoroughly as possible with the sponge, all you need is some warm water and a medium-bristled brush. No, you won't be damaging the grout, but I would let the grout cure for at least two days, Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
A 1785: I am doing an installation over an existing slab below grade of Noce Travertine Limestone- crosscut, honed with Dark Empador Marble dots. Is etching the 20 yr old slab required? What is the best adhesive to use? Any recommendations for a waterproof membrane and would the application of such affect adhesion of the stone? Thanks, Rob, May 14. Reply
R1: Do a moisture test to assess what type of moisture wicking you are dealing with. Check the slab for cracks and efflorescence. Apply a liquid waterproof/ isolation membrane. Thickset as you would to achieve less than 1/32" lipage. Regards, Steven, USA
A 1774: Can you tell me what is the best & safest way to cut Brazilian blue stone? I have to cut 8 30"x30"x1" thick slabs into various sizes. Would appreciate any advice you can offer. Thanks. May 2, Reply
A 1758: I'm designing a screened porch with a stone patio floor. The client would prefer to set stone without a concrete slab, but she doesn't want the dust that arises from setting in a sand bed. Is there any product or practice that would allow the setting of stone tiles over a compacted gravel base and sand bed that would be dust-free? Or a crack-filler besides sand that will stay put? I'm not looking for an impervious surface, just a clean one. Marcia, April 25, Reply
R3: Marcia, There is a product called Sandlock that was developed to stabilize the joint sand of concrete pavers. It is mixed with the dry sand that is to be swept into the joints and is misted/moistened several times over a 45 minute period and the organic agents bind the sand particles together and form a fairly hard joint. The joint looks like sand, feels a bit like a mortar. Tom, Utah, USA 
R2: No not for the products or application specified. Regards, Steven, USA
R1: Hello Marca. Yes! You could set the stone tiles on a good old traditional lime mix. I'm not sure what lime are available in your country, but any good hydraulic or non-hydraulic lime and sand mix could be used. I would prefer a 1:2 ratio in the UK but your lime may vary. (consult a lime mortar supplier).  
Advantage! Makes a lovely plastic mix, easy to work with.
Slow set provides good working time (needs to remain damp while setting) give it a couple / three days for tiles and light traffic for a week or two. 
Lime has built in flexibility and will accommodate small movements / settlement in the  substructure. Lime is produced by a heating process, driving off both the moisture and the carbon dioxide. Result = Quicklime. The water will be returned during a process known as slaking this will produce either a malleable putty or a hydrated powder. Your mix will then reabsorb the carbon dioxide returning the material back to limestone.  
Lime is environmentally friendly as it rebalances leaving very little excess carbon dioxide in the air once fully set and requiring less heat than cement to produce.
For pointing the joints you might add a little boiled linseed oil in the mix, 2% max. 
Warning! Don't get it on the face of the tiles particularly if they are porous. Best wishes Roy, UK.
A 1751: I am using Nuvalato Trani marble and tumbled Rojo Allicante marble in a shower and would like to know if I can use an unsanded epoxy grout on the marble. Thanks. Karen, 
April 24. Reply 
R1: Yes you can. Be diligent in the clean up. Regards, Steven, USA
A 1742: We have had a gorgeous slate grand entrance to our home in Richmond, VA. The grout is shaling and the slates are now dangerous and loose. Please advise about proper adhesives/grout for outdoor use. We live in a temperate climate, with lots of climate changes seasonally. We have enjoyed our slate entrance way, including the stairs, for over 10 years now. Thank you for any advice, Debbi, April 21. Reply
R1: It may not be the case of adhesive or grout. Could the normal flow of water runoff have been interrupted within the last ten years? It sounds as if something is causing the stones to come loose. Many times it is water. The grouts and adhesives are portland based products. Good luck, Steven, USA
A 1720: Need info on laying cobbles / guidance, any contacts, documents, hyperlinks. Help me please!! I am finding difficulty in the laying / setting procedure of natural wahed cobblestones. I am not having much luck so far. The site is in the centre of Oxford, UK and is therefore historically sensitive in terms of retaining natural methods / features. Patrick, April 17. Reply
R1: It probably needs to be sand set. I would suggest you call a firm close to you that is familiar with the product and procedure to aid you. Regards, Steven, USA 
A 1691: I want to install 12 inch GRANITE TILES on my kitchen island, but I need some ideas on how to make an edge. Any ideas for a do it yourself job? Also, how do I polish the edges of the tile to match the tops? Thanks! Kelly, April 11. Reply
R2: To make an edge on a tile you need a variable speed grinder, a 46 stone, a 120 stone and a set of polishing pads, that's for a pencil edge, if you want a bevel you need a grinding wheel with the stones and polishing pads, also you should use the pamir wax to make the tiles edges to look like the countertops. Katie, USA.
R1: Dear Kelly: Shaping and polishing edges of stone is not, by far, a DIYer project. Get hold of a local fabrication facility and let them to the job. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
A 1690: How much unsupported overhang can I have using 3 cm granite? Is there a rule of thumb? I am building an island in a kitchen and would like to support the granite with 6 inch diameter wood posts instead of cabinets. Joseph, April 11. Reply
R1: Usually the rule of thumb on a 24 inch cabinet is 8-12 inches unsupported, but with a 6 inch posts its probably best to use 2-4 inch overhang. Katie, USA.
A 1684: I am building a bar, the base is 84X26. The slab is 86X28X1.5 allowing 1 inch overhang on each side and 2 inches in the front. I will be resting shelves on top on the marble. What do I use to keep the marble in place? Christopher, April 10. Reply
R1: Dear Christopher, do you know that your marble slab will weigh close to 140kg (305 pounds). I don't think that it will go very far even if you rest shelves on it. Dr. Hans, Australia
A 1643: We have a slate porch floor, covered. The grout is becoming cracked and dislodging, plus some of the slate is coming loose. How do we repair this? Clara. 
April 3. Reply
R1: Hi Clara, I have done a lot of slate. My favorite material to work with actually. Lots of work to remove old grout, oldfashioned good hard on your knees stuff. You need a pro or a lot of time and energy could be wasted. All loose tiles and grout material should be removed and sub-surface clean and level. This is about 80% of the job. Then new tiles are laid. Then the floor can be prepared and grouted. Getting the grout texture to be smooth and perfect is an art. If the consistency ( ratio of water to grout ) and application are lacking, you will have cracks fairly soon. It pays to use a pro., Tile Guy, USA.

A 1640: Maurizio, we have installed a granite countertop, that was mistakenly seamed over a dishwasher. The seam is popping up and the front area that was a laminated ogee, is now chipped where that seam begins. It is not a situation where we can rip off the tops, as it would do damage to the cabinets. We have heard solutions such as rodding the seamed area and then maybe supporting it with wood. Then of course, filling in the chipped area. I am a big fan of your advice, so I turned to you for help. Any suggestions? Thanks, Robin, April 3. Reply 

R2: Dear Robin: I'm sorry, but I had to lay off for a while. My dear friend and colleague Steven gave you answer to which I have nothing to add. Maurizio, USA
R1: Though you didn't ask me, I will answer. This can be remedied. Contact the fabrication facility and have them come out and tell you what they can do. Then email me back so that I can advise you. Regards, Steven, USA
A 1630: I am looking for reference material so that I may learn to install either 16 or 18 inch tiles in the entry way, guest bath and living room, about 700 square feet. Some of the area is a 10 year old concrete slab and the rest is plywood sub-flooring. Could you also recommend a supplier of limestone in the Orange County, California area? I am looking for the best offer that I can get, I will be laying the tiles myself. Thanks very much, Tom, 
April 1, Reply
R2: I wouldn't do this if I were you. Tile, especially stone, setting is a very specialized trade. I recommend a trade professional, with good references. If you persist, experiment in another area first to teach yourself, and go slow... 
Any good bookstore or hardware store may have 'how to' books. 
Orange County has several reputable stone suppliers, but most deal with trade professionals. Or, if you are a Home Depot kind of guy, go there. Remember, buyer beware and I don't recommend this as a 'do it yourself' activity. If you have so much time on your hands that you can 'afford' this, then good luck! Alex, USA.
R1: First of all, you shouldn't be trying to buy 'the best price you can get' unless you really don't care what you end up with. Imagine buying a car, watch or anything and saying 'the lowest price'. Say you get a used car and just pick the lowest price in the newspaper, what are you getting?
You have to compare 'apples to apples' and 'oranges to oranges'. Biancone from Italy is hard and very durable, The light colors from Portugal are usually quite soft (esp. by comparison to Biancone) and will need careful attn. to sealing and maintenance. Yes this stone is generally less expensive but there is a reason... You should be able to find a local supplier that can explain all this to you and sell you good stone. Alex, USA.
A 1620: I read your We are building a new home, and are planning to use marble flooring in all the bathrooms. I have never installed any tile before, but wondered if it is too difficult to do myself. We did plan to hire someone, but they charge much more for marble installation than for ceramic. I have heard that Durarock is a good idea to put on the subfloor, what else should we expect either in doing it ourselves, or hiring a contractor? All the bathrooms are relatively small, and there are only bathtubs installed. I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Pamela, March 30, Reply
R1: I would say hire a professional. The difference between setting ceramic tile and natural marble is quite a lot. The only advice to give is check references, and see if you can view any work they may have done. Regards, Steven, USA
A 1615: Seven months ago, we installed Jerusalem Stone (limestone) throughout our
bathroom floor, shower, and surrounding the bathtub. During the installation process (a) many pieces of the stone tiles were severely scratched (resembles a brillo pad scratch), (b) many baseboard edges appear to have a "rippled" appearance, and (c) we cannot remove most of the grout on the tile surface. We have currently identified two companies in the Philadelphia area that does stone resurfacing. Do you know of any other companies? In your opinion, is it a simple process to remove such scratches and "ripples" from limestone?
Also, we are questioning the installation of the limestone in our shower and surrounding our tub. We originially had ceramic tiles. The installer simply installed wonderboard over these tiles then installed the limestone. In essence, from the wall, we have ceramic, wonderboard, then limestone. Is this standard protocol? 
Any advise or guidance would be greatly appreciated. I am very afraid to have the installer take care of the problems in fear of creating additional ones. I am panicking right now. 
Thank you, Amanda, March 29. Reply
R3: Dear Amanda -- I am " The Tile Guy" and have been a tile, stone , and mable contractor for a while. You got screwed! 
First of all when you set stone you must use very good ( expensive ) sealer or you will spend more time trying to clean the faces than you did setting the stone. They didn't , and then proceeded to mar the faces by trying to scrub off the grout that would not release, rookie move. They gave up after they realized it was hopeless. 
YOU NEVER set stone over old ceramic tile. What a cheap guy. I have done hundreds of marble and stone tub surrounds. Would you put down a new carpet over the old one??? Whoever did your work was trying to make a quick buck.
I am sorry to bring you the news I see it a lot and it never surprises me ; everyone thinks they are a tile guy, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do tile. Tile Guy. USA. 
R2: This is what good general contractors are for.. 
It sounds like the stone was handled improperly, it should not be scratched at all, perhaps they had polished stone and did a horrendous job trying to hone it.
Also maybe they cut the stone with a bad blade and chipped the edge? Normally one would remove existing tile and properly prepare the space to accept a new stone installation. My advice, bite the bullet, hire a good general contractor and do the job right. Alex, USA.
R1: From the sound of it the installer is not the culprit here. The material many times comes this way. The process of installing the limestone over the tile is not technically a bad choice. The real problem I see is that the material was not adequately inspected before installation. I believe that you should call the refinishing or installation company with the best references to come over and look at the job. They should tell you what should be done. Regards, Steven, USA,
A 1614: During the installation of a new slate fireplace hearth. a small hole appeared in the black slate. The hole is about 1-1/2" long and approx 3/8" wide. How can I fill the hole? It was recommended that I use black grout, but is this the best method? Jeff, Canada, March 29, Reply
R1: How does a hole just appear? I think that grout should be o.k. Buy two types. One sanded and one unsanded. Fill the hole till it is only 1/8" deep with the sanded grout. Let it cure. Then go over it with the unsanded grout. Regards, Steven, USA,
A 1607: I am planning to install 12" x 12" limestone tiles in my dining room. Is there a method to check whether the tiles have dried. I have been given to understand that the tiles have to be dried before sealing. Rob. March 28. Reply
R1: The drying times after placement vary from stone to stone and depend on the amount of humidity in the subsoil. This can be checked by attaching plastic foil with Scotch tape on various places of the floor for 24 hours. If condensation should appear on the foil, this means that the floor still contains some moisture and may not be dry. Swarup. India
A 1606: What do you mean by Calibrated tiles? Jack, March 28. Reply

R1: Calibrated tiles, which are tiles that are milled according to thickness, can easily be glued to the surface . One can directly glue on to the surface ,preferably with a glue that is not water based or with a cement glue.When the tiles are glued to the surface, the time to harden will be considerably shorter compared to the traditional placement method, whereby tiles are placed on a mortar bed. India.  

A 1599: I had a backsplash of Calico Multi Slate installed in the kitchen, and lots of grout was left in the uneven parts of the tile, Any suggestions for removing it? Ried, March 27. Reply
R1: There are various cleaning solutions sold through your tile store. Don't start with a strong acid solution first. Recognize the bulk of the work will be tedious. Regards, Steven, USA,   
A 1594: We just installed porcelain tile and the grout got in to the grooves of the tile. How can this be removed? We already tried "haze cleaner", but this did not help. Thanks! Resig. March 26. Reply
A 1587: We have purchased 12"x12" granite stone tiles to apply over our existing built up laminate countertop. What preparation do we need to do on the existing countertop to apply the granite stone? What is the installation process to apply the granite stone. What adhesive do you recommend? Our kitchen countertop is L shaped. We have just purchased a new slide in range to replace our cook-top (which we will have to cut out) and will be
purchasing an overlay sink. Please advise to us "do-it yourselfer's". Thanks, Lori, March 25. Reply
A 1578: Need information on how to install marble tile for a fireplace surround and hearth. Jim, March 22. Reply
R1: Jim, There are manuals and books that will help you install the marble. Buy one! or hire a professional tile installer with references to do it for you. Generally though you should decide how wide the grout joints will be. See how flat and plumb everything is and then use a white thin set with additive instead of water to install it. Good Luck Steven, USA,  
A 1570: I am installing tumble marble as a backsplash. I will be applying sanded grout before sealing. If I wait 24 hours, will a cleaner help remove the grout haze without affecting the grout? Otherwise, what should I do to avoid grout haze? I later intend to use color enhancer. Thanks for your help. Rodolfo, March 21. Reply
R1: Dear Rodolfo: Don't you worry about damaging grout while cleaning the film residue off the stone surface. Remember though, if you want to color enhance your tumbled marble you have to apply the color enhancer BEFORE sealing, not after. If you seal first, the sealer will inhibit the enhancer from being absorbed by the stone. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA,  
A 1567: I have been seeing some pictures of granite countertops with what appear to be drainage grooves immediately beside the under mount sinks. I assume that area would act like a drying space for wet pots, pans, etc, allowing the water to drain back into the sink. I think I understand the pros of this set up but what are the cons in such a fabrication? Tom, March 21. Reply 
R1: It is expensive. Not all fabricators can do it. Regards, Steven, USA
A 1560: Not one guy has mentioned the old fashioned (and proven) wire reinforced float? We are and for generation hard surface contracting company. Does anyone float any more? John, March 20. Reply
R1: Yes, It is still done. But newer substrates and products are used more frequently. Regards, Steven, USA,
A 1553: I have a bad seam where the bullnose edge is laminated. Can it be fixed. March 18. Richard, Reply
R1: Dear Richard: Most likely, NO. Maurizio, USA,
A 1535: I am working on a Church where we have an interior slate stair. We are trying to detail the stair and I have some questions. The stairs are 6'-0" wide and have a support at either end and at the center of the tread. The tread is approx 13" deep.
1. We have detailed the stairs and we are thinking of making the stone span a little less than 3'-0" between supports. Given this distance what would be the recommended thickness I should make the tread?
2. We are considering using slate but if we can not do this with slate would you recommend granite or limestone? Koji, USA. March 13. Reply 
A 1527: I recently had 2 countertops installed. We used laticrete sp100 epoxy grout. In a few areas the grout seems a little low. I worry about chipping on the unprotected edges. I still have a table top to grout with the same epoxy and I was wondering if I can go back over these few areas and add a thin top off in the low joints. Thom. March 13.
R2: Dear Thom: You shouldn't have a problem. Epoxy bonds to epoxy, even if the first application is completely cured. Ciao, Maurizio, USA,
R1: The grout that is missing needs to be 1/3 of the entire depth of the stone or the epoxy grout will not stick. Rebecca, USA,
A 1509: I want to cast my own table top concrete/terrazzo pieces. So, I would be adding small aggregates like marble etc. to a mold. Where could I get the small chips of stone (approx.4MM) and then what could I use to grind or sand down, then polish without buying really expensive equipment? I have a nice wood shop with wood tools like palm, belt, orbital. Can they be adapted to work? Thank You!! John, March 8. Reply
R1: Hi John: It would take for ages, but if your up for it here is a relatively cheap and cheerful method. Either cast the chips in neat cement or trowel them in. Using an angle grinder (7" or 9" is easier to get flat), backing pad and 36 silicon carbide, resin backed disk, grind of the surface keeping the tool moving at all times in as many directions as possible. Go on to use approx. 80, 150, 240, 400 and to 600 is probably about as good as you will get. Get a dust mask or an apron and do it wet, either lots of water or none. A worthwhile investment would be some diamond hand pads and use these once it is flattened with the coarser grades. Remember ! in any account be sure each grade has stopped biting before you go on to the next. It's hard to be any more exact as it is often a matter of just looking at the job and using your experience. Bryan, UK.
A 1505: What is the margin of error in the sub-floor's level of flatness? For example - We have poured a self-leveling underlayment, and yet when we lay our tiles out in a dry run, there is still some tilting to the tiles. However, the manufacturer recommends 1/4 inch trowel for applying the mastic, so is this going to absorb some of the uneveness? Also, do you cut marble tile the same way you cut ceramic tiles? Andrea, March 8. Reply
R1: First - you do not use mastic to install marble - you will find the trowel marks to be visible on the face after installation.
You must use marble set to install the marble as it has all of the correct properties.
You can also trowel it slightly higher or lower in spots to adjust the height of the marble.
I would personally at this point hire a professional and not try to do this my self.
It is not as easy as it looks. Rebecca. USA,
A 1491: I almost ready to begin installing a slate floor and counter tops in my kitchen. 
Question # 1 - Is there any thing that I can do to prevent the grout from staining the unsealed slate during the grouting process? I would rather prevent than spend the hours cleaning and fixing... Question # 2 - Does anyone have any particular do/don'ts when dealing with un-gauged Indian Slate? Dave, March 4. Reply
R2: Just Seal with the best sealant available. Use a sealant that is colorless. It is available in the market. Paul, USA, Reply 
R1: Dear Dave: Yes, I do have a list of DOs 'n' DON'Ts when dealing with Indian slate in a kitchen. It's a very short list: DON'T! Ciao, Maurizio, USA, Reply
A 1386: I'm finishing a wet bar in the basement with a set of base cabinets butting a studded, drywall, 42" wall upon which will set an 8 foot x 24" wide 3cm granite. Since the granite will essentially be balanced on a 4 " wide wall, the question arises as to how to adequately brace the countertop. Even with 3cm granite, the builder plans to use a plywood base and support it with metal brackets. He's not committed to a specific number, and I'm trying to find out the 'sense of the community'. This is most important to me in that I'm making some final decisions about decoration for the exterior wall of the bar, and want to match up some decorative corbels to help hide the brackets. Any ideas or suggestions? Kevin, Jan 30, Reply
R2: The spans between the center supports should be no more than 24" or 61 cm the countertop in 3 cm material should not cantilever with out support more than 10" or 25 cm. Hope this helps. Regards, Steven, USA, Reply
R1: The builder is doing the right thing. The heavy stone needs support. It will not hold on without  supports. Have you considered Granite Columns to support the hanging corners. You can get round columns. Alternatively stack up small squares of granite 3" thick in the form of an arch. This can be made by using small 4" x 4" square pieces of granite and placed on top of each other in such a manner that you get a perfect arch. Regards, Arun, India, Reply
Thanks for your replies. The keys for me are the width between braces, so 24" was the magic number. The installers won't measure the job until the cabinets are in, but I need to order the corbels now. Kevin, Reply
A 1369: What's the best way to install granite tiles over a cement slab (i.e. no joist underneath)? Dough  Jan 24. Reply
R4: The best way is to use an epoxy. Regards, Arun, India, Reply  
R3: You can use a thin-set method. 
Apply thin-set to uniform thickness. 
Position tile over bed:
Push or twist tile into place to achieve desired elevation:
Check for levelness of entire floor:
Check for lippage from tile to tile (no more than 1/32"):
Grout floor and work grout into joints:
Pull grout float over tile surface to remove grout off tile:
Use sponge and clean water-clean residue from face, edges, & corners of
I would go one extra step and put down an isolation/water proof membrane the day before. Installation method courtesy of the MIA, Good Luck, Steven, USA
R2: Please see the attached details that depict several options for granite and stone installations. Hope the info helps. Art, USA Reply
R1: Dear Dough: Level the cement slab using a self-leveling hydraulic cement, apply an anti-crack membrane, then set the tile on white thinset. Don't forget to take good care of your granite floor, once installed. Contact me, I can help you with that. Ciao, Maurizio, USA Reply
A 1367: I'm having material problems! I paid for "tumbled beige travertine".  When the stone arrived - the edges of the travertine have a beveled-look. Most were chipped badly and ALL had bad grinder wheel scratches that were quite obvious & deep. Edges look sloped. I strongly dislike grout, and am under the impression that this type stone is installed with a "butted-edge", so shouldn't it have sharper edges? This is my 2nd shipment (so they say) that I have refused. (They said they went through and picked out the best ones, but there is no way that's the truth unless they were blind)!
1.) I need to know what the edges (12x12 tiles) should look like. They should not be dramatically "filed-off" or beveled looking, should they??? The sample from which I made my choice and purchase was not all cracked, grinder-scratched nor chipped.
2.) I want the placement as tight as possible, eliminating as much grout as possible. If it's beveled off, won't it look wavy and dipped? Help! The installer said they weren't "tumbled out". I ordered this Dec. 21, 2001... So, I'm feeling a sense of desperation- yet, I don't want to settle for shoddy materials. Trish,  Jan 24, Reply
R6: I read your mail with grief, You should not have received the container in that condition. Briefly, let me explain who we are. We are a natural stone supplier from Turkey with 14 quarries and 4 factories, all are in production. (I hope the container you received is
not from Turkey) We have been in stone business for more than 20 years. Our USA office is in NJ. There are several finishes on the travertine tiles as follows: Filled / Honed- all holes should be filled, and all 4 sides should be beveled, no cracks, chips on the stone. When you install it, it should be tight, no space between tiles.
Tumbled Trav, should come out of the tumbling machine, edges should be rounded slightly, there are still holes on the stone, because you cannot fill the holes, and tumble it at the same time. This should be indicated to you from the beginning, if you fill the holes, and tumble it, all fillings will come out during the tumbling process. Please call if you need to talk about it, I will try to help as much as I can. Best regards, Ms. Gonca, Turkey
R5: Most probably they have cheated. There should not be any difference from the sample of the stone or delivery of the stone which has sent to you. You should contact your lawyer. If you still need stone, please contact us or some professional firm who has been doing this business for years. Kind regards. Didem, Turkey.  
R4: It is unacceptable behavior in international trade. After this experience, you must be more careful about your trade. You must make trade with honest and expert firms. Good luck... Turkey.
R2: When you are ordering the goods you have to mention that you want the edges unbevelled. But only the surface patinated. Otherwise they will do workmanship for the edges. this chipping seems that the material is ruined or belonging to ancient times. That is why they chipped the edges. Before order in the material must be specified properly. Best regards. Murat, Turkey
R1: Dear Trish: Tumbled travertine does not have (because of the tumbling process) straight edges, therefore it is not the right tile for a tight installation (1/16"). Maurizio, USA
A 1360: We had a limestone floor installed 2 weeks ago. The installer put the thinset on in the middle and around the edges of the tile. The tile has remained dark where the thinset was and where he did not put the thinset there is a lighter ring. It's on all the tiles. Because the stone is dark gray, the installer used a dark thinset. We've since been told by others that this was a mistake, that white thinset should be used with limestone. Short of redoing the floor, do you have any solutions? Mira & Tim, Jan 22, Reply 
R3: Unfortunately your installer didn't "burn" an even coat of thin-set into the back of the tiles before setting them by troweling a uniform coating of thin-set across the entire surface. This would have prevented the
"rings" which you noted. Those rings are indeed being caused by the grey thin-set being broadcast through the semi-translucent tile. By now, I'm sure you have either fixed the problem by removing the tile or decided that it isn't as significant a problem as you had first perceived. It's a common mistake and I've seen seasoned journeymen forget this simple step on occasion. As a rule, white thin-set for light colored stone. And always "burn" a coat of thin-set into your tile to provide 100% coverage and uniform tone. Tile-Guy, USA. 
R2: I don't know if the the thinset is completely dry. How much time has elapsed since the limestone was installed? If it is less than a few weeks, you may take the do nothing approach for a few more weeks. Maybe it will continue to dry. I fortunately, have not had much experience with remedying this type problem. Regards, Steven, USA, Reply
R1: Dear Mira & Tim: Nope. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Reply
A 1346: We're getting ready to install a tumbled marble backsplash w/ 1/4" sanded grout joints. My question relates to use of color enhancer, specifically when to apply? Some comments I've seen indicate at least one coating prior to installation, making grout cleanup from textured areas much easier. Other comments suggest waiting until installation & grouting are complete to avoid interference w/grout adhesion. The enhancer manufacturer suggests it can be done either way - just make sure not to spray enhancer on tile sides where grout will be. Also, should color enhancer be applied to grout after installation in lieu of silicone for purpose of sealing the grout? Thanks Steve, Jan 18. Reply
R2: The correct answer is already contained in your question. All the information is correct. If you understand everything you wrote then you will be fine. As to the enhancer acting like a sealer the answer is no. A color enhancer has oil in it that make it somewhat hydrophobic but it should not be construed as a sealer. I don't recommend silicone coatings that stay on top of the grout. Go ahead and impregnate your grout after it properly hydrates. This means that starting couple days after you install the tile, wash the area with clean warm water frequently for about a month. Then you can impregnate the grout. Remember to change your water the moment it is not clear. If you get told that you can impregnate within 2 weeks that is O.K. also. It is just the lower acceptable threshold. Good luck, Steven, USA Reply
R1: Dear Steve: I am a manufacturer of a color enhancer, and I recommend to apply the product after installation. It's difficult to make sure not to apply it on the sides of the tiles, if you do it before. No, it won't do any sealing to your grout. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA
A 1327: We are remodeling our bathroom. Planning to install Perlato Royal Marble on the walls around the tub/shower. We are planning to install #15 roofing felt as moisture barrier on the studs then 1/2" Hardibacker board. Then we are planning to use a TEC brand marble adhesive to set the tiles. I have had recommendations from dealers which are conflicting and would like to get an expert opinion on the best way to do this. I'd prefer to use an adhesive v/s the mortar due to the waterproofing characteristics of the adhesive. Thanks, in advance. William, Jan 15. Reply
R3: Please note that - adhesives or mastics - as you call them are not as resistant to moisture as you may have been led to believe. The best materials to use for this installation is a two part liquid and powder thin set mortar combination. It is also a good idea to install a waterproofing membrane over the cement backer board prior to installing the marble. I have attached a detail drawing that depicts your installation. Art, USA, Reply
R2: Dear William: "Perlato Royale" is a very good choice, providing that you follow all proper maintenance procedures that are common to all marbles (on this subject, you may want to contact me directly and I'll be glad to email you our written guidelines for maintenance of residential stone installations). I don't know exactly what you mean by adhesive. If it's glue, I strongly suggest you to stay away from it. If it is one of those fast-setting cements, than it would be OK. I'm not familiar with the TEC products. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, India, Reply
R1: Dear Mr. William: The advise you have received is good. I also share the same opinion that the stone should NOT be fixed with an adhesive. most of the adhesives available are water soluble and specially in bathrooms where the relative humidity is high (due to steam, shower and water) the adhesives tend to loose their strength. I would recommend a use of solvent free epoxy or a polyester mastic for fixing the stones. We can supply or even source the material for you if you desire. Regards Arun, India, Reply
A 1333: Hi, I'm interested in building a freestanding concrete curvilinear wall clad in large sandstone slabs (one side only). The wall will be approximately 24 foot long and 9 feet high. The concrete company will be providing me with engineering and blueprints. What I am trying to achieve is a surface that appears to be made of solid stacked sandstone blocks. I want the blocks to be irregular and roughly cut and I intend to have them mortared from behind. I will be engraving and carving relief's on this surface once it is complete. Perhaps you could help with some questions that I have. Where can I look for the type of sandstone that would suit my purposes? I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and I would like to see it before I buy. Can I do what I just described with these materials? Can you recommend a stone mason from my area i.e. Alberta Do you recommend any particular type of sandstone and should I consider reclaimed materials? How much should I expect to pay for the material alone? Thankyou for your time, Susan, Jan 16. Reply
R2: We have a sandstone here in Tennessee that might work. If you will contact me I will be happy to provide photos and informantion. Randy, USA,  Reply
R1: Dear Susan, Yes, you can do what you want. I am sure a relief work in that stone would look excellent. We have lot of this work done in India and you can even procure ready made stone with the relief work in the form of a zigsaw puzzle. The various pieces will be placed randomly and stuck on a removable substrate (plywood) and then the carving can be done. I am attaching a picture of the wall that we made. This entire wall in pieces can be shipped in a container to you. You may chose a single color sandstone with the joints showing or even use different color sandstones ranging from Brick red to off white or even rainbow, which is a Sandstone with a lot of colored stripes. If you need any help in this please contact. Regards Arun, India . Reply
Hi, thanks for your help. I really am a ' hands on ' type of artist and would like to choose the stones myself, in person. Regards, Susan, Jan 18, . Reply
A 1335: I've used travertine for a fireplace hearth and surround. I have 1/16" joints waiting to be grouted. I've considered using an epoxy grout because of the stain resistance and durability. This would also fill some of the small holes in the honed travertine tiles. I'm worried about the epoxy grout creating a film on the travertine that I won't be able to remove. Would you warn against using the epoxy grout? Better to go with an unsanded grout? David, Jan 16. Reply
R4: If you do not have any experience with epoxy grout then I would use the non-sanded grout. Best regards, Steven, USA Reply
R3: Dear David: It's not difficult to clean the residue film of epoxy grout, providing that you clean it before it cures, of course! Apply the grout, then clean the excess with a clean rag soaked with warm water and soap detergent (unless the manufacturer specifies something different. Read the label). Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA Reply
R2: You need to be careful with using epoxy grouts over stone. Not only can a film be a problem, the sanded aggregate in the epoxy grout can potentially scratch the stone surface. I would suggest using an unsanded portland cement based grout. Hope the info helps. Regards, Art, USA Reply
R1: Dear David: To avoid staining the surrounding stone, I would suggest , you use a polymer based grout. A polymer based grout contains silica, and polymer and is a water thin paste. Masking tape can be used on the edges to protect the adjoining stone or a coat of water repellent silicone coating like ours can be done prior to grout filling which will eliminate the chances of staining the stone. Polymer based grouts are available in a number of shades or you can buy white and pigment separately. This job can be done without any expert. We can provide you with both the polymer grout and the stain resistant coating. Regards Arun, India Reply
OK, I guess some variance of opinion should be expected. ;-) I used an epoxy grout on a granite tile kitchen countertop. It has worked beautifully and is very functional. But the granite was polished. The travertine is honed and more porous. This was my concern. I will use Miracle Sealant products, 511 Porous Plus sealer and Mira Matte color enhancer. Should I apply these before I grout? I've read that Porous Plus can work as a grout release. Thanks again for the wonderful advice. Jan 18, Reply
You do NOT want to use 511 Porus Plus on honed travertine. Contrary to popular believe, travertine is not very porus at all. Because of the way it was formed, it's very similar, in physical characteristics (minus the holes!), to compact limestone (most mercantile marbles), which is very dense. If you like the Miracle Sealant company's products, you have to use the regular 511. Porus Plus, being formulated for very porous stones, is too thick and won't go in. Yes, you can apply the sealer before installation. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio Reply
Dear David: No, I can't. I do believe it's hopeless. Please, don't even think at buying my sealer: I don't want to get involved with stupidity. If you wish, you're welcome to print out this answer and show it to your clients. If they need to be called names some more, tell 'em to contact me directly and I'll be glad to oblige them! MANKIND SHOULD MASTER NATURE BY UNDERSTANDING, NOT BY FORCE. But I don't think they will ever get it!! Ciao and good luck, Maurizio Reply
A 1336: I have had trouble with our installation of White Agglomerate marble tile in a 60x60x1.2cm in our projects in the Philippines. The retail space where the tile was installed has a lot of pedestrian traffic with as a result leaves dirt in the 3cm joints between the tile which have cementious grout to match the color of the grout. We find that the edges of the tile rub against the soles of the pedestrians leaving dirt in between which by and large looks rather shabby. We find that this type of grout absorbs the dirty water which arises from the washing of the surface and over time, darkens the white grout. Another problem we see that the grout is softer than the tile which causes it to rub off / scratch off, this results a sinking of the joint which becomes a collector of loose dirt as well. We need if there is a kind of grout can be used that does not attract loose dirt, does not sink, does scratch of and is hard as the tile it self. Thanks, David, Philippines, Jan 16. Reply
R4: Have the existing grout removed and start over with new grout. Fair warning though, white grout is very difficult to keep white. you may need to investigate how durable grout stains are or epoxy grout. Good Luck, Steven, USA Reply
R3: Dear David: Are you sure about the 3cm. gap in between tiles?! I mean, we're talking about almost 1.1/4"!! Very ... unusual, to say the least! If that's really the case, then I don't think there is a real solution to your problem. You may wont to try epoxy grout. Better yet, you may want to consider leaving a gap of no more than 3 mm. in between tiles! Half that plus unsanded grout, would be best. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA Reply
R2: The type of grout you are looking for is an 100% solids epoxy grout. However, you need to conduct a small test area to determine if the epoxy grout can be used. At least 1/2 the depth of the existing grout needs to be carefully removed, then cleaned and allowed to dry. Then try an area using the epoxy grout. Check for potential scratching of the stone surface and workability in the site conditions that exist. Art, USA Reply
R1: Dear David, Before we start the treatment , we should understand the reason for the problem. Agglomerate marble is marble powder and chips in a resin base. This composition makes it very hard and devoid of natural defects as it is man made in a factory. In your case the grout in the retail space is cementious, which is relatively softer then the agglomerate and susceptible to erosion because of heavy pedestrian traffic. Best solution is to fill the grout with our epoxy grout. This will give you equivalent hardness as that of the agglomerate and will not attract dust, dirt etc. It will be like pouring agglomerate marble in the grout from a can. If the existing grout is worn deep enough to allow the new epoxy grout some foot hold then it can be applied directly on the existing surface. Alternatively an etching compound can be used to etch the existing cementious grout to make it rough to allow the epoxy grout to take hold. The grouting procedure can be carried out by using masking tape on the stone to protect it from grout stains. Ideally the entire area after grout filling can be honed and polished and you will have a brand new floor with no more grout problems. We can supply readymade epoxy grout of the desired color and all the relevant application procedures so that the job can be done by local contractors. Regards Arun, India Reply
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Reply
R1: The way you're thinking, you're right on the money! Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA 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 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, 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, 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, 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, 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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, 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 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 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 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 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


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 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 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 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 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 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, Reply


A 1108: I've laid Niagara marble for flooring of my house. After polishing, fine hair line cracks radiating in all possible directions just like a tree are seen. What could be the causes? Soudhamini, USA, Sept 24.
R2: The dimensional stability of the mortar / adhesive used to lay the stones may be suspect. The fact the cracks radiate in all directions suggest that the stresses are also in all directions. More information is really needed to solve this one such as how were the tiles adhered, what were they laid on, how thick are the tiles, have the tiles undergone any other treatment or exposure such as flooding, how long have they been down for. Regards, Jim, Australia,
R1: Wrong sub-flooring, or poor installation work. Ciao, Maurizio, USA,

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,



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, etc...be sure what the price quoted includes. Tear out.....plumbing......etc. are other sometimes "additional costs" of a job. Beware the add ons......it 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, 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.


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, 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, 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, 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, Reply 


A 988: Have you ever heard of sandstone aggregate in a concrete foundation wall in New England?  If so, how does it hold up? Kathryn, USA. May 18 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 982: Thanks for your very appropriate web site and the wide range of information. I want to build a home with perimeter walls completely of stone--3' thick and up two stories. I need to know: 1. The best kind of stone to use. What I should definitely avoid. 2. Size of footings I should plan for. 3. What problems would I face if I have concrete forms set 3' apart, drop a bunch of stones in the forms, and pour concrete down over them? 4. I've been told that the interior side of the wall should be tapered on its way up. How do I do this? Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Greg, USA. May 8 reply

A 940: Hello! I am writing for a friend of mine who is trying to use a black grout on her sandstone flooring . it bleeds into the sandstone. She has tried everything from masking off each tile to sealing edges w/sealer to mac-tacing the surface prior to grouting - to no avail it still stains the sand stone! Any help would be great! Richard, Canada, March 11, Reply
R1: Even though in many instances I try to find a solution to all sorts of problems, I always go by a principle that, I believe, is very sound: Mankind should master Mother Nature by understanding, not by force.
Every time I faced a problem by which somebody tried to force Mother Nature, I realized that there was no solution. Same thing applies here. Tell your friend to give in. Mother Nature is way out of her league: There's no contest, she will win! Ciao, Maurizio, USA

A 936: I recently built a home and had granite installed on countertops. Since installation a fracture has developed in one area and the countertop is cupping in another. The granite was installed over 5/8" cdx plywood and glued solid or continuously. There appears to be an expansion & contraction problem. In your opinion would this be correct gluing procedures and proper plywood used? If so do you have any other opinions as to the problem? Kip, USA, March 9, Reply  

R2: I think that we ned to start with some questions first.
What kind of granite is this?  
Is it 2 or 3 CM material? 
If it is cupping that means something is bowing. Is the granite truly adhered to the CDX? Is the CDX truly adhered to the countertops? 
Is the fracture near a vein or a something that looks different than the rest of the countertop? 
Is the person who installed this available to come see it?
Good luck, Steven, USA

R1: Kip, How many continuous linear feet is the granite top installation?
Is it "grouted" hard up (no caulking used) against the backsplash? 
The plywood appears to be correct - although a little thin - generally 3/4" thick minimum is used for countertops installed directly over plywood. Provided that the plywood and cabinet framing is stable and not flexing or otherwise moving, the substrate should be fine. What type of adhesive was used? Please advise on the above questions - we may be able to provide some insight on your problem. Regards, Art,
USA Reply 


A 930: Please could you supply me with information on the types of adhesives suitable for bonding granite or marble and what finishes are used. I have also come across epoxy resins. Could you provide info on the use of these resins? Many thanks. Regards, Sharon, UK, Feb 26, reply

R1: Please note that there are many types of adhesive mortars for natural stone. The type you use depends on several factors including what type of substrate will you placing the stone, what is the type and color of the stone and where is the stone being placed (interior, exterior, wet or dry area, will it be around heat etc...). Art, USA, Reply



A 923: I want to know what is the best adhesive to use to install cultured rock? Chad, USA, Feb 5, reply
R1: What type of "rock" do you have? Also, what surface are you applying it to? Is it interior or exterior? How thick is it? Please note that there are many factors that will determine which adhesive you will use. Art, USA, Reply

A 920: I'm looking for standard methods of stone (most likely granite) attachment. Joe, USA, Feb 1, reply


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