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Consumer Advisory helps you find the best Ceramic Tiling, Porcelain & Stone in Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex & Surrey

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Our accredited tile, porcelain and stone manufactures ‘are some of Europe’s finest. This gives you the consumer a wide choice to some of the highest quality materiel’s available. Put this alongside our accredited contractors you are safe in the knowledge of a first-rate installation.

Below are some points to acknowledge and understand what an accredited contractor will take into consideration on your behalf.

Prior to installation they will ensure the tiles purchased are suitable for the application and will be thoroughly inspected. All our accredited contractors are familiar with fixing natural stone, ceramic and porcelain tiles which means they can fulfil your requirements and expectations.

A wastage factor should be considered for each project prior to ordering. This is normally a minimum of 10% which should allow for cuts and any minor tile imperfections. Minor damage such as edge chipping is often caused in transit, packing or unpacking tiles, and should be expected, it is deemed normal practice for these to be used as cuts during the installation process.

All backgrounds to be tiled need to be flat, level, clean, dry and free of dust, grease and any loose material. Preparation is the key which is why are accredited contractors are some of the best in the business and are renowned for their attention to detail.

Variation of colour – Stone Floor Tiles

Stone has naturally occurring colour tones and shading, so if you have chosen a stone with a slight or moderate colour variation it is important the tiles are put into colour batches prior to fixing. This will mean the accredited contractors will open all boxes, crates or pallets of materials supplied and stack them vertically against a wall in the appropriate colour groups. They will dry lay them to blend visually before final application to your floors or walls, this will ensure they are happy with colour variation. Dry laying will also allow them to determine which tiles they can select for the cuts of your installation.

Variation of colour- Split Face Mosaic and Wall Tiles

Our accredited contractors will dry lay and blend the wall tiles before they commence fixing to your walls. This will ensure that they are happy with the colour variation, interlocking design and will allow them to pre-select which tiles they are going to use for cuts.

Thickness of Grade

Natural stone installation can be made easier by our accredited contractors grading the tiles by thickness. Our accredited manufacturers calibrate the tiles by thickness and due to the nature of stone there will be nominal variations. Each stone has different tolerances depending on their finish, therefore we have carefully selected quality accredited manufacturers who select calibrated materials so as the accredited contractors can produce the quality of installation you deserve. Grading is done by eye which is why we only use the best accredited contractors for your installation.

Floor Interiors

Existing Tiles – Our accredited contractors will make sure that the existing floor has any loose tiles removed and the floor is degreased and thoroughly cleaned prior to fixing. They will apply a Polymer Primer bonding agent prior to fixing. Then using flexible adhesives & grouts this will account for any future movement which may occur.

Concrete – When applying stone to a new concrete base 1 week of drying time for every 25 mm of concrete needs to be allowed. A stabilizing primer will be applied to porous subfloors.

Sand & Cement Screed – A dry level screed is an ideal fixing substrate. New screeds usually need to ‘cure’ or dry out at a minimum of 1 week for every 25 mm of screed depth.  A fresh screed can shrink during drying which can create cracks, this can cause tiles to split if the screed has not been given enough drying time prior to stone or porcelain flooring installation. Uneven floors can be overcome to a certain extent with Floor Levelling Compound, or alternatively Large Format Flexible Floor Adhesive can be used to fix tiles up to a maximum bed thickness of 25mm. A stabilizing primer should be applied to new sand & cement screeds.

Timber – Wood or its man-made derivatives (chipboard/plywood/tongue and groove /floating timber floors) will be subject to movement under load, temperature and humidity. Rigid tiles cannot absorb deflection or compression and will break or de-bond away from their substrate, so measures will be taken to ensure that the receiving substrate is suitably resistant to moisture and movement to prevent deformation and subsequent de-bonding and cracking of the tiles. To prevent movement, it is recommended to install an overlay of 18mm exterior grade WBP plywood, suitably sealed on the back, face and edges with a neat Priming Agent. Placing at 200 – 300mm intervals It is also advisable to leave a small gap between each sheet used to allow for expansion & also to leave a small gap around the perimeter. For areas that are prone to damp & moisture such as bathrooms & shower areas (especially shower wall enclosures), it is advised to use a tile backer board this is dimensionally stable & water resistant & will not shrink or crack.

Unlevelled Floors – Most old floors will have small bumps & dips, this can be overcome by applying more adhesive to the back of the tile at the time of your flooring installation, for more extreme & very uneven floors a self-levelling compound needs to be used, this will bring these areas when installing your tiles, back up to a workable level & stop tiles from sagging or dipping. This can occur if too much adhesive is applied to the back of the tile when trying to bring it up to the correct level.

Under Floor Heating Systems – Many people are now seeing the added benefits of under installing under floor heating as it can provide gentle warmth underfoot. Under tile heating can be installed either as your main source of heating for a room, or as a secondary heating source to keep the chill off the floor and works exceptionally well with natural stone as it holds heat extremely well and can reduce electrical running costs if insulation boards are utilized to reflect the heat from the subfloor back to the surface.

Interior Walls – Stone & Porcelain tiles can be fixed to most walls. All surfaces must be completely secure without any obvious deflection and capable of carrying the additional load, as stone tiles are generally heavier than standard ceramic wall tile.

Sand & Cement Render – This the ideal vertical base for fixing stone tiles in dry or wet areas. Up to a thickness of 15mm (up to 38kg/m² approx.) and with a maximum fixing height of 3.6 metres New renders will require a minimum of two weeks to dry out. Porous renders must be primed prior tiling.

Plasterboard and Plaster – Plasterboard that has not been skimmed with a finish coat of plaster will take most 10 and 12mm tiles (up to 32kg/m² approx.). In these cases, the paper face of the board should be sealed with a coat of Flexible Additive and Primer mixed 1:4 parts water and allowed to dry, the tiles can then be fixed with a Tile Adhesive.

Shower Walls – If tiling a wall area that will be subject to water penetration we do not recommend backgrounds such as plasterboard and plaster are tiled as they are not water resistant and should be made so with a waterproof backerboard prior to fixing stone & porcelain.

Waterproof Backerboard – There are various construction boards and tile backer boards available, generally they are cementitious, glass-fibre reinforced or extruded polystyrene, and are either water resistant or waterproof. They are available in various thicknesses, which will all have a varying weight bearing capabilities. When suitably screw fixed to walls they should provide an approximate load bearing facility of 40 – 50kgs/m², which is generally adequate load bearing substrate for tiles up to 15mm in thickness

Plywood – 18mm exterior grade WBP plywood and other such timbers such MDF, chipboard etc, may be used but only in dry areas. Seal all sides/faces and edges need to be sealed with a priming agent before being suitably batten fixed with vertical and horizontal wooden supports at 300mm centres and screwed firmly at 150mm centres at all joints and edges, this is generally capable taking up to 30kg/m². Please note: Chipboard is the only timber that must not be sealed.

Existing Tiles/Gypsum Plaster Skim – These are not deemed suitable substrates, as they do not have the weight bearing capacity required for stone or porcelain tiles. If the underlying substrate can support the installed load then a proprietary tile backer board, plasterboard or plywood should be suitably primed, where necessary, then screw fixed firmly through to the substrate to fix the stone tiles.

Tile Grouting

Grout joints are to personal taste, we recommend between 3mm-5mm for Granite & Porcelain tiles and between 5mm-8mm for slates.

Joints should be a minimum of 3mm to allow for any movement of the tiles, it is not possible to ‘butt-joint’ stone tiles.

Modular Pattern Grout Joints – The width of joint selected should be sufficient to accommodate any variation in tile sizes. And the grout gap will vary slightly in thickness due to the layout of the tiles in the pattern.

“Slurry grouting” with the appropriate colour of Wall & Floor Grout is necessary with unfilled travertine and some limestone to fill naturally occurring pits and crevices. Most other stones and finishes including slate, brushed, polished and honed materials will be pointed to avoid grout residue being left on the surface of the tile.

Where there is necessity for flexibility in the adhesive then either a single part flexible grout should be used or flexible additive should be added to non-flexible grout as this is specifically designed for areas where movement or vibration is likely.

Porous stone and terracotta tiles should have an initial sealant coat after fixing but prior to grouting as some tiles may absorb pigments from the cementitious grout.

Heavily pigmented grouts may be subject to efflorescence as the salts which hold in the pigmentation are released as part of the drying process.

Grouting Process – Grouting a small area at a time, especially with slate as dried grout can be difficult to remove will be carried out by our accredited contractors. When removing the grout residue, water will be kept clean and a grout stain remover will be applied prior to sealing. Some sensitive materials such as stone granite and slate cannot have grout stain remover applied.

Sealing Natural Stone

It is worth noting that stone has been used as a wall and floor covering for centuries and were never sealed and yet still look beautiful today. Although for today’s modern-living and to improve stain resistance it is recommend that natural stone is sealed.

Natural stone is unique, each has distinctive characteristics, natural strength and durability and when treated with the correct care is virtually maintenance free.

Sealants provide resistance to wear and tear and are highly dirt and dust repellent. If the stone has been selected for a bathroom environment or for external areas where water repellence is required a sealer can be applied for added protection.

Some protective treatments will also bring out the natural beauty your slate by enhancing the natural colours, veins and patterns.

Before sealing commences, the stone needs to be cleaned with warm soapy water, this will remove general dirt and dust from the riven areas and pores. It is important to ensure that all areas are clean and dry otherwise dirt and damp will be sealed in.

The recommended sealant will be applied 24 hours after grouting. Firstly, cleaning all grout residue from the surface of the stone, otherwise the grout will be sealed in.

All sealers on the market will usually protect the stone flooring for 4-8 hours before stain damage occurs so it is vital that acidic liquids and food stuffs are wiped up straight away, i.e. Red Wine, Orange Juice, lemon Juice, Vinegar, Oils, Coffee, Tea, otherwise they may stain the stone.

Care & Maintenance

Like any surface, stone will require a degree of maintenance. Correctly sealed floors are the key to minimal maintenance and will last for years and years. High traffic areas such as entrances, will require more maintenance than other areas. Regular sweeping and vacuum-cleaning together with mopping is advised. Any abrasive or acidic household detergents should be avoided as they can remove the surface sealant or in extreme cases damage the stone.

As you can see there is a lot of aspects that go into this process and working alongside our accredited manufacturers and contractors you will receive the quality of materials and installation your home deserves.

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