Give floors, walls stunning look with granite tile

Ask The Builder

December 02, 2007|By Tim Carter | Tim Carter,Tribune Media Services

Granite tile looks like it would be an excellent flooring or wall treatment. Is granite flooring a good choice or will it scratch easily? Can you make different designs with granite tile, and if so, how? How hard is it to install granite tile on floors or walls?

If you install granite tile on your floors or walls, you are going to love it. Granted, I am not as objective as I should be, since I am a college-trained geologist and granite happens to be my favorite rock. When you visit a real stone supplier -- one that has a full assortment of granite tiles -- the colors, patterns, different-sized mineral grains and beauty of the granite will mesmerize you.

The stone suppliers I visit stock granite flooring in 12-inch- by-12-inch tiles. The tiles are about 3/8 -inch thick and precision-cut for uniform size.

Granite tile is very heavy. You need to remember this if you install granite on walls or some other vertical surface. Gravity will constantly be tugging at the granite tile, and it will fall off the wall if it is not attached securely. In fact, the substrate must be expertly attached to the wall studs, or the granite may pull it from the wall as well.

Granite is a very hard rock. There are not too many things that will easily scratch it.

You should be able to install granite tile. On floors, it is crucial to make sure that the subflooring beneath the granite is solid, with no flex in it. Granite tile is strong, but like any stone product it can crack if it is put under tension. I prefer to install granite tile using cement-based thinset mortar. This product is very sticky and will bond very well to the granite and the wall or floor surface. Consider using a crack-isolation fabric between the granite tiles and any flooring to prevent cracks in the finished granite. The lines between each granite tile can be grouted with unsanded wall grout if the joints are 1/8 -inch or less in width. Joints wider than that should be grouted with sanded grout.

Use a diamond wet saw to cut the granite tile. A powerful diamond wet saw will allow you to cut the granite tile into any shape you desire. It takes a while to lay out and make the precision cuts, but it is absolutely worth it. These designs look stunning when you use different-colored granites to complete the design.

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