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All about stone and tile

Stone and product types

Limestone

The classic stone for interiors. Often light in colour, but with colours that can range from grey to black, limestone always has interesting shell and fossil patterns. Limestone is versatile and durable. It ages beautifully and only requires a little cleaning and treatment to ensure that it lasts for generations.

Marble 

Marble is an exceptionally hard stone, though it is essentially a limestone, characterised by swirls and veins (which result from impurities in the minerals such as iron oxides, clay or sand) and by a wide variety of colours – white through to black, including pink, gold, green and grey.

Sandstone

Sandstone is a little less hard than limestone and other stones, but it has been used historically for major buildings such as cathedrals, as well as for ornamental stone such as fountains and statues because it is easy to carve. It is a sedimentary rock, and like sand may be any colour, but is usually tan, brown, pale pink or red, or even white or black.

Slate

Slate makes wonderful, characterful floors – with metallic colouring and natural undulations. It is very hard-wearing and, because of its darker colouring, less demanding in terms of maintenance than many stones.

Terracotta

From the Italian meaning ‘baked earth’, terracotta is made from clay. The fired body is porous and so tiles are usually glazed in order to seal them. Colours vary across pink, yellow, orange, brown and the classic fiery red depending on the iron content as it reacts with oxygen during the baking process.

Travertine

The natural surface-pits in travertine stone are usually filled with grout, leaving the stone with an aged look of instant character, or with special resins for a more sleek appearance. One feature of travertine is that small holes will appear in the surface from time to time – this is nothing to be unduly concerned about as these holes can simply be filled with a little grout.

Travertine is easy to care for but is a better choice of product for areas which are not so heavily used. Travertine is closely associated with Italian architecture and design.

Full-bodied porcelain

Full-bodied porcelain is consistent in composition. There is no glazing – so any pattern or colour runs through the entire thickness of the tile, and therefore the colour and pattern do not diminish with use. These tiles are less susceptible to scratching (unless they are supplied in a ‘polished’ finish) and are ideal for very heavy commercial use floors and walls.

Glazed porcelain 

Glazed porcelain has a glass layer. This is usually a high-definition image of a stone, cement, marble or pattern applied to the surface of a high-tech engineered porcelain tile. The colour and pattern are only surface-deep but still very strong and resistant to wear. Glazed porcelain is suitable for domestic and, where specified, commercial use floors and walls.

Glazed ceramic

Ceramic tiles are generally made from a clay mixture that is fired at a high temperature. These tiles are then glazed with a base colour then over-printed or hand painted with a pattern. Glazed ceramic is suitable for domestic floors (where specified) and walls.

Encaustic cement tiles

Cement tiles differ from ceramic tiles in that the pattern or figure on the surface is a product of different colours of clay, rather than a glazed application – this is called the encaustic technique where pattern is inlaid into the body of the tile, so that the design and colour remain, even as the tile wears. Cement tiles will age naturally and develop their own patina with time, like natural stones. Cement tiles are suitable for domestic and commercial use floors and walls.

Terrazzo cement tiles

The same technique is used as encaustic tiles (see above), but ground marble chips are added to the top layer to add extra durability and visual effect.

Formats, layouts and patterns

You can download our pattern option sheet by clicking on this link Stone Patterns (PDF)

You will notice that, for most of the products in our brochure, we list the formats that we stock or promote as standard. This is mainly based on what the factories we work with produce as their standard production in order that we can ensure minimum wastage and achieve maximum economy. However, if your project requires something non-standard, please ask, and we will do what we can to accommodate your needs.

Standard formats

Most of our stones are available in square or rectangle formats. Both these formats can be installed in a variety of ways to create different effects that can help add pattern to a room. Speak to one of our stone consultants, who can advise on your project.

Set widths x random lengths or flagstones fig 1

We pride ourselves on our extensive offering of stones in these formats because it’s the real, traditional flagstone format you will find in historic houses and on pavements nationwide. This format has become so popular over the years, that you now see it in contemporary spaces making it a truly timeless floor.

These stones are listed for example as

60 x random x 2.0cm. The ‘60’ refers to the width of the stone and ‘random’ is the length. This means the lengths of the stone will vary from short, to square, to rectangle, to give a free-length look. Some stones are available in more than one width, such as 40-50-60 x random. This is the same concept but with variation in widths as well as length. Please note – the lengths of the stones will vary from product to product based on what the factory is able to produce. Our stone consultants can advise you on this for each product.

Patterns

Many of our products are also supplied in ‘patterns’, such as ‘Dutch’ or ‘French’ that consist of predetermined combinations of set-size formats for ease of installation, especially when a less formal look is desired. This means you can lay your stone floor to these patterns without the waste associated with cutting uniform flagstones to appropriate sizes on site. These patterns vary in scale, but overall give the same random look. It is the method of production of the stone that tends to control the pattern available from product to product.

Mesh backed sheets and other modules

Smaller format stones and mosaics tend to come pre-assembled on a fibre-glass mesh-backing from the factory. This is often done by hand for ease of installation and the same applies for larger decorative patterns, such as Mansion Weave that is supplied loose. However, there is still an ‘art’ needed that is required from your installer to ensure the finished result is to the prescribed standard.

Octagon and pentagon patterns

For that extra bit of drama in reception and garden room floors, why not insert cabochons in a size and material of your choice. A cabochon is a smaller tile that fits between four larger stones. We can cut one corner or all four corners of the main tiles to take a cabochon.

 

Glossary of finishes

Our stones come in a range of finishes – these may be for aesthetic or practical effect. In a bathroom, for example, you may want a more textured finish for better slip resistance such as etched. If you are restoring a heritage property, an ageing process such as Artisan Ancient™ will help you to match existing materials.

Please note these descriptions are only a guide because every stone is unique and reacts to the finishing process differently.

Sawn As its name suggest this is a raw finish left by the cutting process of the stone, normally used on external stones for its low slip properties.

Honed The sawn surface of the stone is planed by machine using high-pressure diamond pads to create a smooth face. Depending on its hardness, the surface will be left with a satin or more matt finish. The edges are diamond-sawn and typically contain imperfections. Once grouted, these imperfections blend into the stone for a truly natural effect.

Polished As its name suggests this finish gives the stone a more glossy appearance. It is a slight advance on a honed finish which processes the stone with finer grade diamond pads to close in the surface of the stone so much that it will reflect light. A polished finish tends to work better on harder and more compact stones such as marble. The edges are diamond-sawn and typically contain imperfections. Once grouted, these imperfections blend into the stone for a truly natural effect.

Satino The stone undergoes a high-pressure process which brushes the surface, uncovering its natural character and adding an extra dimension to the product. Edges are usually straight with a little rounding.

Etched The face of the stone is sand-blasted to make for a low-slip finish; perfect for external and wet areas. The process gives a ‘bleached’ look that gives it a more contemporary appearance. An etched finish is often used internally and can be used to create a seamless look from inside to outdoors.

Velvet The stone is first etched producing a ‘bleached’ look and then undergoes a satino process which gives it a tactile, velvety feel. This finish works effectively in both traditional and modern interiors.

Tumbled The stones are individually placed in a jumbo rotating vat, which is full of pebbles, to create naturally soft, round edges – much like pebbles on a beach. Great for replicating a ‘lived in’ look that is not too rustic.

Seasoned Heavily tumbled edges and a textured surface, which is either naturally-occurring or applied to give the stone a rugged, flagstone effect.

Artisan Aged™ This finish sits between honed and Distressed™. The edges of the stone are lightly chipped by hand to give the elegantly aged look of a floor you might find in an entrance hall rather than a working kitchen, for example.

Artisan Distressed™ The edges of the stone are chipped by hand and cushioned using diamond grinding pads. This process gives a time-worn appearance to the stone that is more refined than our seasoned finish.

Vintaged The edges of the stone are fettered by machine, while the surface is either honed or satino finished, producing a simple yet charming, cost-effective finish.

Riven or Rockface A riven finish is naturally split along the strata of the stone to create an authentic surface that will vary from stone to stone. There is normally a high variation in thickness with riven stones (unless they are calibrated at source). In order to achieve a relatively even surface, you can use the adhesive bed to reduce this variation. Riven stone tends to disguise the wear and tear of everyday family life.

Worn This is a smoothing process that is applied to riven stone by hand or machine. The process grinds down to the natural undulations of the surface and creates the effect of old flagstones.

Tumbled and etched This is an extra etching process that is applied to tumbled stone to increase slip resistance. The stone undergoes a washing process that etches the surface, to improve it so that it retains its natural warmth and colour.

Weathered The result of an intensive process where the edges of the stone are chipped, exposing an open-grain surface. A weathered finish authentically replicates the appearance of ancient flagstones.

Artisan Ancient™ A finish that is unique to Artisans of Devizes and one that is really effective on only a select handful of our stones. Each stone is very heavily hammered under immense pressure. This results in the surface and the edges of the stone ‘erupting’. The stone is then smoothed back down, resulting in an authentic, centuries-old appearance.

Artisan Antiqued™ Our flagship finish developed some 25 years ago to replicate the qualities of time-worn original and reclaimed flagstones. We hand grind and hone the surface and the edges of the stone to give it an unevenness. The overall effect of this finish will vary from stone type to stone type depending on the natural make up of material.

Decorative and tile finishes available from Artisans:

Matt low sheen with some texture or graining

Satin low sheen and smooth to touch

Gloss highly polished

Textured very matt with some relief to the surface

 

Flooring suitability

These are guidelines only, based on the durability of the stone. Actual strength depends on the thickness of the stone, while slip risk must be assessed on a case by case basis. If in doubt, or if you require a specific PSV rating, please give one of our stone consultants a call and we will advise whether your preferred stone is suitable for your project, and if not, we will suggest other options.

Domestic

These stones are suitable for interior areas of the typical family home.

Light commercial

These stones are suitable for reasonably heavy use such as a boutique hotel and virtually any domestic environment.

Commercial

These are the hardest-wearing stones, which means they have the strength to withstand constant, heavy use such as in a restaurant or retail store and virtually any domestic environment.

Exterior

These stones generally have good low-slip and frost-resistant characteristics for foot traffic areas. They are more robust than stones that are only suitable for interior use and can also be used for internal pool surrounds.

Tonal variation

Natural stone almost always has some tonal variation from tile to tile and slab to slab – and we categorise this as low, medium and high to help you plan your design scheme.

To assess the natural variation of stone, we always recommend that you stand at least two metres away and look at the overall effect rather than each tile or slab, just as you would view a work of art by looking at the whole picture, before you start to inspect the brushstrokes and the detail.

Installation and care guidelines for natural stone

We recommend that you employ a proven professional for installation, but here are some brief guidelines that you can consider.

On receipt of your order

When you receive your order, check that you have all of your tiles and that they are in good condition. These are 100% natural or hand-crafted products and so there will, of course, be some variations in colour tone and natural character that make them unique and beautiful. We recommend that you ‘shuffle’ tiles from different boxes/crates so that you have a uniform effect across the entirety of the new surface.

Prior to installation

Both sides of the tile should be wiped clean of any dust before installation. You must create a flat, level and stable surface – preferably of concrete – on to which the tiles can be laid. If you do this on a timber surface, the floor will need overlaying with a suitable tile backer-board such as NoMorePly (www.nomoreply.net). You can also use this product to tile on to timber-framed walls.

If you are tiling on to walls in wet areas, we recommend you fully tank (waterproof) the walls with a specific tanking system such as Mira or similar.

If you are tiling on to an underfloor heated screed, the floor will need priming and overlaying with a movement uncoupling membrane such as our  Decomat or Isomat. This will help prevent any shrinkage or cracking that may occur in the screed being transferred through to the tiles.

The tiles can be cut using a diamond-blade – ideally a water-cooled machine. Constantly spraying with water while cutting will help to prevent chipped edges.

Installation

Use a good-quality, flexible, semi-rapid, white, tile-adhesive and carefully follow any instructions on the manufacturer’s label. Ensure 100% coverage of each tile with adhesive, and remove excess adhesive with a damp cloth before it hardens.

Level the tiles using hand pressure only. Using a mallet or rubber hammer could cause cracking.

Preparing your tile surface before sealing and grouting

Clean and condition the surface using a diluted solution of alkaline cleaner such as STONE ESSENTIALS Deep Clean (diluted 1:10 with water). This will help ensure that any dust, dirt and grime that may have accumulated during the installation process is removed. A properly cleaned and prepared surface will improve the efficiency of the sealer.

Sealing your tiles before grouting

Once your tiles are installed you will need to use an impregnating sealant for protection such as STONE ESSENTIALS Stain Block or STONE ESSENTIALS Stain Block Eco. An impregnating sealant will delicately enhance the appearance and help to protect against fading and staining. This should be applied at 2-hourly intervals until the tile is fully saturated. Saturation has been achieved when an even layer of sealant is still visible on the surface after 30 minutes. At this point, wipe and remove any excess sealant from the surface. The number of coats required will depend on the density and porosity of the tile that is being treated.

You will probably need to allow 1–2 days after the tiles have been laid, cleaned and sealed before you can apply the grout.

Grouting

  • We recommend using lighter coloured grouts for most products, rather than black or bright coloured as these can cause staining in the natural pores of the tiles
  • Follow the grout manufacturer’s instructions carefully
  • Ensure you have selected a grout product that is suitable for use with natural stone and cement tiles
  • Don’t use masking tape on the tiles as this can cause marking
  • Ensure that you wipe away any excess grout from the tiles before the grout dries
  • Once grout is installed and fully dried, wash your new tile floor with a neutral detergent such as STONE ESSENTIALS All Clean
  • Do not leave water to sit on the surface

Finishing after grouting

NATURAL FINISH: Apply a final coat of impregnating sealer making sure to cover the grout joints as well.

OR

SATIN FINISH: Further to the above you can also choose to apply a surface wax such as STONE ESSENTIALS Stone Shield or STONE ESSENTIALS Wax Polish. This will offer further protection and give an attractive patina (cement tiles and rustic tumbled stones in non-wet areas only).

Further recommendations

Prior to installation you should store your tiles in a dry place.

  • Do not install tiles during very hot weather
  • Avoid direct sunlight on to the tiles during installation (prior to sealing the tiles)
  • Never use acids or undiluted alkaline solutions to clean tiles
  • If cleaning between each process is required use a pH neutral cleaner such as our STONE ESSENTIALS All Clean
  • Always ensure that surfaces are properly sealed before grouting
  • Use mats at entrance/exit areas where grit may enter the house
  • Do not cover newly installed surfaces with non-breathable membranes such as self-adhesive plastic sheeting, Correx or plywood sheets. If surfaces need to be covered after installation, use a good-quality decorator’s sheet or a thin specialist protective card instead.

IMPORTANT NOTE

These are very general guidelines and not definitive instructions. The issuer of these guidelines cannot be held responsible for installation. It is always recommended that a qualified and professional tiler should take responsibility for the installation of all stone and tile products.

 

Maintenance

Maintenance

Natural stone is like wood. There are hard stones and there are softer stones, just as there are hard woods and soft woods. As long as you select the right stone for the job and your lifestyle, caring for your floor does not have to be a chore. Here are a few simple steps to ensure your floor gleams for many years to come.

Firstly, keep it as free as possible of loose dust and grit with regular vacuuming or sweeping. This will greatly reduce the ‘sandpaper’ effect of dirt getting compacted into the surface and joints. Then, we recommend washing the floor, firstly to remove the dirt that a vacuum won’t pick up, and secondly for hygiene.

We strongly recommend that you use specialist cleaning products – particularly for natural stones. The harsh, acidic supermarket products will ‘bruise’ the stone and erode protective sealants. Ideally, use a product that is pH neutral, biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Using the correct specialist cleaning product will greatly reduce the frequency of more intensive cleans and even the reseals that may be needed for the more porous types of stone such as limestone and travertine.

General wear of the surface from foot traffic over the years exposes capillaries within natural stone. Over time these can accumulate dirt and grime. Therefore, we recommend a more intensive clean every three to four years, using a heavy-duty product that will dissolve ingrained dirt and grease.

A common misconception is that every natural stone floor needs resealing every few years, but it is true for the more porous stones. You can normally tell if a stone does need resealing by wetting the stone and leaving for around five minutes before wiping off. If the water leaves a mark by darkening the stone this will mean the stone is becoming more porous. If you do decide to reseal your stone, you should first give it an intensive clean with a product that penetrates the surface. You may, however, decide your floor doesn’t need resealing but could do with being refreshed. Applying a surface refreshing product every 4–6 weeks will help with this.

We strongly recommend you do not use bleach-based cleaners, washing-up liquids, strong degreasing detergents, or anything that contains natural acids or alkaline. Avoid non-specialised supermarket cleaning products. Avoid using steam cleaners – they may clean some surfaces, but the hot steam can remove the sealer and repeated use will ‘spall’ and damage the surface.

Our STONE ESSENTIALS range covers all the bases for a cleaning and maintenance regime that will ensure your stone floor grows old gracefully.

STONE ESSENTIALS All Clean is the product for routine cleaning of surfaces that have been sealed with STONE ESSENTIALS Stain Block or Stain Block Eco. It’s a pH neutral antibacterial detergent and can be used weekly or even daily without detriment to the stone as long as you dilute it as per the instructions on the bottle.

STONE ESSENTIALS Clean & Sheen is the  product for routine cleaning of surfaces that have been finished with STONE ESSENTIALS Stone Shield or STONE ESSENTIALS Wax Polish. It cleans and repairs the surface after every wash.

STONE ESSENTIALS Clean & Sheen can also be used as a general cleaner on surfaces that have been sealed and finished with an impregnating sealer to gradually build a slight sheen.

For an intensive clean, use STONE ESSENTIALS Deep Clean, a heavy-duty cleaner which uses a combination of effective solvents and cleaning agents to dissolve ingrained dirt, grease, heavy soiling and many other problematic stains. The less you dilute it, the stronger the solution – but you must carefully follow the instructions on the bottle. A top-up coat of sealer should be re-applied to any surface that has been intensively cleaned.