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How to install stone tiles on interior walls?

Stone tiles, an ideal choice for interior wall tile, bring a touch of the outdoors into your living space. They are suited for both exterior and interior wall cladding, offering options like slate, marble, limestone, granite, and travertine.

These stone tiles effortlessly blend with a range of decor styles, from modern to classic, providing a durable and elegant solution for enhancing the walls of your home.

Each tile, being a product of nature, boasts its unique character and charm. Although size, thickness, and color might vary, the essence and allure remain consistent.

While these tiles promise longevity and a relatively straightforward installation, the process can be challenging. This guide aims to simplify that journey for you. So, let’s get started!

Tools and Materials Needed

When installing natural stone tiles, a quality wet saw is your best friend. For those precise angled cuts, especially 45-degree ones, consider a saw with a tilting blade.

There are times when the stone needs to fit snugly around obstacles like pipes or steelwork. Here, an angle grinder can be your go-to tool.

Surface Preparation: Flat and Dry

Starting with a good foundation is key. Your surface should be flat, dry, and robust. It’s essential to remove any grease, wax, or oils. Old coatings or paint? It’s best to remove them.

If there are cracks, use cement to make the surface even. One tip for aesthetic consistency: mix tiles from various boxes. 

This ensures a harmonious play of colors and shades. And just before you start, give the back of the tiles a good rinse to remove dust.

Substrate Preparation

The heft of natural stone tiles can’t be ignored. They need a solid base, and that’s where the substrate comes in. Painted surfaces should be sandblasted or stripped of paint.

Planning on a new wall layer? Cement board is the top choice. It’s essential for the wall and substrate to handle the weight, which can vary between 7 and 12.5 lbs per sq ft. 

Make sure your cement board is at least 1/2 inch thick. Attach it securely to the wall frame. Our advice: glue and screw it in place.

For the screws, aim for 24-inch gaps, and make sure they’re at least 2 inches long. And where the frame meets the board, use a mastic adhesive. It’s a task best left to professionals for safety and durability.

How To Install Stone Tiles On Interior Walls?

We have already introduced how to install stone tiles on exterior walls before, so let us introduce in detail How To Install Stone Tiles On Interior Walls?

1. Measurement

Start by measuring. Determine the area and the amount of stone needed. For flat surfaces, calculate the width times the height. Don’t forget to subtract spaces for doors or windows.

This gives you the total area in square meters. And for corners? Just measure the vertical sides or around windows and doors.

2. Solid Foundation

Your foundation is critical. A reliable, sturdy base is non-negotiable for stone cladding. Brick or concrete are solid choices. If you go with concrete, give it six weeks to cure.

An existing structure? Clean it, level it, and reinforce it. Always remember: a weak foundation is a big risk.

3. Prepare the Stone Layout

Before the real work begins, plan your layout on the ground. A paper sketch won’t show potential challenges. By laying it out on the ground, you can adjust for size, texture, and color.

Especially for Freestyle Walling, where each stone is unique, this step is invaluable.

4. Adhesive Application

Choose a top-notch cement adhesive. Follow the maker’s guidelines in the letter. Using a notched trowel, spread adhesive on both the wall and the back of the tile.

Remember to leave a small gap or expansion joint. This space accommodates any expansion from the adhesive or the stone. To keep everything dry, seal this joint well.

5. Expansion Joints

Besides the small gap between tiles, plan for larger expansion joints. Every 6 ml or 35 m², leave a 10mm joint. It aligns with the building’s natural expansion points. And always, respect existing building joints.

6. Stone Layout, Again

Before you dive in, revisit your stone layout. Laying it out helps visualize the end result. It also lets you tackle any issues before they become real problems. Adjust for color, texture, and size. And remember, each piece has its own unique character.

7. Grouting

After setting your stones, grouting becomes the next crucial step. This process ensures every gap between the stones is sealed for a tight, cohesive look.

Begin by applying mortar or grout in these gaps. Allow it to set slightly, but it’s essential not to let it harden entirely. For a sleek finish, glide a striking stick over the joints.

To incorporate special feature tiles, follow your established layout lines. If the spaces between tiles are wider, consider using larger spacers. For smaller tiles, tapping in nails can prevent them from slipping down.

1. Once the tiles have had a chance to set for a day, you’re ready for the main grouting phase. Before diving in, make sure to remove all spacers and clear away any mortar smudges on the tiles or sticking out from the spaces. 

2. An essential preparatory step is applying a grout remover or tile sealer on the marble. This acts as a protective barrier against potential stains and simplifies the grout removal process.

3. For mixing the grout, aim for a consistency similar to smooth peanut butter. Do remember that when working with marble, only mix the grout with water.

4. Avoid preparing the entire grout container all at once. Instead, start with a quarter or third, mixing more when required. 

5. Use a specialized grout float to push the mixture into the gaps between the tiles, ensuring they’re packed fully.

6. After about 15 minutes, use a damp sponge to clean the excess grout off the tiles in a circular motion. Exercise caution to avoid removing grout from the gaps.

7. Approximately an hour later, any remaining haze on the tile can be polished off using a dry towel. Some grout lines may appear slightly uneven.

8. If so, adjust them with the towel to achieve cleaner lines. Over the next few days, it’s beneficial to moisten the tile and grout lines daily to aid the curing process. 

8. Finish

Once grouted, give your stone wall a good brush-down. Use a medium-bristle brush to remove any loose particles. The final touch? Sealing.

Especially crucial for walls in damp places like bathrooms, sealing protects your wall for the long haul. And just like that, your stone wall is complete and ready to shine!

Installation Tips for Stone Tiles on Interior Walls

  • Foundation First. Always start with a strong foundation. A good choice is cement board.
  • Waterproofing Matters. In wet areas, consider using roll-on or sheet membrane products for added protection.
  • Choose the Right Adhesive. Opt for a tile thin-set that meets ANSI 118.4 and 118.11 standards.
  • Double the Thinset. Apply thinset both to the tile’s back and the wall for a solid grip.
  • Start Level. Ensure the first row is straight. It sets the tone for the rest.
  • Pattern It Right. Go for a continuous running bond layout. Remember to offset vertical seams.
  • Corner Concerns. For edges, use pre-made corner units, miter cuts, or special trim pieces.
  • Clean and Seal. Once set, clean your tiles. If needed, a water-based sealer for natural stone can provide extra protection.

And there you have it, a beautifully installed stone wall with a professional touch.

Conclusion 

Wall cladding changes the look and feel of any space. It makes walls stronger and more attractive. When you understand wall cladding, you see why it’s worth the effort. But remember, its beauty and strength last only with the right installation.

Our tips are here to help. Whether for a home or a business, we hope you get the perfect stone wall!  Find the best tile collection at George Ceramic.

FAQs

1. What Do You Use To Attach A Stone To A Wall?

Mortar acts as the glue for stone veneer. It forms the base layer for any stone veneer wall. Depending on the project’s size, you can mix veneer stone mortars by hand or with a machine.

2. What’s The Top Adhesive For Natural Stone Tiles?

For natural stone tiles, the best choice is a quick-setting, flexible adhesive like Mapei S1 White Rapid Set Adhesive. This adhesive is specially made for stone tiles.

3. Can I Use Regular Cement For A Stone Wall?

Yes, but it’s essential to get the mix right. A mix of building sand and cement, ranging from 4-6:1, is advised. The stone’s hardness determines the mix ratio: softer stone needs a larger ratio, while harder stone can use a 4:1 mix. Always choose the desired color first as it affects your wall’s final appearance.

4. What Cement Type Is Ideal For Stone Walls?

For general purposes, type N mortar is a solid choice. It’s a medium-strength mix made from 1 part Portland cement, 1 part lime, and 6 parts sand. Once set, usually in 28 days, it reaches a strength of roughly 750 psi.

5. How Can You Hang Things On A Stone Wall Without Drilling?

Brick clips are your best bet for brick or stone with recessed mortar. These metal clips fit into the gaps between bricks or stones, making them perfect for hanging items like garland on brick fireplaces, mantels, or exterior stone walls.

Related reading: How to install exterior tile

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