You can’t beat tile and stone for a floor that is tough and beautiful. If you don’t want carpet and don’t want wood or laminate, tiles offer everything from decorative colors to sturdy surfaces that are very simple to clean. As with other flooring types, good care is essential, and with tile and stone, proper installation is a major part of keeping the floor in good shape for a long time.

Installing Tile and Stone

Your old flooring must be removed, and all debris cleaned up. The subfloor needs to be leveled and checked for moisture, too, and you may have to have a cement backing installed before the tile or stone; that depends on the state of your subfloor and the type of tile or stone you’re getting. Your installers can tell you what each type of tile will need.

If you’re installing square tiles, don’t worry about fitting them around corners; the installers can cut the tile to fit all spaces. If the tile is rectangular, have it run so that the long side of the rectangle is parallel to either windows or the longest wall in the room. Having rectangular tile run perpendicular or diagonal to the windows or longest wall can give the room a choppy look.

One of the better characteristics of tile (including stone tiles) is that these often can be used to created patterns in the floor. You and the installer will work out where the tiles should go and what patterns should be visible, if any, when you design the new floor before installation. Once the pattern is set, the installer will map out a grid with chalk lines and install tiles according to those lines. The installer will add thinset — this is a mortar used under the tiles — and then place the tiles in the agreed-upon pattern. The installer will then add grout between the tiles and finish off the project with sealant. This is often a multi-day process, so you should plan to not use the room for a good two to three days.

Caring for Stone and Tile

Preventing scratches and chips is paramount. Use mats near doors so you can wipe mud and dirt off your shoes, and don’t use abrasive cleaning materials like steel wool. Sweep frequently and damp mop with a tile cleaner; the installers can recommend good ones made for the specific tile or stone you have. Cleaners need to have a neutral pH to preserve the shine and smoothness of the tile, and to protect the grout.

Tile and stone are fabulous floorings for the kitchen and bathroom, as well as entryways. However, you can use tile and stone throughout the home and even outside for a classic and relaxed look.