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Old 01-01-2010, 12:06 PM   #1
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natural stone tiles?


I posted this on a different board and realized this may be a better place to ask. Can you give your thoughts on natural stone tiles for a backsplash and kitchen floor?

I bought marble tiles for the kitchen floor but am realizing that might not be good for the kitchen, with the potential for scratching with moving appliances etc. Plus this home might eventually become a rental, raising the chance of scratching. So I should really go with porcelain tile instead, right?

Also, what about natural stone for a backsplash? I bought some sheets of small tumbled marble tiles, multicolored slate tiles and this (not sure what exactly that really is). The tumbled marble has a kind of rough-looking finish with holes similar to the thing in the link, and the slate also is not shiny. I was told to seal it all once and it would be fine unless I scrub at it. Will it really stay decent-looking? Do you have to re-seal it? How do you clean it?

Thank!

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Old 01-01-2010, 12:39 PM   #2
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Dahlia,
I wouldn't use marble in a kitchen floor application. Too slippery and as you noted, too easily scratched. I would go with a porcelain tile. As far as the mosaics you picked for the backsplash, any natural stone tile does need to be sealed. I would reseal once a year after the initial sealing. I use a water-based penetrating sealer that I pick up at the tile warehouse. It's easy to apply, doesn't smell, and dries quickly. I usually put on two coats initially. Some stone tile recommends sealing the tiles before grouting to make grout cleanup easier.
Caulk the joint between the tile and the countertop with matching color caulk. I also would caulk the area between the countertop and the wall before tiling.
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Old 01-01-2010, 01:07 PM   #3
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I agree with what Mike said.

You must also remember that however many $$ you spend on natural stones tiles, that only covers the stone itself and not its maintenance. Stone mantenance costs can mean more or less to you - but they're there! and can be significant.
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Old 01-01-2010, 01:21 PM   #4
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Thanks! I just spent so much on this kitchen that the thought of a significant annual maintenance expense is a little scary. But I hated my old ceramic or porcelain (??) backsplash so much that I think I'll go ahead with the natural stone anyway if the sealant does do the job. (Old backsplash was shiny white tile with white grout -- in a KITCHEN. Grout looked like bright yellow teeth. Gross!)

Just reread and the caulking tips sank in this time. Great tips -- thank you!

Last edited by dahlias987; 01-01-2010 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 01-01-2010, 01:26 PM   #5
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I hear you...and backslplashes don't get the same wear-and-tear that floors or counters do, so the maintenance of a backsplash is pretty well the odd coat of sealer from time to time, whereas the conters and floor suffer abuse that can require rehoning or repolishing or poultices or something.
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Old 01-01-2010, 01:34 PM   #6
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I have natural stone tile on my kitchen floor. The stone is a material from Bali, mostly quartzite. It comes in 12 inch square mosaic tiles set on mesh. Each square consists of small stones, typically about 4 to 6 square inches, glued down to the mesh. This means that the grout joints are considerably larger than with solid stone tiles, however other than that it installs about the same as solid stone.

We have had no problems with the stone, it sealed fine. We did consider porcelain tile, which I consider just as good as stone as a product, however we liked the appearance of the stone, and it was no more expensive than high end porcelain.
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Old 01-02-2010, 06:58 AM   #7
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Thanks for the additional replies!

But I chickened out. I ended up switching the beige stone tiles with beige/tan ceramic ones, and kept the darker-colored slate accent tiles. This was partly because of the expense, partly because I think I won't worry as much about splashes and stains, and partly because we again aren't sure how long we will be in this home and what we'll do with it afterward (rent?). The accent tiles were what I really loved, though, and so far I'm really happy with how it's turning out. Did the mosaic focal point behind the stove yesterday. I'll have to try to find my camera cable so I can post a picture.

The guy at the store said the little slate tiles were pre-sealed but I might just seal them just in case -- what do you think? (He was so nice and helpful, but he also said sealing once was good enough forever for the backsplash and the marble tile floor would never need sealing ...)
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Old 01-02-2010, 08:50 AM   #8
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LOL ..."chickened out"...

Hey it's not a "my-stone-is-better-than-your-stone" thing, and it's certainly no competition between the Jones'. You did what I hope more people would do in similar positions: make a rational decision based on a set of facts.

Look, I'm in no position to say: "you did this or that wrong". You made a choice, Daniel made his choice - we all make choices. But we all like it when the facts are presented and advantages and pitfalls uncovered so that decision is the best one under the circumstances.

But those who deal in natural stone have to know a few things about that item and what the average person wants to do with it...it also a vast field of knowledge that needs for the most part some explanantion before the sale not afterwords when it's too late. And unfortunately, it goes against the "have-it-NOW" mentality current nowadays.

You said something in your post, something about the sale clerk told you your marble floor would never need sealing. I hope he told you why too.

Slate is a different animal but it's popularity comes at a price. Personally, I love slate and am fortunate enough to live in an area where the slate we mine is top-of-the-line. Vermont slate, just across the border...some of the finest...
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Old 01-02-2010, 12:38 PM   #9
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Ccarlisle, it's not a better stone thing or a keeping-up-with-the-Jonses thing -- I just liked the look of the natural stone. I have some art in my background and am loving the backsplash planning. But I definitely would not like worrying about it every time I cook, or worrying about whether a renter is caring for it correctly. The information I received here was very useful -- thank you!!

The guy at the store didn't say why the marble tile floor wouldn't need sealing. Someone here then told me it would. What is correct? Anyway, I'm going with ceramic or porcelain there too.

Could you explain a little more what you mean by the quote below? What do you mean by a different animal, and by price do you mean just the purchase price?

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Originally Posted by ccarlisle View Post
Slate is a different animal but it's popularity comes at a price. Personally, I love slate and am fortunate enough to live in an area where the slate we mine is top-of-the-line. Vermont slate, just across the border...some of the finest...
This board is great -- I'm learning as I go and have been saved from a few mistakes already by answers I've gotten plus a couple hours of reading old posts.
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Old 01-02-2010, 01:16 PM   #10
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Sorry, I didn't imply you were just buying natural stone to keep up with things...that came out wrong. Mind you a lot of people do buy stone because the real estate agent said it's good, or becasue Home&Garden magazine did a feature on it. But I didn't want to give the impression I thought you were one of them - but then again how would I know?

But I really did want to commend you for asking the questions first before you invested in some glossy picture from an article than never once mentions the word "maintenance"-type stone.

I'll gladly expand on the slate; Home Depot sells a slate tile for about $2 up here, the one that is multi-coloured and that people buy for their showers. Ugh. Then they complain 6 months after a $10,000 installation that they see whitish stuff along the grout lines or that they have little chunks of stone on their drain cover...Ugh again.

Wrong product. Wrong supplier. Wrong place.

I can tell you from experience that in many cases, complete removal is the only solution. Not all, but in those cases it is just a matter of time.

Oh - and I haven't even mentioned squat about the quality of the installation, whether it's a 'cousin-Jimmy-who's-21-now-and-just-learning- how-to-tile' guy or even someones sent from Home Depot or the average tile installer. No matter who does the install, there a better than even chance that that slate'll be in the dumpster within 5 years.

Had the HO asked the types of questions you did, he/she would quickly find out how to save $10,000...

Now Vermont slate is a different kettle of fish. There I'd say go ahead - but make sure cousin Jimmy doesn't do it. Oh and don't use acids to clean it either
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Old 01-02-2010, 06:24 PM   #11
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Oy vey. I have the little tiles of multicolored slate from Lowes. Oh well, they are just for accent along the backsplash and hopefully they'll hold up OK. No turning back now. If I ever do large amounts of slate in a bathroom or such, I'll look for better quality. I do love slate.

I wasn't offended -- just 'splainin. And I really appreciate the answers! They helped a lot.
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Old 01-03-2010, 04:45 PM   #12
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I've got tumbled marble 12x12's in my kitchen and looks amazing. yes there is maintenance. I have to clean and seal them once a year...but I dont mind that. My floor is so different than anything anybody has and I love it. A lot of guys on here don't recommend the marble for kitchens and bathrooms because of the maintenance issues. One thing that a lot of these guys are right about is that installation issues and functionality. When you take these things into consideration you will know what you want and need.

It costs me about $100 a year for maintenance products...yep i might be spending a lot but I only like to use a certain product for this.
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Old 01-03-2010, 04:51 PM   #13
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I just finished my kitchen backsplash all in 1-1/2 snter to ceiling. two coats sealer pregrout, three coats after grout, looks great. put sealer with slight sheen to make wipe down easier. if I can get my camera to flash will post pic. Also all tile salvaged from excess off another job, cost just grout and sealer. happy wife = good job
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Old 01-03-2010, 05:04 PM   #14
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Limit54, that sounds beautiful. Maybe we'll rethink that when we're in a home we plan to stay in for the long term.
Tpolk, would love to see a picture!

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