4 installation considerations when using sandstone tiles

What needs to be front of mind when installing sandstone?

Sandstone is a beautiful natural stone and a popular choice for many Australian homes. Its rugged, earthen appearance is reminiscent of the organic landscapes from which it was quarried and evokes a feeling of connection with nature.

That said, to achieve that look you first must contend with installation. As with any natural stone there are some risks to be considered with installing sandstones tiles in any part of the home.

To help you work towards a problem-free sandstone tile installation, here are our tips.

1. Always clean your stone first

Before installing any tiles, it's imperative you clean the stone thoroughly to remove any marks that may have appeared in transit or unpacking. Not every tile will need cleaning, but you should ensure excess dust or dirt is wiped away before installation.

Use a PH-neutral cleaning product to remove dirt without damaging the surface of the stone. It's then vital you allow the tiles to fully dry before sealing, as you don't want any moisture trapped within the stone.

Don't dry your natural stone in the sun, as the direct heat may cause warping or expanding which can affect the installation process.

2. Seal your sandstone

Sandstone is a naturally porous stone. This means it's more likely to take on staining from various sources, including from the grout itself. To mitigate the risk of damaging your tiles during the installation process, it's important you thoroughly seal the sandstone first.

You will typically want to use a penetrative (or impregnating) sealer, which creates resin bonds below the surface of the stone and makes it nearly impossible for water to enter. Work the sealer into the stone using a roller or sponge, and allow it to set according to the sealer's instructions.

3. Use a rapid-setting adhesive

Typically speaking, sandstone is more likely to warp during installation due to its mineral make-up. Sealing is an important measure to take against this warping, however you should also consider the type of adhesive you'll use.

Standard adhesives set at a relatively slow pace, which can allow for water to transfer from the adhesive into the stone. For this reason, porous and textured stones like sandstone are best installed using a rapid-set adhesive, to minimise the risk of moisture uptake.

When working with quick-setting adhesives, it's important to be especially careful not to allow the glue to set on the top surface of the stone. This can be unsightly and difficult to remove.

4. Choose a grout in a similar colour to your sandstone

Your choice of grout should be a similar colour to your sandstone to mitigate the risk of unattractive picture framing.

Picture framing, or tram lining, occurs when your grout is allowed to dry on the top surface of the stone, usually in a thin film that may not have been obvious until the grout has set. It's called picture framing as it generally looks like a frame of grout along the edges of a tile. When picture framing occurs, it can be extremely hard to remove as grout is essentially cement and needs to be ground down. It's often cheaper to simply replace the tiles.

Choosing a similarly coloured grout means that even if picture framing happens, it will be considerably less obvious.

Some designers like to use a contrasting grout for visual effect. If this is the case, it's crucial you exercise great caution in cleaning excess grout from the surface of tiles before it sets – usually within five to 10 minutes. Testing your grout on spare tiles may be necessary to ensure this is achievable.

After grouting, it's often recommended to apply additional impregnating sealer until the tiles and grout are saturated and will not absorb any more sealer. This helps to protect both the stone and grout from ongoing wear.

For more information about using sandstone for your next project, get in touch with BauMart Natural Stone today.