Sandstone tiles are machine cut from slabs chipped off from a rock face. Top part of a slab is polished. Bottom part stays untouched, full of irregular bumps. The thickness of tiles can vary from 12 mm to almost 40 mm. Tiling with this material starts from sorting it in accordance to tiling substrate imperfections (paddocks and humps in a concrete base). Every single tile requires different amount of adhesive to form a flat surface. The result is always perfect. It is easier to form absolutely flat surface with sandstone than any other tile. What is the logic behind it? Thanks to imperfection of the material a tiler has to concentrate on building a proper surface from the very beginning till the end of a job.
Sandstone requires an ongoing care like any other natural stone. It should be washed frequently. Use hot water with neutral cleaning agents. No scrubbing, no abrasives. Those can scratch the surface of stone. Be careful with metal or plastic parts of vacuum cleaners. Those can leave marks on stone’s surface. NEVER leave any metal objects on stone unless you are 100% sure they are non corrosive. Rust stains are hard to remove and require use of acid which presents a risk of damage to any stone material.
For someone who likes homey filling terracotta would be a tile of choice. However, there are several issues you have to realize before committing to it. This tile is not meant to be perfect. Tiles from the same batch can vary in size more than 10 mm! Top surface of those tiles can be bent (one or several corners up or down). Sides of terracotta tile hardly ever form a perfect square. Taking all that into account, formation of 100% straight gaps is simply impossible. Same goes for building a flat surface. The tiling trick is to make terracotta appear perfect from an eye height position. This material should be handled only by a tiler with a decent amount of experience.
There are different types of terracotta tiles and some of them are absolutely even in size and shape – mostly imports. The old nasty rule again- what you pay is what you get.
This tile has to be sealed with penetrating sealer to avoid saturation with dirt. It is not recommended to use top finish sealers for outdoor applications. Some customers insist on gloss finish. WARNING – top finished sealer should not be applied by amateurs. The only way to fix sealing mistakes is stripping sealer coating. That is a long, costly process…
Mexican paving- an example of most “spiteful” material ever invented!!! Those are hand made tiles baked in a heat of the sun. An every single tile is different from any other. All of them tend to have a hump in the middle. Does that make them any less desirable when the job is finished? They can add unique style and class to your home. On top of the pains of forming a decent surface and keeping gaps in reasonable order a tiler has to put up quite a fight before grouting can happen. Porosity of those tiles is huge. Mexican Paving has to be coated up to 5 times with penetrating sealer before any grouting is possible. Unsealed Mexican Paving sucks water from grout in a matter of seconds. Grouting “doe” becomes a pile of sand before it can be squeezed properly in the gaps. Another issue is staining. Water sucked from grout can form deep stains in a tile body. That’s not all… Same problems occur at installation stage. Tiles have to be soaked in water before any installation can happened. Otherwise the adhesive will dry out before forming bond with a tile. Any dust particles left on tiles will impair adhesion. Hence, there is not only soaking but a decent wiping with a sponge involved before “buttering” the tile surface with an adhesive. Spreading adhesive just on the floor surface is not good enough. An adhesive has to be forced into tile pores.
You are looking at a tiled fountain in the Queens Arcade off Queen Street, Auckland central. That is a good example that we can endure pain, but not a disappointment. This thing took days of cutting and fiddling. Just look at the amount of different angles.