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Unrivaled in their variety and stunning appearance, natural stone is the ambidextrous material of the tiling world – effortless complementing traditional and rustic designs with its left hand, and seamlessly blending in with minimalist contemporary designs with its right.
But its reputation for exquisite design possibilities is often sullied by a plethora of myths that plague its good name. This makes natural stone tiles (and us) very sad. So, in an effort to restore its status to that of number one tile choice, here are five common (but untrue) myths about this fantastic material.
1. They’re Really Difficult To Maintain
Nope! The idea that natural stone is difficult to care for is rooted in the fact that other tiling materials (like ceramic) can be stuck down and left to their own devices. In actuality, natural stone tiles are not that different. Once they’re been treated with a good waterproof sealant, they’ll repel water, stains and damp just like any other tile.
You will have to buy specialist cleaning products too, but actually cleaning and maintaining the tiles is no different to any other type.
2. Natural Stone Tiles Require Regular Re-Sealing
Due to the porous and absorbent nature of natural stone, it’s true that it does require the use of a special sealant to ensure that it does not retain water and cause damage to the tiles, grout and adhesive. However, what’s not true is the idea that natural stone tiles require this constant level of care and re-sealing every six weeks to two months.
There’s a variety of modern sealants from different brands, all of which provide long-term protection for natural stone products. If someone’s re-sealing their tiles too often, they’re not using the right sealant!
3. They’re Slippery & Unsafe!
This is true to an extent as all surfaces become slippery when wet, and the notion that natural stone tiles become even more so just simply isn’t true. However, the great thing about natural stone tiles is that they’re just that – natural. It’s therefore a lot easier to find and choose a tile which isn’t polished or heavily finished, reducing the risk of an already-slippery surface.
Thanks to modern sealants, it’s possible to choose a completely natural finish and still get the same waterproofing benefits as finished and polished tiles. It’s also worth noting that the size of the tile has a huge impact on traction – the smaller the tile, the more grout there is per square metre. The more grout there is, the more grip people will have on the tiles.
4. Natural Stone Isn’t Suitable For Bathrooms
This is another idea that comes from natural stone’s porous nature; if they don’t deal well with water, then being subjected to a relentless and constant barrage of steam will be tile-based suicide, surely?
Of course, as we’ve already established, natural stone tiles deal perfectly fine with moisture once properly treated. If you’re thinking of adding natural stone to a bathroom, shower or wet room, then just use a waterproof membrane under the tile and apply a good waterproof sealant on top.
5. You’ll Get Cold Feet!
Again, this is a myth that seems to have got itself firmly and permanently associated with natural stone tiling – but, as with #3, all tiles will feel cold under the feet to some degree. Whether or not it affects you or you find it uncomfortable is all down to how you deal with it, and in reality natural stone tiles stand in better stead as they tend to retain heat better than ceramic tiles.
The use of insulating boards underneath your tiles can be a really simple and affordable way to improve insulation and reduce the risk of needing to dart across your kitchen or bathroom floor on tip-toes. If you’ve got a bit more of a budget for your re-tiling, then underfloor heating can also help – the natural stone will do well at retaining the heat distributed when the system is on, and there are some great systems available for those on a budget.
The truth is that a lot of these common misconceptions about natural stone tiles are rooted in old information, old technology, and old ways of thinking. Production, sealing, cleaning and heating methods have all become a lot more sophisticated and a lot more effective in recent years, leaving the only reason not to choose natural stone as down to personal taste.
This guest post was written by Tom McShane – blogger, DIY enthusiast, lover of modern interior design and writer for Crown Tiles, a UK stockist of natural stone tiles. Tom’s recent addition of natural stone tiles in his kitchen was not marred by these myths, thanks to a little handy internet research!