New Natural Stone Tile - Sales & Installations
> Product Review
> Getting Ready to Select
> Installation Preparation
> Follow-up Activities and Initial Maintenance
Wolfe Flooring sells and installs a complete line of stone for commercial and residential applications quarried from all around the world.
We'll make getting a flooring product easy. When you purchase products from Wolfe Flooring, you receive the added benefit of accessibility to technical knowledge, warranty care, routine maintenance guidance and emergency service if calamities strikes for the life of the product.
Please ask us about a FREE home or office presentation.
We can both provide you with the products your looking for and install the choice of your dreams. Alternatively, we can provide the products without the installation service. Or, we can provide the installation service for the products you provide. The most economical choice for most customers is for us to both supply and install your flooring goods. Most often, this is also the path of least complications.
We at Wolfe Flooring commit to following the installation procedures designated by industry standards. If the product calls for a particular brand of pressure sensitive adhesive and a specific notch trial, then that is what will be used. The durability and cosmetic appeal of your new flooring product is determined by three primary factors: (1) the quarry's and fabricator's quality cutting of the goods, (2) a careful and diligent installation, and (3) the correct specification for your particular application. We can get you the quality goods and give you the quality installation. We plan to make you happy!
Getting Ready to Select
It may have been a good five to ten years since the last time you selected a new flooring product. Infrequency makes it difficult to stay up with design trends, brand names, pricing and the myriad of other details that constitute a good choice. Please let us help. Below is a check list that simplifies the process.
Sketch a rough diagram of the floor plan. Your diagram should included the following:
- the names of the areas (e.g., Living Room)
- the approximate measurements
- the type of flooring currently on the floor
- the type of subfloor if known (e.g., wood, concrete, terrazzo)
- the location of thresholds indicated by dotted lines
- the volume of use and type of use (e.g., rarely used/dinner parties)
- the quality of the lighting: low, medium, high
Calculate the approximate square footage of each area by multiplying the length by the width. Add 10% for overage by multiplying your total square feet by 1.10. For example, assume your room is 14 feet wide by 18 feet long.
Actual Square Footage 14' x 18' = 252 sf.
Adjusted Square Footage 252 sf. x 1.10 = 277.2 sf.
- Decide how many years you want the new flooring to last. (For example, you may want to remodel in five years in order to put your home on the market.)
- Gather color keys and samples of your primary colors in each area (e.g., wallpaper, drapes, paint, fabrics) or take pictures of the areas to help in the color selection.
- Identify your decorating style.
- Calculate your budget. And, see Pricing and Payments Policies under About Us to learn what payment options are available.
- Review your calendar to select a time for the work. Generally, you should anticipate times during the work week. Also, be sure to ask how long the project will take.
- Consider what moldings you want around the edges and/or at the thresholds.
- Check out our comparison chart of the different flooring products (e.g., carpet, wood, tile, etc.)
- Check out our decorating ideas for ideas about styles, colors, patterns, textures, and functions.
Selecting Your Product - Product Review
Natural stone excels the prestige of all other flooring. Stone gives any home or office building distinction. Wolfe Flooring offers premium grade marble, granite, travertine, limestone, quartzite, onyx marble, and slate for floors and counter tops. Our stone products are quarried in the United States of America and is imported from around the world: Brazil, Canada, Finland, Italy, Norway, Ireland, Persia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Greece, South Korea, China, and India. (The unique characteristics of natural stone cannot be fully matched by the imitation-stone ceramic tiles, but ceramic tile is a nice price-conscience alternative.)
About 40% of the stone quarried in the world ends up on someone's floor. Stones are composed of significantly varied minerals. The minerals establish the stones' characteristics of color, hardness, luster, chemical resistance, cleavage, etc. Rocks are formed by wind and water (sedimentary rocks), by chemicals, heat and pressure applied to existing rock (metamorphic rocks), and by volcanoes (igneous rocks). Stones can also be divided between the mineral-based stones (a.k.a., siliceous stones) and the organic, calcite-based stones (a.k.a., calcareous stones). Siliceous stones include granite, quartzite, and slate. Calcareous stones include marble, travertine, limestone, and onyx marble.
“siliceous stone (e.g., granite, slate, sandstone, quartzite, soapstone, brownstone, and bluestone) - clean with a mild acid
s = composed of silicate
calcareous stone (e.g., marble, travertine, limestone, and onyx) - sensitive to acidic cleaners
c = composed of calcium carbonate”
Marble is a metamorphic, crystallized limestone. What we all love about marble are the meandering veins created from how the sedimentary layers developed. The draw back of marble is that it only has a Mohs' rating of about 3-5 HM. The result is that marble will not retain its polish as well as granite. Therefore, marble is suitable for light-traffic floors, walls, and decorative countertops. Active countertops should not receive marble. Marble choices dominate the stone flooring sector.
Granite, as an igneous rock, has a crystalline grain texture that gives a flaky appearance. The minerals of granite are feldspar and quartz. As a result, granite is one of the hardest flooring stones with a Mohs' of about 5-7 HM. Therefore, granite is suitable for all floors, walls, and countertops.
Travertine (a.k.a., travertine marble) is a sedimentary, spring-deposited limestone predominately composed of calcium carbonate. World renowned structures like the Colosseum and the Pantheon of ancient Rome were constructed of travertine. Travertine is marked by the evident, water channels through which water filtered through the earth. Travertine has a homogenous appearance and is light in color with few exceptions. The holes in travertine must be filled in order to prevent a maintenance problem for floor applications. The water tunnels must also be filled if the stone is to be used outside. Travertine only has a Mohs' rating of about 3-4 HM. Therefore, travertine is suitable for light-traffic floors, walls, and decorative countertops. Active countertops should not receive travertine.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock. Limestone primarily consists of calcium carbonate. When limestone contains dolomite, the stone can be polished. Limestone only has a Mohs' rating of about 3-4.5 HM. Therefore, limestone is suitable for light-traffic floors, walls, and decorative countertops. Active countertops should not receive limestone.
Quartzite is a metamorphosed quartz sandstone composed almost exclusively of quartz along with small amounts of feldspar. Although quartzite has many of the characteristics of metamorphic rock, it is technically still sedimentary rock. Quartzite has a fine grain appearance and is light in color if pure. Quartz and feldspar give quartzite an impressive hardness rating of 7 HM. Quartzite's hardness and resistance to chemicals makes it suitable for all floors, walls and countertops. Quartzite is not readily available as a building material.
Onyx marble (a.k.a., onyx) has a marbleized, undulating veiny look with slight translucent qualities. Onyx marble is not a true onyx. It has is a calcite-based limestone. Onyx marble is not a very hard or strong stone. Onyx marble only has a Mohs' rating of about 3-4 HM. Therefore, onyx marble is suitable for light-traffic floors, walls, and decorative countertops. Active countertops should not receive onyx.
Slate is metamorphic rock from the parent rock shale. Slate generally has a homogenous appearance, but is sometimes veiny. Grey and black are the most popular colors, but slate may also be green, yellow, brown, yellow, etc. The plane structure of slate makes it susceptible to flaking and gives slate it's cleft irregular surface. Slate only has a Mohs' rating of about 2.5-5.5 HM. Therefore, most slate is suitable for light-traffic floors, walls, and decorative countertops. Active countertops should not receive slate. The softer slate is especially susceptible to scratches. Slate can be honed smooth, but it will look like a chalkboard. Slate can be made shiny by the use of impregnators or, even better, by the use of sealers (satin, semi-gloss, or high gloss).
Others exotic stones like Andesite, Basalt, and more.
We have hundreds colors to suite your fancy. We recommend blending colors to add style in the form of accent pieces, borders, or stone wall base. One of the beauties of natural stone is the variations in shades, veins, mineral deposits, and markings. As a result, stone samples may not be perfectly representative of each piece you’ll receive.
Stone comes either veincut or crosscut. Veincut stone shows forth the traditional horizontal lines referred to as veins. Crosscut stone gives a variegated look because the tile was cut against the veins. Finishes and Textures (formerly Textured vs. Smooth).
Tiles can have a very smooth and level surface like glass or can have a highly textured surface. We strongly recommend that textured tiles be used in walk areas that may be exposed to moisture or grease. Although textured tiles provide excellent surface traction, they do require more cleaning. Customers primarily interested in low maintenance will prefer the smoother tiles.
Stone may have pits that can pose a maintenance problem due to dirt accumulation. Thus, you’ll need to select a filled stone if natural irregularities are not preferred.
[Unfilled, naturally cleft, split face, or textured surfaces are more suitably pressure cleaned with a long-bristle brush.]
“FINISH: Honed: Honed lacks the shininess and reflective qualities that polished marble has. Instead, it has a more satin-feel, smooth and velvety to the touch. Polished: A polished finish gives the smooth surface a shiny, much glossier look.”
Polished stone is very slippery when wet so be careful putting this in exterior applications exposed to sprinklers and rain.
“Quartzite is a hardier material than slate, and most are acid-resistant, allowing you to use stronger cleaners or all-natural cleaners (including a vinegar solution). Be aware that strong cleaners can decrease the life of your sealer.”---Other Website
“Splitface Mosaics and Ledgerstone: We don't recommend installing a dramatically textured tile in showers or on kitchen backsplashes specifically because the texture makes it easy for residue to build up.”---Other Website
“Unfilled Travertine: Travertine is naturally quite porous with large pits and voids. Most travertine tiles are sold with a fill for a smooth, solid surface, but some people prefer the look of natural, unfilled travertine. Make sure you know the maintenance involved in unfilled travertine.”---Other Website
“Polished Stone: Many people equate a polished surface with "cleanliness." While it's true that a high shine looks clean and a smooth surface is easier to wipe down, a polished stone is just as porous as an unpolished stone and still needs to be sealed. A polished surface will show waterspots, chips, scratches, and etching more easily than a matte surface will. Keep this in mind when selecting materials.”---Other Website
Most customers desire a beautifully honed finish with little to no gloss. Others select the rougher, unfinished surface called a sawcut finish. Stone should not be polished to a glossy finish if the stone will be exposed to foot traffic for safety reason. Publish facilities must meet ADA requirements.
There are three primary finishes: abrasive slip-resistant, matte, and high-gloss. (Some companies break the finishes down into more specific categories.) Abrasive slip-resistant finishes are the best at preventing slips, and have a dull appearance. Matte finishes reflect more light and still offer a relatively high friction coefficient. High-gloss finishes scratch easily and are very slippery, but cause the atmosphere to shine with light. Thus, high-gloss tiles are most suitable for walls. Usually the highly textured tiles will have a matte finish, but occasionally high-gloss finishes are applied to very textured surfaces.
Although tile absorbs very little moisture in comparison to other flooring products, most tile absorbs some moisture. The amount of absorption influences the tiles suggested usage. Tiles are ranked into four categories: (1) non-vitreous, (2) semi-vitreous, (3) vitreous (a.k.a., impervious stoneware tiles), and (4) fully vitreous (a.k.a., impervious or Porcelain or China).
- Non-vitreous tiles absorb 7 percent or more.
- Semi-vitreous tiles absorb between 3 and 7 percent.
- Vitreous tiles absorb between .5 and 3 percent.
- Fully vitrified tiles absorb less than .5 percent.
When the tiles absorb moisture, they are susceptible to cracking if exposed to freezing temperatures. Also, absorption indicates density which determines strength. The less moisture absorption, the denser the tile. The non-vitreous and semi-vitreous tiles are designed for residential, indoor use.
Stone does absorb moisture. Unfilled travertine is more porous than marble, and marble is more porous than granite. Therefore, a moisture barrier should be considered if the stone will be exposed to moisture that could damage a substrate (e.g., a wood substrate that supports marble in a shower) or if moisture could wick through the stone bringing salts to the surface (i.e., efflorescence).
Sizes and Shapes.
Tiles vary in size from 1/2 inch square to 24 inches square. Although most tiles are square, there are other shapes. Slabs are cut to your particular needs. Thickness commonly ranges from 3/16 inch to 1 inch. Thickness also indicates a tile's mechanical strength. The thicker the stone tile or slab, the less likely a break will occur assuming there is no other reinforcement introduced. Thus, a 1/2-inch thick slab is more likely to break than a 2-inch thick slab. As you would imagine, the thicker products cost more.
Sometimes quantitative measurements are available for quality comparisons. Abrasion resistance (a.k.a. abrasion strength or abrasive hardness coefficient or friction wear resistance) measures the stone's ability to withstand traffic before showing wear patterns. The Mohs' Hardness Scale is the commonly used, nonlinear ranking system depicting relative hardness in a chart from 1 to 10. The scale indicates relative scratch resistance. A fingernail is 2.5 HM while gold is 2.5 to 3 HM. Both a knife blade and glass are 5.5 HM. Common floor tile is 6.5 HM. A diamond is 10 HM. Commonsense and the scale teaches that the a knife can scratch a fingernail; floor tile can scratch a knife blade; and, a diamond can scratch tile. Another hardness measurements is the Knoop Hardness Test which measures the ability of stone to resist indentations from extreme pressure focused to a tiny point. There are other hardness tests: Brinell's and Vicker's.
(a.k.a., specific gravity or specific weight) measures the weight of a specific volume of stone. Density may be measured inversely by taking a unit of volume divided by weight. Ultimately, density influences the mechanical strength, the moisture absorption, the shipping cost, and a building's load capacity. (See Moisture Absorption.)
Traction (a.k.a., slip resistance) is measured by a friction coefficient, the minimum being 0.50. The Americans with Disabilities Act ® (ADA) requires a minimum of 0.60 for general areas and 0.80 for ramps. Traction is predominantly determined by the stone tile's texture and finish (addressed above).
Absorption coefficient measures how much water (as a percentage of weight) is absorbed after 48 hours of immersion. Water resistance is important because of freeze thaw issues.
Flexural strength (a.k.a., bending strength) measures how much flex a stone can tolerate. Flexure modulus of elasticity measures the same properties but in a slightly different way.
Modulus of rupture is the maximum stress in stone at the moment before failure measured in a flexure test.
Tensile strength is stone's ability to resist being pulled apart. Veins and fissures reduce tensile strength. Tensile modulus of elasticity measures the same properties but in a slightly different way.
Compression strength measures how much compression a stone can resist. Compressive modulus of elasticity (a.k.a., stress to strain ratio) measures the same properties but in a slightly different way.
Impact strength is influenced by compression strength because impact strength measures a stone's resistance to shattering due to a sudden impact of an object dropped from a specific height.
Chemical resistance speaks to a stone's ability to resist damage alkaline and acidic solutions (mild to harsh).
Thermal expansion coefficient measures the expansion and contraction of stone due to changes in temperature.
Frost resistance addresses the stone's ability to withstand the harmful effects of frost.
The grout between your tile plays both a cosmetic and a structural role. Some customers attempt to blend the grout color in with the tiles. In contrast, others choose grout with distinctly different but complimentary color to the tile causing the grout lines to draw as much attention as the tile. Structurally, grout adds strength to the individual tiles. Joints less than 1/8 inch wide use non-sanded grout; joints between 1/8 inch and ½ inch wide use sanded grout. There are three primary types of grout: Portland cement based grout, latex based grout, and epoxy grout. Portland cement-based grouts are good for general use with moderate traffic. Latex-based grouts are used when extra strength is needed or the grout needs to have added water resistance. Epoxy grouts are know for their ability to resist some chemicals, stain resistance, moisture resistance, color consistency, and strength. Stone products are often butted together so as to eliminate grout joints.
Usually, stone is installed butted edge to edge unlike ceramic tile that has a visible grout joint.
Waterproof membranes, crack isolation membranes, and sound control membranes are available for stone products. The membranes are installed between the substrate and the stone.
Waterproof membranes are needed because both grout and stone are usually porous. The waterproof membranes prevent water from seeping up through the substrate or from seeping down through the stone to the floor or wall. This is especially important in some outdoor settings.
Crack isolation membranes can prevent cracks and shifts in the concrete slab (up to 1/4 inch) from causing cracks in the stone on the surface.
Sound control membranes reduce the sound both above and below the floor. This is especially helpful in multistory buildings.
The following preparations should be made before your flooring product is installed. Some of these preparations may be unrealistic given your circumstances and may not have an affect on the success of the installation. However, we've included these manufacturer and regulatory agency recommendations in hope of the optimal installation and for disclosure reasons. Manufacturers may vary slightly. The manufacturer of the product you select is the final authority for their product.
- A layout should be agreed on. Tiles may have accent pieces you want positioned in a certain spot in the room, or you may want the tiles angled to a particular degree.
- Doors may have to be adjusted or cut at the bottom (i.e., planed) after your flooring is installed. Determinations as to whether such alterations are needed may not be possible prior to the installation. Door adjustments are priced separately.
- Moldings are located at thresholds and around the room's perimeter. The molding may have to be removed, replaced, or added. A broad variety of moldings are available for all flooring products. Molding are made of wood, vinyl, rubber, metal, carpet, stone, and ceramic. Some moldings are designed to draw attention; while, others are designed to blend in with the primary flooring products. Moldings are priced separately.
- If you have a concrete subfloor and it is new construction, the concrete needs to cure for 45-120 days before installing the flooring (90 day average).
- The porosity of the subfloor (wood, concrete, etc.) should be tested. This indicates how well the adhesive will bond with the subfloor. Testing of the subfloor should be done early in order to deal with any problem that you may possibly detect. This test is usually just a matter of formality.
- Wolfe Flooring can perform this test.
- Customers will need to verify that the relative humidity of the building is between 30% to 70%. High humidity may hinder the mortar's curing time which will delay the grouting. Low humidity may accelerate the mortar's curing time which could lead to cracking. Most customers have the proper relative humidity.
- Wolfe Flooring can perform this test.
- Please condition the room to between 60° and 90° F (suggested 75°) for 48 hours before the installation. Temperatures below 50° will slow the drying time which will delay the grouting for 2 to 4 days and could lead to cracked tiles a few months later.
- After the temperature has been properly set, acclimatize the new tile or stone to the room 24 hours prior to the installation. Never stack tile or stone more than 5 boxes high. Alternatively, we can acclimatize the product in our warehouse.
- Please, pick up all personal items from the floor, and secure all delicate breakables (e.g., dining pieces and figurines in a China cabinet) prior to our arrival.
- Please, disassemble complicated electrical equipment like computers prior to our arrival.
- If the building is new construction, the building should be presented broom swept and free of all equipment, etc..
- The furniture must be carefully removed and put back in place. About half of our customers choose to handle their own furniture; therefore, furniture handling is priced separately. If you elect to handle the furniture, please remove the furniture prior to our arrival. Some manufactures recommend that furniture not be returned onto the new flooring for a period of time. See directions below under "Follow-up Activities and Initial Maintenance."
- Fixtures (e.g., toilets), doors, appliances, and other items may have to be removed and reattached. This service is priced separately.
- The old flooring must be removed and disposed of in accordance with local ordinances. We provide this service for most of our customers, but occasionally customers elect to do this themselves. Therefore, take up and disposal are priced separately. (Sometimes, new tile or stone can be installed over existing products like vinyl, V.C.T., etc.)
- When the products arrive at your site, please verify the products are the correct color, style, and quantity you ordered. The earlier the detection the better. Flooring products that are installed create more warranty complications than products still on the truck.
- Once we begin your installation, the work area should be restricted from all foot traffic. Unfinished thresholds, flooring products and tools can pose TRIP HAZARDS. PLEASE BE CAREFUL. Please restrict the work area during the entire project.
- Please secure your small children and pets from following us out of your home while the exterior doors are open.
The subfloor must be in suitable condition. Your subfloor may or may not require floor prep. The amount of preparation varies depending on: the type of subfloor, the subfloor's condition, and the manufacturer's specifications. Subfloor preparation is priced separately. The stability and precision of the subfloor will have a bearing on the long-term success of your new flooring. BE ASSURED THAT FLOOR PREP IS USUALLY ONLY A NOMINAL EXPENSE. MANY CUSTOMERS HAVE NO FLOOR PREP EXPENSES.
Here are some of the common preparations made on the different floor types: concrete, terrazzo, wood, or metal.
- Plywood joints should be level within 1/16".
- Reinforce subfloor to stiffen and smooth the surface with backerboard, Wonderboard®, wood underlayment, lauan plywood panels (Type 1, exterior, OVL grade, solid core mahogany), or plywood.
- Treat for urine contamination.
- Abrade glazed surfaces.
- Replace weak boards and secure loose boards.
- Seal with primer.
- Grind away concrete curing agents, parting agents, or surface hardeners.
- Grind down high spots.
- Chip away wall plaster, etc.
- Fill holes and cracks up to ¼" thickness with patch and/or leveling compounds.
- Fill in and level depressions up to ¼" deep with patch and/or leveling compounds.
- Nail down protruding nails.
- Remove old adhesive completely.
- Remove paint, varnish, wax, pigmented material, solvents, grease, oil, etc. completely.
- Sand away rust of metal substrates.
- Sweep clean.
- Plan the grouting to take place 1-4 days after the tile installation depending on curing conditions.
Follow-up Activities and Initial Maintenance
Process the billing and get a hand written or published warranty. Retain the sales receipt and any product description from the purchase of the goods. If possible, document the manufacturer's name and the manufacturer's full product description including color. Furthermore, retain a sample of the tile or stone for comparisons. For insurance purposes, it's good to have a picture of your new product in a safe place.
Retain extra pieces (field and trim pieces) for possible repairs that may be needed in the future. Store the tile pieces on a flat surface, no more than three boxes high.
Wolfe Flooring picks up all flooring product scraps. The customer will need to sweep and mop the tile or stone. The tile or stone should not be swept or mopped for 48 hours after the grouting is finished. Be sure the grout is dry.
Do not expose the tile or stone to any foot traffic for 24 hours after it is installed. Be sure the tile or stone is firmly set before walking on it. Then, do not return the furniture or step on the grout lines for 24 hours after the grouting is finished. Be sure the grout is dry. The mortar and the grout need time to cure.
Maintain the same temperature for 48 hours after your tile or stone installation.
Seal the grout 7 days after the installation with a silicone grout sealer to add stain resistance. The grout should be clean at the time of application. (This is optional.)Read: How to Maintain Stone Tile Read: Stone Spot Cleaning Guidelines Read: How to Protect Flooring