Installing a granite floor can add character to a home whether in a modern building, to create a ‘different’ look and feel; or in an older building to restore it to it’s original flooring material.
Being cut from an igneous rock, tiles or slabs of granite are extremely hard wearing and have a very low porosity – making a granite floor a great option for a bathroom, kitchen or utility area.
Granite tiles and slabs are available in a variety of colors and tones according to the minerals and conditions that formed the Granite.
Preparation for Granite Floor Installation
As with just about any home improvement job – preparation is king; and preparing the floor on to which the Granite tiles or slabs will be laid is vital. As Granite is a heavy material, having a solid and level base onto which you can fit the Granite floor is essential.
If you’ve already got a ‘solid’ floor, the best possible base you can use is a fully dry sand and cement ‘screed’. A floor screed is a cementitious underlayment product used for the re-surfacing of concrete floors.
If you have to create a new screed prior to fitting the Granite floor remember it can take a week for a 25mm (one inch) depth of screed to fully dry out. If your solid floor has already got tiles of any kind on it – you are recommended to remove them before you apply the screed.
If the floor onto which you’re going to fit the Granite floor is a timber one – preventing the floor timbers from flexing under the weight of the Granite is essential.
First make sure all the floor timbers are nailed or screwed down securely. Then, using 140mm centers (6 inches approx.) screw 18mm (half inch) plywood sheets to the floor timbers – you can also use a flexible adhesive in this job.
Any cracks between the plywood sheets will need filling with a flexible grout. Finally if there is still any unevenness in the floor, apply a floor leveling compound and make sure the surface is clean and dust free before starting to fit the Granite flooring.
Fitting Granite Tiles or Slabs
As well as being hard wearing, Granite is also a dense and, therefore, heavy material to work with. Dependant on the size of tiles or slabs you choose to work with it might be a good idea to have someone else around to help with lifting and carrying the Granite flooring.
Being a naturally occurring substance, Granite tiles will have variations in color and tone; so adopt a random approach to fitting the tiles or slabs – rather than trying to establish a deliberate pattern.
Granite tiles can be fitted using a solid bed trowel with a cement based adhesive; which should be colored to match the tiles as best as can be achieved. The main problem fitting Granite tiles is when you need to cut them – Granite is hard!
While a diamond edged angle-grinder will, eventually, cut through them; to be sure of getting straight lines you really need to either hire or buy a diamond wheel cutting machine. With all the tiles or slabs in place, leave them for the adhesive to dry out, usually 24 hours. You can then grout the tiles using a complimentary or contrasting color- as you prefer.
Sealing Granite Tiles
When the grout has also dried, possibly after about one hour, the Granite floor will need sealing. Although Granite is generally thought of as a non-porous rock it does have a degree of porosity, which cannot be left untreated. Therefore, you must apply a sealer across the whole floor. Your Granite slab/tile dealer will advise on the best retail product they have for that job and you’re recommended to apply two coats of the sealant.
If you’re fitting Granite tiles or slabs and have under-floor heating – you must use a flexible adhesive and grout.