Wall stone and pebble tiles are effective ways to create a natural stone environment in any space. Used in conjunction or separately, wall stone and pebble tiles can be installed virtually anywhere, including patio areas, bathrooms, along pool decks, in saunas and around fireplaces. They can also be used in the creation of a garden fountain. Wall stone and pebble tiles are different in appearance and make-up, however, the installation process is very similar.
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Wall stone, also called cultured stone or stone veneer, is typically synthetic and made using moulds shaped to mimic the look of large, natural stones. The stones have a flat back for going against a surface. Wall stones can be installed with or without grout in the seams, however, grout should be used for outdoor projects or high-moisture areas to prevent moisture damage to the substrate. A huge variety of stone styles are available. Some examples include fieldstone, limestone and coral.
Unlike the more sculptural quality of wall stone, pebble tiles are thin with a single, flat layer of small, round stones or river rocks. The rocks are smooth so that they are comfortable to walk on, if they are installed as a floor covering. Pebble tiles are made with real stones and come in many different colours, such as ivory, amber, turquoise and black. Tiles can be monochromatic with stones of all one colour or a mixture of several different colours of stones. Tiles with unfinished pebbles as well as glazed, shiny pebbles are also available.
Surface Conditions and Preparation
Wall stone and pebble tiles can be installed on plywood, wafer board, cement board, masonry or concrete. The surface must be level, clean and structurally sound. Plywood, wafer board or cement board are typically installed new for the job. Installing wall stone or pebble tiles on an older concrete or masonry surface requires a clean surface. Remove any grime or residue that might keep the stone or tile mortar from sticking properly. These surfaces can be cleaned with dish soap and water or a pressure washer.
With wall stone, the substrate is lined with metal lath or wire mesh. This isn't necessary for pebble tiles as wire mesh is already incorporated on the backing. A layer of mortar is then spread on the substrate and the interlocking tiles or stones are pressed in. After the mortar has cured, grout is then filled into the cracks between stones or pebbles. For wall stones, a grout bag is used to extrude the grout between the stones. For tiles, the grout is forced into the seams by scraping a layer of grout over the stones with a rubber float.
Care and Maintenance
Once the grout has cured, it is sealed with grout sealer to protect the grout from moisture damage. Some products also require the use of a stone sealer. Sealing is especially important in outdoor projects or in areas such as bathrooms where there is high moisture content. Stone or pebble surfaces can be kept clean with regular dusting or by spraying the surface with a hose, if it's outdoors. Wall stone and pebble tiles can be periodically washed and scrubbed with soap and water using a soft, plastic bristle brush. Metal bristle brushes should be avoided as they can scratch the stones and abrade the grout.
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