Differences in counter and paver thicknesses can usually be accommodated if planned for in advance. It’s also not unusual to add a laminated edge to the front of a 2-centimeter counter to make it appear thicker. Tile for floors, however, can be tricky, particularly if you want your floor to flow to adjacent rooms without a transition. The best practice is to select floor tile early in the process and choose a material with consistent thickness.
We opened a box of specified slate tile on a project and discovered that each piece was a different thickness, with some well over ½ inch, making them higher than the adjacent wood floors even without thinset below. The clients opted to send it all back and ended up selecting a ceramic tile with similar colors but very consistent thickness.
Fragile stone tile can also break during cutting, which means tile setters have to anticipate more waste. Instead of ordering the usual 5 to 10 percent extra for waste, they might add 15 to 20 percent more. The best practice is to select a slab and have the fabricator review it for flaws and fissures, so that you’ll have time to select something else if it won’t work.
An easy way around slipperiness is to install the material in a smaller size — 4 inches square or less — or to select a material with more texture.
This backsplash (far end) is a mix of onyx and glass mosaic tile. The onyx tile arrived at the jobsite with some bright red streaks across the face, which weren’t visible in the sample. The clients opted to buy additional tile and piece in nonred stone to make the results more consistent.
Before committing to a stone, think carefully about how you plan to use it, and how much contact it’ll have with potentially damaging substances.
We once had clients whose old limestone counters were covered in coffee stains and had to be removed. They replaced them with Caesarstone, which remains in great shape many years later. My own granite counters are pristine almost a decade after installation, with no resealing.
If you still have questions, ask your local supplier, fabricator, contractor or designer about the specifics for your project.
More: Kitchen Countertops 101: Choosing a Surface Material