Working with SnapStone, A Floating Porcelain Tile System

By: Diy maven Feb 15, 2010

Recently I had the opportunity to play with a product called SnapStone. SnapStone is a porcelain floating floor system that can be installed over most vinyl, wood and concrete sub-floors. I've seen this product before in my local big box store in the 'real' tile aisle and have always looked upon it a bit suspiciously. It couldn't possibly rival real stone or tile, I thought. So, when the boxes of SnapStone arrived at my front door, I was excited to see how it would compare. 

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First of all, SnapStone is real porcelain tile. The only difference between it and traditional tile--and it's a big one--is it has interlocking tabs around its perimeter which allows it to float. This trick allows DIYers to put it over just about any existing structurally sound flooring. 

created at: 2010/02/15

And speaking of DIYing, let's talk about the installation process. First, there's no real prep work to the existing flooring itself--except that it should be clean, smooth and dry. You can start laying out tile either in the middle of the room or at a wall. Then you just line up the tabs of tile and push or tap them together using a white-headed rubber mallet. What's great about the tabs, of course, is your grout lines are always spot on. 

You can cut SnapStone like you would traditional porcelain tile (the instructions suggested using a wet saw) but you should avoid cutting pieces that have LESS than 2 tabs left on the uncut sides. Once all the tiles are set, you're ready to grout.

In a SnapStone installation, you MUST use SnapStone Flexible Grout. It comes in tubs which require no additives. You just have to mix it, like you would paint. I used a traditional tile float to spread the grout and then sponged off using a dry-wet sponge. 

created at: 2010/02/15

I must say, working with the flexi grout was a treat. It was much easier to spread than traditional grout as it kind of stuck together creating less grout 'crumbs'. Sponging off was easier too. It wasn't even what I'd consider messy, when compared to sponging off traditional grout. 

When my test floor was done, I was...well...floored! It looked great! 

created at: 2010/02/15

If after reading this post you're all set to buy SnapStone, there's a few things you need to know. First, after grouting, wait a good 48 to 72 hours to move furniture onto the tile. The grout does set up in about the same time as traditional grout, but it was still pliable after 24 hours. (Felt kind of like a rubber ball.) In 72, it was hard and ready for serious foot traffic. Also, setting SnapStone around the perimeter of a room isn't quite as easy as setting regular tile. The tabs need to be finessed into place with a rubber-coated pull bar. And finally, removing a broken tile isn't as easy as a traditional tile either, which you can just smack in the middle with a hammer and lift out. A broken SnapStone tile is removed by working your way to it from the perimeter. Again, that's because of the interlocking tabs. That being said, a broken tile is probably a rare occurrence. 

POST UPDATE: The SnapStone folks forwarded a link to a video showing how to replace one of their tiles. 

So there you have it. SnapStone, it's definitely a formidable contender in flooring alternatives for the DIYer. And, yes, it belongs in the tile aisle!!

For more information about the product, installation process, as well as gallery photos, follow this link to SnapStone.

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Comments

I have the avaire porcelain tile floating system and my problem is the guy didn't get the grout haze or something off and now it won't come off or my floor looks smeary This has been going on since April 4-5 months .Is there anything I can do to get it to looking good? I have tried several grout haze cleaners and  nothing is working . This has been a nightmare for me. If you know what I can do please help.

We are putting this on the stairs, where do we find stair nose trim that works with this product? Please advise and thank you , Nick

Can this be used on countertop?

My floor with laminent flooring squeaks i was wondering if there was anything special i would need to do to stop she squeak or if the fact it floats would stop the squeak
I bought 3 boxes of snapstone tile and the tabs are two different colors is does that matter or is it all the
I bought 3 boxes of snapstone tile and the tabs are two different colors is does that matter or is it all the
hi, i have been interested in snapstone. i would like to brick stack 12 inch tiles. will the tabs line up half center? if not ,i do like the top photo with 6-12 pattern. in the construction world its standard to stagger joints on all 4x8,s. so if all possible that would put a little more strngth to the snap flooring? thank you!! mike

I installed Snapstone on both the front and back entries of my house.  I live in the country so there is a lot of dirt in the summer and snow in the winter that gets tracked in on both entries.  I have had the tile for almost two years and no problems with either the tile or the grout.  It looks like the day it was installed.  Easy to clean and super easy to install.  I installed it and had never done tile before.  Definitely recommend this product.

Hi. It's November now. Have you installed any new floors using Snap Stone? If yes, any updated comments? My main concern is about it's grout. Since it's on a floating floor, I'm afraid it may start cracking, etc. Thanks.

Hey Debbie. First...a 65# PUPPY?! Yowza. Second, this was a test sample from the SnapStone company, so I only had a box or two of tile to play with. I WISH they had sent enough to do an entire floor! (I just installed my sample over a 4' x 4' piece of 3/4# plywood.) Having put in several ceramic & porcelain tile floors, I feel this product would give those a run for their money as far as wear is concerned. (SnapStone is real porcelain tile.) As I mentioned in the post, the grout seemed a little weird because it felt rubbery as it dried, but then after about 3 days it was hard, just like regular grout. I'd plan to keep your pups off the floor for at least that length of time. One more grout thing: this stuff seems like it would be more impervious to stains than regular grout, but I didn't test it. Your laminated flooring experience will be a good intro to doing this type of floor, which won't be difficult for you. The only tricky bit will be around the room's perimeter, but with a rubber-tipped pull bar you should do fine. Maintenance-wise, I'd treat it like a regular porcelain tile floor. Good luck with the project and let me know how it turns out!

Hi Maven,

You installed in February, it is now April, how is the floor holding up?

I will be installing in my kitchen and eating area, have 2 dogs, 40# and 65# puppy.

My husband is a diesel mechanic, every truck he works on comes home with him.

We just installed a new half bath and have done laminate flooring in multiple rooms so we are above  average DIYers.

What I want to know is:

Was it easy to install?

Will it hold up?

Is maintenance easy?

I really appreciate your feed back and input.

Debbie

It's about the same as a porcelain or ceramic installation. It could be a much cheaper alternative to traditional tile installation, however, if you're looking at removal of existing flooring (like vinyl) and installing a tile-worthy substrate. It's really for people who want tile but don't have the right existing floor/substrate for it and don't want to go through the bother of removal and all that prep. I could see it being much less intimidating than traditional tiling too, for those who've never tiled before. 

 

Hey Maven, how does it compare on price with other tile alternatives?

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