Slate Tile Flooring
In case you don’t know, slate tile is tile which is made from slate. This stone occurs all over the place and in mass quantities. That is why it is not super expensive, thank God. It is ready to be used for all sorts of purposes. You can use it as flooring, roof, or even as a countertop. People like to use it as a countertop because it is thermal resistant. That means you can put a hot pot down on it and no damage will be done. Nor will it really heat up. It’s a very solid and reliable material.
Nevertheless, we will focus mainly on slate tile flooring here, as that is its most common use. It comes in many different colors and can, therefore, accommodate pretty much any style. For example, you can get slate which is orange, gray, blue, green, red, and brown. You can even get pure black slate tile! That is a very bold choice indeed.
The color will often be threaded through the tile. For example, it will come through it as in veins. This gives the whole thing a subtle flavor. It is very nice to walk on top of slate and provides a very fashionable base for the room in which it is installed. In fact, it gives a much more natural look to the room because it is multi-colored, or at least of multiple shades of one color. And, of course, it is actually natural and not synthetic flooring.
Other people like slate tile because it has a non-slip surface. It is not perfectly smooth. You won’t get a shard stuck in your foot, but it raises slightly to different levels and has a nice different feel to it. This all combines to provide an easy to walk on the surface.
Then there is also the elusive search for discount slate tile which we like to embark upon. Anything you can buy is better cheap! It’s actually not that hard to find a discount on this material. Just look around on the Internet; there are deals everywhere. If you just walk into your local hardware or supply store it’s hit or miss. Home Depot and Lowe’s do provide slate but it may not be all that great of a quality.
Plus, you will have to deal with the salespeople who work there. In general, they do not know any more than you do about them. Therefore, whenever I am trying to find some good discounts on slate tiles I always look on the Internet. That way you have access to a bunch of businesses doing clearance sales because they’re going out of business and stuff like that.
Slate Tile Options
Slate tile manufacturers, for the most part, produce tiles that a uniform 1/4″ thick. They usually come in a wide range of colors and shades ranging from blues and greys to browns and reds. Tiles can be found that will match almost any room color scheme. Slate tiles are most usually sold in 1-foot squares (12″x 12″) but can also sometimes be found in 6-inch squares or 12″x 24″ sizes. A good flooring store will have the most basic colors on hand and will usually let you take a sample from a chipped or broken tile for color matching. This is an especially good idea if you are planning to paint the room or furnish the room to match the tile colors.
Things to Consider Before Buying Slate Tiles
Slate tiles come in a variety of colors, but you should also expect to see a fair amount of variation in the shades of those colors. Greys can be anything from almost black to almost beige and everything in between. This is normal and is part of the ‘look’ that state tiles will give you.
Layout all your tile before actually starting the installation. This will ensure that various color shades are spread evenly over the whole flooring space and will also catch any tile shortages before the work starts. You will also be able to check tile thicknesses, especially at doorways to ensure that the door will still open and close properly. In some cases, the door may need to be trimmed to allow enough clearance over the new flooring.
When ordering slate tiles, make should to order extra for breakage. There will always be some broken upon arrival and others will be broken during cutting and installation. This is normal and cannot be avoided.
Choose proper slate tile sealant. There are several options when it comes to tile sealers – high-gloss which give a wet look to no sheen which is the most natural look. Plan which sealer to use by the room or area that you are tiling. Outdoor tiles might look great with a high-gloss sealer while say a kitchen installation would look better with a no-sheen, natural sealer. Choose the sealer as carefully as you choose the tiles themselves.
Slate Tile Installation
Finally, you should consider the actual installation process. If you are removing an old floor, you should go right down to the bare floorboards ensuring that the floorboards are solid and tight. Then a proper sub-floor must be laid down. This will ensure a flat floor and will provide a solid base that the tiles can be adhered to. Use a proper cement that is made specifically for slate tiles. Other cements may not hold the tiles properly or may actually cause cracking. Finally, choose a proper slate grout. Grouts come in a variety of colors, so once again, be sure to match the grout color to the slates that you’ve purchased.
A slate floor will add both value and longevity to any flooring space and is a great option to consider in any room in your house. Slate tiles can be installed easily by the do-it-yourselfer or there are any number of professionals who can install your tile floor quickly and easily.
Properly Install Slate Tile
Slate tile is a very popular choice for tiling. The reason for this is the low cost and ease of installing the tiles. Not to mention how beautiful the natural stone tiles look in any room of the house. There are some basic tips to keep in mind when installing slate tiles. If you feel that you do not have the ability to do this type of work yourself then you should call a professional to install them for you. Many will be able to do this installation on their own.
The first thing to keep in mind is that a slate tile is made of stone and is not manufactured. This means that each tile will have its own look. Even if you purchase a certain color of slate, the variations in grain will be different and each tile will have its own color even though they will all basically match. Do not be surprised by this fact and call the supplier. This is perfectly natural and what makes a slate tile floor unique.
When you place your order for your tiles, always purchase a few more square feet than you will need. Any order that is shipped will settle and there may be damage to the corners of some of the tiles. This is normal but it is best to have too many tiles than too little. You can always use the damaged tiles in areas where you need to cut the tile down to fit.
You always want to lay out the tiles on the floor before you put the mortar down. This way you will have a pattern and you will not allow the mortar to set before you get your tiles down. Once you have your pattern set in, remove the tiles in an order you will remember so that you do not have to do any searching later. You can use a chalk line to keep the tiles straight.
You should prepare the area where the tiles are to be laid before you put down the mortar and install the tiles. Make sure the area is level. If it is not, you can use mortar to shore up the areas that are lower. Once you have made sure everything is level you can move on to the next step.
Only use the mortar and lay the tiles in small sections. Again, you do not want the mortar to set before you get your tiles in place. You will need to put a small amount of pressure on the tiles to set them. Do not apply too much pressure or you will crack the tile.
You will also want to make sure that you have cut all every slate tile that needs to be resized before you start the laying process. Once all the tiles are down, allow time for the mortar to set before caulking them. After the caulk has cured, you should then seal the tiles to protect them.
Now, I am going to share an experience regarding installing this tile in the kitchen.
Installing Slate Floor in Kitchen
I have always loved the look of natural materials, especially on the floor. When we bought our house the kitchen was absolutely unusable. The layout was all wrong, the drawers didn’t work, the appliances were ghastly. The previous owner, put enameled covers over the stove elements to cover the grease, rust and hideous condition they were in. My wife refused to use this kitchen, and I agreed with her. The first day after closing escrow, in late December, I was gutting this disgusting mess.
The weather was freezing and there was a lot of snow, which is unusual in this part of Washington. The well drillers were trying to finish our well and the storms had knocked out power indefinitely. In the meantime, I had promised my wife a new kitchen on Valentine’s day. Well everybody moved into a hotel (no power or water) except for me. I labored on. Somehow everything seemed to stay on schedule and soon it was time to choose a flooring material. Slate was our pick and we are very pleased with the result.
Slate floors are beautiful, but there are a lot of things to consider before installing the slate. The material varies in thickness from between a quarter-inch to three-quarters of an inch. There are many substrate materials available. You can use Hardibacker, wonder board or float a mortar bed if your floors are out of level. Anyway, you start out with a nice flat and level surface and try and end up with a nice flat and level surface; using this rough-textured and uneven material.
Start laying your slate with the thickest slates as a gauge for the rest of the floor. Plan on using a lot of thin-set mortar, to maintain a flat floor. Some slate tiles will have high and low spots, that you will have to split the difference on while lining them up to the adjacent tiles. You don’t want to stub a barefoot toe while making a run to the refrigerator for a midnight snack. I used the rubber handle on my hammer to tap high spots of the slate for height adjustments, and constantly check the slate with a six-foot level.
If you have a long kitchen, you should lay the slate in a diagonal pattern. It will add a lot of interest and prevent your kitchen from looking like a long hallway. It is more work to lay a floor diagonally, it requires a lot more cutting and a little more material. I can promise you the end result will more than compensate for the extra work. It’s all water under the bridge; down the road when you are living with the finished product. I would probably lay the tiles diagonally for almost any shaped kitchen, just because it is much more interesting and attractive.
My ten-year-old son laid out all of the tiles for me, choosing the layout by color and pattern. I laid a few tiles one day while he was at school and incurred his wrath when he came home. My section was ‘Boring!’ and fortunately is hidden under the dining room table. I am of the opinion that you should leave that part of the job to the professionals like my son. I must say he did a beautiful job and the floor is very striking.
Throw away your plastic tile spacers when laying slate. The slate tiles are not uniform enough in dimension to stay on course using spacers. Decide how big of a grout line you want, strike some chalk lines and then you just have to eyeball it from there.
Match the Theme
The countertops are a dark green granite and needed a contrasting material in the back–splash. Slate seemed to be the perfect solution and would carry the floor theme up through the cabinets. I took the 12″x12″ floor tiles and cut them down to 6″x6″ and laid them diagonally for the back–splash. The backsplash accents the countertops perfectly and at a fraction of the cost of having them fabricated out of granite.
Slate needs to be cleaned and pre–sealed before grouting. Try and keep the slate clean, while laying them. A damp rag and bucket of water are indispensable items, that will save a lot of clean up work and time later. Slate is porous and will absorb grout, so it is imperative that you seal it, before grouting. I used the same finish sealer to pre–seal and it worked great.
The masonry sealer was purchased at Home Depot in the paint department. It goes on white and turns clear when it dries. In my opinion, it is an awesome product, the sealer is very economical and durable.