Natural Stone Selection – Slate.
Slate is the finest grained foliated metamorphic rock. Slate is derived from an original shale-type sedimentary rock composed of clay or volcanic ash through low-grade regional metamorphism.
The shale and clay are subjected to a metamorphic process involving heat and pressure during which cleavage planes are formed. Foliation may not correspond to the original sedimentary layering. Called “slaty cleavage”, the very strong foliation is caused by strong compression causing fine grained clay flakes to regrow in planes perpendicular to the compression.
Slate is frequently grey in color, however slate occurs in a variety of colors; shades of grey, from pale to dark, and may also be purple, green or cyan. The presence of mica and quartz can also give a copper or silver sparkle appearance. Slate is easily recognizable by it’s distinct cleft pattern, unless the stone’s surface has been honed smooth.
Functionality and cost are major consideration when choosing slate as the natural stone of choice as a surface tiling material.
Slate’s main uses include roofing and flooring. This non-slippery natural stone is perfect for flooring applications. Slate is simple to care for and durable.
Slate counter-tops have a non-porous surface that makes them easy to clean and requires less maintenance than granite and marble. It works well in a variety of applications such as kitchens, bathrooms, wet bars, back-splashes and sinks. The surface finish on the denser varieties of slate are usually honed. This is a matte type finish. It’s not shiny and reflective like a polished finish. Slate stone is too soft to be polished to a high gloss finish.
Unlike granite and marble, slate is non-porous. It cleans up very easily and does not have a tendency to harbor bacteria. It won’t absorb liquids, so it won’t stain from juice, tomato products, oil, and cleaners. Slate is highly heat resistant and resistant to etching. Scratches are easily rubbed out.
From the viewpoint that function trumps form, the decision to use a siliceous stone like slate in a kitchen environment is obvious. In the kitchen, the use of slate as a natural stone counter-top is particular appropriate, as cleanup and maintenance is easy. And, slate counter-tops are quite a bit more affordable compared to their pricier cousins. While slate is one of the more expensive flooring options, its natural beauty and easy maintenance make it an excellent investment.
Each stone is unique; its natural beauty only enhances through years of use. For a design that is not only incredibly attractive, but also eminently functional, you can’t go wrong with high quality slate surfacing products.
Note that I said “high quality slate.” The variation that is found in natural materials and the range of quality that exists among vendors is extreme. For instance, the top image shows a slate wall installation using large format tile. It was expensive slate tile and every tile was of consistent width, height and depth. The tile shown just above came for a national chain store. The price was not that much cheaper, but the quality was awful. No two tile were anywhere near the same.
“The bitterness of poor quality slate remains long after the sweetness of low prices!” is a quote from Slate Suppliers web site. They import slate roofing, but the principle is the same for surfacing slate.
It is extremely difficult for a tile setter to use tile of such poor quality and produce an acceptable tile installation. If the dimensional size of the tiles is off even slightly, grout lines have to be much wider to have consistency and straightness. Tile that vary greatly in thickness, result in a floor that is bumpy, uneven, and possibly hazardous.
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