Slate tiles were used heavily in 19th century UK building construction for their versatility and durability. In our Guide to Slate, you'll find out how the stone is made, where it comes from and how to care for your tiles in your home.
Formation of Slate
Derived from an original shale-type sedimentary rock composed of clay or volcanic ash, Slate is a fine-grained, homogeneous rock formed by low grade regional metamorphism.
The natural marks and tones of Slate create a multitude of colours from coppery rust through to deep black meaning no two pieces of stone are alike.
Sourcing of Slate
Located midway between Jaipur and the Taj Mahal in Agra, multi-colour Slate is quarried in an area called Kund which is best known for its forest and wildlife as well as being the largest area of Slate producers in India. Slate can also be quarried from other areas of India and Brazil.
Production of Slate
Slate is procured from the quarry in blocks with the final blocks being chosen for their colour and quality by experts. The slate blocks are then split along the visible layers to produce slimmer slabs. These slabs can then be cut by machine to the required size and calibrated to give a definite top and bottom to a tile, making laying easier.
Benefits of Slate
In its natural form Slate can be brittle and prone to chipping due to its thin layers, however once fitted Slate becomes a robust and durable natural stone. The natural colourways don't show any wear and tear and if sealed and maintained properly, it will last for years.
Did You Know?
Slate tiles were used in 19th century UK building construction and in slate quarrying areas, such as Bethesda in Wales where there are still many buildings wholly constructed of Slate.
To keep your stone in top condition, we recommend protecting the tiles once laid. Please see our Protector Guide which outlines which protector your stone requires.
What different finishes are available?
A natural riven finish is the most popular style of Slate, however it can also be brushed, tumbled and honed.
Why is it important to seal Slate tiles?
In order to improve stain resistance and durability, we strongly recommend that Slate is sealed following installation.
Sealant provides resistance to wear and tear and is also an effective dirt and dust repellent. If your stone is being used in a bathroom environment or for external areas where water repellence is required, a sealer will provide this additional protection. Our matrix here will help.
How should these tiles be sealed?
Before grouting, the stone should be cleaned with warm soapy water; this will remove general dirt and dust from the riven areas and pores. Once grouted, ensure that all areas are clean and any grout residue is removed. Wait 24 hours before sealing to make sure the stone is completely dry, otherwise dirt, damp and the grout will be sealed in. Once everything is dry, follow the instructions on your protector.
Colour Intensifier can also be used to bring out the natural beauty in Slate by enhancing the colours, veins and patterns.
How much does this stone material naturally vary? And why?
The beauty of Slate is its naturally occurring colour tones and shading. When selecting a stone with moderate colour variation, we recommend dry laying your tiles prior to fitting to ensure you're happy with the variation.
What size tolerance should there be on this stone if any?
Due to the way Slate is formed in layers and as it has a natural riven surface, the larger the tile, the greater the tolerance required.
The thickness and dimensional tolerances are:
300x300 & 300x600 - +/- 1.5mm dimensional & +/- 2mm thickness
400x600 & 600x600 - +/- 2mm dimensional & +/- 3mm thickness