Slate tiles are often used for flooring because of the beauty and price of the stone. However, there can be problems with this flooring material, especially if you try to install it yourself. Before picking slate for your floors, learn a little about the material and how to install it for the best results. Slate isn't the perfect solution for every floor.
Slate is a natural material found in the earth. This rock is metamorphic and made up of quartz, mica, calcite, chlorite and other types of rock. Most slate is formed in riverbeds, over thousands or even millions of years, and because the makeup varies, slate from different parts of the world looks very different. Slate tiles come in multiple colors and vary in thickness, even among the same batch.
The biggest benefit to slate is its beauty. Because it can be ordered in so many colors, you can almost always find some kind of slate tile to match your home. Slate has a natural look and can work for both interior and exterior spaces. With proper installation, slate is also very durable. This type of stone is layered, so it has a tendency to split if installed incorrectly, but most homeowners see no problems for decades.
Before choosing slate, keep in mind that this material is usually best installed by professionals. Do-it-yourself homeowners may have better luck with other types of tile, because slate is susceptible to breaking along the layers if it is not installed correctly. For the best results, slate should be installed on a subfloor that is very solid. Flexible subfloors, like sand outside or plywood, could cause the slate to crack. In addition, before you order slate for your floors, consider the amount of time you'll need for upkeep. Slate needs special sealant and continuous care to prevent stains.
There are hundreds of types of slate tiles that can be used for flooring. In general, slate can be classified in four main ways. First, you can look at a slate tile's color. Some of the most popular colors are gray, brown, purple, green, black, red, gold, white and pink. You can also find mottled slate, which has two or more colors in the same tile. Next, slate tiles can be classified by size. Commonly, companies produce both square and rectangular blocks, and you can find everything from very small tiles to tiles that are over 2 feet wide. A third way to classify tile is by thickness. Again, this varies by manufacturer, but usually slate is under an inch thick. Finally, you can classify slate by type of finish. Some slate tiles are put through tumbles for a smooth, broken feeling. Others are split along their natural seams, while still others are glazed or stained.
While slate tiles are manufactured around the world, slate itself comes from very specific regions. The slate's origin (and, in turn, rarity) often dictates the price you'll pay for the tiles. Some of the top slate-producing regions include Brazil, Wales, Germany, northeastern United States, China, France and Italy. The slate's color depends on the area where it was mined.
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