The Pros & Cons of Slate Countertops

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Slate has a matte, or un-shiny, appearance.
Slate has a matte, or un-shiny, appearance. (Image: slate image by BONNIE C. MARQUETTE from Fotolia.com)

While it's easy to associate slate with chalkboards and roofing, this naturally smooth, metamorphic rock is also an option when it comes to kitchen and bathroom countertops. In comparison to other types of natural rock or stone countertops, such as marble and granite, slate is softer and has a matte surface. Using slate as a countertop surface has both advantages and disadvantages, particularly when it comes to aesthetics.

Style

Slate counter tops have a distinctively matte appearance, which means they do not reflect light and are not shiny or glossy like their granite and marble counterparts. While some may interpret the dull surfaces of slate countertops as lackluster or boring, Countertops Advice points out that some people find sophistication in the sleek, understated appearance of the surfaces, which create a softness that dazzling, relatively gaudy granite and marble surfaces cannot.

Colors

While the lack of shine is one potential aesthetic drawback of slate counter tops, HGTV notes that lack of available color choices is another. While other countertop varieties, particularly laminate, come in a wide array of colors to suit your decor and to complement existing color schemes, with slate you are primarily limited to different tones of black, gray, purple and green.

Heat Resistant

If you plan on doing a lot of cooking around the kitchen or using a curling iron in the bathroom, slate countertops may be a good choice. According to Countertops Advice, granite countertops are resistant to heat, which is largely due to their unsealed surfaces, meaning there are no protective layers that could potentially melt or burn away. In addition, the slate is able to absorb heat, so the heat does not remain focused in a specific area. Practically speaking, having heat-resistant countertops means that you can put a hot pan or iron down on the surface without causing any blemishes or damage.

Scratches

While they are resistant to heat, slate countertops are not resistant to scratching, such as from the tips of knives and other sharp objects. However, as Nuance Stone Works reports, this proneness to scratching is not of major concern, as you can easily remove the scratches with minimal effort. For light scratches, rub some mineral oil into them with a damp sponge, and they should disappear. For deeper scratches, use a piece of steel wool to buff them out.

Ease of Cleaning

The surface of slate is porous, which means water and other liquids can eventually seep into it over time. However, as Countertops Advice points out, the absorption rate of slate is incredibly slow, which means it is not prone to holding stains like other types of porous materials, such as wood. This makes slate countertops quite easy to clean, and they require just an occasional scrubbing with a damp sponge or cloth.

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