Slate countertops are a very beautiful and long-lasting addition to your home. Slate is very durable and comes in a wide variety of colors. It is also nonporous and therefore easy to keep clean as well as kitchen and food prep safe. Slate countertops can be installed like granite countertops in the kitchen or bathroom. Installing them yourself requires some knowledge and special tools.
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Buy Pre-cut Slate
Slate is a very hard stone that requires special tools to cut. You will need a diamond saw and it will be quite a process to cut the heavy slate slab to fit your countertops. Instead, plan on having them pre-cut to the size you need. This should also include the holes for the faucets and sink. Masonry stores that sell sheets of slate for countertops often offer the cutting as well. Don't shy away from the price; it will save you hours of work, and it could save money too, if you make a bad cut and have to buy another sheet of slate due to your mistake.
Installing on Hardwood
Installing a slate countertop on a hardwood cabinet surface is common enough. You need a way to attach that slate to the countertop that will be solid and secure. Some granite and stone countertops are bolted to the cabinet surface, but this requires drilling into the bottom of the countertop and threading a bolt up through a brace mounted on the cabinet. Adhesives that are made to mount slate sheets to a cabinet will be your best bet. Apply the adhesive to the top of the cabinet walls and attach braces flush with the top of the walls. Use either a very strong adhesive like liquid nails or bolt the braces to the sides of the countertop using threaded bolts and matching nuts. Tighten with a socket wrench for a solid hold. You can also use both adhesive (like Liquid Nails) and bolts.
Slate countertops can have a dull look to them. The nature of the slate is to absorb light, so it does not have the gloss and sheen that porcelain tiles or even polished granite has. So, after your installation it can be oiled to give it more reflection and gloss. You can also remove scratches using steel wool or by polishing with a towel and oil.
Another option is to use slate tiles that can be glued with adhesive to a flat kitchen countertop. The slate tiles are set right onto a sheet of plywood and then glued into place and grouted with slate mortar. The plywood can also be covered in grout and the tiles set into the grout. Then a final layer of grout is applied over them and removed with a trowel. This is just like tiling a bathroom floor and it creates a beautiful surface. The only drawback is that the grout between the slate will be porous and less sanitary than a sheet of slate.