Slate Flooring - Dimensions, Colors and Benefits
Why is slate flooring so popular?
Slate flooring is quite a remarkable and unique material that never seems to go out of style and is a definite asset to a room. Unlike most stones that typically have a course to medium texture; a slate floor is very smooth - almost on par with a laminate sheet.
The texture comes from the stones make up - many miniscule pieces of silt and clay that have come together in the presence of high temperature and pressure. As you will find out in more detail further on, it is this compacted make up that makes this material so resistant to stains. A favorite texture for slate flooring is what is known as the "natural cleft" which has a slight roughness to it that acts as an anti-slip measure and has unique appearance. The stone floor can also be honed or sanded down for a sleeker look.
The "wet look" is also a popular slate flooring finish and is achieved by applying a penetrating sealer; the bonus of this is that there is no glossy build up because the porous characteristic of this stone allows the sealer to be absorbed.
Slate Flooring: Dimensions, Colors and Benefits
Slate floors are quite versatile as they can come in a number of hues: off-black, red, green, gray and a combination of these. The choice of colors arises from the impurities and minerals that are responsible for the slate's make up. The stone can also be purchased in a number of thicknesses with the ¼ inch being the favorite. With regards to form, this material is available in uniform tile shapes or in irregular sheets which can be cut into specific shapes (some people opt for an irregular pattern.)
Here are another few reasons why slate is so popular:
1. It is an affordable flooring option.
2. The stone is "soft" and is comfortable underfoot (with and without shoes.)
3. It is warm - The porous characteristic of this stone allows it to retain heat as opposed to materials like marble which reflect it.
4. The floor will last for a long time and is seen as a long term investment.
5. The upkeep is hardly demanding with the surface only needing the quick run over with a mop (and a little mild detergent) and the odd sweeping.
Installing a Slate Floor
Installing slate flooring is a DIY job, but if you have any reservations you can always call in a professional. A Portland cement based thinset is what is recommended to secure the stone to the sub-floor. The cement is composed of microscopic particles of sand and silica and a mixture of acrylic resins - all it needs is water to activate it!
If you are looking at fitting the slate floor over a wooden sub-floor you need to make sure that the wood is at least 1 ¼ '' in thickness. To increase the thickness of your existing sub-floor all you have to do is build it up by screwing down plywood and then waterproofing it with a urethane layer. DIY'ers also need to remember that wood can contract and expand and slate will remain fairly stable - but you need offset this difference by laying down a "crack isolation fabric" between the two materials. When laying down the slate floor the spaces between the pieces will be about 3/8 inch to 5/16 of an inch.
Once down you will need to let the thinset dry for at least forty eight hours before you can start letting traffic through. The grouting then has to be done. You want to add what is known as a "grout-release liquid" first, to make the process easier. Once the grout has been used to fill the joins make sure to wipe any extra off straight away!