Slate Tiles Stone Tile Liquidators Natural Stone, Marble, Granite, Glass Tile Blog

Slate Tiles Stone Tile Liquidators  Natural Stone, Marble, Granite, Glass Tile Blog

Slate Tiles

Posted by stonetileliquidators on October 26th, 2012

Slate tile is a natural stone that is primarily used as building material. Slate tiles are resistant to becoming chipped and/or breaking due to their durability. Slate is commonly used in applications such as bathrooms, kitchens and outdoor spaces. The top reasons slate tiles are used for outdoor applications is due to its slip-resistance and its limited maintenance. Since slate tiles are also resistant to frost damage, there aren’t issues with freezing conditions due to the stone’s nonporous characteristics (its difficult for slate to absorb water). Slate tiles can range in density and levels of porosity, which makes an impact in regards to what the slate is going to be used for its unique application. The quality of the stone and its unique characteristics depend on where the stone was quarried originally.

Slate Tile Finishes

  1. Natural cleft or “un-gauged”: natural, rough appearance. Very slip resistant.
  2. Honed orunpolished: “matte” surface. Slip resistant.
  3. Polished: smooth surface, not ideal for high traffic applications
  4. Antiqued: tumbling, then acid washing, then brushed to smooth.
  5. Flame/Brushed: less smooth than honed, effervescent colors as a result
  6. Sandblasted: split-resistant and keeps a consistent surface.
  7. Split Face: stone split that is meant to look like exposed rock in nature
  8. Tumbled: literally tumbled with stones and chemicals that give rustic, antique characteristics to the stone tiles.

If you are purchasing slate tiles, you must become familiar with the terms “gauged”, “calibrated” and “rectified”. All three are machine processes that have an impact on identifying vital characteristics of different slate tiles.

Gauged Slate Tile

Gauged slate tiles are machine-cut into squares in order to achieve uniformity of the tiles, further facilitating an easier installation and saving money. Typically, the backside of the stone is ground down to a flat surface and this subsurface is used to get more accurate i.e. “gauged” slate tiles. It is much easier to install slate tiles that are square.

There are three types of “gauged” slate tiles available: gauged, un-gauged, and semi-gauged.

Gauged Slate Tile

Gauged slate tiles are consistent in thickness, size, and texture. Gauged slate tiles are more expensive than ungauged slate tiles because the process requires more time and effort. Installing gauged slate tiles for interior floor applications with a smooth finish and uniform grout lines would be the most fitting choice. Our Montauk Black slate tile, which comes from Brazil, is an excellent example as a gauged slate type.

The natural beauty is in its uneven texture. Offers a more natural look and also known as “natural cleft”. It is only natural that there is variation in un-gauged slate tiles, as they are hand-split and boxed immediately after being quarried. Un-gauged slate tiles are more affordable than gauged slate tiles because gauged tiles require more processing such as cutting them uniformly. Requires more work, time, and money to install due to significant variations in thickness and size. Textured on both sides so possible to flip the tiles over in order to seek preferred colors. Fitting application for:  exterior applications such as patios, poolside walls and outdoor kitchens.

Natural Cleft Slate Tile

Semi-gauged creates a more level, smooth floor because there is consistency in the thickness of each tile. Most fitting for a rustic, natural, earthy look. Installing semi-gauged slate tiles would be a solid choice for a high-traffic flooring application.

In order to simplify the installation process and still ensure that the slate is left to be aesthetically pleasing, calibration takes place, which is cutting a tile to a specific thickness. Calibration is also in order to achieve a uniform, level surface for flooring, which is very important for the application to remain undamaged. In order to become flat, the slate is honed on the back to a flat finish.

During the manufacturing process, “Rectification” takes place to ensure each tile is uniform and the same size. Rectification of tile is mostly used for ceramic and porcelain tiles, while occasionally used for the slate tiles. Out of all natural stone tile, slate is the only tile that is not customarily rectified. Supposedly, the size of a slate tile is 12”, yet the exact size of can be 11 7/8” if rectified. Some tiles, such as ungauged tiles, vary from 1/8 of an inch to over an inch in thickness. The variation in thickness has a potential effect on installation.

Variations in Thickness and Size Affect Installation

Un-gauged slate tiles take more work to install than gauged slate tiles, which use a thin-set application for easier installation. Un-gauged slate tile installation all depends on the variation size and thickness in regards to each and every piece, a further challenge to keep the flooring completely flat. Frequently, slate tiles have to be cut with a wet saw during installation in order to fit properly. We will provide further detailed information on slate tile installation tips in a future post.

Slate tiles are durable, versatile, and bring character to any flooring surface no matter where it may be installed. Whether indoor or outdoor, gauged slate tile flooring and un-gauged slate tiles provide two different textures that can compliment each other quite well when balanced in the same application. Builders, designers, and homeowners can all find their desired color, as slate comes in many different ones like we saw with the flame/brushed finish. The slip resistant, nonporous, frost-resistant abilities of slate tiles make it an exceptional choice for any application.


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