Slate Bathroom Tiles

Slate Bathroom Tiles

Slate Bathroom Tiles

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A sealed slate floor will repel liquid that drips and spills on its surface. TrendTreasures Inc.

The wild beauty and exotic colors of natural slate can help to make a bathroom installation stand out. However there are some important properties and conditions that you should be aware of when employing this material. That is complicated by the fact that different types of slate will have varying characteristics, making extra research necessary in bathroom environments which tend to be challenging in numerous ways.

Slate Bathroom Water Issues

The absorption rate of slate is going to be one of the most important factors in determining its suitability for use in a bathroom. This will often be determined by where the material originates from. American based Vermont slate tends to have a very low absorption rate, making it more durable against water penetration and damage. Imported Indian and Chinese materials will be more exotic, but also more absorbent. South American sourced tiles fall along the medium range of this gradient.

The Sealant Solution

Even the most impermeable slate tiles will still have microscopic pores in their surface which can be exploited by liquid stains. For this reason it is necessary to seal these materials in order to protect them from damage. There are two types of chemicals used for this process. The first is a penetrating below surface sealer, which works to clog those tiny holes with an invisible substance, restricting liquid penetration. A barrier seal can then be used to create a clear protective layer over them.

It is generally recommended that slate be sealed during installation, before the grout is applied, to prevent permanent staining. A second coat then needs to be applied after installation, both to the tile and to the now dry grout lines themselves. For ideal results in a stain prone bathroom this process should be repeated annually to prevent weathering and keep the materials looking glossy and new.

Texture And Traction In Slippery Bathrooms

When slate is quarried from mountains it starts off as a raw slab material, which is then processed down into manageable architectural pieces. The method and amount of refinement will determine the textural outcome of the flooring tiles. This can result in one of several surface options.

Clefted (Natural): This is the state that most resembles regular rocks that you find on the ground. It consists of a rugged, sometimes somewhat jagged surface, that reveals the natural clefting of the material in a real physical form. Clefted floors provide a high level of traction, and tend to have more vibrant, eye catching colors than heavily processed options.

Honed: These materials are ground down, removing the dimensional features found in clefted tiles to leave you with a smooth, flat, even surface, that still has a moderate amount of foot traction even in wet bathrooms. The drawback to honing is that it can remove a lot of the luster of colors that were in the original slate.

Slate Bathroom Tiles

Brushed: This is the median between clefted and honed slate. Using a light polishing process, the peaks and sharp edges of the tile’s surface are removed. However the material is not processed to a completely flat feel, leaving ridges and trails tracing through the now rounded tops of the soft but textured tile. This provides a comfortable barefoot walking surface, mixed with a traction that is important for safety in slick, wet environments.

Polished: Very few slates can take a high enough honing to actually reach a state of being polished. Those that do tend to get glossy, but also slick and slippery, which can be dangerous in a wet bathroom. The polishing process also dulls the vibrant colors often found in unprocessed materials.

More About Bathrooms

Slate Bathroom Tile Designs

There is an ineffable quality to natural slate, a sense of power and austerity that comes from its mountain born origins. When used in flooring it can create a potent connection to the earth itself, tying interior and exterior spaces together with a rustic, natural beauty. While this look can be replicated to some extent with advanced ceramic and vinyl printing techniques, it is still impossible to fully capture the pure, stone faced elegance of these flooring tiles.

Multicolors: Some slate tiles have a fairly uniform and consistent color scheme which stretches across their surface. However others are known as “multicolored” materials, which contain two or more contrasting tones that emerge in unique formations across the surface of each piece. With these tiles it is important to dry lay out the floor ahead of time, so that you can arrange the components like a puzzle for optimal visual effect.

Another decorative option you have with slate in a bathroom is that it can be paired with matched and or contrasting wall tile backsplashes. This allows you to fill the entire room with a single consistent material, or mix and match different types of stone, ceramic, and porcelain to create an integrated look within the space. However it is important to be careful not to overwhelm a bathroom, especially smaller ones, with too many dramatic colors on every surface.

Sizes: Slate is available standard in 12”x12”, 16”x16”, and 24”x24” tiles. Slabs can also be obtained although these larger, thicker, heavier, and more expensive pieces are generally reserved for counters and vanities. One important thing to bear in mind when choosing material sizes is that larger tiles will tend to make smaller bathrooms look bigger, and vice versa. The use of thinner grout lines can also open up otherwise enclosed spaces.


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