Slate Tile Floors
Slate tile flooring has been in wide use for centuries and remains a popular option among modern homeowners. It’s especially common in entryways, as it provides an attractive, natural hued and easy to clean transition area between outdoors and indoors. There are many brief articles on the internet purporting to advise people how to install this versatile material. There are also books published on how to go about this process, and if one doesn’t care to invest in a book about it, at least be aware of some matters that seem to be given short shrift in the available articles.
Be aware that, unlike manufactured materials like ceramic and porcelain tile, slate flooring is not necessarily all of a uniform thickness. This has to be accommodated by varying the thickness of the mortar bed into which it is laid. If you lay out your available slates in a dry fit before laying down your thin-set, you’ll be able to identify any thicker or thinner tiles and anticipate the need to make them fit vertically as well as horizontally.
It’s essential when laying down slate flooring or ceramic or porcelain, for that matter, to use a notched trowel. When buying your supplies check the instructions provided by the manufacturers of your mortar and tiles to ensure that you get home with a trowel of the proper sized notches. Failure to do so is likely to result in a poor bond between the slate or tile and the mortar. Removing and replacing loose ones will be an unpleasant and messy job at best, so take care from go.
Finally, take maximum care that the substrate onto which you’ll apply your slate flooring is solid, level and not leaking moisture. For all that slate flooring seems absolutely rigid, if you apply it over a dip in the floor and leave a gap, expect it to crack. If installing over a wooden floor, make absolutely certain that it is of a sufficient thickness to avoid flexing, or the same result will occur. Also, test to make sure that there is no water escaping through your underlayment. This can be done by taping a piece of plastic sheeting over it and leaving it for a day. If there is moisture under the plastic when you come back, you will have to seal the underlayment to prevent water penetration, which will result in a failed bond between the mortar, the slates and the floor beneath.
Installing a slate tile floor isn’t a walk in the park. There are many professional installers out there who make a living by paying attention to the details that others might miss. Once you have educated yourself thoroughly, though, installing a slate tile floor is within the capacity of most do it yourself types.