Floors made of slate tiles present a style that is very different from man-made materials. Comprising of quartz, mica, chlorite, & calcite, slate as a flooring material offers utmost durability that’s hardwearing too. Such features make it one of the most desirable flooring materials. It may be a bit difficult to maintain as compared to a porcelain or tile floor, but people love its natural appeal and uniqueness.
A very characteristic feature of slate that encourages its application as a flooring material is its ability to offer extreme resistant to damage, irrespective of its being installed indoors or outdoors. But, it needs to be installed on a foundation of solid substrate, and that’s very important. Whether you install the floor yourself or hire the services of someone to do it, you must ensure that the foundation on which tiles are to be installed has to be solid substrate. Though this flooring can be installed on exterior grade plywood, it is desirable to have a solid substrate to avoid any complications at a future date.
Types of Slate Flooring
Primarily there are two types of slates only, the Indian variety and the Chinese variety.
Slate being a natural material can’t be made to conform to very strict dimensions and slight variations in the width, height and thickness or depth are expected and acceptable also. In any case, the variation is very small, confined to a few millimeters only. Slate tiles should be installed using wide grout joints. It is not desirable to use tile spacers due slight variation of size in each tile. Depending on the size of tile, sanded or Saltillo grout needs to be used.
Preparing the Floor for Installation
Apart from variation in size and color, there is a slight variation in the top surface of tiles. Some come with a natural cleft surface that reduces chances of slipping over it, but others may be very smooth, which need to be sanded and honed to offer better resistance for walking. So, it’s important to decide which kind of surface would best suit the area to be covered with tiles.
For making a nearly accurate assessment of the required number of tiles, it’s good to have a sketch of the floor plan. And, do take into account the thickness of grout you intend having while making this assessment. Having thus calculated your requirements, add a few extra tiles for any eventuality, and then order the estimated quantity.
Before proceeding with the installation, examine each tile and segregate them as per varying thickness and shade. The variation of shade helps you to form a pattern on the floor. You should also examine the tiles for any broken edges and nicks. For good results you should lay the tiles out and try possible combinations, without using the grout, and then finalize your pattern. A helpful way of doing it is by drawing a large X on the floor, making sure the cross section comes in the middle of the floor plan. By doing so you’ll realize that certain edge tiles do not fit properly. That means you need to adjust those tiles in the middle to have an even side on each edge and then cut those tiles accordingly. It’s good to start with the thicker tiles and gradually go down to the thinner ones.
Steps For Installing Slate Tile Flooring
Having taken the above steps, you are ready to install your floor. First you put down a thin layer of mortar mixed with acrylic. Lifting only a few tiles at a time and making use of a towel first apply the mortar and acrylic mix and then the slate adhesive. Lay the tile back to its original position and press it down firmly on all sides till it is secured. To ensure that thinner tiles come to the level of thicker ones, use a thicker layer of mortar mix on them. Keep continuing the same way, taking care to place tiles spacers that will ultimately be replaced with the grout.
Having finished the complete floor let it set for a minimum of 24 hours before putting the sand grout in place of tile spacers. For grouting of tiles, take about a pint of grout and apply onto a tile, taking help of a float sponge to push the grout into the spaces. Fill up the entire space evenly and then remove excess of grout with a damp sponge. Repeat the same procedure for every tile. Having thus grouted all the tiles use a dowel to manually push the grout into place for each space.
To prevent the tiles from getting stained, you may add a sealant to the finished floor, but you must wait for 30 days enabling the tiles to set in place. Use the sealant on the grout to prevent discoloration.
Re-tiling a floor may be intimidating and needs patience and use of correct tools for its installation. For getting natural colors, slate tiles present a very good medium that improves the decor of any house.