by Rachel Saunders
A truly organic material, slate is an appealing option for those looking for a completely natural flooring alternative. A fine-grained rock, compacted deep within the earth, its foliated markings are formed through the natural movement of the earth’s crust, giving slate its unique character.
Deep, dark grey may be its most common shade, but slate naturally occurs in a wide range of colours, from pale to dark grey, through to more unusual purplish and greenish shades. If you’re shopping for slate for a home building project, take a look at a slate floor tilesspecialist site like Wickes.co.uk, and you’ll see just how wide a variety of slate shades there are to choose from nowadays.
Why use slate?
As a porous material, slate is ideal for floors, particularly traditionally tiled areas where water is present, like the kitchen and bathroom. For those looking for a more organic look, as opposed to man made ceramic tiles and lino, slate is ideal, as it’s incredibly durable, withstanding a lot of wear and tear, and retaining its rich, natural finish for many years to come, as long as some basic maintenance is adhered to.
Slate floor tile sealants
Many slate floor tiles come ready-sealed, but sealants can also be easily applied yourself, simply using a paintbrush. Although not essential, sealants do have their benefits, particularly when using slate in a flooring situation.
Sealants can be used to enhance the durability of the slate, give extra protection against staining, increase or reduce the slate’s smoothness, as well as reducing efflorescence. As a tip, water-based sealants are more readily absorbed, have no fumes, and dry far quicker than alternative sealants too, making them ideal for homeuse.
Keep it clean
For daily care of your slate floors, dry mopping followed by plain water wet mopping is all that’s required. For a deeper clean, just add vinegar. Dry mop the slate floor tiles first, wet mop with vinegar and water, and finish with a plain water mop to rinse. The vinegar will help to clean the floor more effectively, as well as adding a natural lustre.
You’ll also find slate-specific floor cleaners that don’t require that final rinse, so these can be real time savers. For mopping, you’ll want to buy a good quality dust mop, ensuring that it’s non oil-based. If you prefer to vacuum, make sure you use an attachment like this soft brush attachment, to avoid any scratches, chips and damage to the slate.
As with all flooring types, if you encounter any spills, it’s best to clean them up as soon as possible to avoid staining. Lukewarm water is all that’s needed for mild stains, provided you catch them early. Make sure to work your way into the stain from the outer edge, to prevent the stain from spreading out further.
For harsher stains, adding hydrogen peroxide to plain water at a 1:1 ratio should be enough to get out the toughest marks, particularly stains over grouting and greasy marks. Just make sure to rinse the slate floor tiles with plenty of plain water afterwards.