Slate is a naturally occurring rock and slate tile kitchen countertops are an ideal option to consider if you’re building a new kitchen just now.
Slate is technically classified as a metamorphic rock, which means it has been formed and hardened at high temperatures and pressures within the earth’s crust, which obviously makes it a highly durable and resistant surface for a kitchen countertop.
While slate is a durable material, being made of compressed layers it splits easily along the planes of the layers. For kitchen countertops this works to the favor of the person installing the slate tiles as each split slate has a perfectly flat surface.
Colors for Slate Countertops
Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that slate must only be available in the dark gray/black color familiar as roofing tiles. Although slate tiles will invariably be dark in color, they are also available in a range of colors. The colors available really depend on where you source the slate tiles from.
For example Welsh slate, said by some to be the best, is invariably dark gray/black; whereas slate from Vermont in North America is red. The color depends on the exact chemical composition of the compounds making up the rock.
In recent years the opening of Chinese markets in slate has offered many colors of slate at very low prices, from as little as $10 a meter square. However, slate isn’t available in a vast range of colors so think in terms of red, deep purple, turquoise, gray or black.
In its natural state slate is honed, you can however attain a glossy look by applying an oil to it. You can also get slate tiles that have unusual or patterned grains. The surface of a basic slate tile, if you’ve never seen one, is that of very fine grained black sand, so fine it almost feels perfectly smooth. However, the same as for the colors of slate tiles, depending where the slate is from it can have a different texture or even patterns in the grain.
You can buy slates with a black lace grain, others that are relatively quite textured and even ones with a variety of patterns in their grains. So, if along with a particular color you want a particular texture or grain pattern you’ll need to do some research as to where your slate tiles will be best coming from? Finally, don’t forget that being a natural substance you’ll need to expect some variation in the slate tiles, even if bought from the same quarry.
For a kitchen countertop the slate tiles will be best cut as large pieces for each section to be tiled, rather than grouting together lots of smaller tiles. So, bearing in mind the last comment, depending on where you buy the tiles from – each tile might not be exactly the same. However, this will help you to create a truly unique and customized effect in your kitchen.
With large tiles you can have squared or rounded edges with small radii to the countertop. Ogee edges are difficult to form for slate tiles, but a fully rounded edge can easily be created with separate pieces of slate that are cemented on to the main slate tile.
Slates are virtually stain free and barely absorb moisture. However, being used in a kitchen it’s probably a good idea to seal the slate surface. After that your regular household cleaning materials will be fine to wipe up any mess. If it scratches – they’ll disappear on cleaning, or if you accidently cause a deep scratch it can be worked out gently with wet steel wool.