Slate is a stylish and naturally hard wearing flooring material, offered in shades of grey and black, as well as more exotic colours
. It’s popular in all settings and because slate tiles are also non-slip, this beautiful flooring works well in bathrooms and high traffic areas, as well as outdoors.
How natural slate occurs
Slate is a fine-grained metamorphic rock formed under the most intense pressure from mudstone materials containing clay and volcanic ash. This process
of compression squeezes out slate rock at right angles to the direction from which the force is applied. As a result, ‘foliated’ slate is laid down
in sheets or laminated layers which can be anything from 0.01 mm or less up, to as much as one metre thick. This is what makes it possible to split
slate stone thinly along these flat planes. Using special tools, expert quarrymen can produce smooth, flat sheets of slate from which floor tiles and
roofing slates can then be cut.
The appeal of quarried slate is enhanced by its attractive natural markings and subtle colour variations. Although most slate is blue-grey in colour, the
amount of iron present can naturally create different shades, giving each sheet its own unique character. Even within one location, slate deposits
can be found in numerous shades, from pale-grey through to dark-grey, and cyan, green and purple examples can occur too.
Slate quarrying in the United Kingdom dates back at least to medieval times and builders have installed slate floors for centuries. During the 1500s these
would have been crudely "riven" slabs, hand-split and roughly finished by the quarrymen. Such time-tested floors would have been worn smooth by a constant
volume of foot traffic. By the mid nineteenth century, large water-driven frame saws would have taken over the job of sawing down the slabs of raw
slate material; a traditional process which left some residual saw marks on the slate tile.
Natural slate floor tiles can be finished in a number of different ways. This allows homeowners to choose the finish option which is most in keeping with
their own interior space:
Riven slate: A natural, unprocessed flooring slate will always have a riven surface. This means it will have been split along the cleavage plane of the
stone and its face will have some kind of texture – anything from a lightly riven slate, which will be fairly consistent in thickness, through to characterful
rustic tiles which will have a much more irregular profile.
Honed slate: Honing is a process of grinding down the slate surface to create an egg-shell smooth finish which has a much more uniform thickness. Honed
slate is generally a little darker in colour and its surface can be further polished to produce a glossy finish.
Chipped and chiselled edge slate: This hand-crafted procedure creates a slate with a ragged edge rather than a precision-sawn edge. As a result, the finished
slate takes on a more aged appearance which can be desirable in traditional settings.
Tumbled Slate: Another technique which involves distressing the surface, tumbled slate is cut to size and then loosely rotated inside
a drum to smooth away all sharp edges. This technique tends to give the slate a softer and more time-worn appearance.
Here are some particular example from the Indigenous collection of slate floor tiles:
The Brazilian Black
is a tile with a dark and consistent black colouring and a stable,
non-slip surface. These slate floor tiles are lightly riven and feature a calibrated profile which gives a uniform top surface. The black colouring
is impressively eye-catching and this slate would be an excellent choice for the floor and walls in a fully tiled wet room.
Characterful Brazilian Grey
is a tile which features some delicate touches of green
shading. Non-slip and hard-wearing, this fairly dark tile has a lightly riven surface which would look good and perform well in bathrooms, kitchens
Indigenous slate tiles are suitable for both internal and external applications. If a more decorative effect is required, the stunning Brazilian Multicolour
is a predominantly grey tile embellished with brown and ochre highlights. This tasteful detailing could be used to add a further touch of charm in
any interior setting.