Slate tile is a popular floor covering for entryways, mudrooms, kitchens, and outdoor living areas. When many people think about slate, however, they are usually picturing the uniform gray stone known as Vermont slate, which is quarried in the United States. There are other types of slate, however, which are just as beautiful and durable, but which have extremely different looks and styles to them.
Brazilian slate is predominately a light sea green color, and is frequently found in a honed and gauged finish. Some types of Brazilian slate can also be found in a multi-color variation where the colors range and vary from blue gray to reddish brown through the stone. This stone can also be honed and gauged, but may also be naturally cleft and ungauged as well.
Indian slate has a light, almost metallic sheen to it along with some very bold colors ranging from copper to almost purple and green. Indian Slate does have a tendency to be pock marked and to sometimes have some black spots scattered over its surface even when honed and gauged. It can also be found in natural cleft finishes as well.
Chinese slate has some of the most variation between colors of stone. Some types of Chinese slate are extremely varied in color, gauge, and cleft. They can be difficult to install for this reason, but have a lot of depth and interest once finished. It is not uncommon that some types of Chinese slate, such as Sea Green, will have chunks of pyrite and other minerals embedded in the tiles. Some types of Chinese slate, particularly the two colors known as Desert Gold and Moss Green are actually a form of quartzite. These two very different colored stones are actually found at opposite ends of the same quarry, and they have a sugary and rough surface with a lot of texture and sparkle to the finished stone. The majority of all Chinese slates are natural cleft and ungauged.
No matter where the slate is quarried from, it remains one of the most durable and striking materials to use anywhere in the home. Consider investing in some slate from anywhere in the world to make a dramatic statement anywhere it is installed.
Whether honed and filled or tumbled and rustic, travertine floors are filled with countless small holes formed during the stone’s creation inside a hot spring. While many of the smaller holes can be left unfilled to add some character to the floor, larger holes should be filled with either epoxy or grout to help the stone keep its integrity. Over time, however, some smaller unfilled holes could expand into larger holes, which in turn can lead to cracks and other damage to the stone. In addition, occasionally the fill added to a hole may come out after years of use. When these things happen, it’s best to refill the hole as quickly as possible to repair the stone and prevent the tile from cracking due to stress.
Travertine can be filled using either a color-matched epoxy that has a smooth finish, and matches the color of the rest of the tile. This is usually the preferred filler for honed travertine, and the material usually added to the stone at the factory. Travertine can also be filled with the same sanded grout used on the rest of the floor. Either material makes a suitable fill for the stone, but for the purposes of repairing the stone, epoxy generally gives better results and is easier to mix up in the small batch needed.
Use a tinted epoxy in a color as close to the tone of the travertine as possible. The idea is to blend the fill into the rest of the installation so it fades into the background once you’re done.
Mix up the epoxy according to the manufacturer’s directions using a wooden craft stick.
Scoop up some of the mixed epoxy onto the end of the craft stick and use it to fill the hole in the stone. Fill the hole right up to the top of the stone so that the fill comes up slightly higher than the stone itself. Turn the craft stick on its side so that the flat edge rests against the stone and scrape it firmly across the surface of the stone and the fill to level it. Allow the fill to dry. If it shrinks, repeat until it’s level with the rest of the stone. Use a razor blade to clean up the edges if necessary, and protect the stone from foot traffic for 24 hours while it cures.
Repair your travertine as soon as you notice a large, unfilled hole to help prevent cracks and other issues down the road.
While trends in stone flooring frequently change, patterns remain one of the more popular ways to install stone in large areas such as family rooms, entry ways, and kitchens. Of these patterns, multi-piece patterns that use a variety of sizes of stone are particularly popular due to the movement and complexity that they offer to a room. One of the most popular stone patterns – used predominately with French limestones, but other stones can be used as well – is the Versailles pattern.
The Versailles pattern is made up of four pieces; a large and small square and a large and small rectangle. The width of the two rectangles is equal to the width of the two squares, with the larger square typically being twice the length of the smaller. This enables the four pieces to lock together into a repeating pattern.
Like all multi-piece patterns, the Versailles pattern does best when installed from a corner of the room moving outward so that the bulk of the pattern gets shown in the center of the room, but that also the pattern can draw the eye across the room, creating a sense of movement.
The Versailles pattern can be used with nearly any type of tile – not just stone – but it looks best when used with stone tiles that have some texture to them. French limestone tiles with their characteristic pitted surface, stone tiles that have pillowed edges, travertine, and tumbled limestone are all the most common stones used in this pattern.
Occasionally, the Versailles pattern can also be used with pavers out of doors, eliminating the need for grout. Because this pattern works so well with very large tiles – 36-inch and 48-inch rectangles are not uncommon with this pattern – it’s usually used to fill very large spaces where a square set tile floor would produce too much of a grid.
The Versailles pattern is one of the oldest and most classic multi-piece stone patterns. Consider using it wherever you need more interest and dimension on the floor.
Stone mosaics are going strong in popularity at the moment, particularly those mosaics and patterns that incorporate different sizes, textures, and even materials into one field. One of the more popular patterns at the moment is the falling water design. Falling water is a mosaic pattern made up of varying sizes of stone rectangles measuring anywhere from 1-inch by 1-1/2-inches to 1-inch by 8-inches. When installed vertically, the pattern is meant to call to mind a rain storm.
Many materials can be used in the falling water mosaic, but among the most popular tend to be rough stones such as slate, because of the additional texture they bring to the finished design.
While originally intended to be installed vertically, the falling water pattern can also be installed horizontally as well to give a completely different look to the installation. In some cases, homeowners may also want to install the pattern vertically in places, then have it change direction. For example, if installed on a fireplace surround the pattern could be vertical on the legs and horizontal across the top.
Installing the falling water mosaic pattern is very similar to installing other mosaics. The biggest difference is that this pattern is meant to interlock. This means that the sheets of mosaic are not square and the individual sheets need to be manipulated to lock together like a puzzle so that there are no gaps around them.
If using slate as the material for the mosaic, take the time to ensure that all pieces in the mosaic sheet are the same thickness. If not, be sure to back butter each sheet by spreading a coat of thinset mortar onto the back of each sheet to even out the thickness differences before installing and beating in.
Despite the larger pieces of mosaic in the pattern, it is still important to smooth out the key marks in the mortar before installing and beating in to prevent the mortar from seeping up around the tiles.
Installed correctly, the falling water pattern can bring a lot of beauty and interest to any space in the home.
2015 has shown a big push toward natural colors and materials throughout the home. And while wood is taking off as one of the hottest materials right now, natural stone is not far behind, and in places like the bathroom, stone is the material of choice for tile.
Continuing the trend of the last several years, the most popular stone color for bathrooms and tile right now is white. All white stones from true Thassos to the softer white and gray mix of Bianco Carrara are extremely popular for both walls and floors of the bathroom right now.
For those that don’t want to use bright white, gray is also an extremely popular color right now, following the paint trend that is using gray as the neutral in place of beige. Bardiglio is a nice choice for those that want the softness of marble with a darker tone. This stone also pairs very well with Carrara for homeowners that want to mix whites and grays together.
The other popular paint and flooring color choice of the moment is Greige – a mix of gray and beige. Capture it in the bathroom by installing Silver Travertine tiles in either a honed or polished finish. Silver Travertine has a warm undertone to the silver, which makes it the perfect blend of warm and cool to mix with any wall and accent color.
For shapes, hexagons are very popular for floors right now, including in larger sizes up to 12-inches. Look for natural stone mosaics in hexagons of a range of different sizes, including some black and white blends. Patterns in general are also very popular right now; consider a box pattern mosaic made of Carrara and Bardiglio to add dimension to the floor.
Trends in 2015 are looking toward sustainability in design. These colors are meant to last without becoming dated, so look for natural stone to install in your bathroom and help it last for years to come.