Black slate tiles are a premium material with a varied portfolio of applications. They can be used to give a high level finish across a range of building applications such as:
- Fireplace Surrounds
- Bathroom Flooring
- Kitchen Floor Tiles
If you’re considering using them in your next building project, then this short guide to black slate tiles will be a great place to start to give you an idea of the various uses, many benefits and, also, their downsides. We’ll also take a look at a few alternative ideas that can provide a finish almost to the high standards of slate itself.
In addition to providing a high quality finish, Black Slate Tiles are also an exceptionally durable material, meaning they are an excellent product to use in a commercial setting – not only do they look good, they will also stand up well to the type of heavy wear and tear often found in commercial usage.
Where does the best black slate come from?
The UK is extremely fortunate to have some of the best quality slate available anywhere in the world right here in our own quarries. Welsh Slate, as well as Burlington (from the Lake District) are just a couple of the slate types available on the market today that are bywords for quality and long lasting durability.
This can mean however that British Slate can command high prices on the marketplace – handily, these days there are also a number of commercial tile manufactures based all around the world, all bringing different products to the marketplace so there will almost certainly be a product available to meet most budgets and designs.
Black slate tiles then can provide both an aesthetically pleasing and long lasting – and hence value for money – building material. There is no point denying however that they are a premium product, even at the lower end of the quality and price scales.
Black Slate Tiles have a Number of Benefits
There are a number of benefits to using black slate tiles, such as:
- Durability – Amongst the various natural stone building materials out there, slate really is one of the toughest. Natural Stone Floor Tiles for example will provide a long lasting surface that is resistant to general wear and tear. In particular, black slate tiles are very resistant to both chipping and scratching. This makes them an excellent material for use as commercial kitchen tiles as they can readily face the wear and tear of everyday use in a busy kitchen. They can also be used as exterior floor tiles if treated.
- Rustic Aesthetic Appeal – Slate tiles, particularly black slate tiles, provide a very attractive, but also somewhat rustic appearance, depending on how and where they are installed. A rustic slate floor tile design therefore could be an excellent compliment to a country living styled design project – perhaps in a rustic pub or rural inspired restaurant setting.
- Versatility – At the same time, black slate tiles are not simply for rustic themed design choices. They can be also be used to give a modern feel to a room – for example, if employed as bathroom tiles, they are going to give a bathroom a real air of luxury and, if paired with the right fixtures and fittings, a real air of modernity. In particular, Split Face Slate Tiles are an increasingly popular way to add a highly modern, eye catching feature to many commercial bathroom settings. This type of black tile installation, with it’s staggered, undulating form is quickly becoming a recognised standard of high quality, trendy bathroom design.
- Value – As we mentioned above, tile is a premium product, and the initial outlay can seem higher compared to other materials. When considering the cost of commercial tiles however you should always remember that owing to black slate tiles inherent durability, this is a long term investment you are making here. Slate will also add value to your property should you ever sell, and any good estate agent will be able to use installed slate as an excellent selling point in any commercial property.
But also some Downsides…
Whilst black slate tiles are a great building material, just as with any material or product it has both pros and cons. It wouldn’t be fair to simply deny them or gloss over them, so here are the main downsides of commercial grade tiles.
- Cost – As we discussed above, black slate tiles such as Welsh slate floor tiles are a premium product and therefore come with a premium price tag. That being said, you don’t have to necessarily spend a huge amount to get still enjoy the benefits of slate – it’s more a question of tailoring your choice to match your requirements. For example, choosing a lower grade slate for kitchen flooring installation where your customers won’t see the kitchen itself. Perhaps a slate with a less attractive finish but still maintaining the natural strength and durability of slate could be a good choice here.
- Grouting – Whilst slate is a undoubtedly a tough material, the grouting used to hold it in place is not. This is, unfortunately, by design as grout must withstand the expanding and contracting of slate tiles that naturally occurs during temperature changes. The grout can also provide fertile grounds for mould and mildew to flourish. For example, if you’re intending to install slate kitchen wall tiles your staff will need to keep up a dedicated cleaning schedule to keep the grout sparkling.
- Maintenance – Slate also requires a certain level of maintenance to keep it looking it’s best. Depending on where you plan to use it, you may require surface sealing chemicals, and also surface barrier sealers to provide a protective layer over the tile surface. If you’re intending to slate tiles for fireplaces for example, bear in mind they will need a good clean every now and then so the sealants can be applied – this can make tile seem like a higher maintenance material.
Black Slate Effect Tiles
If you have read the downsides section and are perhaps having second thoughts about buying black slate tiles for your building project, then happily there are still some excellent alternatives out there for you to consider.
Slate effect tiles are becoming increasingly popular as, for example, commercial floor tiles as they can often provide a realistic looking finish at a lower cost. They also have none of the associated maintenance required of natural slate tiles. They certainly do not require any sealing products – just a good mop every now and then!
Generally they will be made of porcelain which has had the tile design and colour printed onto its surface. This printing gives a level of versatility that can be important if you are looking for a specific designer tile. After all, natural stone floor tiles are just that – natural. The finish you get is crafted by nature so you may not always get the kind of design you are looking for. They can even recreate the uneven, somewhat rough feel of natural slate meaning that some printed effect tiles can be employed successfully as anti slip tiles.
Printed tiles on the other hand, as a manmade material, can be made with any kind of design finish you require. This printing process however is also something of an Achilles heel for black slate effect tiles.
Whilst it does initially present a surface finish very close to natural black slate, these slate effect tiles do not have the durability of the real thing, and you will notice a level of wear after a certain amount of time. This means that they could be a good option for installation in an area with low wear and tear – especially from customer footfall. You could therefore consider slate effect tiles for a fireplace.
Slate effect tiles can an extremely cost effective material therefore, so long as you only consider the short term costs. Once the durability and longevity of natural black slate tiles are taken into effect however, they do lose their main selling point.
That being said, if you are looking to install in a area with lower usage, slate effect can be an excellent option with an aesthetic appeal very much as good as the real thing.
Cost of Black Slate Tiles
So if you are convinced of the various benefits of black slate tile, the next logical question in my mind may well be what is the price?
Remember that black slate tile is a premium product, therefore, it is worth considering where you plan on installing it before you look to get quotes.
This is because, as we’ve discussed above, there are really three different types of black stone slate. Each type comes at a different price point, has different pros and cons and so each one is suitable for a different kind of installation, design scheme and budget.
- Premium Black Slate Tile – These tiles come from recognisable, usually British sources. They offer the ideal combination of aesthetic appeal and long-term durability. However they are not cheap. Therefore, they are best for areas where they are going to be seen the most – black slate wall tiles are a particularly popular choice, as they really add an air of modern, design appeal to a room that they can justify their high price tags.
- Black Slate Tile – By this, we just mean black slate of the non-premium variety. It’s still all-natural, it’s highly durable, it just may not have the very premium finish and exceptional durability of the more premium slate. So this product is perfect for installations where you want to take advantage of the natural advantages of slate tiles in terms of their durability and strength – but are perhaps not so fussy with the aesthetic finish of the tiles themselves.
- Black Slate Effect – This is by far the cheapest option and very much a viable choice for the right kind of design use. It does however lack the durability of natural black slate tiles and some would say, their innate charm as a natural product rather than a man made, mass produced one.
Final Thoughts on Black Slate Tiles
Black slate tiles are an aesthetically pleasing; long lasting material that adds a sense of style to any design scheme. They also bring with them a feeling of the premium – after all, black slate is not an everyday material. By choosing to incorporate it into your designs, you are definitely making a statement.
At the same time, as a premium product, it is important that you choose the right type to match the uses you expect the slate tiles to be put to. This will help maximise your investment, and get the most appealing finish to your building and decorating.
Make sure you choose a supplier with the ability provide the right kind of advice on the wide variety of slate that is available. An investment today in black slate tiles is an investment that will continue to pay off for years to come.
If you’d like to speak to someone from SRK about finding the right black slate tiles for your project, don’t hesitate to get in touch.