The practicality and beauty of slate

I am always inspired by design when I travel to Banff or Canmore, I must have a great hidden desire to live in the mountains.

As I sat daydreaming in front of a massive slate fireplace watching the snow fall I wondered why slate has become unfashionable, it is the most beautiful product! I was very excited when I tuned into Candice Olson this morning and saw her using slate in a client’s mudroom, she raved on about the attributes of slate and how it is the perfect product for a busy room in your home. I agree.

It seems that tile fashion has taken a turn from natural rough-hewn products to the polished, clean lines of modern travertine and porcelain. Slate stone still has its place in many decors and can actually be mixed with modern tile designs. The colours are rich and incredibly warm and slate has a personality that cannot be copied by manmade tiles. There are a lot of products that replicate the LOOK of slate but they still fall short in the natural movement and beauty that is inherent in slate.

Slate is not a product for the design faint of heart! It is natural stone and with that comes a few points of care that you do not see in other tile.

Slate has natural fault lines and pieces that can slake off after installation which might horrify some home owners! Do not worry, this is just a part of its charm and it will eventually develop a softer edge as a result of ‘shedding its skin’.

Slate also needs extra TLC in the way of sealing. Because natural stone is porous, it is necessary to provide additional protection to prevent staining, this is especially important before grouting as the pigment in grout can stain natural stone very easily. Sealing should be repeated every 18-24 months depending on how heavy the traffic is in a specific area. Sealers can be ordered in any sheen from matte to high gloss. The higher the gloss level of the sealer the more vibrant and pronounced the colors will be.

The natural beauty of slate lies in its vibrant and unpredictable colour and also in its natural shape and undulation.

The fact that slate isn’t completely smooth and uniform in colour is the reason that natural stone has such a unique and timeless look. Some people are not ready for this and should be prepared for a completely unique colour palette. With slate, even the odd tile may show up in a box of brown slate showing burnt orange! It is a good practice to order 10 – 20% more if you are concerned about these renegade tiles.

As unique as a snowflake, every piece of slate is matchless and has its own individual personalities. Slate also varies in thickness from tile to tile and will give you a unique but uneven floor.

Take a look! Drive to Canmore for a weekend getaway and enjoy the beauty of the mountains and the interesting use of slate in hotels and businesses. The rich, earthy palette of these stones will surely inspire you to create your own warm and rustic interior in your own home.

Kim Lewis is an interior designer in Red Deer with Carpet Colour Centre. Contact her at 403-343-7711 ext. 227 or email her at

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