Slate in Bathrooms

11 Dec

Information you should know if you are considering using Slate Tile.

Since slate tile seems to be a popular tile to be viewed on my website, I decided to give more information for those of you out there who are considering using it in a bathroom. Here are some of the pros & cons:


1. Most of the slate tile I have used was very difficult to work with.  In many cases, when you are working on a particularly intricate design, the sizes and shapes of the tile aren’t made uniform. Which involves a lot more layout and cutting than originally estimated. For instance, an 12×12 tile is sometimes 11 1/2in. along the top edge, and 11in. on the bottom edge. For this reason I do most of my layout and design first to make sure my grout lines stay true and straight.

2. Another issue I have come across in working with slate tile is the variations in thickness.  Some slate tile manufactures plane down the slate tiles on one side to make them a little more uniform. The top sides sometimes look as thought they used a sander of some type to smooth down the tiles.  While there are those of you who may think this is not an issues I can give you two examples as to why this can create problems later.

I saw a homeowner who decided to “do it myself” and used slate tile in an entry way from the front door to the kitchen and throughout the kitchen floor.  When they were done the slate tile floor looked like something you would find in a cave. The tiles had ridges sticking up between each tile (because of the variations in thickness) causing a huge tripping hazard. Also because of the irregularities in the thicknesses the family found it difficult to scoot out there chairs from the kitchen table.

3. Another issue I have encountered is the upkeep of slate tile used in a shower. The natural slate tile is a harder tile to seal and keep sealed. A slate shower should be deep cleaned to remove the soap scum and calcium build ups, that happen over time. I like to use wet look sealers with at least two thick coats. Once that has soaked in and dried, I like to also apply a coat of Rain-X on the walls and glass shower doors. The Rain-X helps the water to bead up and roll off surfaces. It is the same product I like to use on my truck’s windshield.

4. In some cases I have seen slate tile on shower walls chip away a few layers, since it is after all, a sedimentary rock made of clay or volcanic ash. This becomes an issue when you are taking a shower barefoot, and the thin layer lands near your feet. Those slate pieces are as sharp as glass. I personally have cut my hands when working with slate tile so I know this is an issue to think about.


1. Now, since I think I have adequately warned you on some of the issues here are a few of the positive things I like about slate tile.  As seen in my posting; Slate Tiled Steps With Porch this project came out great. I love the look of the slate tile on an outside porch, walkway, or steps. This is the environment it seems to be made for. With the sun shining on it or the wet rain, it looks great with all the different colors and tints in the natural stone. Easy to hose off to keep clean.

2. Another example of how slate tile can be used in a bathroom and look great is found in another posting of mine:  Slate Bathroom Remodel as seem in the pictures the tile looks really nice on the walls and surround for the bathtub. With a good wet look sealer the slate tile really accents the room. Although in this example, I would not suggest using the slate tile in the shower on the walls as this homeowner wanted. It does however look good as a feature strip, border, or as an accent.  When using this much slate tile in such a small area, it has the effect of making the room dark and “cave like” unless properly lighted either with recessed can lighting  or with large windows to let in the natural light.

3. I realize the main reason slate tile is being used a lot lately is because of the cheap cost. I hope you take my warnings and suggestions as to how you use slate tile in and around your home. Like I said this is information you should know if you are considering slate tile. Good Luck


Posted by on December 11, 2010 in Showers, Slate Tile, Tile


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2 responses to “Slate in Bathrooms

  1. carol labue

    September 23, 2017 at 6:57 PM

    I’ve been looking all over. We have a solid, black slate shower. It’s 91 yrs old and we appreciate it. But we’re selling soon and no one else will. I have no idea how to refinish it. From what I’ve read, it
    doesn’t even seem possible.

    • hardhat13

      September 23, 2017 at 7:14 PM

      Without actually seeing a picture, it’s hard to tell what it would need.

      If I was a guessing man, I would scrub it as clean as you can, and maybe find a good quality wet-look sealer to put on it. At least that would help to make it look newer.


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