Saturday, November 2, 2013

Design Decision: Gauged Black Slate Kitchen Floors

To be clear, at the time of the last post, I had not yet purchased any slate.  I had only located a nice heap of it and negotiated a good price.  I then brought home a piece for consideration.

After some discussion and some web surfing, we determined that black slate is actually pretty fantastic looking for a kitchen floor. 

Some background: V has said a few times over the past month as we discussed kitchen floor material choices that she imagines something a little "moody" for the kitchen floor - "moodier" than honed white marble.  When I asked what "moody" means she said, basically, darker.  Then she put together that post of slate floors.  I get it now.
So, what did I get?

How did I find this slate? Simple.  I went out to check out a few stoop sales this morning while the baby was napping.  Notably, one of the stoop sale proprietors had advertised on Craigslist that she had some black slate floor tiles.  So, I went to her stoop sale and, after buying a stained glass window (to be featured in a subsequent post) and a large part of her collection of old photographic equipment, I remembered to ask about the slate (to be honest, I almost forgot about it - too distracted by the photo stuff).  

I was expecting her to say she had maybe ten to twenty 12"x12" slate tiles leftover from a renovation, but her answer exceeded all expectations.  At first she didn't know how much she had, but she said it was enough for the kitchen renovation she and her late husband had been planning 40 years ago and never got around to.  She explained that they only re-did their bathroom floor and then left the rest of the slate in the basement.  How much was there I asked again? She said she would check.  She went down to her basement and came back up with a single sealed box of black "gauged" slate tiles in various sizes which, all combined, added up to 10 Sq. Ft.  

I asked how many boxes she had and she said 27!! 270 Square Feet!  More than we need.
Anyway, the tiles are in a variety of sizes and the box includes two alternative layouts for arranging them in a repeating pattern.

I prefer this layout.

I don't like this layout as much because it will result in two 9x12 tiles being stacked one on top of the other in repeating pairs.
So, I took one 6"x6" tile home to show V.  But at this point I am thinking that I really like how this slate looks.  It is much smoother than the slate I am used to seeing.  The stony surface of it does not have the deep irregularities you often seen in slate but it still has plenty of character.  Apparently, "gauged" means that it has been ground down to a relatively regular thickness so it ends up smoother.  And it can be oiled to make it even deeper/richer looking.

Here is the sample tile I took home.
Once V saw it, she confirmed that it looks great.  Suddenly, we were both very excited about the slate - and not just because it was only $1 per Sq. Ft.  Actually, it is not such a huge discount since slate seems to sell for between $2.50 and $5 per Sq. Ft.   We just really like it.  

Anyway, I hadn't actually bought the slate at this point.  I had only brought home the one sample tile you see above and the seller had assured me she would hold it all for me.  Still, we wanted to be certain.  So, just to make sure we were positive, we drove down to Classic Tile to check out what else we might be able to get new in a reasonable price range.  We looked at a lot of tile and, in the end, there was nothing in or even close to our price range that we liked as much as the slate.  So, we pulled the trigger and bought two big bags of grout in a contrasting color (grout color choices to be discussed in a subsequent post).

I drove V and S home and then I went to pick up the slate.  It took more than a dozen trips down to the seller's basement to bring up 24 boxes.  I left the last 4 boxes behind - I can go buy them if I want, but I didn't want to overload my car too too much. 

Before I left with my haul, the seller showed me her bathroom floor, installed 40 years ago, made of this slate:

Nice, right?

So, now we have 240 square feet of gauged black slate quarried in Canada some time in the early 1970's.  A stone can't really be vintage though, can it?

Whatever, it is ours and tomorrow I meet with the tile guy.

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