Slate tiles - you get what you pay for?

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A.Lee

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Aug 26, 2007, 1:46:51 PM8/26/07
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My kitchen carpet is knackered, and pricing it up, it wouldnt be a great
deal more expensive to lay a tiled floor compared to getting a new
carpet.

Topps Tiles have some slate tiles in at the mo for £1.29 each, so less
than £100 to do the lot.(obviously plus cement and grout etc)

I bought a sample, just to see what it would look like, and found the
top surface is nice and smooth, but the rear is certainly not flat, 2
levels on it, with a 3 or 4 mm difference in height on that side.

They have more expensive tiles in stock - 50p each more, are these
likely to be a more level surface on the rear, or do all slate tiles
have undulating surfaces?

Thanks
Alan.

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Andy Hall

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Aug 26, 2007, 3:16:21 PM8/26/07
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Glad to see that you have seen the light :-)

Most slate tiles are supplied as riven on one side (meaning as
naturally cleaved) and calibrated (meaning rough machined) on the other.

Those are intended to be laid with the riven face upwards - i.e. the
natural rough side; so in essence you are looking at them upside down
from how they are intended to be used. The reason for the flat
underside is to make it easier to bed the tiles on the adhesive.
There is enough fun as it is with the variation in thickness of the
tiles.

Generally the problem with a calibrated surface is that it is rough
machining and you can see the machining marks which looks most
unnatural - especially as there will be a variation in machining
pattern.

Some stone is sold in honed form, meaning that it is further machined
to a smooth surface such that machining disappears. Usually this
costs quite a bit more than calibrated because of the extra work.
Thickness is usually consistent as well. Finally you can have
polished stone where there is a final polish of the honed surface. This
is not a lot more than honed.

Polished and honed are generally the finishes given to limestone or
marble for wall or floor tiles. It is not so common for slate. You
might be able to find it but it would cost a lot more I suspect.

Generally the least expensive tiles are calibrated on one side and
riven on the other and sold in small format - meaning 300mm square.
You pay more per area for the larger tiles (more wastage in production)
and for unusual patterns and fossils.

The intent in a riven surface is to have no more than about 2-3mm of
steps. If it's getting up to 4 or more then it can start looking too
rough, although that's a personal choice.

Other points:

- Tthe material you end up getting may vary in appearance quite a bit
from samples. Slate is always all over the place if you are looking
at the types with iron deposits etc. - e.g. Chinese and Indian origin.
Welsh and some Brazilian slate is more consistent in colour. If
it's a stock item then I'd look at the actual products. Special order
is generally that you get what you get.

- It's worth looking at specialist stone places. Sometimes they are
more expensive than tile places, sometimes not. Either way, there is a
lot of choice. I found Stonell to be a good supplier.

- Grout. Choose colour carefully. Grey tends to be the most
popular colour but there are lots of shades of grey. The tiler that I
used always uses Ardex products and I used them myself on a recent wall
tiling project. Very good quality and equally good technical
department. There are numerous types od adhesive as well depending on
working time wanted and other factors.

- Tile cutting machine. Mandatory. Wet diamond circular saw type..

- Sealer and finish. I think that Lithofin products are probably the
best on the market - they seem to be used by the professionals and are
readily available. The regime is to use a sealer before grouting and
again afterwards. For slate floors, the product of choice is MN
Stainstop. It appears to be relatively expensive, but a little goes a
long way. Probably for the size you mention 500ml can would do it. I
also used their Colour Enhancer product. The idea of this is to raise
the colours with imparting a gloss finish. A glossy looking riven
floor doesn't look right at all.


The Natural Philosopher

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Aug 26, 2007, 4:32:53 PM8/26/07
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A.Lee wrote:
> My kitchen carpet is knackered, and pricing it up, it wouldnt be a great
> deal more expensive to lay a tiled floor compared to getting a new
> carpet.
>
> Topps Tiles have some slate tiles in at the mo for £1.29 each, so less
> than £100 to do the lot.(obviously plus cement and grout etc)
>
> I bought a sample, just to see what it would look like, and found the
> top surface is nice and smooth, but the rear is certainly not flat, 2
> levels on it, with a 3 or 4 mm difference in height on that side.
>

Er, thats the front side. Riven slate etc...

> They have more expensive tiles in stock - 50p each more, are these
> likely to be a more level surface on the rear, or do all slate tiles
> have undulating surfaces?
>

Slate is slate and tiles are tiles. A good quality riven slate is
accurate to aboput +1 1mm or so. Laying em is a bit of an art due to
what you have already noticed..you have to adjust each tile to fit its
neighbour as best you can
> Thanks
> Alan.
>

A.Lee

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Aug 27, 2007, 5:02:56 AM8/27/07
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Andy Hall <an...@hall.nospam> wrote:

> On 2007-08-26 18:46:51 +0100, alan@darkroom.+.com (A.Lee) said:
>
> > My kitchen carpet is knackered, and pricing it up, it wouldnt be a great
> > deal more expensive to lay a tiled floor compared to getting a new
> > carpet.
> >
> > Topps Tiles have some slate tiles in at the mo for £1.29 each, so less
> > than £100 to do the lot.(obviously plus cement and grout etc)
> >
> > I bought a sample, just to see what it would look like, and found the
> > top surface is nice and smooth, but the rear is certainly not flat, 2
> > levels on it, with a 3 or 4 mm difference in height on that side.

> Glad to see that you have seen the light :-)


>
> Most slate tiles are supplied as riven on one side (meaning as
> naturally cleaved) and calibrated (meaning rough machined) on the other.
>
> Those are intended to be laid with the riven face upwards - i.e. the
> natural rough side; so in essence you are looking at them upside down
> from how they are intended to be used. The reason for the flat
> underside is to make it easier to bed the tiles on the adhesive.
> There is enough fun as it is with the variation in thickness of the
> tiles.

Thanks very much for that info - I would have been laying them upside
down. I've checked again for any tool marks on the flat surface, but
they are 'as natural', so the one I've got could be laid flat side up -
if they were all like that there wouldnt be a problem, apart from
getting them all level.

I'd presumed there were different grades, with the cheapest being the
roughest, and of course, I presumed the rough edges went downwards, so
the rougher they are, the harder it would be to get them level. Duh!

I'll take a trip there this week to compare the more expensive ones, to
see how they compare. If the surface is too rough, they'd look bloody
awful, as well as being capable of catching your toes/feet.

Andy Hall

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Aug 27, 2007, 5:25:46 AM8/27/07
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On 2007-08-27 10:02:56 +0100, alan@darkroom.+.com (A.Lee) said:
>
> Thanks very much for that info - I would have been laying them upside
> down. I've checked again for any tool marks on the flat surface, but
> they are 'as natural', so the one I've got could be laid flat side up -
> if they were all like that there wouldnt be a problem, apart from
> getting them all level.

One trick with that which can help a bit is to try to sort the tiles
roughly by thickness and use those of one range in one area. That
makes it easier to bed them on the adhesive without too much messing
around.


>
> I'd presumed there were different grades, with the cheapest being the
> roughest, and of course, I presumed the rough edges went downwards, so
> the rougher they are, the harder it would be to get them level. Duh!
>
> I'll take a trip there this week to compare the more expensive ones, to
> see how they compare.

Take a look at Yellow Pages etc. for other places that perhaps have
more stone products. There is quite a range available.


> If the surface is too rough, they'd look bloody
> awful, as well as being capable of catching your toes/feet.

3mm or so should be OK. I wander around in bare feet quite frequently
and never notice them and my wife is barefooted in the kitchen most of
the time.]]

Peter Ashby

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Aug 28, 2007, 9:41:45 AM8/28/07
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Andy Hall <an...@hall.nospam> wrote:

>
> > If the surface is too rough, they'd look bloody
> > awful, as well as being capable of catching your toes/feet.
>
> 3mm or so should be OK. I wander around in bare feet quite frequently
> and never notice them and my wife is barefooted in the kitchen most of
> the time.]]

Also walking in bare feet on uneven surfaces is supposed to be good for
you. Helps maintain those balance muscles at the side of your legs and
helps stop you falling over when you get elderly. We are evolved to walk
on uneven surfaces, not dead smooth ones.

Peter
--
Add my middle initial to email me. It has become attached to a country
www.the-brights.net

A.Lee

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Aug 28, 2007, 1:19:03 PM8/28/07
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Andy Hall <an...@hall.nospam> wrote:

> On 2007-08-27 10:02:56 +0100, alan@darkroom.+.com (A.Lee) said:
> >
> > Thanks very much for that info - I would have been laying them upside
> > down. I've checked again for any tool marks on the flat surface, but
> > they are 'as natural', so the one I've got could be laid flat side up -
> > if they were all like that there wouldnt be a problem, apart from
> > getting them all level.
>
> One trick with that which can help a bit is to try to sort the tiles
> roughly by thickness and use those of one range in one area. That
> makes it easier to bed them on the adhesive without too much messing
> around.

Well, I've been to Topps and had a good look at their range. The 1
sample slate tile I had seemed to be the worst of the bunch of those
available for viewing, 2 boxes were open, and all of them were 'flatter'
than the one I had, though there was a large disparity in their
thickness - some at ~3mm, others nearer 10mm.
Apparently, these are straight from the quarry, with no machining done
to them, hence the lack of any tooling marks on the 1 I had.

Viewing them was a bad move though, as we've seen some much better ones,
albeit at twice the price.
The cheap alternative to a new carpet has suddenly become not so cheap!
Ta

Andy Hall

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Aug 28, 2007, 1:55:56 PM8/28/07
to

As a matter of interest, what was the price/sqm. of the more expensive
ones? If you are going to consider slate, then do shop around..
There is a lot of choice on the market.......

A.Lee

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Aug 28, 2007, 2:34:28 PM8/28/07
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Andy Hall <an...@hall.nospam> wrote:

> On 2007-08-28 18:19:03 +0100, alan@darkroom.+.com (A.Lee) said:
> > Viewing them was a bad move though, as we've seen some much better ones,
> > albeit at twice the price.
> > The cheap alternative to a new carpet has suddenly become not so cheap!

> As a matter of interest, what was the price/sqm. of the more expensive
> ones? If you are going to consider slate, then do shop around..
> There is a lot of choice on the market.......

£15.99 -
<http://www.toppstiles.co.uk/detail.php?pid=379&offset=0&Category=9&sear
chval=&actionsearch=go&action=&gid=>

Compared to the £1.29 each cheap ones here:
<http://www.toppstiles.co.uk/detail.php?pid=364&offset=0&Category=9&sear
chval=&actionsearch=go&action=&gid=>

Andy Hall

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Aug 28, 2007, 6:08:53 PM8/28/07
to

Hmm.... These are very different products.


The 300mm square uncalibrated black is as hewn and in small sizes.

Visually from the photo (which is never great) the amount of lamination
looks reasonable, but it does vary. basically, this one is costing £13
/sqm

The second one looks like a Chinese or possibly Indian slate. Here
the story is different. They are achieving low pricing by mixing
sizes. This reduces the waste (for them) on a job lot. If you
were to specify 600x400 for all slates, then the price would double.
For 200 square it would halve. What they are doing here is to
provide a mix and an average price.. It's not a bad idea at all if
you like the mix of sizes. Notice in the photo, that there isn't a
fixed laying pattern either. That's OK - as somebody said to me
"there are no rules with tiling" (within reason).
However, remember that if there are damaged bit or pieces not to your
liking, you will need to add to the waste calculation. Normally one
allows 10% or so - more or large formats. Too much of that and what
was a £16 tile becomes a £20 tile. Therefore look very carefully at
what you are getting.

For example, I just pulled this from Stonell's pricelist. Sheng Li is
a typical Chinese slate in different sizes


Sheng Li

Multi colour slate with autumnal colours, orange and greens, on a grey base..

Size Usage Shade Ex VAT Inc VAT Unit of measure
300x300x8-13 3 D £15.50 £18.21 per m2
600x300x10-15 3 D £16.13 £18.95 per m2
600x600x12-18 3 D £24.89 £29.25 per m2


You can see how much difference size makes to price. As soon as you go
above 300 square, the pricing goes up.

I would start by deciding on colour types and then sizes. See if you
can buy some samples on sale or return or refund against a purchase.
That can be negotiatd usually. Then lay them on the floor and look
at them for a few days. Wet them occasionally. I think that you
will find one that you like.

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