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Slate in a Shower - Experiences?

Posted by Rob2013 (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 22, 13 at 0:33

I'm remodeling a small 4x8 bathroom and am considering using 8"x24" Copper Rust Slate tiles all around the walls, including in the 4x3 shower. There are a lot of internet sites that say slate isn't the best choice on a shower, mainly due to upkeep.

I'd love to hear pros/cons from anyone about using slate, but would especially love to hear from people who have used it in the shower, and what their experience had been, such as: daily cleaning; yearly sealing; any discoloration over time; how the slate is holding up after 2, 5, 10 yrs; if it always has that wet stone smell after showering; would they use slate again; etc.


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RE: Slate in a Shower - Experiences?

Slate can be an outstanding choice for a shower. The problem is the grade of slate that is being sold these days, and the consumers that the lesser grades of stone are being marketed to. Generally, the DIY crowd who doesn't know any better and the contractor crowd that doesn't care to know anything other than "did my check clear?".

You can still find a nice tight-grained slate that will perform wonderfully in a wet environment. Any honed slate will usually be a safe choice because the lesser grades of stone simply can't survive the honing process. They crumble and disintegrate.

Where you have to be careful is when you start shopping at the bottom of the price range, around the $1.50-$2 a sqft "slates". They will be natural cleft. The tiles will usually have a wider range of thickness within each box of stone, even from one corner of a single tile to the other corner. When you open a box, you'll often find "slate dust" in the box. Much of the lower end stuff is very grainy. While probably not geologically correct, I refer to is more as shale than slate.

When using boxes of the lower end slate, a simple test I do is to balance a slate tile on my fingertips and I rap the edge of the tile with a metal trowel. If it "rings", the grain is fairly tight and the tile probably has enough structure to survive. If it "thuds", it has a loose grain structure and it's no good in a wet environment.

Water will get into the grain of the stone. The stone will shed layers over time. Between the layers can be a film of slate "dust". It can just be dirty.

Now not all natural cleft slate is a horror show. You just have to know what you're getting before you buy and build.

Slate is one of may favorite stones. The proper slate (even a natural cleft slate) in a shower can be stunning. And durable. And clean.

I do recommend sealing a slate shower. Seal as often as it needs to be sealed. How water reacts on the tile will be your indicator as to how often you need to reseal.

Heck, as an indicator of "true slate" versus water? I have slate tiles on the waterline of my swimming pool. They are partially submerged 8 months out of the year, and over winter subject to freeze/thaw. So it's not "slate" that is the problem. It's the grade of slate, and often times the fact that stone that really doesn't geologically qualify as slate being marketed as slate.

If you're loving the look but wary of the downside, take a peek at the porcelain faux-slates that are out there. There are some pretty good look-a-likes.


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RE: Slate in a Shower - Experiences?

We have a slate tile shower in a vacation home. It has only been used about 20-30 times, so quite new. It looks very nice--sort of updated rustic.

It smells like dirt every time someone uses the shower. It is a STRONG odor. This is my kids' bathroom, or I think I would have to re-do it if it were the master. They're teenage boys and don't mind the odor, so it stays.

I would never, ever choose to put this material in a shower again.

There might be something we could seal it with to help with the odor. (?) Mongoct clearly knows a lot about it--seems that the bottom line is quality of the slate. Ours is probably really crappy, as it was a "pretty-it-up-to-sell" remodel.


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RE: Slate in a Shower - Experiences?

Look at Mannington Serengeti Slate. All of the variety of natural stone, but with none of the problems.



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RE: Slate in a Shower - Experiences?

Thank you all for the feedback. I agree that the look is stunning, which is what drew me to it in the first place. However, from what the contractors / other tile store employees have mentioned, as well as feedback here and online, I will probably go the safe route and stick with a ceramic tile - it just seems like a less time intensive route.


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