I have bought a few boxes of slate tiles to be installed on my kitchen floor. They were on special (previously 6.5 dollars/sq ft, now 3.5/sq ft).

To my annoyance, some of the tiles broke easily when I unboxed them (three tiles out of 36 pieces so far). The guy at the shop said it's normal (he would say that wouldn't he!). How do I know if the tiles are of good quality? I wonder whether I have bought myself some cheap tiles that wouldn't last very long. Any opinions? Am I worrying too much? Or should I return the tiles?

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    I despise slate floors (but that's an opinion) since they are always rough and hard to clean well. As for breakage in natural stone, yes that will happen, more in boxes that have been handled a lot until they went on special to get rid of them. Mostly does not matter since you always need cuts at edges in a real install.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 14:27
  • I would say it is normal for natural slate and other stone tiles to have a few broken tiles, I usually take them back. On the few occasions they gave me a hard time I opened boxes and started pulling out all the broken ones, after that they did replace the broken ones but they lost a few sales of folks that were going to buy. Use a good diamond/ water saw not abrasive when cutting or your breakage will go through the roof. I can usually find spots or cuts to use smaller pieces of broken tiles and expect some breakage.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 18:11

1 Answer 1


Slate floors are beautiful...rich colors and a great natural look. However, they need to be laid perfectly and maintained constantly.

Make sure each tile is "back-buttered" when you install. That is to say, you can't just press them into a layer of mortar when you install them. Make sure you apply a layer of mortar to the back side of each tile before you press them into the bed of mortar...and don't get too far ahead of yourself. Make sure the mortar is pliable. Otherwise the tiles could break if they are not fully embedded.

Immediately after the grouting, make sure you use a two step sealer process. The first seals the small holes to keep the dirt out and the second seals the surface. You'll need several coats, but slate is rough enough to keep the floor from being slippery.

Lastly, re-seal at least once per year, depending on traffic. If the sealer wears off and dirt gets into the slate, it will show wear marks, traffic patterns, etc. and it's nearly impossible to fix.

I like slate, but lay it right and be prepared for regular maintenance.


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