Long before American homeowners fell in love with granite and marble, slate was a favorite construction material for both indoor and outdoor spaces. Historical structures covered in slate can be found in Pennsylvania, particularly in communities where German immigrants settled in the 17th century. Slate is known to be more durable than marble, thus explaining its extensive outdoor use, but it can be damaged under certain conditions. Here are the most common types of slate damage and how they can be avoided.
Dark slate tiles look great on garden paths and foyers, but their good looks can be compromised by water spots and marks. Acid rain and hard water are known to leave marks on slate surfaces. For this reason, it’s imperative to keep a fresh seal on floor tiles and countertops. Slate can even be installed as shower walls, but the initial impregnating seal must be followed up with frequent applications of a slate and granite sealer for household use.
This type of damage is unique to slate because of its structure. The composition of slate features various layers of rock materials and minerals that push down horizontally over millions of years. The natural texture of slate is rough and presents slight clefts that make this stone ideal for outdoor flooring since it provides grip. Extremely sharp clefting is eliminated during the finishing stage, but it can return if the surface cracks or chips. This issue can be corrected with masonry finishing tools, which means you’ll likely have to hire a professional.
Slate countertops can be found in German pubs and in the kitchens of French bistros, which means you can certainly install them in your home, but you have to watch out for staining. Organic stains from citrus juices, coffee, wine, tea, and oil can be prevented if the stone has a strong seal and if spills are wiped down immediately and the surface is cleaned with a slate and granite countertop cleaner such as Granite Gold Daily Cleaner®. In the case of outdoor slate, fungal organisms can create stains that are difficult to remove, but they can also be prevented with a good surface seal.
Although etch marks look similar to stains, they are actually chemical burns that penetrate the seal and permeate the stone surface through the pores. Etching can be problematic on slate and any other natural stone. It’s usually caused by corrosive substances such as alcohol and ammonia, which react with the calcium carbonate elements within slate and create an unsightly spot that seems to sit just beneath the top layer. One of the best ways to prevent etching is to never use common household cleaners on slate. You should only use natural-stone cleaner and sealer. Another recommendation in this regard is to polish slate tiles or slabs, but this shouldn’t be done on floor surfaces because they can become too slippery.
As you can see, sealing slate and other types of natural stone such as granite, marble, and limestone is crucial. If you’re unsure how to seal natural stone, Granite Gold® is here to help. Contact the Stone Care Experts today at 1-800-475-STONE (7866).