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Frequently Asked Questions  

Slate Tile FAQ

We are pleased to provide answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on a wide variety of our products. For more information on our slate tile please browse our selection of outstanding quality products or browse the answers to our frequently asked questions.

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Q. What is slate?

A. Slate is a fine-grained metamorphic rock. It’s main constituents are quartz, chlorite, mica & calcite. Slate is formed when ocean or riverbed sediments are compressed and heated by the earth's crust.

Q. Is your slate suitable for the floor?

A. Slate is a very durable and hard wearing product and is suitable for use on the floor.

Q. What do both sides of the slate look like?

A. The back of the slate tile has been machine to either a flat or grooved finish, depending on the factory of origin. The top is a natural-split face surface.

Q. How much does the thickness of slate tile vary?

A. There can be up to 1/4" difference in the heights on the top surface of a slate tile. The nominal thicknesses are as follows:

  • Chinese Slate Tile
  • 12" x 12" : 3/8” - 7/16”
  • 16" x 16" : 1/2" - 9/16”
  • 24" x 24" : 9/16” - 3/4”
  • Indian Slate Tile
  • 12" x 12" : 3/8” - 7/16”
  • 16" x 16" : 7/16" - 1/2”

There will be some variations beyond this range, but the product is fairly consistent. Slate tile is usually installed with a medium-bed mortar, which allows for the variation on adjoining tile edges to be minimized. Please order an additional 10-15% to allow for waste, cuts, and thickness variation.

Q. How much do the dimensions of each slate tile vary?

Slate tile is cut to Metric sizes - the Imperial sizes quoted are purely nominal measurements. Tiles sizes will be as follows. Indian Slate: 12"x12" - 300mm (+/- 1mm), 16"x16" - 400mm (+/- 1mm). Chinese Slate: 12"x12" - 300mm (+/- 3mm), 16"x16" - 400mm (+/- 3mm), 24"x24" - 600mm (+/- 3mm)

Q. Are there drawbacks using slate tile compared to ceramic or porcelain tiles?

A. Slate tile does need a little more in the way of maintenance compared to ceramic or porcelain tile, but its unique qualities and appearance are often preferred to man-made products.

Q. Is there a PEI rating for slate tile?

A. The PEI refers to ratings set by the Porcelain Enamel Institute. These ratings were developed for the Ceramic and Porcelain tile industries. There is therefore no PEI rating for slate. However, slate is very hard and durable and can be used where a long-wearing product is required.

Q. Does BuildDirect do tile installations?

A. We do not do tile installations. Please consult your local Yellow Pages for information on tile setters.

When I receive my shipment, what is the first thing to do when I am ready to install?

Be sure to check all contents of the pallets prior to installation.  Any claim will be void if the natural stone has been installed.

With all natural stone applications, it is highly recommended that the installer avoid choosing tile for an installation on a “one pallet at a time” basis; the best method is to open boxes in all pallets from the start.  Each tile from each box will be varied from pallet to pallet and an installation should incorporate the contents of all pallets evenly during an installation.  This method will more effectively address the issue of color variation, which is a reality when working with any natural stone product.  Please contact your sales rep with any questions.

Q. Can slate tile be installed outside on sand?

A. Slate tiles can be used outside if set on a solid substrate with mortar. Slate tiles should not be installed on sand nor should they be used as pavers.  Slate pavers from BuildDirect are designed to be set on a sand base (they are 1 ¼” thick)

Q. Is slate resistant to damage?

A. Slate (and any other natural stone that we offer) is highly resistant to damage, as long as it is applied to a solid substrate. If the sub-floor prior to the slate installation is flexible (for example, a thin plywood sub-floor), the slate could crack like any other tile. It is therefore very important to have an adequate substrate prior to installation. If in doubt, you should consult a professional installer about this.

Q. What trowel size do you recommend for installing slate tiles?

A. Use at least a 3/8"x1/2" notch trowel for the 12"x12" tiles and a 1/2"x1/2" notch trowel (or larger) for the 16"x16" and 24"x24 ".

Q. Can I install my slate tiles on wood?

A. The only wood surface that is recommended for the installation of tiles is exterior grade plywood.

Q. Which type of mortar should I use to install slate on exterior grade plywood?

A. Use a mortar that complies with the ANSI A118.4 (latex or acrylic modified mortar).

Q. What does the acronym ANSI stand for?

A. American National Standards Institute.

Q. How wide should my grout joints be?

A. It's a matter of personal taste, but traditionally slate tile has been installed with wide grout joints. We suggest 3/8" for the 12"x12" and 1/2" for the 16"x16". Due to slight variations in tile size use of tile spacers is not recommended with slate tile.

Q. What type of grout should I use?

A. Use a sanded grout (1/8" to 1/2" joints) and use a saltillo grout for joints widths of 1/2" to 1 1/4".

Q. How does buying slate floor tile from BuildDirect work?

A. BuildDirect is a wholesaler with proprietary Internet technology and toll-free customer service to provide incredibly low prices on top quality building products. We fill slate orders in two ways. The first is selling pallet multiples out of warehouses around North America. The second is shipping container orders directly from select manufacturers and delivered to your job site.

Q. How much slate tile does a container hold?

A. Container quantities of slate tile range from 5,000 sq. ft. to 8,000 sq. ft. depending on the tile size and destination.  Slate pavers will have a maximum of around 2,500 sq. ft.  A BuildDirect sales representative will be happy to help you with the container quantities permitted into your area.

Q. Am I restricted to getting just one product in a container?

A. Container orders can comprise any combination of the colors, sizes, finishes and shapes that the factory produces. There is a minimum of one pallet per type.

Q. Do I have to be a contractor to purchase from BuildDirect?

A. The prices on our website are the prices we offer to anyone who can meet the minimum order requirements.

Q. Do you offer any further discounts for trades people?

A. The prices we show on our web site are our best prices up front.

Q. How does the customer obtain slate tile samples?

A. Slate samples can be ordered directly from our website.  We ship by FedEx and just charge for the shipping and handling.  The sample pieces are approximately 4"x 4".

Q. Does BuildDirect ship to Europe?

A. At present, we ship container orders (5000 sq. ft. +) to Europe. Shipping small pallet orders from North America to Europe is not cost effective at this time.

Q. How much breakage should I expect with an order?

A. It is not unusual to have 2% - 3% of the tile broken to some degree (e.g. chipped edges). Any amount up to 10% is still considered acceptable. These damaged tiles can be used for the cuts you will need to make. If breakage is above 10%, we would ask you to have it noted on the logistics receiving document and take photos. Please make a claim with us within 10 days of receiving the order.

Q. Can you tell me an exact date that the container will arrive?

A. Unfortunately, we cannot offer guarantees on container shipment time lines. At this time, most containers take 10-12 weeks from date of order. There is a chance that it could take longer because of factors beyond our control, for example; security measures undertaken by U.S. Customs and Border Protection could possibly delay a shipment.

Q. How are residential deliveries made?

A. The product would be delivered on a truck equipped with a lift-gate. The pallets would be lowered to the ground and pulled onto your driveway with a pallet-jack. A residential delivery is considered completed once the product is placed on the driveway.

Q. Which forms of payment do you accept?

A. We accept Visa, MasterCard, bank drafts (also referred to as cashier's checks or money orders) and wire transfers.

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Our sales representative couldn't have been more enthusiastic, knowledgeable, helpful or more professional. Thrilled with our floor - really happy, it looks great. The warehouse staff was really nice and very helpful as well. Couldn't have made it any easier - thank you all!
Kim S. Atlanta, GA
Jun 08, 2014
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