Tuesday, December 23, 2008

5: Slate Tile Source

I knew what I wanted for the floor before I knew exactly what to ask for. The tile business is funny in that it can be hard to find some of the simplest tiles. I've been told that this is because it's too easy for companies to out price or undercut each other with the simplest materials and designs. I knew that I wanted slate tiles for the first floor of my house, because I love the cool touch of stone tile and the blue-green-gray color of most slate. What I didn't know was how to ask for something smooth (honed not gauged or natural cleft) with the variegated pattern in the stone you see here. So, I went to the Web and started searching for slate. In the process I not only learned more about what I was looking for, I found a great online source for tile. Some people might think it's crazy to buy tile long-distance and pay to have all that weight shipped. But, the Brazilian gray slate I chose was purchased and shipped across the country from California all for a price less than what I thought I might have to pay for something local. If you're looking for stone tiles, check out Marblewarehouse.com. They've got a nice array of materials, and you can get samples before committing to a large order. The tile I bought has worked out beautifully. The variations in color, which almost look like marbleized paper to me, keep the tile from ever looking dirty. Tip: When you're placing an order, think about ordering 15% to 20% over the actual amount you need. Contractors always recommend about 10% to cover any breakage during shipping or installation, but with stone it's hard if not impossible to get matching tile later. Stone comes from quarries, and the quality, color and pattern of the stone can change significantly from one spot to the next in the quarry. You don't want to find yourself in the future needing to replace or add tiles that can't be matched. We ended up using all of the tile I ordered because some pieces came plain with no variations in the color—remember stone is a natural material—so I hope I don't end up learning this lesson the hard way.

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