The history of slate

Slate has been quarried or mined in mountainous locations throughout the UK for many centuries. Its ability to be cut into flat and easy-to-stack pieces, whilst retaining its natural appearance, meant that slate was traditionally used as a building material to roof houses. Its extremely low water absorption was critical in a rooftop.

Poor transportation however limited the use of slate to top houses close to the source. As technical innovations soared under the Industrial Revolution, slate was mass-produced and sent to all parts of the country.

With the onset of the 20th century, alternative materials were readily available in the UK, including cheaper imports. A thirst for economical products prevailed but the effect of slate was still very much desired. Today, slate is a material that has brought drama into the home. Brooding, dark and mysterious, it makes a statement. Porcelain tiles with their design flexibility, strength and durability have produced very impressive imitations that have helped make the slate look an increasingly popular choice in homes nationwide.

How to introduce slate into the home
So your client loves the material, but you’re unsure how to introduce it into their home. Here are six uses for slate in interiors:

1. Paint it slate
Incorporate slate into a home by painting the walls a warm shade of slate grey. This neutral hue is on-trend and it needn’t be restricted to older properties; it can offer a totally contemporary feel. Slate grey provides a great canvas for furniture and pairing it with lighter grey or hot pink accents will create a vibrant look.

2. Slate floor tiles
Slate tiles are durable, non-slip and very hard-wearing so are ideal for wet or high traffic areas such as kitchens, bathrooms or conservatories. Slate floor tiles look spectacular while its colour hides a multitude of sins, rustic undulations and unique character. They don’t just look good either; they’re hard-wearing enough to endure years of heavy traffic. Better still, they boast heat-retaining properties which should help keep a home warmer in the winter. Slate has always been prized for its classically soft yet strong appearance. Natural slate or porcelain alternatives, such as the new Storm range from techtile, recreate the texture, irregularities and variations in colour of this sedimentary rock.

James Arkell, who founded techtile, said: “Tiles have the potential to lift a room, transform a space and deliver the wow factor that designers and architects are always searching for – and the Storm range does just that using high-quality porcelain offering designers a robust alternative to original slate, while retaining its delicate appearance.”


3. Slating wall tiles
Often used in bathrooms to achieve a spa look, its misty grey shade possesses calming properties and, in the bathroom, it can help create a sanctuary of serenity. Here, you might see slate tiles on the wall in addition to the floor. The rock works well with chrome fixings and white sanitaryware, producing a peaceful effect. If there is a lot of light in the bathroom, whether natural or not, you could even create a wall of rough slate, perfect for a wetroom. Otherwise, restrict the use to just one or two walls, keeping the remaining ones white.

4. Slate fireplace – hearth
Increasing numbers of people are installing log burners into their homes as a way to heat their rooms more responsibly and cheaply. These heavy-duty, black burners aren’t just functional, they serve as aesthetic additions to the home and a slate hearth provides the perfect finishing touch.


5. Slate window sill
Slate window sills are popular for their longevity and visual appeal. Natural riven slate or sawn slate sills look fantastic in older properties. A straight-cut slate window sill, with a smooth honed finish, would fit just as well into a modern setting. Slate window sills can be used both indoors and outdoors.

6. Slate accessories
Add slate accessories: mats and coasters, vases and pots as well as art installations on the wall. The effect doesn’t have to stop internally either, slate chippings, slabs or porcelain alternatives have also grown in popularity in exterior environments. Using slate for steps into a home can also make huge impact. The shading within the material can not only bring a contemporary design to an area but the lighter tones can also create warmth for the rest of the exterior to sit within.



Sign up to our newsletter

facebooktwittergoogle plusyoutube