Saturday, November 8th, 2008
Reclaimed Slate Floor: Part I
This room made up the entire first floor of the original Little House. It’s 13′ x 13′, with the hearth taking up approximately 5.5′ x 5.5′ in one corner, just to give you an idea of the scale we were working on. Once finished, this room will ultimately be a combination of a mudroom for the family, and a studio for me.
Living in the middle of the woods, with soon to be four children, in a part of the country that has an entire season devoted to mud, this floor really needed to be durable and easy to clean! Obviously, the first priority was that it be safe. It was also important to me that the entrance to our home and my work space be beautiful, even through all of the muck!
We had decided on slate, long before we even knew we would be adding on to the Little House. In fact, I started collecting slates before we even broke ground for the Little House itself. If you are planning on using salvaged materials for your home, it can take years to find just what you are looking for. It’s wise to start looking as soon as you decide that you will be building or remodeling. Make a regular habit of checking newspapers, freecycle, craig’s list, your local dump, salvage yards, anywhere that you might find something of value. And there are things of value out there if you look hard enough! Sometimes it just takes a little patience and perseverance.
- From a health standpoint it’s about as inert as you can get.
- By using mostly salvaged slates we managed to lessen our environmental impact.
- Slate is extremely durable, which is both good for us as homeowners and good for the earth.
- Easy to clean, easy to care for.
- It’s a natural material
- It has a beautiful understated elegance to it, a sort of rustic, farmhouse aesthetic that greatly appeals to us.
- Once it’s lived out its existence as our floor, it can still be reclaimed for many other purposes, whether it be in the form of a different floor, a back-splash, or even just as stepping stones along a garden path.
The slates themselves came from a variety of sources. They were one of the first things that I started collecting when I knew that we were going to be building. I wasn’t even certain what exactly we were going to use them for, but I did know that we would use them. I got a couple of boxes off of ebay; leftovers from someone’s remodeling project. A lot of them came used from our local salvage building material stores. We had two such stores (I highly, highly recommend looking into similar resources near you!) that we frequented during the building process and over time my stash grew up nicely. It was nearly three years before we were finally ready to do the floor. I ended up ordering a bit of extra, directly from a quarry, but the majority of the floor is made up of salvaged slates.
My criteria for the tiles themselves was pretty simple. They all needed to be the same thickness (very, very important!). Ours are all 1/4″, which is pretty standard. I actually really love the look of random size and color, so I was very open to what I found. I basically narrowed my specifications down to all of the naturally occurring slate colors with the exception of the reds and rusts. I find the gray/green/purple color combination very pleasing and the red shades just made it too varied, and didn’t quite suit my vision for the room. There is quite a bit of black slate in there too, but I think it offsets the other colors nicely.
I think that’s about it for the “why”, stay tuned for part II, where I will detail the “how” with a over-view of the supplies and products we used for each layer.