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Tile Forum/Advice Board>Slate on shower walls?
Nivlek 07:41 AM 09-27-2007
Hi - A newbie here with some basic questions re using slate on bathroom & shower walls.

I do not appear to be able to actually post a thread though, as the system keeps disallowing the post because it "appears to have URL's"...which it doesn't


Brian in San Diego 09:16 AM 09-27-2007

Do you mean post a link? You have posted a thread...this one. Ask any questions you want right here. I think you have to have at least five posts before you can include a link...it keeps most of the spammers at bay.

Nivlek 12:38 PM 09-27-2007
Hi Brian,

I'm not actually trying to place a URL, but rather the forum "anti-spam" routine thinks that I am (even though none of my text is URL related...).

Here are the questions!

1. Can I place heavy 3/8" thick slate for shower walls using Kerdi system and regurlar construction? I intend to use 2x4 stud and 1/2 drywall but should I consider cement board to carry the extra weight of an 8' high slate wall?

2. What is the best way to cut detailed openings for receptacles, pipes, lights, etc.? Wet saws can only cut so small -- or should I use drills and sabre saws?

3. How will slate walls stand up over time in shower enclosure? I am assuming that there is some super-sealer out there that can armor plate the stone and make cleaning no more difficult that tratidional tile (hope!). I also read posts from others using limestone in showers where they squeegie after every use -- again I assume that slate does not require this level of maintenace.

Any and all experiences and comments welcom!

Davestone 01:24 PM 09-27-2007
You needn't do anything special for the slate construction wise.Although depending on the slate using it in a shower could be a maintenance problem, due to it spalling, and trapping soap film.No sealer miracles for that, but impregnating sealing is advised.
Mike2 03:36 PM 09-27-2007
Kelvin, we have a thread in the Liberry on Cutting Holes in Tiles. http://johnbridge.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2127

That might give you some ideas on how it can be done. A variable speed grinder with 4" diamond blade comes in awful handy for cutting most large holes.

Nivlek 08:19 AM 09-29-2007
Thanks again guys - a couple more spin-off questions...

4. Once the opens are cut and given that the front face of the slate is bound to be choppy and varied (not one single planar surface as with regular tile), how does one get a tight seal around fixtures passing through openings -- esp. in the Kerdi shower zone?

5. I want to make the entry to the shower doorless (but curbless may not be possible). How far out should I extend the Kerdi protection on walls and floors? I know that this is a big open-ended question that requires more extensive info about particular geometry and intended fixtures, but just curious.

Perhaps I should just order JB's Kerdi book... :-)

Also - how does one post an image? I could for example post a plan and isometric of the project area.

duneslider 08:31 AM 09-29-2007
If you will be tiling the floor outside of the shower then just put ditra on the floor and it will be waterproof too.

All the fixtures that will be placed onto the shower are supposed to receive a bead of silicone caulk around them to seal them. This really should always be done but I find that it rarely is done. If it is caulked it shouldn't leak.

The pictures have to be a certain size (file size) I think there is a how-to on posting pics in the FAQ. Or someone else will come along and tell you cause I just seem to be able to make it work most times

Marge 08:50 AM 09-29-2007
Kelvin, welcome to the forum. :-)

Here is a link on how to post pitchers/images. You might need a couple more posts before the system will allow it.
Nivlek 05:50 PM 09-29-2007
OK - Thanks for the help again.

Here is a test of the image - two baths will be reno'd with a healthy smattering of tile.
Attached: Bathrooms.jpg (41.0 KB) 
GraniteGirl 06:22 PM 09-29-2007
The choice of your material is a bit of an issue.

Slate could be either a really good or a really bad choice, depending on the type of stone you actually have.

A true, fully metamorphosed slate would be an awesome stone to use in a shower. It will be dense and solid and will have no absorption or flaking issues. These stones will be overall more pricey and could hail mostly from Brazil or even US states like Vermont.

The pretty, colorful, texture rich stones they sell as slates in most tile stores and the Big Boxes will, unfortunately, be a really bad choice. Most of those "stones" are very soft and prone to flaking, spalling and absorption issues. They are not true geologic slates, but could rather be geologically classified as shales. These tiles come mainly from India and China and can be quite reasonably priced. These stones are, in effect, just really old, dry mud. No sealer on this planet will fix what is wrong with these tiles if you use them in a very wet environment like a shower.

It is also not a very good idea at all to use a topical ("high gloss" or "wet look") sealer in a wet environment. You are setting yourself up for trouble if you do. A good quality impregnating sealer or enhancer would be advisable.
Brian in San Diego 08:02 PM 09-29-2007

Adrianna has stated my concerns in the most professional way possible. I happen to really like slate, but would never consider it for a shower or a kitchen floor...unless as Adrianna has pointed out it is of extremely high quality and only if it were honed and calibrated. I would highly recommend you look at some of the porcelain "looks like slate" tiles for a shower application. IMHO opinion slate requires even more maintenance than limestone.

For drilling holes I would recommend some diamond hole saws. I use this eBay store for all my diamond tool needs. Not production type tools (for the most part) but certainly good enough for a few holes that you might need.

Scottish Tile and Stone 07:22 AM 09-30-2007
Here ya go Kelvin. Slate installed over Kerdi.
Attached: scottishtileandstone 360.JPG (40.0 KB) 
muskymike 08:29 AM 09-30-2007
Very nice Scotty! :-) Looks like polished slate eh?
Nivlek 08:32 AM 09-30-2007
Thanks Adrianna & Scott. I shopped around yesterday looking for a porcelain tile that would provide a realistic stone and colour. I found 2 or 3 medium grays that would match the black I want to use on the floor, so I think that is the direction we'll go. They also had another similar "almond" tile that we can use in the primary bath.

That is a nice project Brian - All of my tile is gray, so I was also beginning to think that, once sealed, it would become to dark (it was "black" after we applied a wet cloth to the surface) for a small bathroom area with only one light and one small window!

Perhaps this slate could find a new home on the deck! I have a lower deck that is about the right size to take the tile and is solid 2x6 planking.
GraniteGirl 08:40 AM 09-30-2007
Hi Nivlek - judging by the way you describe your slate tiles, it sounds like you might well have the good kind.
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