Slate is such a beautiful natural stone to use. It is so versatile while retaining its natural beauty. Slate holds up well on floors, walls, and fireplaces, and installing slate outdoors only enhances its beauty.
When installing slate that has a chance of getting wet, like in a shower or outside, it is important to choose the right kind of slate. Choosing a slate with a low absorption rate is the right kind for your porch.
If the slate didn’t have a low absorption rate, it would soak up water during a rain shower and start to crumble and fall apart.
When installing the slate, it is important to start with a level, smooth, and compact surface. If the slate is installed over a bumpy and uneven ground surface, it will not only look aesthetically wrong and feel odd underfoot, but when the elements come down, water will seep into the holes.
When the weather gets cold, this water will freeze and therefore cause an even larger bump in your porch ground. Take the extra time and effort to put down a very level surface and it will hold up far longer.
Laying down a slate patio involves marking off the area you will be tiling with some sort of demarcation. Small stakes and string work well to define the perimeters of a square. It works well to alternate using square tile and smaller rectangular tile that can be arranged into larger square patterns.
Experiment with your tiles first until you have found a good system. Having an idea of this larger square pattern will help you to estimate how many tiles of a certain kind you will need and it will prevent uneven edges. All that is really required of a slate patio is placing it in this pattern directly on top of your grass.
If you want to build a slate porch, however, this is a different story. Building a porch would require tiling over the top of your existing porch using mortar, grout, and a weatherproofing finish. Use a thin set of mortar directly over your existing porch, and start with the sides perpendicular to the ground, working from the bottom up. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself with the mortar.
Only mortar is enough for a couple of tiles to be placed at a time. Mortar an area on the stairs evenly with a trowel spread mortar on the back of your tile, and then put it into place by knocking it a few times with a rubber mallet.
Continue to tile, leaving space between the tiles for grout, until you have reached the top of the sides. Proceed to Tile the landing, working your way back down the staircase.
Only when you have allowed the mortar ample time to dry can you go back in and grout in between the tiles. Be sure to wipe off any excess grout so it doesn’t stick to the tile! Add a couple of coats of weatherproofing sealer allowing the coats to dry between each application.
Just make sure you do not use a high gloss sealer which will get slippery when wet. After your last coat of sealer has dried, the porch should be up and running for traffic.