Appearance is one of the main reasons homeowners consider slate tile for the kitchen. The natural variations in each tile and variety of colors available give slate floors an elegant look. Different types of slate tiles are also cut differently, giving the homeowner the choice between a rough, hand-cut look or a clean, smooth appearance. Although slate is more expensive than many other flooring options, such as vinyl, wood or laminate, it is one of the least expensive stone tiles, making it within the budget of many homeowners who want the look of natural stone.
Slate has been used as flooring in kitchens and high-traffic areas for hundreds of years because it is extremely durable. The kitchen floor is a high-traffic area and must withstand daily use. With proper cleaning and care, slate floors in kitchens will usually outlast other fixtures, including cabinets and appliances. Unlike vinyl floors, which often look worn out and dingy after years of use, slate floors may actually become more beautiful, taking on richer, deeper color over time.
Safety in the kitchen is important, and slate tile does present some hazards. Smooth slate is slippery when wet, making spills especially dangerous. Slate with a rough surface is recommended in the kitchen for safety reasons, but split slate tiles that have a rough surface can sometimes be uneven, causing a tripping hazard. In addition, because slate is hard and durable, it is not forgiving if dishes or glass are dropped on the tiles. On the other hand, it is not likely to be damaged or chipped by falling cookware.
Slate tile flooring in the kitchen is relatively low-maintenance, but regular sealing is necessary. Most manufacturers recommend that slate tiles be sealed once every six months. Like all natural stone tiles, slate floors should be cleaned regularly to prevent scratches and damage from built-up dirt. Spills should be removed quickly, especially if they include any type of grease, oil or acidic food, such as tomato or lemon juice. Slate floors are usually cleaned with only hot water; if mild detergents are necessary, they will need to be rinsed away, requiring additional work.