Amazing slate

Slate_2Just as I’m ruminating on how much I love slate floors, I come across a posting on the Kitchen Designer blog concerning slate countertops.

According to kitchen designer Susan Serra, the author of this blog, slate is the quiet, little known but serious player in countertops for kitchens.

Who knew? It had seemed counter choices had been narrowed down to granite, tile, composite, quartz, laminate or concrete. Then here comes another worthy contender.

Serra says she has designed slate into many kitchens with nary a complaint from her clients. The key, it seems, is choosing the right type of slate, one that is less permeable than others. And that sort of decision is best made with a knowing designer or fabricator. If the stone vendor you approach about slate countertops says, "Hmmm, that’s a new one," keep looking.

It makes sense that slate would perform well on kitchen counters. I mean, it’s used for roof tiles, for goodness sake. Those take a beating. And it’s used for counters in laboratories, as a whetstone to sharpen knives, on the tops of billiard tables and as old-school writing tablets. According to an entry in Wikipedia, its fireproof and insulating qualities made it good for electric switchboards and relay controls for large electric motors.

Serra gives a nice rundown on caring for slate counters. I really like her idea of ordering a small piece of the slate you’re considering and bringing it home for a torture test (my words). You can drop oil onto it, and lemon wedges, and whack it with a frying pan to see how it holds up. If it does, this might be the material for you.

(Photo: Susan Serra)

1 Comment on Amazing slate

  1. John Brown

    I absolutely love my slate countertops. They are Vermont Unfading Green, from Vermont Structural Slate Co. In my research, I discovered that the vein of slates that runs from Vermont into New York state is the only place to source truly non-porous slate. In fact, it’s less porous than granite (by ASTM standards). But be sure that this is where your slate comes from. I highly recommend the folks at Vermont Structural. Excellent customer service. In fact, they sent the first set of stones back to their quarry because they weren’t up to snuff. Easy to clean and easy to maintain. And the honed finish is gorgeous.