Cleaning Slate: A Guide for Beginners

Cleaning Slate: A Guide for Beginners

Slate, one of the finest-grained stones available, has been used for decades by builders in a variety of ways. Since it’s both durable and easily split into layers, it’s a great medium for building both roofing and flooring. And its elegant look and variety of available colors (gray, green, purple, and more) make it even more attractive for those in the middle of a building project that could use a touch of class.

If you’ve chosen slate for your next flooring material, you may be wondering, “How do I go about cleaning slate?”

That’s what this guide is all about.

Steps for Cleaning Slate After Installation

Since slate is innately flaky, you may notice pieces of it chipping off for the first several months after installation. This is natural. When slate is installed, it takes some time for it to adjust to its new environment. This process (called ‘spalling’) involves excess pieces of the tile falling off until it’s fully accustomed to its new location.

Throughout this process, you’ll likely want to sweep often, even daily. After all, your slate will be releasing small particles during this time. However, once it’s settled, this should stop and you should be able to begin a more sustainable cleaning slate regimen.

And remember, slate is a rather porous medium, so you should seal it with a high-quality sealant. By doing this, you’ll make long-term care that much simpler. If you’d like to learn more about how you can apply sealant, check out this guide.

Cleaning Slate Under Normal Circumstances

Since slate is stone, abrasive cleaners can cause etching in its surface. This can leave your slate with a scarred, unattractive finish. So, when you’ve decided it’s time to start cleaning slate, sweep the area to ensure the flooring is clear of any foreign particles. Then, mix a couple drops of very mild dish detergent in with a few cups of warm water. Use a mop or soft rag to apply the solution to the slate, rubbing off any caked-on dirt as necessary. After you’re finished, dry it with a towel and let it air dry for 12 hours or so.

Cleaning Slate More Deeply

If you need a method for cleaning slate more deeply, apply a light coating of teak or slate oil with a rag after you’ve let it dry.

And what if you discover a stain on your slate? Is there any cure?

Cleaning Slate Stains

Yes. You can remove stains by mixing water and hydrogen peroxide (in equal measure) and spraying it onto the stained area. After letting it set for ten minutes or so, scrub it with a soft-bristled brush and watch your slate come back to life (Though you should keep in mind that hydrogen peroxide can damage colored grout so beware of how close you get your solution to any colored grout).

If your stains are too deep for hydrogen peroxide and water, you may want to bring out the big guns: hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Mix the two together, apply the solution to the stained area, and leave it. After ten minutes or so, wipe it down using a moist rag.

If you want to keep your slate floor in tip-top shape, the best thing you can do is start a regular cleaning habit. Clean it with water and a mild detergent every other month or so. And do deeper cleans as needed. By following these instructions, you’ll ensure that your slate stays beautiful for as long as possible.

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