To maintain a slate floor, it should
be kept clean like any other floor, scrubbing as necessary and mopping
between times. To scrub a cleft floor, use a strong solution of
floor detergent. Spread it over the surface and let it stand for
several minutes. Then, with fresh solution, scrub with a stiff brush
under a floor machine. Abrasive powders are less desirable as they
sometimes leave residue. After the slate has been thoroughly cleaned,
rinsed and allowed to completely dry, it will benefit from the application
of a protective treatment. The word "protective" is not
to imply that the slate needs protection, but that a coat of wax,
sealer or impregnator will allow it to be cleaned easier in the
Sealers / Impregnators
Slate, supplied in the standard
"natural cleft" finish may be sealed or have an impregnator
applied. The sealer best adapted for slate should be of low viscosity
and less than 25% in solids. The new impregnators also work very
well, however, any treatment should be applied strictly in accordance
with the manufacturer's recommendations. Impregnators usually do
not create a gloss finish, whereas sealers may be a gloss or satin
finish. Care should be taken to assure that the slate as well as
the grout joints are totally dry and the floor clean prior to application.
Dampness in the joints can cause treatments to turn white. Most
all sealers and impregnators are a permanent treatment and are very
difficult to remove. A sample piece or small area should be treated
first to assure that this is the desired end finish.
The water waxes and resin finishes
will serve better on interior surfaces since they seldom hold up
satisfactorily on outdoor surfaces. Sometimes they turn gray from
exposure and are difficult to remove. The solvent waxes are less
affected by the exposure, but since they must be buffed when dry,
they present a problem on a natural cleft surface rather than a
smooth surface. For interior slate, either kind of wax will emphasize
the colors and make sweeping and dusting much easier.
Dust and ordinary soil will adhere
less tenaciously to a waxed surface and often dry buffing will avoid
the need for mopping or scrubbing. If soil on the waxed surface
resists buffing with a brush, fine steel wool or an abrading pad
may be used. Care should be taken not to dig into the wax if possible.
Some of the acrylic waxes are very good on natural slate. For interior
slate, any of the self polishing water waxes or one of the emulsified
resin finishes may be best suited as they do not require buffing
Most heavy use areas will eventually
develop "traffic patterns". It may appear that the slate
is wearing, but more often than not it is the finish. Waxes can
be stripped and reapplied, however some sealers are relatively permanent.
A record of the finish and manufacturer should be kept as some sealers
are not compatible with others. The original manufacturer may be
contacted for recommendations for re-sealing or removal of the finish.
Care should be taken when applying
any finish to slate as well as any stone to preserve "slip
resistance" on commercial projects. A stone's slip resistance
can be greatly altered by the application of any finish. While this
is extremely important on commercial floors, it is also desirable
in the home. All floors are slippery when wet and the use of some
finishes may compound the problem.