Natural slate is quickly becoming one of the most popular architectural and design materials in the world. It is traditionally used in flooring, siding, and countertop applications, but its use has now expanded into the decorative realms, and slate top coffee tables, dining tables, and bistro sets are becoming quite prominent in the marketplace. However, since it is a natural material, it has its own unique properties, which need to be taken into account when purchasing a table made from this stone.
First of all, in its raw form slate is just a rock. It is quarried out of mountains in large slabs, and then sliced down into smaller and smaller pieces to be used around the world. In its natural form it is craggy and dimensional, like any rock, and not nearly flat enough to use as a table top. However, these raw pieces are then refined, sliced, cut, honed, and gauged, until they come out much more usable than they are in untreated form.
Some slate table tops are made from a solid piece of stone. However, most designs feature slate tile, set with some sort of grout. These grout lines are particularly susceptible to stains, because they are quite porous, and can soak up moisture. Even if they don’t stain, they can discolor over time due to natural processes. The way to prevent this is to make certain that only the highest quality grout was used in the table’s construction. Further, you want to ensure that a below surface sealer was applied to it, to clog those pores and prevent it from soaking up any moisture or staining agents.
As far as the slate itself, this material is relatively porous, and you will also want to ensure that a sealer was applied to the stone. If it wasn’t, you can purchase a commercial stone sealer at most stone supply stores or hardware outlets, and apply it with a foam brush. Just be very careful to apply it in very thin, very even lines. You don’t want bubbles to form or clumps to appear as it dries.
The sealer can also be applied periodically if you notice the colors in the stone starting to fade. The chemical will when applied, slide down into the pores, giving them a glistening lustre which will make the table look like new.
Slate tables can usually be used both indoors and outdoors, as slate is often rated as a suitable outdoor material. This will, of course, depend on the legs and frame of the piece, and whether those are made from wood or some other material that can become warped or broken by the elements.

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