Exterior slate tile is very good paving material that will provide a resilient, strong, and beautiful covering to a patio, a deck or a garden pathway. It can also provide great color contrast to a garden patio setup. Exterior slate tiles are very easy to clean and maintain. They can be elegant or rugged depending on your choice. Exterior slate tiles are fast becoming a popular choice among landscapers and homeowners. Once sealed, all it needs is daily cleaning with water. Below are the steps on how to install exterior slate tiles.
- Decide on the size and shape of the area you want to cover with slate tiles. Mark the area where you want to install the exterior slate tiles and measure the area to determine how many tiles you have to buy.
- Determine the size, color and shape of the tiles. Exterior slate tiles come in different shapes and sizes as well as color. If you are planning to have a structured and formal patio, you will need to get pre-cut and finished slate tiles. If you want a freeform patio or deck with an informal look, then go for the unfinished slate tiles in different shapes. Natural slate tiles come in interesting color patterns that can give your patio an additional dimension.
- Prepare the ground. Place markers around the area you have chosen for your patio. Dig the area to a depth of about six to eight inches. If this is a formal patio, surround the area with a wooden form. If this is a freeform one, use PVC landscape edging. Pour a layer of pea gravel about three to four inches thick on the dug surface. Use a rake to distribute the pea gravel evenly on the entire area. Use a handheld compactor to pound the gravel into the soil.
- Add a layer of sand. After you have compacted the gravel into the soil, pour about three inches of sand over the gravel. Distribute the sand evenly over the surface and spray the sand with water. Use a lawn roller to compact the sand. Check that the sand is level across. Remove excess sand, spray it again with water and run the lawn roller over the entire surface once again.
- Lay the slate tiles. Once the surface is evenly compacted you can start laying the slate tiles one by one. If you have a circular design start laying the tiles from the center. Otherwise you can begin from the corner, working your way across until you have completed laying all the tiles. Natural slate chips can add an interesting variation to unfinished tiles. Lay the tiles as close to each other as possible, fitting the shapes of unfinished tiles as well as possible.
- Seal the gaps with sand. Pour sand over the tiles, sweeping them into the gaps between the tiles until all the gaps and holes are filled. Spray it with water and sweep the sand again. This will ensure that the sand will be carried down into the inner crevices to create a strong sealer.
Although exterior slate tiles are easy to maintain they still need to be protected from extreme weather conditions. You can extend the life of the slate tiles by placing a protective tarpaulin or plastic sheet over it during winter. You can also bring back it innate luster and shine with some vigorous scrubbing with a stiff brush and plain water.