from hating slate to celebrate

16 Oct

It’s done. Yesterday I finished grouting the big slate-tiled patio in our back yard. Just in time for rain, cold and soon enough, snow. It sucked. The patio is ginormous. Way bigger than it needs to be. And slate tiles are such a pain in the ass. Uneven, different sizes, not flat, porous–they pretty much are God’s worst tile creation ever, from a DIY patio installer’s point of view. They break pretty easy too (before they’re laid). And I’m quite sure I’ve put in at least 3 full months of my life on my knees on that patio. We’ve spent way more than  our beans-n-rice budget would allow (but that was spent pre-Dave Ramsey). The worst part? I’m not really done done. Still need to apply a generous coat of slate tile sealer. Yet another lousy and expensive (to the tune of 70 bucks per bottle–I need three of em) part of this natural stone stuff. I hope my bloody finger tips and knuckles heal up soon (along with my aching back)…

[click to see it big]

Take 2: It’s done! We fell in love with slate tile when we saw a patio in some friends’ yard on Spring Creek Golf Course a few years ago. We poured a concrete slab in our backyard, out the basement patio door, last fall (thanks Dave, Brooks, Jon and Nick). We bought the tiles on clearance last fall too, but didn’t get them put on until this summer. I finally finished a rough grouting process yesterday (with a little help from my handy bride), and the patio looks awesome. Those natural stone tiles are beautiful. We love the variety of colors and textures and shapes. It’s a big patio, so we’ll have lots of room to put our grill and some furniture out there next year. Once we get our landscaping around it finished, it’ll be our oasis. Hope you come enjoy it with us sometime soon.

More slate love and hate on bartblog:


Posted by on October 16, 2006 in Celebrations, home and yard, rants


Tags: , , , ,

45 responses to “from hating slate to celebrate

  1. Kelly

    October 18, 2006 at 1:50 pm

    Congrats on the patio! It looks great & we’ll all be over to have a cook-out as soon as the snow is gone (read Spring!) By the way–if you were also praying all that time when you were on your knees, you really got a lot accomplished.
    Love ya,

  2. rani

    October 19, 2006 at 9:18 am

    That is absolutely beautiful, breathtaking actually. I love it…do you hire out?

  3. Paul

    November 8, 2006 at 6:09 pm

    Looks awesome.
    It kinda puts my flagstone patio to shame. I’ll put up some pics.

  4. cristy

    April 21, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    Where did you guys get your tile?
    We love it!

    Jon and Cristy

  5. cristy

    April 21, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    forgot to give you our e-mail address.

    Cristy and Jon

  6. joebart

    April 22, 2008 at 8:43 am

    We bought it on clearance at Home Depot, Cristy.

  7. joebart

    April 22, 2008 at 8:45 am

    I’m always curious why this post ends up being so popular. It’s the most visited post on this blog by far. If you’re reading it, please shoot me a comment and let me know what brings you here (I have a hunch it’s mostly people looking to do a little research on a DIY slate tile project…)

    Thanks for visiting!

    • Maury Dixon

      February 2, 2010 at 4:09 pm

      I just had to comment on your slate patio – knowing how much hard work went on (been there, and done that!) and all of the challenges of slate.

      Slate is NOT easy…if you are considering slate, know this. It IS worth the end result, as seen in your picture of your wonderful patio! It turned out great, and is very impressive – I hope you have some new furniture on it by now. 😉

      How I got here: I was doing a “web image” google search for 2″ slate tile – I am about to renovate a bathroom and am looking for ideas.


      Maury Dixon

    • joebart

      February 2, 2010 at 5:05 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Maury! It is loaded with furniture, and several feet of snow these days…

    • chris

      August 10, 2013 at 12:26 am

      Hi Joe,
      doing research…we live down under in Oz…love the tiles…don’t have home depot…will try to track them down anyway…and someone else to lay them!!!

    • Laura

      August 10, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      I searched “outdoor tile for patio” and your blog photo came up in a photo area of search results. I clicked to look at photos, then clicked the link to your blog.

  8. nancy

    May 7, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Google image search for Home Depot slate turned you up. We are planning a small entry/fireplace insert/guest bath slate project — couple hundred sq feet. We want this rich multi-color look. We finally realized we had to go to HD and pretty much buy it by the box and even switch some tiles around. Ordering it from our tile stores gave us tiles all the same color.

    That patio is incredible, worth that backbreaking work! We are having someone do it for us, but plan to do a “dry run” so he will see how to lay it out in a non-random yet random way that enhances the colors.

    We’ve printed out your photo to show him, hope that’s ok!

  9. joebart

    May 8, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Best of luck Nancy! I laid all of our tiles out in our lawn before placing them on the patio so we could achieve the random look. By-the-box gives you patches…

  10. Chris

    June 21, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Looking for info on slate tile over concrete and found your blog. Nice patio. Have you had any issues with freeze/thaw causing problems with the tile since you put it down? Any tips or things to consider? What kind of sealer did you use and has it worked as well as expected (considering the cost!) Thanks.

  11. joebart

    June 22, 2008 at 10:57 am


    Our patio made it through two brutal winters on the prairie so far. I cut an expansion joint in the concrete base and caulked it before laying the tile. I then laid the tile so the center joint ran right on top of the expansion joint. This joint cracked the first winter, as expected. So far no other joints have visibly cracked.

    Be sure to get plenty of thinset mortar under those tiles. Due to the uneven nature of slate, I had about 8 tiles pop up after a couple of weeks of laying them down. I had to chip away the mortar and start over. Might be a good idea to smear thinset on the base and the back of uneven tiles before laying them in place.

    I’ve had some issues with freezing that have effected individual tiles, particularly on the edges of the patio. Slate is made of hundreds of tiny layers of stone. When water get in between those layers and freezes, the tiles begin to flake. On my patio, I probably have 6 tiles that have begun to flake off in tiny layers–all on the outside edges of the patio. Moral of the story: be sure to get the sealer on the tile edges too.

    The sealer is expensive. I can’t remember what brand we used, but it was whatever the staff at Home Depot suggested.

    Best of luck Chris!

  12. Connie

    June 23, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Hi, we just bought a bunch of slate tiles also on clearance at Home Depot for our own patio makeover. I love yours! I just have a few questions. How many extra boxes do you think you used to compensate for breakage? What size are your tiles? Is the tile in the picture wet (giving it the bright jewel tones?) and if it is dry does the sealer give it a bright wet look? Our tiles are multi-hued but looks a lot duller (chalky) than yours. And do you get the sealer at Home Depot? Thanks for any info you can give. And again, your patio looks fantastic!

  13. joebart

    June 27, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Hi Connie-

    I’m totally making an educated guess here, but I’d say we probably needed only a couple extra boxes for breakage.

    We used 13″x13″ tiles. They are NOT really all exactly 13″ square!

    The photo above was taken just after a light rain, so the tiles are wet. They don’t look so shiny like that regularly. Chalky is a good adjective. Still looks good.

    We did get the sealer at HD too. Good luck!!

  14. Ravi K

    July 30, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    I came here doing a Google image search for “slate”.
    The kind used by students in last century, for writing school stuff. (Still used in some countries today)
    Your picture looked so good, I decided to check it out.

  15. MRod

    September 14, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Hey bart,

    Another HomeDepot slate search has brought me to your site.

    I am going to put the same style slate on our front covered concrete porch. Thanks for the expansion joint suggestions. I have two cracks to also fill in. I am thinking about putting it on the the front porch steps, but that might be too much.

    I was thinking about using that super expensive gloss sealer, but that might make it too slippery??? Not sure if that is a proper assumption.

    Wish me luck!

  16. joebart

    September 15, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Great luck MRod! The sealer we used didn’t seem to make the tiles slippery. I guess they’ll be a bit slippery when wet no matter what.

  17. eric

    July 9, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    most ugly patio i’ve seen to date with bad color blending with environment

    very bad taste

  18. terry

    August 29, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    LOVE THE DECK!!! We are planning to do our screened in portch. Cant wait! What size grout lines did you use and what type of grout? Thanks for the pic!!

    • joebart

      September 3, 2009 at 10:16 am

      Hi Terry. We used 3/8″ grout lines, and just plain old grey (natural) grout mix.

  19. julie

    October 26, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    It looks really great. I love multi-colored slate, but honestly, how do you decide which tiles to lay next to which ones? I spend hours rearranging them, trying to get them to harmonize with each other. then I go to sleep, and the next day I feel different about it. Yours turned out great, did you just lay them randomly? The calico effect is nice.

  20. joebart

    October 26, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks Julie. I just laid them all out on the grass and tried to kind of mix them up, but didn’t worry too much about it.

    • kathy

      February 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm

      Hi – Love your patio. Is it a particular tile color. We have used California Gold and now looking at JAK and others. For a bathroom. Love the multicolor of yours.
      Thanks – Kathy

  21. Sam Dicousta

    November 9, 2009 at 4:32 am

    Reaaly!Slate Tile is best for every season.

  22. Twyla

    May 20, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    I found your blog by chance thru a search on how to do slate tiles. In my bathroom. For my never-ending renovation project. I so did not know you could do slate tiles for the patio. I have a horrible piece of plastic (from a grain-bag – don’t get me started on grain baggers: worst invention ever!) covering my intended patio area right now. I had just thought of using cement pavers on it, but wow your patio is making me rethink that. If the slate is cheaper than the cement (which could very well be) I am *so* changing to slate.
    You probably didn’t need to know any of that, but thank you very much for the information!

    • joebart

      May 21, 2010 at 9:34 am

      Thanks Twyla–it’s fun to hear other slate stories out there. Good luck!

      Btw, we installed a concrete slab first, then over-layed with the slate tile. If you put slate tile directly on a gravel bed, they will shift and break easily.

  23. Jenni

    June 19, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    The patio looks awesome!! Good job. I was wondering if you could tell me if the slate tile you laid had a name? (product, color, etc.)I would like to find something similar in my area.



  24. Emily Post

    November 11, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    There’s a reason that you scored that slate tile; which is on permanent discount at Home Depot. Notice how it’s always on clearance because it doesn’t move off the shelf.

    Your high contrast plaid pant patio, is to home improvement; what Spinal Tap, is to music.

    Eye ball hurt. Thanks for the laugh, turn up the contrast dial to 11. Rock out man !

  25. cindythea

    December 22, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Dude!!!! Is this the one of which you spoke this afternoon? I can tell you why. Title…who doesn’t like a bit of rhyme time implying emotion? You play on the captive audience and them wham them with a blog on….TILE!!!! I love it! Whoops, had to shoo pug off table, chix wings too much a lure.
    BTW, the Turkey video too cute, those girls are delicious enough to gobble. Anyway, loved checking it out, remember to return the favor and the snow on here only lasts until Jan. 4th. so enjoy. Later gater. ~cah~

  26. Jane bray

    May 30, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Your patio is lovely and I am inspired to do the same thing with my front door patio. I googled pics and found your patio, I am planning to incorporate a dragonfly mosaic in the middle, with a peeble background. I am going to a specialty tile store to buy the outdoor mortar and grout and sealer. (plus I have a roof on this porch) Why do people feel they have to comment negatively is mindblowing!!!!! I already did my fireplace(livingroom) like this and have lots of compliments…so why not carry the theme to the front door. Again, thanks for the inspiration! Jane

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  28. Shelly

    June 22, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Beautiful patio you did an awesome job! There are so many different colors on the market, it’s overwelming. What kind of multi colored slate did you use? I would like to do my tub and shower surround in the same colored slate, I love yours 🙂

  29. Laura

    August 10, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Looks great in the picture! But, your previous comments are making me think twice .. We have been seriously considering slate for our lanai (in Florida). Were you able to get refund on broken tiles or did you wait too long to use it? I’m sure there are going to be broken tiles in a delivered stack of them, especially if they broke when you pick some up. Ugh.

  30. Aaron

    September 9, 2013 at 4:47 am

    This looks awesome. I’m going through a similar project at my place, but covering a custom built hot tub cabinet in the same slate you used. So far so good. I’m less than 25% done with the stone, but it looks like it’s going to be beautiful when it’s done.

  31. Khalil

    November 5, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Good looking patio. I got to your blog by searching for slate tile patio. I am located in Dallas, TX and about to add 300 sq ft of concrete to already existing 200 sq ft of patio. In effort to dress it up, we thought to lay down flagstone, but found travertine tile in 16X16. Doing some searching I discovered a lot folks say pavers are the way to go, but they are much more expensive. In your experience, are we good to lay tile on top of concrete given the Dallas climate. Any input you can provide would be appreciated. Pavers are ~ 1.5″, compared to tile, which is .05″. Also, are slate or quarzite better options in tile versus travertine?

  32. WordPress Theme

    July 20, 2014 at 2:20 am

    What a awesome post. Thank you!

  33. Kris

    November 15, 2014 at 12:50 am

    I just love the look of your slate patio! I want to do this for my entryway!
    It’s from Home Depot you say? I’ve never seen anything like this there. Everything there labeled “multi colored” looks kind of dullish green. Is it the sealant that brings out those beautiful colors?

  34. cm

    August 23, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    per backtrack request:
    Was searching images for *outdoor rubber tile*
    with duckduckgo as my search engine.

    Gorgeous patio (any updated pics, 10 years later?)


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