Creative Countertops: Slate

Once upon a time we bought a house built in the 1970s, updated in the early 90s and left forgotten until 2015. 

While the house's kitchen surely had the floor space we were hoping for, gleaming marble countertops or natural honed stone didn't quite make the cut. 

 

 

http://fortheloveofahouse.blogspot.com/2014/03/soapstone.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yup - that was the kitchen that kept showing up in my dreams. Instead I woke up and...

 

Hello formica - I guess you and I will be good friends now

 

Then we found two slabs of slate pulled from an old pool table. I did some research and discovered that slate had been used in a few places, and certain kinds of slate could be treated like any honed stone. 

Pool table slate is about 4ft x 4ft, so one section gets you about 8 feet of countertop. Here it is installed on our bar area. You can see the thickness.

pool table countertop

pool table countertop

Unfortunately we needed more than 20 feet of countertop, and we were running a bit dry on old unwanted pool tables. 

Then we found a guy getting rid of sheets of thinner slate. We think they may have been used as old slate roofing on a barn.  The problem was it was waay thinner. 

 Maybe it was the sleep deprivation from a newborn, or the fuzziness of mortgage paperwork, but we decided we would just glue those huge suckers of thin slate right on top of the good 'ole formica. Ignore the gross white brick backsplash and wonky cabinets. One project at a time :)

Slate countertops

Slate countertops

IMG_0837.JPG

You can see the natural patina that is caused even simply by wiping down the counters or slight variationsof the natural stone. If you like a really uniform look, these counters are not for you. You also can see the seam that was created from two slabs. I will say this is not a perfect solution. I found, after the counters were installed, another method that may have worked better, but this will be a good place holder for a while.  The upside is that any stain or mark can be buffed out, you can write on the slate with chalk, notes, or cute labels. The biggest plus is the whole project cost us less than a dinner at Applebees.  

 If you want to do the project yourself, here's some quick instructions:

How to install slate countertops

  • We measured and cut the pieces to length. It certainly wasn't one long piece, so we have several seams. You are going to cut the slate using a wet tile saw. It cut's fairly easily. If you don't have one they are fairly inexpensive to rent.
  • We took a sander to the formica countertops and roughed up the surface a bit. This allows the glue to stick a little better
  • Enter, Liquid nail all purpose adhesive. We did some beautiful squiggly artwork on top of our roughed up formica with the glue and then lifted the countertops into place. 
    • I was a bit concerned that the all purpose glue wasn't going to be strong enough. But these slabs are heavy, and aren't going very far as it is. The glue really just keeps them from shifting at all. 
  • We then grouted with black grout in between the seams. 
  • We finished off with a basic sealer. We researched sealers for quite a bit, and finally went with one from home depot that actually is used for granite as well. You'll want to let your sealer rest for at least 48 hours.
  • This final step is where things got a little outside the box. Remember how I said the slate was thin. Well in order to create an illusion of thicker countertops, we simply spray painted with chalkboard paint the edge of the underneath countertop to blend. We have been using these countertops for a while now and have not seen any wear on the underside of the countertops

 

So what do you think? Any untraditional countertops that you've seen put into practice?