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4,813 little slate squaresTuesday, August 03, 2010
Recently, Lowe's reduced the price for their 2x2 multi-colored tumbled slate sheets from $9.98 to $6.98 per square foot. With such savings, who could pass up the opportunity to load up the car with 150 of said sheets, plus a bag of Laticrete thin-set mortar? Exactly what I was thinking.

Now, to establish some guidelines. Specifically, I'd like to know where the tiles should go. While none of the walls are square, I did try to make the stair landing perpendicular to the opening into the front of the basement, which seemed close to parallel to the joists. Okay, so continuing on from that, I scribed some lines on the nicely cleaned floor:

And then it was time to mix up half a bag of the thin set and spend some time remembering how to lay tile! Fortunately, it's a relatively simple process:

Step 1: Plop some mortar onto the floor.

Step 2: Spread the mortar around.

Step 3: Use the combed side of the fancy mortar trowel (1/4" x 3/8" V-notched, in this case) to achieve a clean, smooth mortar bed.

Step 4: Place a sheet of the tile in the bed, aligning it as closely as possible to your prescribed guidelines, like this:

Step 5: Using a rubber mallet, tap on each tile a few times to seat it in the mortar bed.

Step 6: Repeat. A lot. Specifically, tapping on each tile twice yields a total tap count of 9,626 over the entire job.

Here are the first nine sheets installed:

An hour and half later, and I'm getting close!

I really do like working with these mosaic-style tiles, as it is really easy to accommodate obstacles by simply removing a square or two. A little bit more work, and here is the finished product, complete with the rubber mallet which I forgot to remove as I exited through the back door:

Now we wait 24 hours for the mortar to finish its initial cure before moving on to the grout phase...

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