Artistic tiling with natural slate (Shelby Township, MI)

Every slate tile in the world is unique, due to the naturally occurring chaos which creeps into its appearance during formation. This gives the material a certain amount of power, and makes every installation a one of a kind experience.
 
When putting natural slate into a floor, countertop, or backsplash, it is important to lay the tiles out first, to get a sense of the overall picture that will be formed in the final installation. Each tile is a unique portrait that will have to be coordinated with all of the others, to develop a montage which is complimentary and fits the overall ambience you are trying to achieve.
 
Like laying out a giant puzzle, where you determine what the outcome will be, you should rearrange the tiles several times to get a feel for your different options. If you are lucky, your contractor will have had the foresight to order a couple of extra tiles. This will allow you to choose the absolute best, discarding any which you don’t like, or which don’t fit in with the overall scheme the rest of them create.
 
Often slate tiles which come from the same box will have come from the same quarry, and may have even been cut from the same original slab. If this occurs, you can lay them out sequentially, and try to recreate the original appearance of the stone as it lay within the mountain.
 
Other times the tiles within a box will be erratic, each one having different colors and patterns. In this case, it is important to balance the various stones, light against dark, subdued against wild, to create an effect which has a strong center.
 
When laying out slate it is also important to dampen the tiles. This will give you an idea of what they will look like once the stone has been sealed. The moisture from the water seeps into the stones pores, much like a sealer eventually will, bringing out a variety of colors and contrasts which were invisible before.
 
Once you have decided on the layout of your tiles, it is often helpful to label them with small numbers on the back or sides, to help with laying them out. Markings should be done in pencil, so that any stray markings or exposed edges can easily be washed clean. You should also be certain to make a note of how the sequence is supposed to be laid out, whether vertically, horizontally, backward, or forward.
 
It is helpful to have a contractor or installer that has an artistic eye when dealing with natural stone. When choosing to hire someone, you should try and get a look at their portfolio to see some of the work they have created. According to compoundtile.com