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Old 09-18-2006, 10:51 AM   #1
Jason M.
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Pros - How fast do you lay slate?

I've seen mention that even pros can't set slate as quickly as they can porcelain or ceramic tiles, but I'm curious about 'typical' rate. Say you have a 2-person crew, how much tile can you lay an hour of 12x12 slate?

I'm just asking for reference, we just finished a 200 sq. ft. slate install and we only managed about 18 sq.ft. per hour (first timers), and that's install time only. That rate doesn't even factor in the tile cutting time since we usually worked together cutting (choosing tiles to cut while the cuts were made, marking tiles for the cuts, etc.). When we were installing we worked as a setter and back butterer. I know a lot of pros work as a setter while the other person cuts, so I'm just curious how slow we were.
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Old 09-18-2006, 03:20 PM   #2
tileguytodd
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Anybody says they can lay Slate as fast as Porcelain is talking about Gauged Slate not ungauged,
If you set ungauged slate and made 18 s/f per hour Average you were perhaps a Tad slow but not too Bad, especially for your first time.
How did it turn out?? Any lippage not attributable to an edge cleft??

What type of Setting material did you use?

Tell us What you did and what you used and maybe we can give you some advice that will help you some the next time
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Old 09-19-2006, 11:22 AM   #3
Jason M.
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We used gauged slate and we have a little lippage in a couple areas (less than 1/16") that we couldn't avoid easily, but we were able to correct others while we were setting. One lippage issue was over a seam in the taped & thinsetted Hardi that was a little high. Were I to do this again I would probably tape and thinset the Hardi while setting the tile to avoid that. We laid 12x12 gauged Brazilian slate with Versabond and a 3/8 x 1/4 x 3/8 notched trowel, back buttering every tile.

Our first run was very slow, only about 12 ft^2 per hour until we got the hang of it. Our big problem there was not combing out the thinset well, backbuttering way too much, and a batch of thinset that was a little on the thick side. It made setting the tiles a pain and too much thinset made for a lot of clean-up of the tile edges as the thinset squeezed out. We still have to grout (we're practicing that on hidden areas like under the fridge, first), but I'll be sure to post pictures.
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Old 09-19-2006, 02:54 PM   #4
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Jason, with 12 x 12 gauged slate you do not need to back butter every tile....You DO need to key in ( or Burn in)the thinset to the back of each piece.
This simply means slapping thinset on your trowel and scraping it across with some pressure on the trowel. This will help fill in any voids in the stone and give a good bite when you place it into your combed bed (using a 1/4 x 3/8" notched trowel)
Once you get a rythem going this moves along pretty good. The key is that 1 guy keeps setting.............If you keep getting up and down not only will you fatigue earlier, but you'll set slower and far less material per day.
Make that Helper EARN his keep. A helper on a job like this has it EZ compared to a job of 6x6 quarry tile for example.
Mud mixing is infrequent and material goes in slowly.
6x6 Quarry eats up Mud, drops in quickly and a good setter goes through many cases in a day keeping a helper on the run,mixing cutting and getting material.

The long way around saying..........If you are a tilesetter and you are not on your knees you will be broke by days end!!

Now as to how long

Gauged Slate....200 s/f I would have likey set in aproximately 5-6 hours for a single room....a little more if you have any hallways.

If the job were 50 + miles away we would probobly set it with accelerated and grout it too making for a very long day but a very profitable one day. This of course if it were one room. diagonal installs, hallways etc eat up time and we would have a second day in the grouting. That is me and 1 helper.
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Last edited by tileguytodd; 09-19-2006 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 09-19-2006, 03:04 PM   #5
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Learn that Slate stuff and next thing you 'll be seetin Marble and granite.

Maybe you will even get to do one that needs 36 pieces of marble and try to figure out HOW to make it work with 30 tile like this one
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Old 09-19-2006, 06:08 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies Todd. You mention burning in each tile to fill voids, but our tile had channels cut in the back (maybe 1/4" wide and 1/8" deep). I'm not sure if there's a term for that or if that's typical, but when we back buttered we just tried to make sure all the channels were filled, although that took more time than a relatively smooth tile would have. Are the channels typical for slate (or other tile for that matter)?

We (me actually) kept setting so I'd stay on my knees for each batch while my girlfriend backbuttered tiles, selected tiles, and mixed the thinset periodically. We only went through about a third of a bag at a time, so we lost time mixing more frequently, but we weren't quite comfortable stepping up to larger loads.

Wow, 5-6 hours? Impressive. I think if we added in our cut time and install time we're probably 3-4 times slower. On the plus side, I feel pretty confident we got excellent coverage on every tile, so while we may have been slow, I think we did it right.

Our next project will be a 3/4" glass backsplash, so I'll hold off on the marble projects. Beautiful work though!

Here's one pic, still have to offload the others from the camera.

Last edited by Jason M.; 09-19-2006 at 06:24 PM.
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Old 09-19-2006, 06:29 PM   #7
Scottish Tile and Stone
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Jason. I am working on a slate project just like the one you described. The backs of the tile has very deep and ridged grooves. My one installer I use. likes to set slate with combed thinset on the floor, type N (maybe M) mortar as a bed, then thinset to adhere the stone to the bed. He is very good at setting slate this way, and no lippage.
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ditra kerdi stone showers waterproof mudset stone backsplashes glass tiles,laticrete, hydroban,ohio,cleveland,painesville,backsplashes,
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Old 09-19-2006, 06:30 PM   #8
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Looks good jason
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Ohio Installer of Schluter Kerdi and Kerdi board showers

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Laticrete hydroban showers
Mud set stone.

ditra kerdi stone showers waterproof mudset stone backsplashes glass tiles,laticrete, hydroban,ohio,cleveland,painesville,backsplashes,
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Old 09-19-2006, 06:31 PM   #9
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Looks like the same stone
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Ohio Installer of Laticrete Hydroban, showers
Ohio Installer of Schluter Kerdi and Kerdi board showers

www.scottishtileandstone.com
Laticrete hydroban showers
Mud set stone.

ditra kerdi stone showers waterproof mudset stone backsplashes glass tiles,laticrete, hydroban,ohio,cleveland,painesville,backsplashes,
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Old 09-19-2006, 06:42 PM   #10
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Yeah Slate is a very hard material to estimate your time on. With "Guaged" slate, it goes extremely fast. I can lay a good 300 feet with a helper making my cuts. With ungaged slate, and especially if its of the "flaky" variety..."honey tan....any of the Chinese slates" it will take you way longer, as you're going to be lifting probably every second tile or so to "build it up" in order to stay away from large lippage. I try to get down about 200 feet of unguaged slate in a fairly open area..hallways, closets, stairs will bring that down to maybe 100 if your lucky. Check out these shots. http://s67.photobucket.com/albums/h3...ogress%20Pics/

This floor was 600 feet and it took me just over 3 days to lay, NOT including the time to install the heating.
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Old 09-19-2006, 06:45 PM   #11
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Whats the dog do, pull the dolly of slate?
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Ohio Installer of Schluter Kerdi and Kerdi board showers

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Old 09-19-2006, 07:36 PM   #12
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Good one Scott
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Old 09-19-2006, 07:41 PM   #13
Dave the Tile Guy
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She attacks anyone who dares step on my fresh tile!!
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Old 09-20-2006, 04:27 AM   #14
tileguytodd
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Dave, sounds like you and I would make a good set of matched tile oxen

Very nice looking job for your first Slate job...........you can be proud, but ONLY if its still looking good in 2 years.............remember, the measure of a tile job is not only how it looks the day it is finished, the measure of a tile job is also how it looks years later!!

Anybody can snap a line and follow it making tile look good.....but whats underneath?? were the proper materials used?? was expansion considered?? was the structural strength considered??

Dont worry about speed............it will come with time............worry about technical merit first jason.
There is a reason why Tile Mechanics have a 3 year apprenticeship. Its to insure they are 90% familiar with the mechanical and Technical aspects of the trade.(notice i said 90%) The other 10 % we attempt to learn during 40 years in the field

So. did you make sure that the floor was capable of handling a stone floor??? You realize that a floor must be twice as strong for stone as it is for Ceramic tile...right?? Did you use our deflectometer to chech the deflection rating on this floor??
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Old 09-20-2006, 08:24 AM   #15
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Hi jason. Sounds like good advice has been been given here. Im probably
similar to the speed Dave described. The worse the quality of the slate
the slower i go, and the more material that needs to be orderd. I have
a couple photos of slate work on my website you can check out. Sometimes
when i run into lippage on slate ill lay a chisel flat on the floor on the low
side and shear off the lippage. only works in small doses. Dont chisel the
top layer off if there will only be 1/4" of slate left below it.
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