A Guide to Slate Paving

A guide to slate paving

What is slate?

Slate is a gorgeous-looking modern stone offering a superb alternative to other real stone options, plus it comes in a great line-up of styles from which to take your pick. It’s available in mainly darker shades such as blacks and greys, or sometimes with hints of other hues which come from the minerals the stone contains. (Although some lighter grey hues are available.)

Overall, slate’s burnished, coppery appearance gives the stone a decadent look, creating a distinctive yet highly natural appearance for those wishing to make their outdoor space stand out. What’s more, it can highlight the vibrancy of flowers of different colours as well.

It’s a very sought-after choice for gardens, driveways and patios, and will not only actively enhance a property’s style and design, but add to its value as well.

Where does slate come from?

This stuff forms naturally over thousands of years below the Earth’s surface.

In the UK, slate is found in Wales and the north-west of England, as well as across Cornwall. Meanwhile, in Europe there are sources of this material in Italy, Germany and Portugal. Further afield, slate occurs in Brazil and parts of the US, especially Virginia, Vermont and New York.

Penrhyn Slate Quarry in Wales – once the world’s largest slate quarry

What are the benefits of using it?

  • It dries quickly

Slate is water-resistant, especially when sealed, so it doesn’t take long to dry. This is clearly very useful for obvious reasons if you live in the UK.

  • Anti-slip

The natural characteristics of this stone give it a number of anti-slip properties which make it safe for use outdoors. This is clearly hugely beneficial given the UK’s climate, and will be reassuring if you have older, less mobile or otherwise vulnerable people in your household. Equally, even the height of winter, it won’t freeze over.

  • Cost-effective

As an outdoor paving solution, slate can be seriously cost-effective. Especially when you consider its longevity and durability, it represents very good value for money. It may feel like something of an upfront investment, but you won’t have to think about replacing slate slabs for many years.

  • Not fade away

Slate paving slabs won’t fade over time. You may see signs of oxidation which result in subtle colour shifts because of iron levels in this natural stone. But overall it will hold its rich shades for years ahead.

  • Low-maintenance, strong and durable

Slate upkeep is a minimal business. You just need to sweep regularly and clean more deeply occasionally, and mop up stains quickly as mentioned below.

Slate’s long refinement process gives it its inherited strength and durability plus its resistance to wet, cold weather.

Does slate stain?

Because, as mentioned below, it is porous, liquid spillages can seep in and mark slate. So you need to clean up all liquids as quickly as possible to avoid this. And it should deal with the worst of the staining – sealing your stone will also help. Generally speaking, slate shrugs off stones pretty well. But, if the worst happens, you can try a shop-bought poultice. Or add a few drips of mild washing-up liquid to warm water. Rub off any baked-on dirt as required. Dry roughly before leaving to air-dry thoroughly for up to 12 hours.

How to clean slate paving

Find a product that’s specifically designed to clean slate. Small bits of dirt that remain on the surface can have the effect of sandpaper. So sweep your surface thoroughly before you do anything else, using a soft broom or dry mop, such as a microfibre one.

You can then use a specialist slate cleaner. Make it up into a solution as advised by the manufacturer, and dip your mop in it, drain off excess liquid and cover the whole of your surface with it.

You may want to apply a weed-preventative product between the joints of your paving.

If you need any further help, Miles Stone can assist with advice and guidance.

Can you jet wash slate paving? 

The short answer is that yes, you can, but you need to act with caution so that your stone stays looking its glorious best. While pressure washing can be highly effective, it can also take off the slate’s natural patina, along with any sealants or coatings, although it won’t drain the colour. This can open up pores, allowing water to soak below the surface.

So if you are jet-washing your slate, you may want to get a professional in to do it.

Is slate porous?

Yes, slate is naturally porous so can absorb stains pretty quickly, which can be a problem with spillages such as red wine. So a sealing treatment is a good idea and will prevent this issue; equally, it’s not expensive or hugely time-consuming to do.

Does it scratch?

Any kind of natural stone can scratch. Initially, this can look quite obvious, with a white chalky mark. However, this will quickly subside, so that the mark is barely noticeable.

Denser versions, such as Welsh slate, are excellent in high-traffic areas. Meanwhile softer slates, such as Chinese and Indian stones, will perform better where there is less footfall; so make your choice accordingly.

Get in touch

Here at Miles Stone, we’re Hampshire-based paving specialists, and supply a range of natural stones including slate paving, all responsibly sourced.

Check out products like our black slate paving, which combines a flat finish with the markings and textures you’d expect in a natural material. It’s on show, alongside our other offerings, at our display garden at Eastleigh, near Southampton.

Visit and see you for yourself – or get in touch today to learn more.