Random multi-color slate flooring — an authentic mid-century choice

Jeff recently reminded us that random multi-color slate flooring is a wonderful choice for a mid-century home. To be sure, I see this floor all the time in homes I visit from the 40s 50s 60s and 70s. It’s usually in porches, breezeways, or foyers — spots that require a very durable, waterproof flooring material.

(But, I do not see this in kitchens and bathrooms. This floor is, I believe, traditionally used as a transition between the outside and inside, rather than a floor you’d want to live on all day long. That said, in a big open concept contemporary in a hot climate, I can see it being used throughout the house.) Jeff is purchasing his at Vermont Slate Depot, where as today, 10 sq. ft. costs $16.75 plus shipping. I also have seen this floor at my big local stone supply store, the same place everyone buys their patio pavers. So, you may be able to get it locally, as well, and save on the shipping. Design tip: That white grout shown in the photo is not what I’d choose. It will show dirt instantly. I’d have to eyeball it, but at minimum would start with medium gray.

  1. We have all black slate throughout our open plan entry, living room, dining room and hall. It’s even in the closets! It was installed in our MCM house built in the early 50’s by my grandparents, the slate itself being laid by my great uncle.

    Ours is assorted rectangles with lighter grout, the slate itself appears to have no finish but has held up incredibly well. The grout does get dirty so every few years I try to work up the energy to steam clean/scrub everything to keep it looking attractive. A small amount of Spic n Span in warm water does the trick when combined with scrubbing with the wand attachment of my steamer.

    The slate originally housed in-floor radiant heat, which made the entire house warm and toasty. (We are in central Indiana.) Of course those old copper pipes, embedded in concrete, always go bad eventually – and when they did, a forced air system was installed. I’m forever said about that.

    Slate is an attractive and durable flooring option that mixes well with rugs and wall coverings – we have grasscloth on the one large living room wall. I like that ours is black and not the random color, to me it’s neutral and very striking. Even without the radiant heat, I don’t find it too cold or too hard on the feet. It’s the best asset of our home!

  2. Joe Weissbeck says:

    I have a similar floor, but it is vinyl, from Congolium-Narin.
    Looks just like mine….is this vinyl?

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      This story is about actual slate tiles.

      Yes, back in the day, they did make vinyl imitations. It would be great if someone did this today in vinyl — in the colors. As I recall, I have seen this sort of slate in vinyl today — but in gray and maybe brown — not the fantastic greens or reds, though!

  3. Cindy says:

    Just inherited ranch built in 1966 by my husband, and his dad and brother from a Liberty Homes kit. Have exact foyer. Any suggestions for walls other than yellow? Off subject, but does anyone want a 1960’s Kenmore ringer washer or operational Nutone full house intercom system? Both free if picked up in Austintown, Ohio

    1. Jenny says:

      Oh man, I’m sure it’s gone now, but I would happily come pick up that Nutone intercom system if you still have it!

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