Slate is a fine-grained metamorphic rock that splits into thin, smooth-surfaced layers. The most common building applications for this material are floor, wall and roof tiles as well as fireplace surrounds. Tiles can be split and cut-to-size with only the natural cleft surface, or manufacturers will add value by calibrating the material to ensure a consistent thickness throughout the piece. Because slate is made from a natural stone, you can expect a certain level of color variation from tile to tile. This is because of the fluctuation of the amounts of minerals and other compounds unique to each individual tile. Although this can be seen as a disadvantage if you’re looking for a monochromatic effect, it can really work in your favor with a more diverse design approach in mind. Although slate tiles are used mostly for fireplace surrounds, they may also be used for kitchen backplashes, entryways and outside applications. Please keep in mind that the layering of the slate makes it somewhat soft and, although it is a very dense and durable tile, it must be sealed properly to keep layers intact through traffic areas.