Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reclaimed Slate Blackboard Countertops

We are remodeling our kitchen. When I say we, I really mean that my husband and I are doing it ourselves (with a little help from his father).  We don't really have any experience with this kind of thing, so of course we immediately complicated everything by deciding to use recycled, older materials.  We really like the solid stone look,  but we didn't even really have the funds for tile let alone granite. Plus, we wanted something that would fit the character of the 1940s house we are restoring a little better.  So, we purchased two slate blackboards which had been removed from a school near our home with the intention of cutting them down. The boards are 3/8ths inch Vermont black slate in pretty good condition. Here are some pictures to help you visualize what I am talking about:  HG Bathroom, Modern Kitchen, Eco-Home

Once we got the cabinets all set and secured, we measured out how big the counters would be (taking into account that our house is old and therefore not exactly square).  Then we cut out half inch ply-wood and quarter inch cement board to fit those measurements. We secured these two layers (ply-wood on bottom) to the cabinets with screws. 

Then we cut the slate to fit.  This is trickier than it sounds.  You need a wax pencil to mark the slate because you will need to cut it with either a wet saw (easier but you have to own/rent it) or with a special blade rated for slate on your circular saw and keep a hose trickling over the blade the whole time you cut. This second option is messy, tricky, and a two person job.  

Glue or mortar the slate to the other layers smooth side up.  Before you do this, decide how you are going to finish the edges.  If you want to put more slate or tile over the edges, fine.  But if you want a metal edging like we used you need to put in on when you do this step. 

Finish with mineral oil (you can buy it at most drug stores by the laxatives).   Rub the mineral oil in (really rub it in hard), let it set for a little while, and then rub off the excess.  Voila!

There is a surprising lack of information about all the nitty-gritty of actually making a counter top like this online.  We kind of made it up as we went. Although there is a pretty good e-how article to get you started. If you have any questions, please ask! Or share your own experiences.  


Click here to see more of my eco-friendly alternatives.



Keywords:  old blackboards, slate chalkboards, reclaimed, salvaged, DIY counter tops, slate counter tops, re-purposing old slate

17 comments:

  1. What did you use for the edging and how did you put it on? I am like you have been looking for
    ways to do this and haven't been able to get much info.
    Have the chaulkboards in storage waiting to be used. Hope to have done soon.
    Thanks rj

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  2. We bought some aluminum stair edging for tiled stairs. The edging has a lip that you lay in the mortar between the cement board and the slate. They sell it at Home Depot. If you want something a little fancier, they have a whole book of other edgings that you can special order. I particularly liked this one: http://www.schluter.com/2_8_rondec_ct.aspx.

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  3. We are looking at using some salvage blackboards for our kitchen counter top. I am wondering how yours are holding up after a half years time of use? Do you like them? Will you still highly recommend them? We think ours are Vermont black slate but not sure how to test that for sure. Any ideas?

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  4. I'm considering attempting this project and I really appreciate your tips! I'd also like to know how you think they are holding up. Are you happy with your counters?

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  5. Wow - as editor of a website for countertops, www.CountertopResource.com, I thought I had seen it all, but this is a new one to me. A couple of questions - 1 are you worried about germs and bacteria and such getting down into the pores of the material and becoming a bed for health issues? 2 doesn't it stain easily? 3 how do you clean/maintain it? I have to say it looks cool and I like that it is reusing materials that might have ended up in a landfill, though. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. As an editor of a website about counter tops, I would think you would have some knowledge about stone for counter tops. If you did you would know that slate is the most impervious to bacteria and staining of all the stones.

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  6. We bought some aluminum stair edging for tiled stairs. The edging has a lip that you lay in the mortar between the cement board and the slate. They sell it at Home Depot. If you want something a little fancier, they have a whole book of other edgings that you can special order. counter tops edmonton

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  7. We are looking to do this for out kitchen counters. how are they holding up? In our tests the slate seems to scratch really easily...and we are not sure if we will like the patina over time or not! Any advice? Thank you!!!

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  8. We are looking to do this for out kitchen counters. how are they holding up? In our tests the slate seems to scratch really easily...and we are not sure if we will like the patina over time or not! Any advice? Thank you!!!

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  9. They really held up well. We have to oil them about once a month with mineral oil, bit its a pretty quick job. We haven't had any chipping or heat damage or even any serious scratches. The stone becomes more beautiful over time.

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    1. Thank you! Can't wait to live with ours :)

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  10. They really held up well. We have to oil them about once a month with mineral oil, bit its a pretty quick job. We haven't had any chipping or heat damage or even any serious scratches. The stone becomes more beautiful over time.

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  11. We are thinking of re purposing chalkboards as slate counter tops in the kitchen. Did your slate come in multiple pieces? If so, what did you do to join the seams on your counter top?

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    1. Hi Greta! We are doing this project in our house this spring! We plan to use a stone compatible grout for any seams. Follow along on our blog www.turtleinseattle.wordpress.com

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    2. Our slate pieces were pretty big, so we only ended up with one join. We grouted it like stone tile, no problem. We also used the same grout around the edges.

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    3. Thanks Neenie and Lauren! I will look into stone grout and I will follow your blog too Lauren!

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