(May 2011) Warm and supple under foot – new slate flooring has some unusual properties as far as natural stone is concerned. The secret is that „Realstone“ is actually a sandwich-construction comprising stone, cork and particle board, the latter of which comes complete with tongue and groove, allowing installation even by the experienced handyman. The innovative product was developed in a joint venture by a group of 5 companies from Germany and Switzerland.
The slate is 1.2 – 1.5 mm thick and is bedded on a layer of granulated cork in a special binder developed by Wacker Chemie. Under this layer is a commercial particle board commonly used in flooring followed by another cork layer.
The secret is the layer just beneath the slate: it moulds itself to adapt to the uneven slate underside, cushioning and making the flooring soft and supple under foot; cork and particle board further insulate. As a result, the floor takes on the temperature of the room.
The product is produced by Lico AG of Switzerland and is available in a variety of 8 types of slate. The slats measure 1.235 mm by 305 mm and are 11 mm thick. A variety of sizes are being developed and should soon be on the market.
Slats come ready-to-install i.e. waterproofed to withstand normal household moisture levels. For use in kitchens and bathrooms the manufacturer recommends extra waterproofing treatment.
Cutting or routing can be done with standard wood-working tools allowing for circular cut-outs, e.g. in front of a fireplace. The flooring can be mounted floating or glued.
No special disposal is needed. The binder implemented is derived from crude oil but does not contain chlorine or biocides according to Wacker’s Holger Bienerth.
Photos: Wacker Chemie