4 x 4 Slate Tile Problem HD Expo

I just ordered 50 sq. ft of tumbled slate 4" x 4" tile. I'm using these tiles for a grid pattern to go around larger 12" marble tile. The problem is that the tiles are different thickness and not all of them are 4 x 4. The size differences range from 1/8" to 1/4" . If I use these tiles it will screw up my grout lines and make the floor uneven. I bought these tiles at the HD Expo and they were a custom order. Has anyone else has this problem with slate tiles or tried to return a custom order at the Expo?
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houseslave writes:

Sounds like the cheap Indian import stuff, which has very poor dimensional control. When I've used it, I always buy about 1.5 times what I think I'll need, pick the more properly dimensioned pieces out, and pack up and return the rest. This should have been done at the quarry, but apparently not so in third-world quality control.
But all tile has dimensional variation. All building materials, for that matter. Everything physical, for that matter.
Natural stone tends to have more variance than manufactured tile. Did you order it based on a specified tolerance for size? Or just hope for the best? Or did you just not think about it at all?
You can always recut them yourself to whatever precision you need. Except the thickness of natural slate is determined by cleavage, and not really subject to precise control.
It sounds like you mistake the result of a good, even tile surface to be a natural property of the product. In fact, it is the skill of the installer that makes imperfect tiles into a near-perfect floor.
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I decided to keep the 4 x 4 slate tiles I recently bought. I guess I'll be doing a lot of sorting and cutting. They are quarried in India and the quality control is not that good. The thickness of the tiles vary greatly. Some tiles are 1/4" thick while other are 3/8" thick.
Anyway, should I use a 1/2" notch trowel instead of a 1/4" trowel? Is there any danger in building up the thinset to float thinner tiles so that all the tile are the same height? Can I use premium Flexbond fortified which has a very high PSI strength?
Any advice or experience shared would be appreciated.
Thanks
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houseslave wrote:

years ago.. they came in big sheets of slate, some square, some rectangle, some triangle, each was kinda different... one side of the slate was 3/8 in. and the other might have been 1 inch.... on a concrete slab i made a big "L" shaped thing out of some one by one wood and used it for a guide and layed out some mortar mix(the kinda of stuff they use to put up bricks... it was about 1 in. thick and i layed down some slate that i cut up with a masonary blade to have about 1/2 to 1 in space between them.. i then forced each slate down into the morter mix the best i could and they went down... kept moving the "L" piece as a guide to mix more mortar mix and made another 1 in. thick pad on top of my original concrete pad.. i then did the same thing, put the slate on top of this and forced it into the mortar mix down...... completed it 33 yrs. ago and it still looks great.. the slate even looked better when i applied the $25.00 per gallon sealant on it.. looked real black and rich looking, but it was too slippery when moisture was on it.. so we stopped using the sealant on it for safety reasons....
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Hi Jim,
Thanks for sharing your experience. I will definitely use a guide to keep everything level as you suggested. It'll take some extra time but I think the darker multicolored slate with my ivory travertine will look awesome when it is finished. Hopefully it will last as long as your slate job.
I would be interested in what sealant you used on the tile?
Thanks again.

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