Slate is an incredibly popular choice. Its glossy surface, sophisticated colours and simple maintenance process means it’s an obvious choice for a garden project. There are three main types of slate (after Chinese quarries recently stopped production): Indian Slate, Brazilian Slate & Welsh Slate - but which slate is the right choice for you, and what are the differences?
Colour, texture, pattern & price are the notable differences between the types of slate. Hopefully we can shed light on why you may go for one over the other and enable you to make your own decisions on which may suit your project.
If you are still in the early stages of planning your project, it may be worth checking out our buyers guide to make sure you have everything in place.
This was the original slate that was imported to the UK from overseas. It was the first opportunity for people to get their hands on a good quality slate, without having to pay upwards of £50+ for a luxury option from UK quarries.
Colour - A palette of dark greys with a glossy finish. The colour is described as blue-black and has an almost metallic effect.
Texture - The surface of Indian Slate paving is something that you will either love or hate. It’s a very natural looking stone due to its riven/textured surface. The surface of the Indian Slate forms in dramatic layers that rise and fall in an inconsistent pattern, resulting in something that is perfectly suited to certain modern spaces.
Pattern - Indian Slate is less patterned than some other types of slate. Whilst the surface is rough and natural, the actual colour pattern on the surface is fairly consistent. Across a whole area of Indian Slate paving slabs there won’t be much of a colour change, making the slabs a great option for a minimalist garden.
Price - An entry level slate. If you are looking for slate but are on a tighter budget than planned, this is a fantastic option without having to sacrifice on style. Indian Slate Ranges from £22-£28 per m2.
Why Indian Slate paving over Brazilian Slate or Welsh Slate?
- Consistent in colour.
- The most natural texture.
- Friendly on price.
What lets Indian Slate down?
- Very rough on the surface.
- No colour/pattern variations.
A much more recent addition to the UK market. Brazilian slate was imported to provide a true global premium grade slate to the UK at an affordable price. The slate that is quarried in Brazil is a cut above any other imported slate thanks to its smooth surface, fascinating patterns and beautiful colour palettes.
Colour – often available in two colours: Black or Grey. The black option has a mixture of blue-black colours (above) – some darker, some lighter. The grey is a more consistent cool silvery colour.
Texture – Brazilian slate is a smoother slate. There are subtle rises and falls in the surface, but the difference is rarely more than a millimetre or two. Overall, much, much smoother than any other option.
Pattern – The Grey slate option is almost pattern-less, but Black Brazilian Slate has a wonderful, varied pattern on the surface that makes each piece unique. The varying shades of blue-black and grey create an artistic design on the surface which can really make a path or patio stand out.
Price – Pricier than an Indian Slate option. It’s beautiful but you will have to fork out between £25-£32 per m2 if you want to clad your garden out in Brazilian Slate.
Why Brazilian Slate paving over Indian Slate or Welsh Slate?
- Very decorative to look at.
- Natural colour palette and pattern that is difficult to replicate in manufacturing.
- Smoothest surface of all slates.
What lets Brazilian Slate down?
- Higher price point.
- Liable to scratch marks thanks to the perfect surface.
- Inconsistent surface pattern (although this can be seen as a positive)
Welsh Slate Paving Slabs
Quarried in the UK for an insane amount of years, this is the original slate that covered most slate projects from as far back as roman times – ridiculous! It is steeped in history used in stately homes and historical grounds for 100’s of years. The BBC even wrote an article about the historic material a few years back here when the stone was being considered for use as a Global Heritage material.
Welsh slate is incredibly strong and spits into perfect sheets, so as a result is perfect for paving slabs.
Colour – A dark grey/blue colour with the occasional white vein running across it, making it suitable for a lot of applications.
Texture – A riven texture when naturally split. Welsh slate feels very natural and suitable for many projects. The texture of the slate sits somewhere between the dramatic texture of Indian Slate and the smooth Brazilian Slate. It feels natural without being overwhelmingly varied.
Pattern – There is very little colour pattern on the surface of Welsh slate. Each slab will have a varied texture, but the colour will remain consistent.
Price – The price is really quite eye-watering. Welsh slate can be upwards of £80.00+VAT per m2 – so you are paying the price for a premium, sought-after product.
Why Welsh Slate over Brazilian Slate or Indian Slate?
- Global heritage stone.
- Incredibly strong even when thin.
- Historic, luxury stone.
What lets Welsh Slate down?
So which type of Slate is the best?
A very difficult question. Welsh slate has been around for centuries and is a globally protected material thanks to its heritage status – it's is a very impressive stone, no questions. If money were no object, the history and tradition of Welsh slate paving slabs would probably be everyone’s first choice. However, money is very much an option and with a price that can easily touch above £80.00+VAT per m2, the questions is whether it is worth sticking with this slate, when beautiful alternatives are available for a quarter of the price.
Both Brazilian and Indian slate paving slabs are incomparable when it comes to price. They rarely touch above the £30 per m2 and as a result, are much easier to recommend. Both of these slate still look great and have all the sought after characteristics of a Welsh slate, but they are simply imported. We hope you can see from the selection of images just how beautiful the slate can be, without being the flagship welsh slate that is so sought after. If you wanted a slate patio, but £80 per m2 is out of your budget – which it is for many – Brazilian or Indian is a perfectly fine option.
My personal favourite is Brazilian – the colours and patterns are decorative and subtle and I feel you get a little extra for your money with the Brazilian option, and still get a project which is on par with a Welsh slate patio.