Your slate hearth questions answered

Why slate?

Why slate? You’ve Googled “slate hearth” right?

Our slate is imported direct from the largest natural slate manufacturer in Papagaio, Brazil, the owner of this company we have known for over twenty years.

You probably don’t remember this, but around 600 million years ago, sedimentary rock was deposited in lakes which were then subjected to immense heat and tectonic pressure. The virtually unique way Brazilian slate is formed allows it to be ideal for cutting into large, flat sheets of slate. Ideal for a hearth, if you will.

We regularly visit the factory and quarry, to drink Caipirinhas, dance to samba music and eat at a rather splendid churrascaria, sometimes we even talk about the slate. We’re fairly sure this sets us apart from other suppliers who are sensible and stay in the UK and import from a slate distributor. They probably don’t samba either.

One piece or two?

One of our most frequently asked questions is “should I have my T shaped hearth in two pieces because of expansion?”. To which we say…. “tosh!”.

Slate simply doesn’t expand like that. Our argument is if it did, it wouldn’t matter if we supplied your hearth in two pieces or two hundred, it’s still going to disintegrate. No, it isn’t. The cynic in us says whoever is dishing out this rather dodgy advice either hasn’t got access to the large pieces we have or doesn’t want to have to lug them around. However, ignore them and all other naysayers, it’s your hearth, you want it in one section and by golly we intend to sort that for you.

Sealed or oiled?

All slate is porous to some degree, so if you were to place your cup of tea, coffee or that nice glass of Chianti on it, it will leave a mark if the slate’s not been sealed.

All our finished hearths are sold fully sealed, unless specifically agreed otherwise. The sealant we use is a modern polymer based liquid which we find easy to apply and provides a long-lasting effect. The one we’ve chosen retains the matte look of the slate and doesn’t make it shiny or wet looking. It shouldn’t ever need reapplying.

Oiling is a bit old school and is something we don’t do anymore, it’s more expensive and is a right pain to do as it takes ages to dry.

Can I have a sample?

Of slate, right? Phew. Part of the Ribble Valley Slate service is free of charge samples. Yes, free. Really! So just let us have your address and we’ll stick you a piece in the post. We also operate out of a small yard in Blackburn, Lancashire, where we meet customers who can see full sized pieces and take away whatever samples they need. We’re not based at this yard so this is an appointment only service, just give us a call and we’ll set it up.

Can you supply just the slate and we cut it ourselves?

Absolutely you can. A decent angle grinder with diamond tipped blade to cut it, along with some sort of sander or polisher to fettle the edges. And you’ll need to seal it. We’d be happy to flog you some sealant!

Do you deliver?

No, just chicken and lamb. Maybe King Prawn. Sorry, a little Northern humour. Yes, we can deliver….anywhere! Your finished hearth will be securely strapped to a wooden pallet, wrapped to protect it and be delivered by one of our haulage companies with a tail-lift at the back and the driver with a cheery smile and a pump truck. Actually, we cannot guarantee the cheery smile, sorry. The pallet will need to be signed for and checked at the time of delivery. The (possibly cheery) driver can only leave the pallet on the nearest hard standing area. He definitely won’t hump it into your house, up three flights of stairs and install it. Sorry.

Do you install?

Look, we went to school a LONG time ago, we left with very few qualifications, we are definitely not fit to be installing this stuff. We suggest you use a recommended stove installer and one who is HETAS registered, those boys and girls really do work for a living.

Can I invite my posh friends to view my new hearth and be extremely envious?

Heck yes! As long as we’re invited too. We’re generally free late on Friday afternoons, but just let us know, okay?

Who are you?

We can’t believe you’d ask that question after all we’ve been through. We just assumed we’d be Facebook friends and you could send us photos of what you’re having for dinner? Ideally you’re going to leave us a nice review on Facebook, Google, eBay or good old That’s also a subtle hint to check out our reviews...

Anyway, we’re Ribble Valley Slate Ltd of Clitheroe, Lancashire and we’re a family business.