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Stone Processing

To choose the right stone for you, it helps to have some working knowledge of its origins, how it was wrought from the earth, and its processing into the finished product. Typically, a general overview of your product curtails future problems with your project.


Historical Significance

Stone has been the medium of choice for the edification of man from time immemorial; indeed, many ancient cultures immortalized their gods with stone temples and tombs. In fact, archaeological evidence exemplifies the structural durability and beauty of stone. Marbles used by the Emperor Hadrian to construct his enormous villa near Rome, and those used in the Parthenon in Athens are still quarried to this day. Yet in those bygone days stone masons did not have the advantage of the specialized quarrying and cutting machinery we have today.

The removal of blocks from quarries was an arduous and labor-intensive process, and the task of cutting stone into usable dimensions and installing it was no less daunting. Ample evidence exists of how these ancient craftsmen were able to erect megalithic stone structures, which paved the way for modern advancements.

Statue Garden

 

In Modern Times

The demand for natural architectural stone has increased so radically within the last twenty years that quarrying has become a major industry for many countries around the world. And whereas previously some of these countries sent raw blocks to Italy for fabrication into marketable precut units, most now have installed machinery to handle their own lines of production.

Brazil, for example, is now one of the world's largest suppliers of granite, exporting both slab and precut tile material prepared in local manufacturing plants. Despite this, Italy still presides as the largest exporter of stone, and is arguably the most prodigious supplier of stone technology.


Stone Processing Today

Most architectural stone today is quarried from mountainsides or hillsides, open pit mines, or from "galleries" - great caverns within the heart of mountains. The methods used are typically the same for each quarrying condition. The object is to ascertain the best material (judged in purity and fracture) and to remove it in blocks large enough to yield slabs of a functional size for commercial use, or for cut-to-size tile lines. The demand for the latter differs from market to market, but the North American consumer requires predominantly square units in 12, 16, 18, or 24 inch material. Typically they are 20mm (3/4 inch) in thickness, and 4-7ft tall by 8-11ft in length.


FAQ

Types of Stone

Granite is a light-colored igneous rock with grains large enough to be visible with the unaided eye. It forms from the slow crystallization of magma below Earth's surface. Granite is composed mainly of quartz and feldspar with minor amounts of mica, amphiboles, and other minerals. This mineral composition usually gives granite a red, pink, gray, or white color with dark mineral grains visible throughout the rock. Granite is best applied as counter tops, floor tiles, paving stone, curbing, stair treads, building veneer, and cemetery monuments. Granite is hard enough to resist most abrasion, strong enough to bear significant weight, inert enough to resist weathering, and it accepts a brilliant polish. These characteristics make it a very desirable and useful dimension stone.

Marble is a metamorphic rock that forms when limestone is subjected to the heat and pressure of metamorphism. It is composed primarily of the mineral calcite and usually contains other minerals, such as micas, quartz, pyrite, iron oxides. When acidic elements come in contact with calcium carbonate, it creates an etch. An etch is not a scratch. Rather, it is merely the removal of polished finish on the surface. Marble can come in a polished or honed finish. It is softer than granite, so the best application for it is on fireplace surrounds, bathroom, some furniture, and in generally less-traveled areas. Marble is rated as a three on the Mohs Hardness Scale.

Quartzite is a nonfoliated metamorphic rock composed almost entirely of quartz. It forms when a quartz-rich sandstone is altered by the heat, pressure, and chemical activity of metamorphism. These conditions recrystallize the sand grains and the silica cement that binds them together. The result is a network of interlocking quartz grains of incredible strength. Quartzite, with a Mohs hardness of seven along with greater toughness, is superior to both granite and marble in many uses. It stands up better to abrasion in stair treads, floor tiles, and countertops. It is more resistant to most chemicals and environmental conditions. It is available in a range of neutral colors that many people prefer.