Congratulations! You’re in the market for new stone – be it granite, quartz, marble, quartzite, soapstone, schist etc!
Welcome to Part 1 of our Buying Stone 101 series.
Where do you start? What should you expect? Every client begins their buying journey with many questions.
Let’s start with a quick outline of the process that will be covered in this series:
Part 1: Stone FAQ – answering common questions about stone.
Part 2: Acquiring Your Stone – knowing where to buy your stone.
Part 3: Fabricating Your Stone – what to expect when fabricating your stone.
Part 4: Installing Your Stone – what to expect when installing your stone.
Part 5: Caring for Your Stone – how to protect your investment.
Let’s jump in!
Part 1 – Stone FAQ
Where does stone come from?
It depends on what you’re looking for!
Granite, which is natural stone, comes from all over the world. Brazil (home of Ubatuba), India (home of Brown Fantasy), and Italy (home of Carraras & Calacatta marbles) are just a few. Quartz,a man-made stone, is manufactured all over the world as well. Cambria quartz is made in America and Hanstone quartz is made in Canada. Another popular source for affordable quartz is China.
There are local quarries in the USA as well! New England has quarries in Vermont that produce a beautiful local marble called Montclair Danby. There are also beautiful schists coming out of Ashfield Stone Company in northern Massachusetts.
Can I buy stone directly from quarries?
Stone in the granite, marble, and quartz industry comes in slabs, typically no smaller than 120” x 55” (slab sizes do vary depending on quarry and location especially with granite. Typical quartz size is 126” x 63”). Due to the immense size and weight of these slabs, special training, transport, and equipment are necessary to handle these slabs. Typically, a client buys their needed square footage in stone from a fabricator. The fabricator in turn purchases full slabs from their importers and wholesalers.
For example, if a client only needs 30 sqft of a 40 sqft slab, a fabricator buys a 40 sqft slab from a wholesaler and the client buys 30 sqft of that slab from the fabricator. The leftover 10 sqft of that slab becomes a remnant, owned by the fabricator, stocked for smaller projects and sold at a discounted price. There is also a 10% – 15% waste buffer for manufacturing.
How much stone do I need?
If your project exceeds 20 sqft, you typically will need a full slab. If your project exceeds 40 sqft, you will need two slabs. A good rule of thumb is about 40 sqft per slab. However if the slab has any cracks or areas you’d like to avoid or is less than 40 sqft, make sure to layout your project on the slab to determine how many slabs you need.
If your project is smaller than 20 sqft, remnants will do the trick at a much better price. As remnants are leftovers from various projects, there is no standard size across the industry for a remnant and there’s a bit more leg work required to find the perfect remnant.
Most fabricators stock full slabs and remnants in their facility (either indoors or outdoors). The heaviness and varying sizes of the stone slabs and remnants provide a storing challenge for fabricators so a good sense of humor and patience are greatly appreciated as they sort through several tons of material without losing a finger :). A good fabricator will always assist their client in looking at their stone and are invaluable source of information about the stone they have in their shop.
If you’re looking for a specific remnant, we recommend calling ahead with the name and the sizes you need so they can do some homework for you. But if you’re keeping your options wide open, make an appointment to see the pieces in person as pictures often fail to capture subtle tones and design.
Can I bring my own stone?
Some people buy their own reused stone or inherit stone (thanks Grandpa!).
Fabricators can definitely work with reused granite. There are a few options here – the client brings the stone to the fabricator and picks it up upon completion (or the fabricator can install). Or the fabricator fabricates on-site. The best option depends on the level of custom work that the project requires. Simple cuts and installs can be easily done on-site. But the shop would be best for the triple waterfall edge on your Carrara tub surround that needs a custom resize and radial cuts. 🙂
Just prepare yourself – if you’re bringing fabricators on-site – it may take a while and be a bit noisy and dusty. A good fabricator will leave a clean site upon completion and use some sort of vacuum during the job.
Do you have any questions about stone not answered in this post? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 413.737.8700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.