In this article, you will learn all about the process of making natural stone counters, from the moment they are extracted to the installation to kitchens, bathrooms, and more.
When you think about stone counters, the first thing that comes to mind is a beautiful, elegant natural stone slab, installed in a kitchen or bathroom. What you don’t know, however, is that stone goes through a very complex process before getting to your home. Between extraction, manufacturing, and installing, there are several steps performed by qualified professionals to deliver a good stone slab.
The production process of natural stone combines art and science, and tradition and technology to create and enhance the aspects of the stone.
The understanding of the process is important when you are choosing a stone to decorate your home, as it helps you understand the different aspects of each stone, and it can help you make a more conscious choice on which stone to get!
The process of making stone counters
The process starts with extracting the stones from mineral deposits, a process called quarrying.
The quarries are natural reserves of stone, usually in big rocky mountains, where the stones are in their natural state. To extract them, specific equipment and a qualified crew are required, since it is a very delicate process that requires crew safety and preserving of the stones at the moment of extraction.
At first, the stones are cut into giant pieces, measuring around 40 feet long and 20 feet tall. Then, the stone is analyzed by a professional, who divides the stone into smaller sections. After that, the stone is sliced into pieces measuring approximately 6 feet tall and 10 feet long.
To move the rocks around the quarries, from the location of extraction to the storage yard, heavy machinery, like tractors, is used.
After the extraction, the stones are transferred to the second part of the process, which happens in factories.
The stone blocks are moved to a processing plant where they are cut into slabs, using high-speed gang saws fitted with several blades that make simultaneous parallel cuts. It takes about 2 days for a gang saw to completely cut a 20-ton block of stone.
Polishing and calibration
In the manufacturing stage, the slabs are sent through a polishing machine that puts the desired finish on the piece. These machines operate using spindles that rotate polishing pads at high speeds over the top of the stone and can produce many different finishes, such as polished, honed, leathered, and many others. During this stage, the slab is also calibrated, meaning its surface is worked down to a relatively uniform thickness across the length of the material.
At the fabrication stage, the slab is customized for specific installations, and the edges are shaped and polished. This is done with a series of small saws, or router bits, which rotate at high speeds and pass across the edge of the slab to shape the sides into the desired edge detail.
When the stone is ready, it is sold to stone stores, and then to consumers.
Then, proper installation performed by professionals is required, to assure that no damage is done to the stone in this process. Once the slabs of stone are laid on the bare countertops, they must be leveled and secured. It’s essential that the cabinets are as level as possible before a heavy stone is put in place, and any unevenness in the cabinets must be counteracted with shims under your new countertops. Epoxy is used at the seams of your stone to cement the granite, marble, or quartz pieces to each other, and it is usually blended and colored on-site to match your countertop as perfectly as possible.
If you have a cooktop or need to make cutouts for the sink and faucet, the holes can be drilled ahead of time, or on-site, depending on the size of the holes. If they are large, it can be risky to transport them to your home, so it’s preferably done on-site. Silicone will be added for a watertight seal on the sink, and it will need to cure for about 12 hours before your faucet and plumbing are connected.
After installation, the steadiness and levelness of your countertops will be evaluated once more, to ensure your stone counters last longer. Once the seams dry, the excess epoxy and dust will be removed with alcohol or acetone. From start to finish, you can expect the installation to take about 3 hours if you have a small kitchen. A large kitchen could take up to 7 hours.
How to choose the stone for your countertop
If you are looking to decorate your home with stone countertops, and you’re not sure about which stone to choose, we have some tips to help you!
- If you can, bring a sample of the color and finish of the cabinet, to help you match the stone.
- Also, bring a sample of the color of the walls that will be behind or next to your countertop.
- If the stone is placed in a wet room, like a restroom, you should choose a less porous stone, such as granite or quartz.
If the stone will be in contact with heat, you should choose a heat-resistant stone, like granite, quartz, or an engineered stone.
Whichever stones you choose, TM Stone & Quartz is the best supplier in Massachusetts! We can also recommend some of our retailers so that we can give you all the help you need to make a conscious choice.
We have many options of granites, marbles, quartz, quartzites, and exotic stones for you to choose from.
If you have any questions about the process of manufacturing natural stones, feel free to leave a comment!