Those not in the know probably think the process of creating natural stone flooring is fairly easy. You simply “mine” the stone, slice off a piece and deliver it to the home. In reality, the process is more complex.
In fact, the production of natural stone is part art and part science, the convergence of tradition and technology, a combination of the inspirational and the industrial.
We invite you to join us in this section as we explain all the parts to you -- in the event you choose natural stone as the flooring for your home.
Understanding how natural stone becomes flooring is easy and, here, convenient. We’ve explained all the basics in this section and urge you to check them out.
The information below will provide you with an understanding of the product right from its beginning. That’s important because these are the materials you’ll be living with and walking on for years should you choose this flooring product.
Plus, perhaps most important, understanding the making of natural stone can help you be a smarter shopper, help you better determine natural stone flooring value and keep you within the parameters of your budget.
For millions of years, a combination of heat and pressure created blocks of natural stone, including granite, marble, travertine, limestone, and slate.
As the earth's crust began to grow and erode, it pushed minerals up from its core, forming massive rock deposits, which we refer to as “quarries”.
Quarries are found in many countries throughout the world: Italy, China, Spain, India, Canada, Mexico and the United States.
There, people who have been quarrying stone for generations, work with precision and passion, with expert selection skills, and a devotion to their craft that’s second to none.
They are among the world’s last true artisans and their pride and heritage runs as deep as the stone they quarry.
However, science also plays a major role at the quarry.
Recent advances in the stone industry’s equipment and technology have greatly impacted the process of extracting stone from the quarry and installing it in a home.
Today’s modern tools can accomplish this with speed and efficiency.
At the quarry, giant blocks of stone are cut out of the earth with diamond studded, high-speed equipment.
This diamond wire cutting system has revolutionized the extraction process; a once laborious and time-consuming manual task.
The blocks of stone are then moved to a processing plant where they are cut into slabs.
High speed gang saws are used to slice the blocks into multiple slabs.
A gang saw is fitted with several blades, typically about 12 to 15 feet long, that make simultaneous parallel cuts.
If you’re wondering what happens to all the heat produced, water cools the blades while in motion and also helps control the dust.
And would you believe it takes about 2 days for a gang saw to completely cut a 20-ton block of stone.
The slabs are sent through a polishing machine that puts the desired finish on the piece.
A polishing machine operates using spindles that rotate polishing pads at high speeds over the top of the stone.
Most of these polishing machines can produce a number of different finishes, from a rough, rustic texture to a mirrored polish. These options are another one of the beauties of natural stone.
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 fabricator’s facility the slab is customized for specific installations.
Edges are shaped and polished. This is done with a series of small saws, or router bits, which are, again, diamond studded and water-cooled.
They rotate at high speeds and pass across the edge of the slab to shape the sides into the desired edge detail.
This is a synthetic stone made from natural stone chips suspended in a binder such as cement, epoxy resins or polyester.
Some of the most popular types of Manufactured Stone products are those made mostly of quartz.
The natural quartz gives the product depth and radiance while at the same time strength and consistency.
It offers you the look of natural stone but also can be more cost-effective.
Today, Manufactured Stone is available in a wide array of colors ranging from subtle neutrals to dazzling bright colors.
Manufactured Stone is scratch resistant but not scratch proof.
It doesn’t require sealing because it’s non-porous. That makes it highly resistant to staining, very hygienic and maintenance free.
Manufactured Stone is strong, it has four times the flexural strength of granite, so there’s less chance of chipping or cracking.
It can be used in many applications, including flooring, in all the rooms of your home.
It complements all the design styles and turns any room into a warm and inviting living space. We hope the knowledge we’ve shared in this section will motivate you to look further at this ancient and beautiful product.