Where do stone countertops come from?

 

Granite and Marble Quarry

Many people buying granite or marble countertops want to know where the stone comes from. It is a fascinating process that has been perfected over years and years of experience. Stone is found all over the world in mountains and valleys depending on where a particular stone color was formed by the earth. The colors within a stone are determined by the type of mineral deposits found in that region. Countries such as Brazil, Italy, and China abound with various types of granite and marble that is quarried and exported all over the world.

Quarry History

The stone is excavated through a quarrying process that requires skilled tradesman. These quarries are large developments that have been in production for decades and sometimes centuries depending on the popularity of the stone. Marble quarries may be some of the longest running quarries in production since it has been used in both construction and art for so long. The most popular use of granite and marble today is countertops, cladding, and shower surrounds, therefore these stones are quarries into slabs that can be fabricated the most effectively.

Quarrying Blocks

The quarrying process of granite and marble slabs is a captivating procedure that requires careful attention and skill. This is a dangerous line of work because the workers are cutting and maneuvering stone that weighs over 20,000 pounds. They work in manageable sections to remove large blocks from the mountainside. Different quarries use different methods to remove these large stone blocks. The modern way of quarrying stone is done with a combination of high pressure water jets, saws, and air pressure. The men work slowly and methodically to ensure their safety and accuracy.

Cutting Blocks

Once a large block has been removed from the mountainside it is prepped for production to be sliced into 2 cm or 3 cm slabs much like a loaf of bread. The stone is carefully sliced with a water-jet machine to maintain consistency and quality. These sliced blocks have raw edges that were created during the quarrying process. Some higher-end quarries that sell the most exotic stone will trim these blocks to produce rectangular slabs to make the final fabrication of the countertop easier. These blocks are divided into smaller groups called bundles to make it easier to move and handle. Bundles consist of usually 7 or 8 slabs of stone each.

Granite and Marble Slabs

Careful attention is given to the dividing and numbering of these bundles and slabs to preserve the order in which they were quarried. This number system is important so that if a kitchen requires more than one slab, the fabricator could use sequential slabs to try to keep the same coloration or veining throughout the job. Stone is a natural resource found in the earth and each slab is unique to itself. No two slabs are alike. The veining found in stone is the result of fissures and concentrations of minerals that deposit or collect together. These veins have a beginning and an end both horizontally and vertically within the mountain. Therefore, when the stone is quarried and cut into slabs one piece may have a vein that the next one does not. This natural variation is also one of the reasons that granite and marble countertops add such great value to a kitchen or bathroom.