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.
Natural stone is the world’s oldest flooring
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, the incubators of natural stone
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.
Diamonds have changed many facets of stone production
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.
Next comes polishing and calibration
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.
Finally, the fabricator makes it fabulous
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.
Natural stone is a natural in virtually any 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.