Granite Glossary: What Common Stone Industry Terms Mean to You
Tripped up by terminology used in the granite and stone fabrication industry? Maybe you’re wondering what a CNC machine actually does, or what makes quartzite different than quartz. As a professional designer or educated buyer, you recognize quality granite, quartz and stone surfaces when you see them. But, it’s equally important to understand what goes into producing premium stone surfaces. This is where the terminology comes in—processes, equipment and technologies that ultimately define how an experienced granite and marble fabricator produces fine surface materials.
Let’s walk through some common stone fabrication terminology you’ll hear when you work with an industry professional, and what these concepts mean for the product—and your project.
Book Match Pattern
This is a vein matching technique where the exposure of adjacent slabs creates a repeating mirror image of the veining. The purpose is to showcase veining, and book matched material is usually polished to reveal its character. At Granex, we incorporate book matching in seams, backsplash and mitered edges whenever possible.
The bottom line: A book match pattern that is performed precisely, using proper techniques, creates an illusion of one continuous piece of stone.
Now, let’s get technical and address some of the machinery used in granite and marble fabrication. CNC stands for Computer Numeric Controlled, and this machine has a multi-axis vertical spindle for rotating milling and profiling tools. It produces shapes, cut-outs, holes, finishes and takes the place of labor-intensive techniques. Granex has three CNC machines that are specifically programmed for each job to precisely cut out sinks, mill seams and polish edges. We line up fabricated pieces on the CNC using lasers to finish pieces.
The bottom line: CNC machines are critical to the stone fabrication process because they allow us to implement specialty techniques (shapes, etc.) in an efficient, precise manner.
This virtual process allows us to digitally measure site conditions—so there’s no need to make a physical template. This is especially important to capture precise measurements in wall-locked tops and complex curved work. Digital templating information can be integrated with CAD and CNC systems, so information is directly transferred.
The bottom line: It’s not always possible to create a physical template, especially when we’re working with complex designs. That’s where digital templating comes into play. Not only does it allow for virtual measuring, information flows to design and fabrication equipment to make the entire process seamless.
A manmade product, engineered stone is made from a blend of natural minerals—usually quartz—and agents like polyester, glass, epoxy and other ingredients. If a product is engineered, it is not harvested from nature, but it is designed to emulate natural stone and granite—with the benefit of endless design possibilities.
The bottom line: Engineered quartz is manmade granite, and we love how it offers unlimited pattern and color choices.
Quartzite is dense, hard metamorphic quartz that is usually formed from sandstone. Quartzite’s interesting coloration makes it an attractive surface option. The coloration occurs in deposits where there’s an intrusion of minerals during the formation process. The color palette is simplistic—not typically duplicated in granite—and it has a luminescent quality.
The bottom line: True quartzite has desirable qualities such as extreme hardness, scratch resistance and acid resistance. Its crystalline sparkle and earth tones make it a desirable surface. Quartzite is a natural stone. (Quartz is manmade.)
This reinforcement technique is used for fabricating countertops and involves embedding metal or fiberglass rods into shallow kerfs in the underside of the stone slab in areas that are narrow. (For example, rodding is used in countertop sections close to a sink cut-out.) Rodding protects the stone product.
The bottom line: Sink and cooktop cutouts in natural stone can be vulnerable. Rodding adds flexural strength and enhances the finished product.
A miter is when a corner “condition” is completed using two stones with angular cuts—and the angular cuts are equal to the bisection of the total angle. Mitered edges include stone veneer, coping, paving strips and other treatments. Today, mitering is a popular effect for waterfall panels and legs, as well.
The bottom line: Mitering creates the illusion of thickness without additional weight.
Slabsmiths use their expert eye to tell the true story of the stone—how veins will match, where seams will be. We can virtually lay out a kitchen, enhancing the best features of the stone, while downplaying or eliminating qualities that are deemed less desirable.
The bottom line: Slabsmith technology allows us to bring the final product to life before the process even begins. End-users can participate in the process as much or little as they desire.
Partner with an Industry Innovator. The technology and processes a stone fabricator implements ensure quality, precision and efficiency. When seeking a partner, ask about how the fabricator invests in bringing the best granite and stone products to market. (Find out, “What’s new?”) An understanding of these common industry terms will help you determine whether the fabricator is focused on innovation and service.