Not all sales people are created equal. A good sales person will go over all of the unique characteristics in a stone slab before you buy it, in order to manage your expectations once that countertop is installed. Nobody likes surprises, and the last thing you want to invest in is buyer regret. So, as with all large investments, it’s always smart to be the proactive consumer. Here are five factors to consider when shopping for your slab:

1. One-of-a-kind

No two slabs of natural stone are alike. The inherent beauty of natural stone took hundreds of years to form in the earth. If you’re purchasing a natural stone countertop, you are someone that values the natural beauty of stone, and embraces its organic makeup. Even within 10 slabs of cut stone—also called a “lot”—the colors, veining and characteristics of that stone can vary, but only slightly. Keep in mind, when viewing the top slab of a lot, that all these characteristics will appear in the rest of the slabs behind it.

2. Coloring and Veining

Veining, or the long, meandering lines of color that appear across natural stone, is one of the most desirable characteristics people look for because of the elegant and organic look it gives. Veins are long deposits of crystallized minerals within a rock that can vary in width and can have numerous branches. The heat and pressure applied to a variety of minerals along with other organic materials, is what causes the huge array of colors, patterns, textures, and veining in a particular slab. However, that heat and pressure also increase risk for cracking when fabricating that slab into a countertop. By contrast, stones that are more predictable in pattern are easier to fabricate—and lower in cost. Another challenge with veining during fabrication and installation is how to maintain the appearance of a continuous vein along a seam. While not all fabricators are sensitive to this, Granex Industries, Inc. uses a technology called Slabsmith™ which photographs the slab of stone and uses digital imaging technology to match veining at seams as close as possible.

3. Pits and Fissures

When stone is forming in the earth, it is natural for air pockets to form between the crystals. These air pockets cause a line of breakage made by cracking or splitting, called fissures or pits depending on their size and shape. In most cases, pitting is very minimal and will not cause any problem. If the fissures or pitting is deep enough, they are sealed with an epoxy-resin that is dyed to match the stone. This will not affect the integrity of the stone, and will even it out so it is smooth to touch—and in most cases, barely noticeable.

4. A-grade stone

Stones are graded at the quarry. A-grade stone is more consistent and uniform within the lot. B- and C-grade stones generally have more pits and fissures, and are not sealed. Naturally, we can always account for some variation in the stone, but it’s best to purchase from a company, like Granex, that purchases only A-grade stone.

5. Acid Etching

Another factor to consider when choosing your stone countertop is how it may change over time. Acidic products like tomatoes and lemons, can change the composition of stone over time requiring more maintenance and changing how the stone looks. This erosion, called acid etching, is most common in stones like marble and dolomite because of their magnesium or calcium carbonate makeup. Acid etching is more noticeable in dark marbles than lighter, or white marbles. Some people like the worn or patina look that occurs with these type of stones. Other people want a material, like granite, that will change less over time.

Seek an Industry Expert.

Choosing the right material for your countertop can be a challenge. Purchasing a slab of stone is not as easy as just finding something that looks good or will match your tile. When working with a retailer/fabricator, ask how they will ensure quality material from the quarries to fabrication, to installation. A deeper knowledge of natural stone will help you with your buying decision.

Let’s start a conversation. All of our sales associates at Granex can speak to these five factors, and can help you find your perfect stone. We are your experts from start to finish. We source only A-grade natural stone, we pride ourselves in quality fabrication and installation, and we are committed to providing the best service to our clients. Contact Granex Industries, Inc. to learn more.