The Natural Stone Process

Ever wondered how your favourite tiles or stunning benchtop came to be? Or why every piece of stone is as unique as your fingerprints?

Well, for starters, the process of stone starts millions of years before now, long before stone ends up in our stone gallery or in your home. 

Stone begins its life in the earth’s core before rising to the crust as massive rock beds. 

 

Formation

After sitting under heat and pressure for millions of years, natural stone formations, including Marble and Travertine, develop into their final forms. Depending on the stone, different events occur before the product you know and love comes to life. 

Marble, for example, is formed when Limestone is exposed to high heat and pressure. This causes it to recrystallise into a denser rock. Marble is a beautiful example of metamorphic rock, which is a category of rock that goes through metamorphosis. 

The new marble still contains other minerals like quartz and each resulting patina is as unique as the next piece of stone. This is because each reaction is different, resulting in a different piece of stone each time. As the minerals transform during the ‘makeover’ process from Limestone to Marble, they settle in layers which become the stones ‘viens’. 

Sedimentary rock, like Sandstone, forms from layers of fine particles of sand and fragments of shells and other material hardening over time. 

The uniqueness is further marked if the stone is exposed to the elements, weathering each piece throughout the seasons. Natural stone is natural by name after all. 

On the other hand, Terrazzo is a composite product made from stone and tile off-cuts ground into clay. It’s the original recycled material and utilises waste from extraction and fabrication to create stunning Terrazzo slabs and Terrazzo tiles. 

Extraction and selection

The large primary rock formations, which can be up to 1000 cubic meters, are removed from the earth by a saw or drilling techniques. There are stone quarries all around the world but perhaps the most famous and favoured are in Italy, especially Carrara. 

The primary stone is then broken down into slabs for suppliers and customers. 

The slabs are cut using a gang saw, which is a very long and sharp saw that is cooled by water. Sometimes gang saws include several blades to cut stone blocks into multiple slabs at once. These slabs may be cut down further into natural stone tiles. 

It’s quite a sustainable process, with minimal water required to cool the blocks and blades during cutting. And considering that natural stone is constantly forming, it’s a smarter building material choice. 

 

Finishing

The finished product can slightly differ in appearance from the original slab depending on the application of the stone, what fabrication it’s been through, and the finish you select. 

For example, an external stone paver might be left in its natural state as you saw in the slab. Whereas a marble benchtop might be fabricated to fit and polished to shine in your kitchen. While in both instances the natural beauty of the stone will remain the same, the different elements will be highlighted. 

The end look varies on the finishing technique that is applied. Some of the more popular finishes are: 

Natural: The surface of the stone is left as is after being sawn into a slab. 

Honed: The natural surface of the stone is ground to a smooth, mostly matte finish 

Polished: The surface is ground and polished further than honed to bring a shine to the smooth surface of the stone. The shine itself comes from the crystals within the stone. 

The way finishes look will also vary on different stones, and some stones like Marble tend to suit particular finishes like polishing. 

So while it might take a long time to pick the perfect piece of stone for your home or project, don’t forget that it took even longer for that very piece of stone to be formed. 

To learn more about natural stone and see what different finishes might look like on a stone product, visit our showroom at 484 Church St, Richmond, or for more information phone us on (03) 9427 9100.