If you’re remodeling a kitchen, bathroom, replacing the flooring in your home, or building a new house, natural stone is a beautiful material choice. Part of the charm is the subtle variation in color and patterns from stone to stone. Unlike something artificial made in a factory, no one has 100% control over stone taken from a quarry. This idea that the stone in your house can be completely unique from everyone else’s is extremely appealing. It makes your home one of a kind – no one can copy it even if they try.
At the same time, this variability creates uncertainty in the building process. The most common approach to picking stone is to view samples in a show room. This is super convenient compared with traveling to another part of the country, or even the other side of the world to see the newest blocks of stone in person. However, picking samples in a show room creates a couple hidden issues. First, how long has that sample been there? At a quarry, every chunk of stone taken out is gone forever and there can be huge variation in color and pattern from one section of the quarry to the next. The older the samples, the greater the chance of you receiving stone that doesn’t match up the same. Another related issue is that stone suppliers are often wholesalers. This allows them to offer a wide variety of colors and choices, but it means they may not have significant supplies of that stone to meet your square footage needs. In this case, once a stone is selected the wholesaler will ask for the pictures and/or samples of the latest slabs coming out of the quarry. These new samples are then reviewed to make sure the order will match the desired appearance of the selection and then the order is placed with the quarry and the stone is reserved. On higher end purchases, traveling to view the stone in person to make selections can remove part of the uncertainty. If you’re planning on using thousands of square feet of stone, that extra travel expense can make sense. A couple thousand dollars in travel expenses can save you the headache of ordering 5 or 6 figures worth of stone only to find out the quarry no longer has stone that’s a good match for old samples.
In this equation, distance equals time. Due to the nature of this process, the farther away the material is from you the longer the timeline becomes. Cutting, packing, and shipping stone across the ocean can take up to three months. If the stone is available close by, that speeds up the process immensely. It doesn’t always happen, but from time to time samples get out dated and what is actually available from the quarry can look significantly different. While your deposit should be recoverable in this situation because this second sample needs to be approved before the stone is purchased and reserved, you have lost time which can push back the finish date of your project. If you can find an alternative stone available locally you might be able to make up for lost time, but continuing down the path of an international stone purchase will add additional time. The process can be the same with locally available stone – you review samples at a showroom, then updated images or samples from the actual slabs you will be ordering are made available for your approval before the order is placed and money is fully committed. The one big advantage here is the time it takes for each step is significantly less. You could review, reject, ask for new samples, and repeat several times with local stone in less time than it might take for an international stone to go through one cycle.
Despite these challenges, natural stone is a long lasting, beautiful material for all parts of the home.