Have you ever wondered how beautiful granite countertops are made? Would you be surprised to know that the journey starts in a quarry where the raw materials aren’t so pretty?
The Quarry: U.S. and Abroad
A quarry is a large, deep pit, from which stone or other materials are or have been extracted. In the United States, most of the granite stone produced comes from five states: Massachusetts, Georgia, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Idaho. There is also a granite quarry in North Carolina. Much of the granite from the United States is used for building materials and not countertops.
Most granite, however, comes from abroad in Brazil, India, China, and Canada. The majority of granite that is used for countertops in the United States is quarried in Brazil and India.
To date, the most expensive granite slab in the world is the Blue Bahia from Brazil.
Removing Granite From the Quarry
Luckily for homeowners, granite is found close enough to the surface that it is easily accessible. Granite is first cut into blocks that are sized for transport. To do this requires specialized skills and tools, including small scale explosives. This helps to separate the block from the bedrock without damaging the block.
Now that the block has been separated it must be loaded into trucks. And not just any truck. On average, these blocks can weigh as much as 20 tons. In some cases 50 tons. Granite itself weighs about 170 pounds per cubic foot.
From a Block to a Slab
This is where your granite starts to look like it’s ready for your home. Once the block arrives at a fabrication facility it is cut into large slabs. This is accomplished by running the slabs through a diamond wire saw machine. The average time for cutting is about one hour per one foot of stone.
The slabs ultimately range in thickness from approximately 3/4” to 1 1/4”. The durability of the final piece is the same regardless of the thickness of the slab.
Polishing of the Granite
The raw cut slab will look dull and feel a bit rough. The beautiful look of granite is accomplished through sanding and polishing. This brings out the natural colors and patterns making them smooth to the touch. Just like the sanding of wood, granite polishing is performed through a series of progressively finer polishing pads to reach the optimum finish.
Now that the slabs are polished, they are bundled together and placed into large shipping containers. These containers are transported to the United States by boat. In the U.S., the containers are off-loaded and begin their journey to their wholesale suppliers.
Wholesale suppliers sell exclusively to fabricators like us at the Granite Shop. Then, we cut, polish, and install granite countertops in homes and businesses like yours.
Making granite countertops is a long process. However, well worth the final results. For some beautiful examples, visit our gallery.