From the rock face

The building stone belts of the UK.

Stone Federation Great Britain’s Quarry Forum gives its opinion on issues relating to the stone industry from the point of view of companies that extract dimensional stone from opencast and underground quarries and mines.

Three Steps to choosing the correct stone.

Selecting the correct stone is arguably one of the most important elements in any successful natural stone project.  It will increase the longevity of the building, make maintenance easier and create a beautiful aesthetic.

One of the key aims of Stone Federation’s Quarry Forum is to work with architects, designers and specifiers to ensure that they are well educated as to how to go about selecting the correct stone for their project.

This may sound like an obvious concern. However, there are far too many cases of ill-informed stone selection leading to complications further down the road.

Remember: Get your stone professional involved at the conceptual stage of any project. It pays dividends in the end.

In our opinion, there are three key steps that can make the path from design through to project completion a much smoother process, at least for all those parts involving natural stone.

Step 1

Ensure that samples are up to the task in hand – namely giving a true representation of what the final product will look like.

One key factor in this is looking at range / control samples. These will show the range of geological characteristics typically found within the bed of stone as opposed to the small snapshot you would find in a single indicative sample piece.

This helps avoid any confusion about what the end product will look like. It is worth bearing in mind that this is a natural product and therefore each stone will have its own unique features.

Step 2

Quarry or mine visits. Stone Federation strongly advises that a visit is made so that the stone proposed for the project can be carefully inspected.

This is also the ideal stage to involve an independent stone consultant to come and provide you with an expert opinion. 

Here in lies one of the major advantages of using a local, British stone, as you won’t need your passport and a wallet full of foreign currency to view your product. And because this is their local market, a British producer will be experienced in the typical applications for their stone and will have a vested interest in ensuring that it is used appropriately. After all, the project might well be used as a reference for future projects.

Step 3

Technical assessment of the stone. All natural stones will weather, but in most instances this will be so small it will not affect the selection of a known stone.

But it is important to make an initial assessment of a stone’s technical strength before it is added to the project short list. 

There are various tests that help build a picture of a stone’s potential suitability for a particular application and while previous projects are a good indicator, recent test data on the CE certificate and Declaration of Performance should be examined.

It is the responsibility of the natural stone sector to ensure that there is the right stone selection advice and guidance available. This creates for the client a seamless transition between the project design stages and an end product that performs as it should.

Stone is the ideal choice of material for so many projects, we just have to ensure that the right stone ends up fulfilling the right application.