Have you ever wondered how the untouched granite in the earth ends up as beautiful granite countertops? If you are shopping for granite, have you ever wondered how granite goes from untouched rock sitting beneath the earth's surface to a polished countertop shaped specifically for your kitchen? It really is an amazing process, and learning about it can help you appreciate all the effort that went into the granite's journey from quarry to your kitchen.
In this article, we'll give you an insider look into the journey of granite–from quarry to kitchen.
Getting the Granite Out of the Quarry
Granite is found quite close to the surface. As a result, shallow quarries are all that is needed to get the raw granite into manageable blocks for shipment.
In order to get the granite into transportable blocks, small holes are drilled in the shape of the desired block size. Carefully planned explosives placed into these holes create just enough blast to separate the block of granite from the bedrock without breaking the block itself.
The blasting engineers must be very careful to direct the falling block onto a bed of soft sand so that it doesn't crack or split at a bad angle. Earth moving equipment is used get these huge raw blocks of granite to load into heavy duty trucks, to be transported to slab fabrication facilities.
With a process of drilling and carefully planned explosives, a large block is severed from the rest and is carefully directed to fall onto a soft bed of sand, so the block isn't damaged. These large slabs are then put on heavy-duty trucks.
From Block to Granite Slab
Once a block arrives at a stone cutting (fabrication) facility, it is cut into slabs. To cut the block into even 2 cm or 3 cm thick slabs, it is run through giant saws that make many slices into the stone at once. These can simply have many large round blades side by side or diamond wire blades that cut through the slab like an egg slicer. It can take up to an hour for these blades to go through one foot of stone, so you can imagine how long it takes for an entire 10′ x 5′ x 10′ block, for example, to be cut into slabs.
The recent introduction of diamond wire cutting saws and other advanced technology to the industry have increased the speed and accuracy of this process, leading to more granite on the market and a less expensive finish products for homeowners. Even with advanced machinery, this process is can take a full day. The giant complex saws take roughly an hour to get through just one foot of granite. Some facilities have updated to the new diamond wire cutting saws, which have greater speed and accuracy.
Polishing the Surface to Reveal the Granite's Natural Beauty
For those slabs to finally make it to become your granite countertops, the polished granite slabs are sent to their final destination. There a skilled craftsman using advanced machinery who turn the slab of your choice into the granite countertops that are going to make your kitchen renovation everything you imagine.
Once the large blocks of granite are cut into big slabs, the surfaces must be polished to bring out the natural colors and patterns and make them smooth to the touch. This is done by running the slabs horizontally through slab polishing machines.
Fully polished granite slab is ready to be shipped
After the slabs are polished, they are put into bundles of 6-7 slabs, almost always in the order they were cut from the block (in order to create bundles that have consistent patterning and color).
These bundles are placed into large shipping containers and transported to the global by boat. The containers are off-loaded there before starting the journey over land to wholesale supplier in cities around the country.
Digital Measuring of Kitchen Countertops
After a homeowner chooses a particular color of granite, the fabricator sends a trained technician out to do a precise measurement of their cabinets.
High quality fabricators use a computer aided design (CAD Drawing) to plan out the best way to cut each unique slab to make the most of its pattern and size. The detailed cuts into various parts of the kitchen countertops are shown to the home owner before the actual cutting takes place.
Experienced stone installers complete the granite installation
The final product, the fully installed kitchen granite countertops are ready to be enjoyed by the homeowner.