I have been working in this industry for over 30 years and involved with it all my life. Although the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all proved that you can produce some great stone products by hand today’s high tech stone working shop has really brought stone into the home. Today’s use of computer controlled stone shaping equipment and laser measuring devices have helped us (stone fab shops) increase our production and keep costs down. It’s hard to believe or expect a modern stone shop could survive without the use of this type of equipment.
All that being said should you as a consumer shy away from a stone fabricator that hasn’t invested in these technologies. The simple answer is no. Good work can be done by any shop with a small bridge saw and some had grinders if they have qualified people on the floor. However, you cannot expect such a shop to be able to produce high quality, complicated jobs in a timely fashion. At the same time, just because a shop has all of the latest equipment on the market does not mean you will get a high quality product either. Just like the old computing adage, garbage in means garbage out, even if you have the best in computing power.
I believe in today’s stone working technology and I have always believed that for a company to succeed they must invest in the good technology to remain relative in their field. Today’s client wants flexibility in their design choices and they want the product delivered in a timely fashion. This can only be done effectively if the shop you have chosen has made the decision to invest in their people and in modern stone working equipment.
If you are looking at granite or marble or any natural stone you have probably asked yourself why one stone can cost so much more than another. It’s a good question to ask. I mean marble is marble and granite is granite, right?
To some degree you are perfectly correct. Tan Brown and Persia Peral are both granites and although there are some differences in the workablility of each when installed both stones will preform in a similar fashion. Transportation of the raw material and the finished slabs have something to do with the cost but with today’s global logistics transportation is not as big a deal as it used to be. Workability of the stone is another factor. If the stone is not that easy to work with the cost to fabricate will go up. However, modern stone working equipment is helping to bring those types of costs under control.
The biggest reasons for the cost difference is availability and market demand.
Obviously if there are several quarries or fabricators offering the same stone there will be some competition and the price for the material will typically be held to a lower value. If there is only one supplier, well you know the drill. The more available the material the better chance to getting it for a good price. However this only fills one half of the equation. I think market demand is even a bigger driver when you look at pricing. It is of no advantage to a quarrier or fabricator to be the only supplier of a certain stone if no one likes it. Therefore when you have limited availability and market demand for a particular stone you will most likely pay a premium for that stone.
Is that such a bad thing?
I don’t particularly think so. If you want a unique look and are willing to pay for the exclusivity of purchasing an exotic material then get ready to pay a little more.
When someone comes to our showroom and starts looking for a kitchen counter, bathroom vanity or fireplace mantle. I ask them not to consider the price of the material initially. I ask them to really spend some time and look for at least a couple of colours would work well for them and they find interesting. Once they narrow their scope down to a few stones is when we start to talk about material costs and I explain the differences in the stones they have chosen.
Cost has to be factor in the final decision of the stone you chose but try not to make it the number one item on the list. And remember that the main reason one stone costs more than the other is supply and demand.