The polished beautiful quartz, marble or granite countertop that you install in your kitchen or bathroom undergoes an extensive process of stone fabrication to achieve the finished product.
This fabrication process is done by a stone fabricator, which is a very specialized person. In some cases the granite supplier also specializes in stone fabrication and everything can be done at their shop prior to being delivered to your Columbia, VA home. The convenience of one-stop shopping can lead to having more control over the entire process.
On this page, we will explore the steps between slab selection and countertop installation, otherwise known as the fabrication process.
Inspecting the Slab
Prior to templating, a final inspection is made of the stone, identifying any areas unacceptable to the customer, or areas that are more severe than the normal characteristics described above. The fabricator will mark those areas and work to avoid those during templating, while balancing the effort to minimize waste and therefore cost.
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Cutting The Stone
The bridge saw cuts with a diamond segmented blade, and cuts at a feed rate of approximately 7 feet per minute. The water jet cuts with high pressure water with garnet particulate suspended in the water at a feed rate of 1 foot per minute. You are probably asking, who would cut with a water jet? The benefit of the water jet is that it can cut circles, curves, or any intricate pattern, where the bridge saw cuts only straight lines.
Recently, a more specialized tool has come to the marketplace. A saw jet, which has a saw head and a water jet built into it. You program the saw jet with the parts you need cut, it then determines where to use the water jet and where to use the saw, giving you the best productivity of both worlds.
Once the pieces are cut from the large slab, those pieces are forwarded to a CNC machine and with the help of a vacuum lifting system, the granite countertop pieces are then fabricated.
Once the holes are cut in the granite the edge is shaped by the CNC machine before the countertop is taken to final polish. There are a variety of stone edges to choose from, but the versatile CNC machine can produce any edge you select.
Quality Control & Hand Finishing
Stone is truly a piece of natural art, and following this extensive process ensures that your finished product is a beautiful focal point of your project. Mixing experience, technology, tools and artistry is key to a stunning end result.
Strengthening the Stone
In this step, rod slots (grooves in the granite) are cut and threaded rods are inserted into these grooves and encapsulated in high strength epoxy. When this process was studied, it was determined that this step increases the flexual strength of the countertop in that area by 400%. We should never be standing on our countertop, but I know I’m guilty of doing it to reach things in that high shelf, you wouldn’t want your stone cracking because this important step has been left out.
It bears mentioning that natural stone is extremely strong, approximately five times more than concrete. Even though different stones have various working characteristics, once installed in your Columbia, VA home, the stone will likely outlive any kitchen you install it in. Understanding these characteristics and working with them during fabrication is key to ensuring your finished project is made to stand the test of time and use.
Regardless of the type of edge, it will now go through a 7 step polishing process. The industry standard is to use diamond polishing pads of increasing grit from 50 to 3,000 to polish the edge. Think of sandpaper in increasing grit to visualize how this process works. The CNC machine first starts with a diamond polishing pad of 50, then 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500, ending at 3,000. The CNC shapes and polishes at the same time, leaving the edge shaped and polished. Similarly, if your granite is ever scratched or damaged, this process is used to repair it.