Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions about Natural Stone

Q: Where does natural stone come from?

A: Natural stone is formed when mineral sediments are exposed to millions of years of heat and pressure. These minerals make up the variety of colors and patterns that are characteristic of natural stone. Various types of stone, in a multitude of colors and textures, are found around the world. Global® imports natural stone material from over 20 countries. Much of our granite comes from Brazilian, Indian, African or Chinese quarries. Marble is frequently imported from Italy, Spain and Mexico. Slate is imported from Brazil, India and China, while travertine and limestone come from Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Peru.

Q: Will my stone look like the samples?

A: Briefly stated, probably not. Since stone is a natural and unique product, it will vary in color, tone, granularity, pattern, etc. These variations are expected and are one of the sources of its exceptional beauty. Global® can provide samples from the slab you are considering and offer you the opportunity to approve material that will be used in your project. We strongly advise that you take advantage of this opportunity; however, in order to serve you and your customers more effectively, we request 24-hour advance notice so that we have the material ready for viewing. Please call our offices at (866) 480-4931.

Q: Can natural stone be used on the exteriors of homes or commercial buildings in the Midwest?

A: Yes. Many natural stones can be used for exterior wall cladding, even in extreme temperatures. Proper installation and consideration of site-specific details are essential to success in exterior applications. Because each stone has slightly different physical properties, let our staff assist you in finding just the right fit.

Q: Why is one material more expensive than another?

A: There are numerous factors that contribute to the cost of each different type of natural stone, including the quality, supply and demand, and even the value of the US dollar. First quality materials offer the finest processing and the most aesthetically appealing selections, and for that luxury there is a surcharge over commercial grade materials. The size and mechanization of a stone’s quarry are other factors contributing to its cost. For instance, a small quarry will only have a limited quantity of first quality blocks available, which can raise the cost of the stone. In addition, some quarries are located in places where the climate only allows them to operate part of the year, thus reducing their output and increasing cost. Some pricier materials contain semi-precious stones which have a higher market value in other industries. Or a material may be more costly because it requires more skill and careful attention during the processing and fabrication process, increasing the cost of the finished product. Finally, the distance a shipment has to travel to the port before being loaded on a freightliner can also contribute additional cost.

Q: Can I buy my materials from you directly?

A: While our showrooms are open to the public, Global Granite & Marble® is a strictly wholesale distributor, slab material may be purchased only by authorized fabricators. Contact your Global® sales representative for information on establishing an account.

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Slab Questions

Q: Can I choose my own slabs?

A: Yes! We are happy to have you approve the slabs that will be used in your project. Click here for more information, or call us today to make an appointment to view our current inventory at the location nearest you.

Q: Do you do any fabrication?

A: No. At Global Granite & Marble®, we specialize in selecting, importing, and distributing natural stone.

Q: How big are slabs of stone?

A: The size of the slabs will depend on the specific stone being considered. On average, granite slabs are 9’ x 5’, although you may find some that are larger. Marble, limestone, travertine, and onyx slabs will usually be smaller.

Q: How thick are the slabs?

A: Natural stones are available in both 2cm (3/4”) and 3cm (1 -1/4”) thicknesses. Consult your fabricator or contractor about which is needed for your particular project.

Q: What is the difference between 2cm & 3cm slab material?

A: While there is no difference in the durability between 2cm and 3cm material, one may be more appropriate than the other for your project. In fact, some materials are only available in one of the two thicknesses. For example, in the Midwest granite is more typically stocked in 3cm, while marbles, limestones, travertines, and onyx may only be available in 2cm. While the slab cost of 2cm material may be a little less, it may need to be laminated if you choose a more elaborate edge profile, bringing the finished project cost up to the same price as using 3cm material (which doesn’t require lamination). Your fabricator will guide you to the right choice for your project.

Q: How much does a slab weigh?

A: While the density of each stone and the slab size will affect the weight, 3cm granites weigh about 19 pounds per square foot, or about 900-1,200 pounds per slab. A 2cm marble will weigh approximately 600-700 pounds per slab.

Q: What are book-matched slabs?

A: When a block of natural stone is processed, it is cut into slabs by a large gang saw which works much the same way as a bread slicer. Once the slabs are cut, they are laid flat to be polished, and then bundled together in the same order at the other end of the processing line. Book-matched slabs are slabs which were right next to each other, but have been polished on opposite sides. When these slabs are placed side by side, you will see that they are a near mirror image of each other--as in the picture below. Veining can be matched up by your fabricator to create one unbroken pattern. Book-matched slabs can be used with stunning results for large kitchen islands or for dramatic wall cladding in a commercial project.

Q: Do you have remnant pieces of slabs for small projects?

A: At Global Granite & Marble®, we distribute materials in full slabs only. Since we do not cut any materials, we will not have a stock of remanants.  For the largest selection of options for your project we encourage you to visit our slab warehouse.

Q: Can natural stone counters overhang the cabinets?

A: The standard and most popular overhang is one inch; however, this may be changed for a number of reasons, such as cabinet configuration or personal taste. The overhang on islands, meanwhile, can be as much as 14”.

Q: Will seams show in a natural stone countertop?

A: Because stone is a natural material and is mined from the quarry in blocks that are usually no more than 10 feet long, you may end up with seams. Also, because stone is sold in rectangular pieces, you may want to use seams to reduce your costs for certain designs (like for an “L” shaped corner). Seams are made by placing a small bead of silicone along the line where two straight, smooth cuts join together. Occasionally, in areas of stress or insufficient support, the seams will be joined with epoxy instead of silicone. The visibility of seams will depend on the granularity, color, and pattern of the stone. For instance, a seam in a slab of granite that has a small uniform grain (such as Salt and Pepper) will not be as apparent as it would be in a stone with a larger varied grain (such as Nero Marinace Gold). A seam in a dark color (Marron Cohiba) will be less apparent than one in a light color (Crema Marfil). A dramatic pattern (Golden Thunder, Giallo Beach) will show more seams than a uniform pattern (Caledonia). We recommend that you work with your fabricator to minimize the effect of pattern changes. Most customers find that the beauty of natural stone outweighs the concern of seams.

Q: How are sinks installed in natural stone countertops?

A: A cut-out can be made in the stone to accommodate the type of sink you choose. Any sink that you purchase will have instructions and a template for the cut-out needed.

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Granite Questions


Q: Aren’t granites expensive?

A: No. In fact, granite countertops can be less expensive than many other solid surface materials. The price will vary by square foot, depending on the color you select as well as the edging detail. But remember, a granite counter will last forever and be completely unique to your kitchen—it’s a truly durable, scratch-resistant, and beautiful investment.

Q: Can granite scratch, chip, stain, or burn?

A: Granite is one of the hardest stones available. It cannot be scratched in ordinary use and will actually dull knives. The only materials that can scratch granite are tools designed specifically to cut it, such as those made of diamond or tungsten. Chipping only occurs when granite is severely abused with impact tools, like a hammer. If that happens, the chip can be filled with a mixture of granite dust and epoxy. Granite does not burn with ordinary use and is highly stain-resistant. A few colors, however, do absorb moisture with prolonged contact. Usually no evidence remains when the liquid is removed and the granite dries.

Q: Can I cut on my granite countertops?

A: Go for it, but know that granite is harder than the steel blades used in most kitchen knives, so you will need to have your knives sharpened often.

Q: Can I put hot pans and dishes on my granite countertops?

A: Yes, but remember that the granite will hold onto the heat for a long time. With softer types of stone like marble and travertine, it’s best to use a trivet.

Q: I heard granite emits dangerous levels of radon. Is my countertop safe?

A: Yes. Recent media reports have called into question the safety of granite countertops. Fueled by the manufacturers of competing synthetic products, these misleading and inaccurate reports have made granite and radon a confusing and emotional issue for consumers, many of whom are now concerned about installing countertops in their homes or are worried about the countertops they already have. The scope of these concerns is unfounded. Several scientific studies conducted through the years have found that it is extremely unlikely your granite countertop is emitting harmful levels of radon. Because radon is commonly emitted from the ground across much of the United States, we can never completely isolate ourselves from it. The government says such environmental exposure is safe. If, however, you are concerned about the radon concentration levels in your home, you should have the overall air quality tested by a reputable radon testing organization. Contact us for more details on the study or if you have additional concerns.

Q: Can granite cantilever (project from a wall without other visible means of support)?

A: Yes, you can cantilever a single piece of granite up to 14” if there is sufficient support on the fixed end. But never cantilever granite where it might receive excessive stress, like from someone sitting on a counter or stepping on a counter to change a light bulb.

Q: Are honed or suede finished granites less durable than polished granite?

A: The processes used to hone or antique a granite slab do open up the pores on the surface of a stone, so using a good sealer (like Miracle’s Porous Plus) is important to close off those tiny capillary openings. These materials are still granites, though, so their resistance to heat and scratches and their durability are all still the same.

For more information about granite, click here.

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Marble Questions

Q: How durable is marble?

A: Marble has been used for thousands of years. Many marble statues and buildings have outlasted the cultures that built them. A simple, regular maintenance program will keep marble looking beautiful for the life of your home or commercial project.

Q: Can marble be used for kitchen countertops?

A: Yes, marble is a durable material that can be used for kitchens, but the look and the required maintenance are not for everyone. Marbles are calcium-based materials and are therefore susceptible to etching, staining, and scratching. Etching occurs when acids microscopically eat away at the surface of the stone, leaving dull spots in the material. This effect can be visually minimized by using a honed surface instead of a polished surface. Also, since marble is more porous than granite, it is more prone to staining and scratching, so we recommend that a penetrating sealer be applied to marble twice a year to protect it against damage. Any spills that occur should be wiped up immediately. Despite these maintenance points, marble countertops have been used for centuries to epitomize elegance. The stone’s patina (the change that occurs over time) is part of its beauty and tells a story of meals enjoyed with family and friends. At Global Granite & Marble®, we are happy to offer the Vermont Danby white marbles, which are denser than other marbles and are stocked in beautiful honed surfaces. These provide a wonderful alternative to the Italian marbles, since they offer enhanced durability for marble kitchens.

Q: What can be done if a marble becomes scratched or stained?

A: Fortunately, most damage that can be done to marble surfaces can also be undone. There are wonderful craftsmen who specialize in the restoration of stone surfaces, and your installer, fabricator or Global® representative can provide you with contact information. Some “do-it-yourself” options for the homeowner include marble polishing powder to help remove scratches, or a poultice to penetrate the marble and help lift out stains. Be careful, however, to never seal a stain into your stone.

For more information about marble, click here.

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Slate Questions

Q: Doesn’t slate come in only one color?

A: On the contrary–slate comes in many colors, many with a natural range that is impossible to duplicate. Our Brazilian naturally clefted slates come in solid colors like green, black, gray, and plum. A Brazilian multicolor is also available. Each one of our Chinese and Indian multicolor slates contain a rainbow of colors, ranging from the lighter Indian Autumn of very subtle taupe and green to bolder purple and gold tones in Kund or California Gold. Each tile is unique!

Q: What are appropriate applications for slate?

A: The uneven texture of a slate is called clefting and is created when the layers of slate are pried apart. This clefting makes slate a perfect material for any project where its natural slip-resistance is a benefit—such as entries, mudrooms, and sun rooms. The color variations in slate create a casual warmth that lends itself to areas such as wine cellars, fireplace surrounds, and lower-level family entertainment rooms. Brazilian slates are very hard and dense with a non-skid surface. These slates are resistant to both water and stains and can be used for almost any application, including interior and exterior flooring, paving, stair treads, wall cladding, tabletops, countertops, bathroom vanities, showers, and more. Indian and Chinese Multicolor slates may be used only indoors in our harsh Midwest climate and are limited to floors and wall cladding.

Q: Will slate stain, burn, or scratch?

A: Brazilian slate is highly resistant to both staining and burning and is available in slabs from Global Granite & Marble®. Slate can be scratched, though, so care must be taken if it is used for a kitchen countertop. Chinese and Indian slates come only in tiles, as they are too brittle to be processed into slabs.

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Limestone and Travertine Questions

Q: What is the difference between limestone and travertine?

A: The mineral content, areas of application, and care for limestone and travertine are almost identical. They do have distinctive characteristics, however, which stem from the different way in which each stone was formed. Limestone tends to have a more solid look with a particulate texture and possible inclusion of fossils. There may be some color variation between tiles, but overall the look of installed limestone is usually understated and European. Travertine, on the other hand, has more variation within each piece and can show off its texture in both linear vein-cut materials or in the whorls and clouds of the cross-cut varieties. The small holes that are inherent in travertine were created by escaping carbon dioxide when the stone was formed. Typically, these holes are filled at the factory before the tile is sold. Travertine has an overall sense of warmth which makes it very popular for residential and hospitality applications.

Q: What colors are available in limestone and travertine?

A: Travertine usually comes in a diverse palette of light hues and soft earth tones, especially golds, cream, tan, and grays. Limestone colors can range from creamy whites and yellows to darker grays and browns.

Q: How are limestone and travertine used in commercial and residential settings?

A: Limestone can be used in both exterior and interior applications. Outdoor uses might include wall cladding, benches, columns, and statuary objects, while indoor uses could include floors, tabletops, stairs, and decorative stonework. Travertine, meanwhile, is often used for interior floors, walls, and decoration. For example, luxurious bathrooms covered in travertine tile can create an inviting spa feeling. Some - but not all - varieties of travertine are even durable enough to withstand the freeze-thaw cycles of our Midwest climate. Your Global Granite & Marble® salesperson will be happy to discuss with you the many available options.

Additional information on limestone or travertine is available by clicking on these links.

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Other Stone Questions

Q: Where can you use onyx?

A: Onyx is a delicate stone which should be used in areas where it can truly stand out. There are varieties of onyx, such as Classic Green, which are prized for their gem-like colors, making them ideal accents. Other varieties, such as Honey Onyx, are treasured for their unique ability to transmit light in back-lit applications.

Click here for more information on onyx.

Q: What is quartzite?

A: Quartzite is a silica-based stone with durability comparable to that of granite. It is a metamorphic stone that is formed when sandstone is transformed through heat and pressure, a process which maintains the stone’s fine sandy texture. Quartzites can often be very colorful, like Louise Blue, and are very resistant to chemical and abrasive deterioration, making them excellent choices in kitchens and in areas with higher traffic.

Q: What is sandstone?

A: Sandstones are sedimentary stones with a small and consistent crystal structure that can vary dramatically in density and durability. You will see that while there are only a few sandstone options durable enough to be used in building projects, they can be quite unique.

Q: What is soapstone?

A: Soapstone is a soft but very dense stone which has been used for centuries. Today, it has a revered status as a kitchen countertop material with some bakers and cooks. While soapstone will scratch easily, the scratches are disguised by the traditional application of mineral oil, a treatment which also highlights the stone’s dark and muted veins in grey and green.

Click here for more information on soapstone.

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Care and Maintenance Questions

Q: What should I use to clean my stone?

A: At Global Granite & Marble®, we recommend regular cleaning with Miracle Mira Clean or Miracle Counter Kleen (for countertops). A pH-neutral cleaner will work for any type of natural stone. Be careful not to use bleach or abrasive products on any natural stone installation, as these can cause damage to the stone. Many name brand household cleaners are highly acidic and can cause damage to calcareous stones (like marble, limestone, travertine, and onyx) and to the sealers protecting them. Feel free to contact Global® for more specific recommendations on a cleaning regimen for your home or commercial project.

Q: How often do I have to seal my stone?

A: The life of the sealer will depend upon the type and finish of the stone, the area of application, and amount of wear imposed over time. A piece of stone which is sealed with an impregnating sealer and put in a closet will stay sealed indefinitely. Impregnating sealers are recommended over topical sealers because they increase both the longevity and quality of the protection. The purpose of sealer is simply to make the stone less susceptible to staining, so applying it unnecessarily just wastes time, effort, and money. A simple test to determine if your stone needs to be resealed is to sprinkle it with water. If the water beads up tightly, then the stone has maintained its seal. If, however, the water soaks in or darkens the stone, then it’s time to reseal (once the water evaporates). Granite sealers can last up to 15 years, depending on the porosity and type of granite.

Q: Is my stone already sealed when it is installed?

A: This question is one that your fabricator will need to answer. Many contractors do include sealing as part of a quality installation, but it is always best to check. If you are unsure if your stone has been sealed, just sprinkle water on it to see if it beads up without soaking in or discoloring the stone. If beading occurs, then your stone has already been sealed.

Q: Can I seal my stone myself or does it require a professional?

A: The process of sealing stone is straightforward and can usually be handled by a homeowner as part of normal home maintenance. Sealing a kitchen countertop will take about 30 minutes. If you prefer, there are contractors and restoration companies that can take care of cleaning and sealing for you.

For more information on how to maintain your natural stone installation, click here.

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