When you see a monument or a headstone that’s been around for centuries, chances are, it’s made out of granite. Granite has been the stone of choice for so long that even the Ancient Egyptians used it thousands of years ago. And their impressive granite structures are still standing today.
It is no surprise that we want to use high-quality granite for a monument as important as a memorial for our loved ones. Whether you’re trying to create a headstone, mausoleum, statue, or another monument, you want the best granite stone you can find.
For most of us, using the same granite the Ancient Egyptians used is out of the question. But we can import from places like China, where it’s still cost-effective and top-quality stone. In fact, Chinese granite is a highly competitive industry in the United States.
The key is to find the best Chinese granite monument manufacturer and choose your stone from them. Not sure how to find one and how to know you’re getting the best material for your granite monument? Use these tips to get the job done well.
Quality and color often go hand-in-hand when it comes to choosing granite for a headstone or other monument. As we learned thousands of years ago, you can almost pinpoint the quarry where your granite came from based on the mineral composition of the stone. You want this composition to be durable, so it should come from a reputable rock quarry.
For instance, some of the pyramids still standing today are comprised of stone dug from local rock quarries, mud bricks, sand, and gravel. Many of the casings are a mix of white limestone and red granite sourced from the prestigious quarries of Upper Egypt.
Then, there are the monuments that made Rome famous. The still-standing, centuries-old statues and buildings, like the Rome Monument, were often granite-based. The Rock of Ages granite used to make this monument is high in minerals like quartz and feldspar. With the solid composition of these minerals, you know your monument will last because it’s more durable than granite sourced from other areas.
So what colors are best?
Granite is intrusive igneous rock. This means it’s composed of large minerals, called ‘grains,’ that can be seen just by looking at them with your eye.
These types of rock tend to be pink, white, grey, and black, or a variation of those shades. The factor that makes them granite rather than another type of stone is that all granite is made of at least 20% quartz.
In addition to quartz, granite has materials such as mica, potassium feldspar, amphiboles, and other minerals. The various composition of these minerals determines how durable the overall stone should be and the color you see.
In general, to be strong enough to use for monuments, granite should be somewhere between at least 20-60% quartz, a range of 10-65% feldspar, and a maximum of 5-15% micas. Mica tends to be the weakest stone, which is why granite is malleable, even when made of hard stone like quartz.
Common minerals in granite that determine the color are quartz, feldspar, potassium feldspar, biotite, muscovite, and amphibole. Quartz is usually milky-white in color, and feldspar is off-white. Potassium feldspar is a salmon pink shade. Biotite is black or dark brown, muscovite is metallic gold or yellow, and amphibole is black or dark green.
Granite made predominantly from potassium feldspar will be pink, while that made with amphibole (like quartz and feldspar) as the dominant mineral will be black and white. The color you choose depends on the reason for your monument, which is why many headstones are gray, while countertops are more of the black, gold, or white mix.
As we mentioned earlier, the granite's quarry plays a major role in how well it will hold up. Most granite works well for indoor monuments, but if yours will be exposed to the weather, you want it to be extra durable.
Granite in the form of countertops often comes from quarries in China, Italy, India, or Brazil. Each of these types of granite has its own distinctive characteristics. Brazil has a unique granite called Blue Fire, named for the famous painter Vincent Van Gogh. This granite isn’t found anywhere else in the world and is recognized because of its intense blue shade.
However, where you buy the granite doesn’t mean that’s where the retailer has sourced it from. For instance, you wouldn’t expect a retailer like Home Depot to have its own rock quarry. They buy from another manufacturer, who might be a third-party purchaser from someone else, and so on.
Find out where the manufacturer sources their granite from before you go to someone because of their price. It could make a big difference.
In addition to the retailer’s legitimacy and quarry location, be cautious about the “you get what you pay for” philosophy. Some retailers are less expensive because they have fewer people in the supply chain.
For example, if you buy your granite directly from China, and the manufacturer sourced their rock from a Chinese quarry (which is world-famous), you can get the supplies at a lower cost. However, if you buy from a retailer in your country who imported their supplies from a manufacturer in China, you’ll pay more because the second retailer needs to make a profit.
Look at the thickness when you’re comparing prices, too. Some retailers price their granite cheaper because they’re selling it at a 2 cm thickness instead of the 3 cm it’s typically sold at. You might be buying a plain granite stone thinking you’re getting one with detail, and then to get the edging, you must pay more.
Granite will also be more expensive if it includes extras, like clipped corners, a backsplash, overhangs, etc.
Finally, look at the grading. It should say “top grade,” which means the higher price tag is worth it. Lesser-grade stone slabs won’t withstand the environmental damage of being outside in the elements. These lower-grade granite stones often have pit holes, fissures, and other imperfections that absorb water.
Never buy granite at 3 cm thick if it has fiberglass mesh on the back. This means the granite originally had imperfections that were probably sealed with epoxy, then covered with mesh to hold the stone together.
With these three simple tests, you can easily find the best quality granite for the monument you’re planning.
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