“The best liar is he who makes the smallest amount of lying go the longest way”. Samuel Butler English composer, novelist, & satiric author (1835 – 1902)
Nothing fits this description better than a sample of a natural stone slab. These seemingly innocent chunks of rock come through our doors everyday in the unsuspecting grip of frustrated home owners. More often than not, (if we do have the same stone type in stock) these folks will stand in front of the full slab glancing back and forth at their sample, and say “That doesn’t look anything like what I expected”. Shame on you sample.
Natural stone is “Natural”. Which means nature is not handing out the specific formula for stone colors and types. Quarries do not have the luxury of knowing exactly what the polished stone will look like until they get it out of the ground and cut it up. Also, over the course of time, as the vein is mined, the color and patterns tend to change. Even colors that seem very consistent, will vary in color, shade, crystal size, speckles and so on. Some slab suppliers have tried color dye to make their material seem more consistent. For the most part color dyes are disdained in natural stone because stone fabricators can have a difficult time getting the edges of countertops to match the top. So with all of this variation, the best a sample can do is give you a general idea of the stone. Nothing more.
So here are a few tips about the use of samples…
1. Do not use samples to select color swatches, tiles, curtains, flooring and so on without first holding the sample up to the specific bundle (or block) of slabs you’re interested in. You need to confirm that your sample is a reasonable match to the actual slabs that will end up on your countertops before basing other decisions around it.
2. Not all slabs come with samples. As hard as we try to get samples along with our slabs, suppliers don’t always send them. They are getting better. If a sample is not available from the same slabs you are looking at, you can often use a sample from a different lot, or in some cases, even a different stone type. Just make sure that you hold it up to the slab you’re considering to make sure that it is adequately representative.
3. The bigger the sample the better. Especially if you’re talking about stones with lots of movement. When slabs like these come with samples, we often see sample stacks that have a lot of variation (as shown in the picture above). Again, a good rule of thumb is to hold up the sample to the full slab and decide for yourself whether or not you think it generally represents the colors and patterns of the overall.
4. Carrying both a sample and a picture of the slab together is very helpful. The sample gives you color accuracy while the picture gives you a sense of the overall pattern as it relates to sample.
Just a few other notes:
- Sometimes a sample can be attained by breaking off a corner of a slab. However, this is only when the slab has a corner that is already cracked. Most suppliers are understandably hesitant to break off home-made samples, as sometimes a missing corner can make or break a potential job.
- Samples you obtain from a tile, flooring or cabinet store may be out of date with what’s currently available at your local slab supplier.
- Finally, if you’re finished with a sample, it’s always appreciated when you return it so that others can make use of them.
Hopefully this information is helpful to you as you begin your quest for your dream kitchen or bathroom. As always, the EleMar crew will go above and beyond to accommodate you in your search for the perfect stone.