Global Stone: Price?

Price of slate and stone:

I often get asked by customers “Where does my slate or stone come from?”

When I explain, depending on the material, it could be from:

  • India / Africa / China  for  granites or sandstone
  • South America / Italy /Wales for slate
  • Portugual for limestones

Customers are often surprised and dismayed that such a low tech , bulky product should come from so far away and why can’t it be purchased from within the UK? They often surmise that its solely driven by the price of slate and stone. This is however, an over simplistic view. Often it is a combination of things – availability, aesthetics, specification, characteristics and of course price is also a key factor  as there is no point buying a material you can’t sell because the cost of purchase is too high.

Slate

Here at Manthorpe Slate we have visited many of the UK quarries over the years and purchased from them.  Evaluating the products they sell  and experiencing their customer service , some are good, some bad and some absolutely terrible. Welsh slate is one of the standout products in the slate world  which is why we use it for  house signs and memorials – it is unrivalled in its beauty and longevity when used outside.  However you can’t get round the fact for both availability and practicality certain, imported stones are more suitable for some applications than a UK sourced material.

An example of this is Italian slate. This slate, when split, produces a wonderful traditional riven finish not so dissimilar to a Welsh riven slate finish.  Unlike Welsh Riven slate,  it is readily available in large slabs up to 2.4m long.  Welsh slate in comparison is not available in large format slabs and is rarely available in riven slabs larger than a paving slabh.  Honed is though, but that doesn’t really  help you if you want a natural riven surface .

Conversely if you want to use Italian slate for exterior use,  I would personally not recommend it.  Whilst the stone is very durable outside, it does weather to a light grey colour, which if you bought it for its black colour, you will be very disappointed.

Black Limestone

Sometimes though for a stone wholesaler, purchase price of slate and stone from the quarry is the only driving factor and some unscrupulous stone merchants conveniently do not inform their customers of the characteristics of their products.  An  example of this is the widely sold Indian black limestone paving.  This product is very cheap to buy from India and looks great when you first lay it, but in six months of  UK weather  exposure the black will soon fade to a white/grey colour as the Calcium Carbonate in the limestone reacts with acidic rain. It is a great looking paving material but not many people would knowingly buy a black paving that will turn light grey in an uncontrolled manner when used outside.

Here at Manthorpe slate we believe in transparency and we would rather not sell a product at all, than sell a product that isn unsuitable for its intended use.

Black Indian Limestone photos below :

The lighter picture showing the effects of weathering of the stone after 1-2 years of exposure  to the UK climate. The picture on the right shows the limestone when first installed.  With colour enhancers you could restore it partially back to its darker colour, but it would take considerable time and effort .