Marble lends itself very well to moulding and cutting. Be it a vase, a circular table or a streamlined cladding option, marble is seen in a variety of forms and is a much sought after material. Here’s what you should know, before making your choice.
Most of the marble in India comes from quarries in Rajasthan. Other regions include Gujarat, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The quarries are sold in bids and more than one type of stone can be dug from a single quarry. The stone is named after the place from where it is sourced. For instance, Makrana, Rajgadiya and Alwar marbles come from places in Rajasthan, while the Ambaji variety comes from Gujarat. The stone may also be named after the person who owns the quarry.
The basic cost of the stone is fixed at this stage. This depends upon the available resources on the site, the quality of the marble, as well as transportation costs. Prices start at Rs40 per sq. ft for marble ‘tukdis’ (leftover pieces of stone) and go up to about Rs1,400 per sq. ft for a spotless, white Makrana.
Prices of imported marble start at around Rs275 per sq. ft. The slabs tend to get damaged during transportation. So, once imported, they are repaired, repolished and then sold. However, keep in mind that marble slabs don’t come with fixed price tags. It is important to have some knowledge of the different varieties and approximate prices.
How to choose
• Avoid marble slabs that have imperfections such as rot-like patches, tiny holes and spots caused by embedded foreign matter which comes out while grinding the stone. However, if you have purchased stone with surface irregularities, the depressions can be filled up with epoxy and the stone polished smooth
• Ensure that the slabs are not oddly shaped, since these are difficult to cut into uniform size
• Vendors tend to hide cracks in the stone using epoxy. You can detect cracks by pouring water on the marble’s surface. The water seeps through to the rear side of the slab. Broken, jagged pieces are free of cost and can be used for skirting
• Some slabs have a net fixed on one surface. Avoid these stones since they are weak. The net is fixed so the stone does not crumble
• Knock on the stone with another piece of marble or any hard stone.Good-quality, dense marble gives a clear ringing noise
• Always buy all stone slabs from the same block (‘thappi’). This will ensure a uniform-looking surface. Pre-cut stone pieces are made from different ‘lots’ or leftovers. Mark and sign along the edge of each slab with a permanent marker, so slabs are not changed during transportation
The value of the stone block is determined by its size. The larger the size achieved during quarrying, the higher its value. The slab size depends upon the density of the crystals in the stone. The lower the density, the weaker the stone, ultimately restricting its size. But if the crystal density is too high, the stone may turn brittle. Achievable lengths vary between 8ft and 10ft, and breadths between 4ft and 5ft. It is possible to get a bigger size of 15ft x 8ft (l x b), but it is rare.
Thicker slabs yield larger stones. A thin slab is prone to cracking, disallowing a large-sized slab. Standard thicknesses vary from 17mm to 19mm. Sometimes a 20mm thick slab can be specially made.
This is dependent on the size of the crystals that make the marble. Smaller crystals yield a denser stone, thereby reducing its porosity. Marble of a lower density tends to absorb any spilled liquids, making it prone to staining.
Pick a colour
The colour of the stone is region-specific. Refer to the shade list to find out the colours of popular local varieties. Remember, a single-coloured marble is weaker than a marble with mixed grains (veins). This is because mixed-grained marble contains impurities, which increase its strength.
The larger the marble block size, the pricier the stone. Also, the lower the porosity of the stone, the less prone it is to staining and the costlier it becomes.
Navneet Malhotra/ BETTER INTERIORS