Current trends in interior design are leading homeowners to choose more natural products for their homes. This includes the use of natural stone in many rooms of the home from the kitchen to the family room. These trends include the use of materials in a rustic or “natural” state, which has some homeowners turning to stones like slate and quartzite for their floors, walls, and countertops. These products are left naturally cleft, rather than machined. Naturally cleft stones like slate and quartzite have a tendency to spall after installation, which can be startling and distressing for some homeowners. Educating them on this occurrence can help them make better decisions for their homes.
Spall is the process of small pieces of the stone breaking away from the surface. This is a completely natural and normal occurrence in cleft stones, and does not mean a defect. Most spalling will stop by itself after about three months, or the length of time it takes for the stone to get settled into its new environment.
During the three months that the stone is spalling, it is not uncommon for the entire installation to be very dusty. Small flakes of stone may break or chip off particularly as the stone is being cleaned. In the case of natural cleft quartzite, the stone may appear to be sugary with small granules brushing off of the surface.
Because of the spall, special considerations should be made when natural cleft products are used in kitchens and other areas where food is prepared and eaten. Customers with allergies may also be bothered by the excessive amounts of dust that can be created when a stone is actively spalling.
Keeping the stone damp by applying a damp mop to it on a regular basis can help to cut down on some of the visible spall. Otherwise, it will stop on its own in time. Customers that may not enjoy the effect may want to consider another naturally finished stone instead.