Dimension stone is any type of natural rock material that is quarried in order to make blocks or slabs of rock that are cut to specific sizes (width, length, and thickness) and shapes. Dimension stone is used because it is durable, strong and attractive. It is usually important that they can be polished. The rocks chosen for dimension stone include all rock types (igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary). The most important rocks used as dimension stone are granite, limestone, marble, sandstone, and slate. Certain softer rocks such as alabaster (massive gypsum) and soapstone (massive talc) can also be considered dimension stone.
The states usually producing the most dimension stone are Indiana, Vermont, Georgia, and Wisconsin. Based on tonnage, granite usually accounts for the largest amount of dimension stone production each year. Limestone production is next, followed by sandstone, quartzite, marble, slate, and miscellaneous stone. Dimension stone is also imported from Italy, India, Canada, Spain, and other nations. The overall supplies of dimension stone are enough to meet annual demand.
Rough block production represents more than half of the dimension stone produced annually. Rough blocks of various dimension stone are used mostly in construction and to make monuments. Dressed stone is used to make curbstones for streets, flagstones for roofs and walkways, and other decorative uses such as for carvings and statues. Dressed stone represents more than half by tonnage of total dimension stone sold or used.
Substitutes and Alternative Sources
Depending on the application, dimension stone can be replaced with steel, concrete, plastics, glass and other similar materials. In building or monument construction, for instance, the material chosen very much depends on the design choices and goals of the architect. A particular stone might be chosen for its color and texture, or for the look it gives to a building or a room.