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Do I Need a Stone Dye?

Stone dye is a product that is used in the industry at particular points of processing when stone is going from the mountain to the kitchen. So, a question that some stone professionals naturally wonder is, "Do I need a stone dye?" In this article, we will talk a little bit about the purpose of stone dye, whether fabricators need it, and how it is applied.

A Stone of a Different Color

Natural stone slabs are not only unique, but they are often times made up of a blend of colors that is amazing. In fact, the color of the slab is one of the reasons a given stone is selected for a specific project. And yet, even the most interesting stone colors can be enhanced.

Stone Fabrication

What do you think of when you hear the word fabrication? Well note one of the ways it is defined according to duckduckgo.com:

The act of framing or constructing; construction; formation; manufacture.

For a slab of stone to go from a mountain to a kitchen surface, it must be processed. This is accomplished through a series of steps. Sometimes you will hear the whole process spoken of in two particular phases:

  1. Manufacturing (also referred to as Industrial)
  2. Fabrication (also called Professional)

The terms we are going to use in this article for the two phases mentioned above are, industrial and fabrication.

Industrial Stone Processing

On the industrial side of the process, the stone gets quarried of the side of a mountain in huge blocks. It is then sliced into slabs and processed.

Part of the stone processing on the industrial side is treating the material. There are a few potential "treatments" that may be applied to a stone slab when it is being processed. Depending on the kind of stone and its composition, it might be resined and/or honed or polished.

During the application of the above treatments, enhancements may be applied. One of which is color tinting. Stone dyes are used to tint the color of a stone during the industrial part of the fabrication process. Afterward, the stone is polished and sent on to the slab yard, fabricator, etc. These dyes are applied either individually or in multiples. The result is an enhanced version of the natural color, or the stone having a colored tint applied. Each of these enhancements are performed using stone dye(s). This technique changes the stone's natural color, making it deeper, richer, more vibrant.

Do Fabricators Need Stone Dye?

So far you might be thinking to yourself, "since the industrial processing enhances the stone, I don't need stone dye." That might be true, unless you are putting an edge on a stone that has been processed in the above manner.

When the fabricators put the edge on a stone that has had a stone dye treatment applied during its polishing phase, the edge will not have the adjusted color that the surface has. This will be easily noticed even if the edge has an excellent polish on it. Why? Because the surface of the slab is now a different color than the edge.

This color mismatch between the edge and the surface is what necessitates the use of stone dye for a fabricator. The method for harmonizing the color of the surface and the color of the edge is to use stone dye to enhance the edge that is now different from the polished surface. Just as a fabricator must polish the edge he or she puts on the stone, the professional must also enhance the edge of the slab so it matches the surface in order to have the best results. As mentioned above, polish may be excellent, but the color might still be off if stone dye is not used.

How Fabricators Use Stone Dye

So how do fabricators use stone dye to match a stone's surface? The steps are not complicated, but the implimentation of the process requires patience and repetition. Here is the procedure listed in steps:

  1. During your polishing of the stone, bring the surface to a 400 finish.
  2. Dry the stone using a heat gun, torch, or allow it to dry naturally.
  3. Apply the stone dye using the necessary color(s).
    • Multiple colors can be used to get the exact treatment needed.
    • Patiently apply the color(s) in stages and check the tint.
    • If you see that a little more of a certain color needs added to the edge, add it.
    • Repeat this process until you have an exact match.
  4. Apply Ager or Ager Tiger (for exotic stone) to the stone to keep the color.
  5. Allow the stone to dry naturally or use a drying method mentioned in step 2.
  6. Important: after you have matched the edge color of the stone to its surface color, continue your polishing process starting with the grit that follows the grit you completed right before beginning to match the color. (for example if you completed 400 grit and then added the dye, you will use 800 after the dying is done)

Dry stone is important when you work with stone dye. The principle is simple; if the stone is already holding liquid in its pores, it will not be able to absorb the dye. So, make sure that the stone is as dry as possible when you work with stone dye.

So, in conclusion, if you are asking, "do I need stone dye?", the answer is, "it depends on how you are edging the slab." If you are putting a polished edge on the stone, remember that matching the polish is not necessarily enough; you may also need to match the color. When this is the case, having stone dye and being familiar with how to apply it will equip you to give the best polished edge.