Information for, about, and of interest to the stone trade, including items previously featured in Latest News.

FollowUp: American Stone Industries

American Stone Industries Inc. completed its sale to Industrial Realty Group LLC (IRG) by selling its Amherst stone quarry in Ohio for $6.6 million on Dec. 19, according to the Lorain, Ohio, Morning  Journal. IRG, a Downey, Calif.-based development firm, plans to build a luxury residential area at the dormant quarry, although wastewater-line installation will take a few years before major building begins.
The Morning Journal noted that IRG’s purchase of Cleveland-based American Stone also included $6 million for the company headquarters and a working sandstone quarry, and $9.4 milion for remaining business assets.

Oslo Opera: The Yellow Marble

OSLO, Norway – The new National Opera House here hasn’t hosted a production yet, but its marble façade is becoming a sour note.
It’s not a case of substandard stone or improper installation. It’s that the white marble from Carrarra, Italy, is turning yellow.
Oslo’s Aftenposten reported in late November that yellow streaks are appearing on interior and exterior installations of La Facciata at the opera house. And it involves more than just some trim – the streaking is occurring throughout the 269,000 ft² of marble used to clad the building’s roof, forecourt and foyer floor.
The culprit, it turns out, is moisture. How to fix the problem, however, is up for debate.
Dealing with wet conditions is an everyday job at the fjordside location on Oslo’s harbor. The best guesses so far involving the marble discoloration include dealing with damp ground; a possibility of building on concrete that didn’t cure properly; and covering the entire structure, including the installed marble, with plastic sheeting for months.
In mid-December, Aftenposten noted that SINTEF, a research foundation based in Trondheim, Norway, studied the yellowing and offered two options to fix the problem: Dry the stone, or treat it with hydrogen peroxide.
SINTEF advocated taking the former route by uncovering all the marble and, in the case of interior installations, turning on the floor-heating system. Giving the stone the bottle-blond treatment with peroxide would be a last resort.
University of Oslo professor Tom Andersen told Aftenposten reporters that SINTEF’s report may be superficial, since the research foundation couldn’t give the exact cause of the yellowing. He believes the discoloration is pyrite that’s oxidizing in the marble, permanently staining the marble.

FollowUp: New Vermont Charges

A new federal indictment is anticipated for John Byors, a Williston, Vt., marble dealer facing charges of fraud concerning a quarry operation in Swanton, Vt. The Burlington Free Press reported in mid-October that federal prosecutors planned to add obstruction charges and repair deficiencies in the case that prompted a dismissal request from Byors’ attorneys.
Byors pled not guilty this summer to a 57-count indictment in relation to alleged misuse of $8 million from at least 78 investors in the Swanton red-marble quarry. A month-long trial is tentatively set for U.S. District Court in Burlington in March 2008.

FollowUp: Radon Detection Complaint

The Marble Institute of America (MIA) filed a complaint last month with the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection against Home Safety Systems of Stillwater, Minn., citing gross misstatements in a print and advertising campaign for its radon detectors. In its complaint, MIA alleges that statements in the advertising campaign are false and misleading and will cause confusion among the consuming public.

U.S. Countertops 2011: Half-A-Billion Ft²

CLEVELAND – The demand for residential kitchen and bathroom countertops will increase 1.3-percent annually to 540 million ft² in four years, according to a study from The Fredonia Group Inc.
The Cleveland-based industry -research firm, in its Residential Kitchen & Bathroom Countertops, notes that countertop demand will slow from the pace seen earlier in the decade, due primarily to weakness in new single-home construction. And, while renovation expenditures will increase through 2011, it’ll also be at a slower pace than seen in past years.
There’s good news – of a sort – for natural-stone and quartz fabricators. The study also notes that demand for engineered stone will benefit from its ability to combine the minimal porosity of solid surface with the heat and scratch resistance of quartz. Natural stone will be aided by consumer interest in the luxury and style that granite and other stones offer.
However, the study also sees a trend of materials pricing declining, with demand stimulated as middle-income consumers affording more natural stone and granite.
The study also notes that the remodeling segment of construction accounted for 70 percent of volume sales for all countertop materials in 2006. Residential kitchen and bath renovation expenditures are projected to remain positive through 2011, with sales involving kitchen projects continuing to outpace bathrooms.