Fieldstone and Flagstone is stone that is collected or mined close to the surface. The stones are random sizes and shapes and generally have a wide and sometimes unpredictable color and texture range. They can be covered with moss and lichen, and, if surface collected, can be weathered and aged by wind and water. Samples will generally be individual pieces of stone delivered on a loose stack pallet. It is important to view enough samples to be able to see the entire composition of a wall or pavement.
Antique or Reclaimed Stone is collected from historical buildings or areas of redevelopment. Similar to Fieldstone, it also has a wide range of colors and textures. It can have a very worn surface from years of foot traffic. It will often exhibit tooling marks where cut or crafted by the original craftsmen. The patina, which is prized in this stone, can be a very different color or texture from the core of the stone. This will present problems when cutting or fitting the stone. Samples of this type of stone can often be cut to a size that allows easy shipping. It is doubly important to have enough samples to confirm what the entire composition will look like.
Cut Stone and Quarry Products come from the age-old process of cutting blocks of stone from deposits of stone. Quarried stone is manufactured into a wide array of products from cladding for skyscrapers to kitchen counter tops. Each type of stone, granite, limestone, marble, and sandstone has different characteristics requiring a wide variety of production techniques. These conditions can often be critical in how color and texture will be controlled in the finished stone. Samples are most often cut to size; many quarries have an established standard sample program. In some cases the quarry blocks are numbered and samples can be identified by block.
Brick and Terra Cotta are man-made so they always come from a production process. Modern machine production of brick and terra cotta is quite predictable, whereas hand-made and wood fired can have wide variances batch to batch. Understanding the production techniques and having enough samples to confirm the composition is the key.
Cast Stone and Cast Composites are also man-made products, so the key to understanding them is in understanding the production process. Color is more easily controlled in the process; the problem arises with quality control from batch to batch. Samples are almost always in predictable sizes. The most important factor to watch is that the sample set truly shows the batch-to-batch textures and colors to be expected.