If you have done any amount of shopping for hardscaping materials to use on a commercial or residential project, you have probably heard of the terms “firsts” and “seconds” with regard to natural stone and stone products. Firsts and seconds refers to the quality grades of natural stone that can be purchased and used in different types of projects. While price will be a deciding factor for many, there are other things that must be considered.
Firsts vs. Seconds – Which is Best for You?
When it comes to debating the pros and cons of seconds stone being used in your project, the best thing to do is to stop and consider what you are getting, as well as how and where it will be used. If you don’t have a lot of experience in learning how to identify quality materials, this basic guide will help you to know the difference.
- FIRSTS – The absolute best stone is sold in the industry as firsts. This type of material is very good quality and therefore can be used for just about any project you would want to do that requires natural stone for Westport homeowners and business owners. It is often used as a “premium” quality stone by brand name providers and because of its quality and durability, it is often used for custom stone projects in commercial and multi-family residential properties.
- SECONDS – Stone that is less attractive, but is still adequate for a majority of residential or business projects, is often referred to as seconds. The second identifies the quality as compared to natural stone that ranks as premium or firsts. Companies often sell this product as “value” or “affordable stone” as an alternative to more expensive, higher quality brands. These lower quality grades of natural stone are often unsuitable for high-traffic projects or projects that require more durable, higher quality materials.
When it comes to purchasing natural stone for Westport homeowners, many of the higher quality material supply companies, such as J&J Materials, won’t stock seconds. The pros and cons of seconds stone simply do not measure up, especially in situations where the quality grades of natural stone count. Big box stores and home improvement centers will usually sell the cheaper variety of seconds stone at a few bucks a bag. Unfortunately, the cost-effectiveness of this solution for long-term results does not pan out, as the seconds stone will need to be replaced or repaired much sooner than the higher quality firsts stone.
How to Identify Quality Materials
Unfortunately, unless you are told outright about the quality grades of natural stone that are being presented to you, chances are you won’t know how to identify quality materials from lesser-quality materials. Chances are if you see really cheap flagstone available for purchase, it is either seconds materials or what is known as seconds rejects, which is an even lower quality of natural stone. This type of stone is often available through local home improvement centers. Going to a quality masonry and landscaping supplier, such as J&J Materials right here in Southeastern Massachusetts, will prevent you from having to identify and weigh the pros and cons of seconds stone, as they do not sell anything less than top quality stone products.
Other ways to identify cheaper, lower-quality seconds from premium-quality firsts:
- premium quality natural stone will typically be warrantied, while seconds will not come with any type of warranty as to the quality and durability of the material
- pricing is not always an indicator – sometimes beautiful, local stone is more affordable than poor-quality imported stone, so ask the salesperson if you aren’t sure
- be warned that some dealers and suppliers will not reveal the grade of their natural stone products, so you may have to spend extra time learning how to identify quality materials
- smaller materials, such as small pieces of flagstone, are usually an indicator of natural stone that breaks apart easily and is less durable than thicker, premium quality stone
Ultimate Pros and Cons of Seconds Stone
While it is true that you can usually get seconds quality stone at a cheaper price than higher quality grades of natural stone, there are more cons than there are pros. The negative aspects of choosing a lower grade of material should be obvious, such has having to make more frequent and drastic repairs and replacements, however there are other things that must be considered as well.
- Seconds materials do not go through approval testing, not just for quality and durability, but for slip resistance, water absorption and other essential areas.
- Because seconds materials vary wildly, there is no way to tell how well they will perform in the long term, bringing up concerns regarding algaefication, which is where the porous surfaces are easily colonized by algae, creating a crucially slick surface.
- Seconds are typically pushed off on homeowners for DIY projects, as commercial and municipal project managers won’t touch them due to their lack of testing and warranty to reduce accidents and other related issues.
All of these reasons and more make these lower quality grades of natural stone a poor choice of natural stone for Westport homeowners, just as much as they are a poor choice for area businesses, commercial properties and municipalities. As a result, homeowners should avoid purchasing seconds materials whenever safety, strength, durability and aesthetics are an issue. To avoid seconds completely, visit J&J Materials where only high quality grades of natural stone are sold.