Frederick M. Hueston, PhD  

Stone Care Consultant 

It simply amazes me how many scams there are these days. You’d think people would be more attuned to all the tricks. Unfortunately, even in the stone industry it occurs, and this particular day I was going to find out.      

I was sitting in my office throwing darts at the back of my door. Yes, there is a dart board there and I must admit, I’m getting pretty good at it. I had thrown two bullseyes in a row and was armed and ready for my third when my phone rang. 

Needless to say, the dart went flying way off course and landed in the hinge on the door. Wish I would have taken a picture. 

The voice on the other end was a soft-spoken lady. She told me she was the property manager for a downtown office building and they had a problem with a black granite sign in front of their building. She proceeded to tell me that the sign was faded and had all this white film on it. “Can you please come take a look?” she asked.  

Since this was right in my backyard, I told her I would be there in about an hour. But first I had to make my routine stop at the local greasy spoon hangout for a cup of Jo and, yes, to hear the same old stories by the regulars. 

I hopped in the old Woody and headed on over to see this sign. On my way there I thought I was going to see a black granite sign that had a deposit of calcium from the irrigation system, which is quite common here if Florida.  

Of course, I had no idea how old the sign would be and I guessed it’s possible it could be doctored or dyed, as well. In a few minutes I was about to find out. 

I pulled up to the front of the building and there was a sign right at the entrance. The sign was on the ground surrounded by flowers and some lavish landscape. It was about 5 feet high and 20 feet long. From where I was sitting it looked pretty gray. 

There was a section that had a heavy buildup of calcium salts which I, again, assumed was from the irrigation system. Before I would be able to take a closer look, I went inside to find the building manager. 

I entered the office and was greeted by a security guard who was a spitting image of Barney Fife. He was very skinny and I had to do a double take since I thought it could be Don Knots’ son. When he spoke he even had that same high-pitched voice. I looked around and was expecting Rod Sterling to appear, telling me I had just entered the Twilight Zone. 

I told him who I was and that I was here to talk to the building manager. He got on the phone and within two minutes this tall, long-haired lady came walking out of a side door. This was really freaky since she looked like Mrs. Adams from the Adams Family. The only thing missing was the cigarette holder. 

Anyway, she approached me and stuck out her hand as if she expected me to be getting on one knee and start kissing it. I just shook her hand, introduced myself. 

She said, “Were having a large corporate meeting in a few weeks and I’ll need that granite sign to be restored. I called you because I didn’t know who else to call.”  

I said, “I’ll need to take a closer look.”

I walked outside and climbed my way over the flowers to fully inspect it. Now, I knew that the deposits where from the irrigation system but wasn’t sure why the granite had turned gray.  

As I approached the sign, I noticed that the stone on the top of it was all crumbling and falling apart. The sun is hot here but I had never seen granite break apart like this from UV damage. 

I took a rag out of my pocket and wiped the surface of the sign and discovered the reason for the fading. The fading was caused by the sun, but this sign was not granite at all but agglomerate. 

Now, for you folks who don’t know what agglomerate is, here is an explanation. Agglomerate is nothing more than marble chips held together with a polyester matrix. In other words, it’s a man-made material. Most agglomerates and materials with polyester resins are very susceptible to UV degradation.  This was the reason this sign was fading and falling apart.  

Now I had the lovely task of telling Mrs. Adams that the sign is not even granite, and that it could not be fixed. I later found out that the invoice supplied by the contractor who originaly installed the sign actually clamied it was granite. Oh, well. Another case solved.

The Stone Detective is a fictional character created by Fred Hueston, written to be entertaining and educational. He has written over 33 books on stone and tile installations, fabrication and restoration and also serves as an expert for many legal cases across the world. You can send any email comments to him at