Frederick M. Hueston, PhD  

Stone Care Consultant 

I thought I had heard of everything in this wacky business. I once had an installer tell me that the reason green marble curls is because it contains living plant material.     

On another occasion I had someone calling me asking how to grow mold and moss on a limestone wall.  Then there was the lady who stained her entire white marble floor with coffee –on purpose– to darken it. 

But, today’s case I think is one that was somewhat of a mystery but also allowed me to put my medical skills to work. That is if you consider taken a first aid class and CPR medical skills. So, let’s get to it.

I was walking around a trade show talking to various vendors and overheard a conversation that I could not resist stepping in. This was a big guy. I mean he was huge. He must have tipped the scales at nearly 400 lbs. From the conversation it was apparent he was a fabricator. 

He was talking to another fabricator about one of his employees. The other guy, who was probably just as big, seemed to be looking all over the place and wanting to get away. That’s when I saw my opportunity to step in. 

I tapped “Shamu” on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, but I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation.” 

He looked at me and his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. He grabbed my hand and nearly broke it and said, “Holy crap, you’re the Stone Detective, aren’t you?” He acted like he had just met a celebrity. It made me feel really good. 

He started babbling on about my columns. That’s my articles, not my marble columns. I was happy he enjoyed them but I wanted to get back to what he was talking about. While he was distracted and focused on me, the other guy just kind of slipped away into the crowd. 

I worked my way into this one-sided conversation when Shamu stopped to come up for air, and asked him to tell me what he was relating to the other guy before I stepped in. “Oh, yeah,” he said, “I have this employee that can’t cut engineered stone.”  

OK, I thought, hire a guy that can. He went on to say that “the guy is top-notch at cutting granite but when he cuts engineered stone his hands and arms break out into a rash.” 

Now, I have heard of this before and it makes sense. Engineered stone contains polyester resin and some people are highly allergic to polyester resin. I started explain that to him when he cut me off and said, “Wait, that’s not the only problem.” 

“OK,” I said, “go on.” 

He continued, “Well, as I said, he is great at granite and it’s usually not a problem, but lately there are certain granites that also make him break out.” 

“Really?” I said.  

He started going on and on about the doctors not knowing what’s going on and they’re giving the employee all kinds of medications. I was kind of surprised since the first rule of troubleshooting, whether it’s stone or people, is to know what the root of the problem is. In other words, what is causing the rash? 

Well, this is when the Stone Detective became the diagnosing physician – kind of like that TV series House. I looked at the big guy and told him I knew exactly why his employee was breaking out with some granite and not others. He just got this blank stare on his face like I was crazy. But, hey, I’m the Stone Detective and this guy likes my articles. 

“It’s simple,” I told him. “Your employee is allergic to the polyester resin in engineered stone and certain granites also contain a good bit of polyester resins, applied at the factory.” I went on to explain the resining process. 

I told him to tell the employee to inform his doctor about the polyester resin and he should be able to give him a prescription for the rash. Hmm, maybe I should start carrying a prescription pad for these crossover cases! Anyway, 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