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Bulk Stone Transportation: A Complete Guide

December 17, 2019
 By Heavy Haul and Oversized
Bulk Stone Transportation: A Complete Guide
Last Modified: February 2, 2024
When deciding how to ship stone, you need to consider the type and shape of the stone. The experts at Heavy Haul and Oversized can help get you moving like a rolling stone.

Stone is a difficult commodity to ship for several reasons. Because of its weight and mass, it is dangerous to handle, but it is also remarkably brittle. Sharp corners not only present hazards to people moving it, but they can also chip or crack easily if handled too roughly. It certainly makes one wonder how to ship stone when its inherent qualities pose so many challenges. 

Stone is shipped as slabs, blocks, bricks, tiles, and crushed rocks. Each of those has to be treated differently, just like how granite should be handled differently from limestone. However, many stone shipments end up being overweight, so you will need to consider oversize shipping requirements in addition to the overall costs of shipping and insurance.

Stone from New York Mines

The countless mines that dot New York State’s map produce a wide variety of stone, but the most notable type is a unique kind of sandstone known as Bluestone. It is commonly used for outdoor walkways and patios because of its durability and beautiful natural blue-gray color. Despite its name, it can also be found in shades of green, pink, purple, red, and brown. What really makes it special, though, is the fact that it is only produced in New York and Pennsylvania. Bluestone cannot be found anywhere else in the U.S. 

In addition to being one of the only producers of Bluestone, New York also produces a huge volume of crushed limestone and granite. On average, New York produces about 50 million metric tons of crushed stone a year, which is valued at roughly $400 million! 

New York State is also a producer of many other types of stone, such as dolostone, garnet, marble, rock salt, and gravel. New York is also the only state in the U.S. that produces wollastonite, which is a mineral used in paints, plastics, welding, and ceramics. 

Uses for Stone

Stone is a versatile material that’s used in many different ways, from construction and road work to interior decorating and landscaping. Although not every type of stone is used every different way, the variety of stone options available make it perfect for many purposes. 

Stone can be used as:

  • Countertops
  • Floor tiles
  • Landscaping materials
  • Roads 
  • Fireplaces
  • Stair treads
  • Exterior building veneers
  • Kitchen and bathroom backsplashes
  • Sidewalks
  • Garden decorations
  • Statues
  • Foundations
  • Gravestones and cemetery monuments

Because of the wide variety of uses for stone, it’s no surprise that it is often transported long distances. However, different kinds of stone provide different logistical challenges, and all stone can be difficult to handle. 

Crushed Stone Transportation

Crushed stone, whether it has been ground into fine sand or left in larger chunks, can be easily transported on the road with freight trucks. A freight truck, pulling a shipping container that is loaded from the top, can drive on-site for the crushed stone to be dumped into the back. If the crushed stone has already been packed into a shipping container, that can be loaded onto the truck with the help of a crane. 

Once the crushed rock is in the freight truck, the top of the container will still be exposed. Driving at full speed with an open container of crushed stone can result in damages and injuries from loose rocks flying out of the back. For that reason, the top of the container should be covered and secured with a sturdy tarp that would catch any loose rocks and prevent loss of cargo. Tarping the truck also helps to prevent excessive dust, which can be harmful if inhaled. 

bricks and tiles

Shipping Stone Bricks and Tiles

Stone that has already been processed into bricks or tiles requires more careful attention during shipping. The easiest way to transport stone in this form is to palletize it, but you cannot palletize it the same way you would with other products. You need to be careful with the stone, or it could chip or crack in transit.

When palletizing a shipment of stone bricks, it is best to stack layers of cardboard or foam sheets between layers of bricks to prevent scraping, scratching, and breaking. The extra layers will cushion the bricks so they do not knock against each other and can be handled with less risk of damage. Even with the layers in-between, you should ensure that the layers are staggered slightly for structural integrity.

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Tiles can be palletized similarly if they are being transported to a construction site or packaging plant, but to ship to retailers, there are a few slight differences. The most significant change is that tiles are typically packed in short cardboard boxes that accommodate one stack of between 10-15 tiles. Those boxes can then be palletized like any normal boxes. 

Unless you absolutely need to, you should avoid shipping palletized stone LTL (less than truckload). Not only is stone itself rather brittle and susceptible to damage, but it is also hazardous to anything else packed around it. Even small errors in packaging or handling could result in heavy stones coming loose and damaging other products. Because of this, it is always best to ship FTL (full truckload) to reduce the chance of damaging someone else’s shipment. 

Shipping welding equipment also comes with challenges. Learn more from an expert partner like Heavy Haul and Oversized, we are here to help anytime you need us.

How to Ship Stone Slabs

Stone is sometimes shipped in large slabs, especially if it is going to be processed into smaller pieces at another location. When transporting such large, heavy slabs of brittle stone, some specialized equipment is needed. A flatbed truck is installed with a wood and steel frame in the center that will hold the slabs upright. This frame is called an A-frame, because it holds two slabs angled towards each other near the top, making them form an A shape. 

This frame has to be durable in order to hold up the heavy slabs. Because of this, the A-frame is also quite heavy, and has to be installed on the truck with a forklift or crane. Once it is loaded onto the truck, it must be securely locked in place to ensure it does not shift around during the trip. Then, the slabs must be secured to the A-frame with durable straps that are tested to withstand the correct amount of weight and tension. Everything should be triple checked to ensure that it is secure since a problem with such a heavy load could spell disaster. 

The immense weight that often comes with shipping stone slabs means that you’ll likely need to utilize oversized shipping. When using this service, it’s important to work with an experienced heavy haul trucking company. Heavy Haul and Oversized is your go-to partner when it comes to heavy haul shipping. Our service is reliable, safe, and quick which is why our clients continue to work with us. 

stone statue

How to Ship Statues and Other Irregular Stone Products 

When you have a shipment of irregular stone products, such as statues, custom countertops, or headstones, it can be difficult to figure out exactly how to ship something like that safely. It might have sharp corners that could easily chip, or it may have parts that could break off entirely. With something like memorials and headstones, it is extremely important that the surface doesn’t get scratched. Traditional packing methods just aren’t going to cut it.

In order to ship irregular stone pieces safely, the only good option is to order or create custom packaging for it. This is typically a sturdy wooden box with styrofoam lining, and a styrofoam piece sculpted to fit around the edges of the product. By utilizing this custom packaging, you can be sure that the product will be as safe as possible.

If your shipment is particularly fragile or valuable, such as marble statues, then it would be in your best interest to use FTL shipping instead of LTL. This ensures that your shipment isn’t needlessly handled or put at risk due to other products it is shipped with. 

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Oversize Shipments of Stone

One of the biggest problems with shipping stone is that it can be extraordinarily heavy. A truck can be filled up only partially with stone and still meet the maximum weight limit for public roads. This can be a pain to deal with, but it’s really best to play it safe and divide the load to multiple trucks if possible.

In order to be allowed to travel on public roads with an overweight shipment, you need to prove that your shipment is non-divisible. A non-divisible load is one that cannot be disassembled or split, and instead has to be shipped as one large unit. This means that you will not be allowed to ship an overweight shipment of crushed stone if the stone can simply be moved in two trucks. For a large slab or block of stone, however, the shipment can obviously not be split apart and must be shipped as one item. 

What Qualifies as Oversize?

Although each state has different regulations on the specifics, a shipment will automatically be considered oversized if it exceeds 80,000 pounds gross weight, or dimensions greater than a standard shipping container. Those dimensions are:

  • Height: 14 feet
  • Width: 8 feet 6 inches
  • Length: 53 feet

However, the weight threshold changes depending on the number of axles on the truck. If a truck is a single-axle truck, then its maximum weight would only be 20,000 pounds, and anything above that would be considered overweight. For a tandem-axle truck, that number changes to 34,000. 

However, the number of axles on the truck is not the only factor that influences what is considered oversized. Because of the state laws, your shipment might be smaller than that and still be considered oversized based on where it is shipping to, from, and through. However, if any aspect of your shipment meets or exceeds those measurements, then it is considered oversize no matter where you are. 

Permits for Oversize Shipping

In order to travel on state highways, the shipment must be accompanied by a state oversize or overweight shipping permit, depending on which one applies. If your shipment is moving to a neighboring state, then you will need to acquire a permit for both the state of origin and the state of destination. If it is moving to a state that is farther away, then you will need to get permits for every single state the shipment moves through on the way to its destination. 

There are fees associated with acquiring permits, but the total amount is going to vary depending on the states that are issuing the permits. Usually, these permits are issued by the State Department of Transportation (DOT), but other times it might be handled by the Department of Revenue (DOR) or even another different department. This inconsistency can make it difficult to determine exactly how to get all the required permits, but reaching out to a consultant can help make the process a little easier.

In most cases, issued permits are only good for a short window of time. During that window is the only time your shipment will be allowed to be on the road, so make sure you have all the necessary preparations for ensuring your shipment moves on schedule. 

stone on a truck

Oversize Shipping Requirements

When moving oversize or overweight freight on public roads, there are some important safety regulations to keep in mind. For starters, the truck should be marked with a large banner that states “Oversize Load” or “Wide Load,” or whatever is applicable. That banner should be present at the front and rear of the freight truck, and you should know that carriers do not typically provide this for you. You should expect to have to supply your carrier with the correct banners to be compliant. 

In addition to the banners, any part of your shipment that protrudes past the normal dimensions of a standard carrier should have lights and flags affixed to it. This is to make it obvious to other drivers on the road that there are parts of the cargo that stick out. If the entire load sticks out of the normal dimensions, then flags and lights should be attached to the corners of the truck. 

Some oversize or overweight shipments must be accompanied by an escort vehicle, which serves two purposes. The escort vehicle drives ahead of the shipment to let other drivers know about the oversize vehicle, and to make way for it if possible. Additionally, by driving ahead, the escort vehicle can give advanced notice to the truck driver about potential accidents or obstructions in the road ahead. Sometimes a shipment requires an additional escort to drive behind the truck as well.

In most states, there are also different limitations on when an oversize truck can be on the road, and for how long. For example, most places do not allow overnight shipping of oversized freight. Most states also restrict the number of hours the truck driver can pull the oversize load per day, and the speed at which they are allowed to drive. Most states do not allow oversize or overweight trucks to exceed 55 miles per hour. 

Cost of Shipping Stone

Stone is a heavy commodity, making it more expensive to ship by default. Stone products that require more careful attention, handling, or oversize shipping services will also drastically increase the shipping rates. Any time you have a shipment that is heavy and delicate, it’s going to be more expensive to ship than most other products.

With that being said, companies that ship stone typically ship large volumes of it, and quite often. A lot of the time, carriers and logistics companies can offer steep discounts to shippers that move freight with them several times a year. Although that usually necessitates signing a long-term contract, it can be worth the savings. 

If your shipment includes stone like marble, quartz, or granite, make sure to check out our article on the subject.

Freight Insurance

When a shipment is particularly valuable, the standard limited carrier liability policy might not be enough to put shippers at ease. If something was to happen to the freight, the carrier liability wouldn’t cover even close to the entire value of the freight. The policies differ from carrier to carrier, but usually, it only covers a small percentage of the true value of the shipment. Shippers that want to be sure that their investment is protected should apply for a more comprehensive freight insurance policy.

Remember that an insurance policy isn’t very useful if you do not maintain adequate records. In the event of a problem, you need to be able to provide the proper information to file a claim. Otherwise, your insurance policy might not be honored.

Ship Stone with Heavy Haul and Oversized

Now that you know how to ship stone, you can turn to Heavy Haul and Oversized to get a trustworthy carrier to move your delicate commodity. Our team of experts is available 24/7, with locations all over the U.S. We offer unparalleled customer support and a wide range of services to give shippers like you the best experience possible. Not only that, but we also offer:

  • Expedited delivery
  • 99.5% on-time delivery
  • White-glove services
  • Flatbed shipping options
  • Flexibility to meet any customer’s needs
  •  Real-time freight visibility

Our team of experts can handle any kind of freight, so what are you waiting for? Get your free freight rate quote today or call us directly at (855) 490-2433 to speak with a specialist now.

2 comments on “Bulk Stone Transportation: A Complete Guide”

  1. I need to ship approximately 4 tons of flagstone from my sisters house (80534) to mine (92322). It is not time sensitive and we are more than willing to wait to be part of a larger haul. We have not loaded the stone onto pallets, but I am estimating 8 pallets.

    Do you have any recommendations for economical shipping?

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