How to Select Stone Cladding for Your Home?
In this article, we will take a look at some key areas of creating your perfect wall and the elements that come together to give you the finishes you see today on some of the most stunning homes across the country.
We’ll take a look at what natural stone cladding is, what types are available to you, which would work best for you and ultimately a guideline on how to install your cladding.
“Cladding” is made to dress your wall with stone without the costs of building walls with blocks and labour costs associated with them. You can easily clad your wall with your preferred material and blend it in to suit your environment in a more efficient and cost-effective way.
What is Natural Stone Cladding?
Stone Cladding is a thin layer of stone applied to a building or other structure made of a material other than stone. Stone cladding is adhering to a concrete wall, brickwork and buildings as part of their original architectural design. The back of each piece of stone is sawn to a flat finish, which allows stones to be fixed to appropriate substrates.
With locations scattered all over the world, most countries have some form of natural stone that is found beneath them.
Natural stone “cladding” is thin slices of quarried natural stones. They are taken out of the land and accordingly sliced into blocks and boulders – from these blocks/boulders, the products you see today are manufactured and made.
With many different types of natural stones, ranging from granite to quartzite from travertine to marble there are cladding varieties to suit anyone and everyone.
What is free form Stone Cladding?
Free form – These are small, medium and large pieces of loose natural stone with sawn flat back pieces that come together to create an organic wall that appears like it has been built for centuries. The definition of “free form” are individual pieces.
With a back that has been sawn flat for easy installation, our individual wall cladding stones are glued onto an existing wall, creating a natural and timeless organic look.
Installed by a skilled stonemason, equally as important to the quality of stone used as well as the shape and finish of the stone, is the quality of craftsmanship from your installer.
Freeform organic stonework is an art form, and the artist is critical in completing the ‘picture’ that becomes your wall.
It is not a pattern that they have to follow, there are specific ways you need to lay each type of organic cladding to get the right look. What we are trying to achieve here is the appearance that your structure has been hand-built from actual blocks, centuries ago.
If you lay the cladding as if its an abstract painting or some sort of pattern you turn the wall into more of a patterned stone wall (which is fine if you are after that look) rather than to achieve the look of a structurally built wall that is built/stacked by a stonemason block by block. This way it each piece suits its grains, shape and colour.
For example, If your stonemason were going to build a wall say 10m long and 5 meters high from blocks, the wall should be structurally stable, it needs to be stacked one on top of another so it doesn’t ever fall or collapse.
When cladding a free form natural stone onto an existing wall it still needs to look like as if they have been built from actual blocks, they still need to appear stable. Even though it is actually the substrate on the back that needs to be stable!
If you do not see the difference when looking at a block wall and a cladded wall, then you have achieved the coveted timeless wall which will doubt anyone speculating if the wall is cladded or block-work.
Armstone offers corners pieces of all the stone claddings which are available in pre-cut 90-degree pieces to give you that full stone, block look. The benefit here is that you don’t have to get your stonemason to mitre the corners, its best to avoid seeing any cut joints anywhere on the wall.
To achieve the true organic look your installer shouldn’t have any sawn cuts on your stonework. They should make cuts from the back of the stone and split each individual piece of the stone to prevent having a sawn cut on the face or side of the piece.
If you have the sawn edges, you may chip the edge of each piece to give the stone a more natural edge. This is where the expertise of your stonemason should really show.
When done properly, a free form organic wall can create a stunning timeless feature to your indoors or outdoors. However as with anything in life, if corners are cut, there Is practically no point in going through the process. One would be better off with other, more practical options.
What is Dry Stone Cladding?
In the free form individual stone cladding range, you can either do “Dry Stack” aka “Dry Stone Cladding” which means that the stone cladding is Not Grouted (no any cement-filled into the gaps) or Grouted.
Some stones look good in “dry stack” and some “grouted”. It is really all about your personal preference.
Some Natural Stone Claddings looks really organic when you lay them in “Crazy” pattern. This is where the pieces don’t have any even sizes or shapes.
If you are planning to do a dry stack you must plan ahead to have the grout joints tight or you if you’d like to grout you should use packers to get consistent grout joints for each individual piece of stone.
If you are not sure which will suit your home or project give us a call and speak to us, we are sure we be tailor you the perfect solution.
Besides the “Crazy” format stone cladding nowadays more architects and landscape designers are specifying the “Random Ashlar” pattern which is suited for more modern designs.
“Random Ashlar” is a random Geometric pattern – Random ashlar, pieces consist of random squares and rectangles.
Stone Panels and Stacked Stones
Z-panels – “Z-panels” have a ‘Z’ shape which allows each stone panel to interlock with the next. These pre-made dry stack panels are the most cost-effective way to transform your wall to a dry stack look.
With a concrete backing Armstone’ Z shape panels which are also known as “Stone Panels” or “Ledgestones” as well as “Cultured stones” have chicken wire holding each individual piece of stone together on a concrete backing system for a functional and feasible install makes for a great product. We’ve seen many homes use this type of wall cladding and the results have been very pleasing.
Z panels are considered in between when it comes to installation and are easier to install in comparison to free form cladding. Available in easy to work with sizes, you can quickly glue these onto your suitable substrate. We personally carry matching corner pieces and matching capping to provide a perfect finish for your home.
With a number of options available such as Micha Quartz, Toad Limestone and Natural colours as Rustic Granite – there is something to suit any home.
Stacked Stones – Stacked stones are a more linear approach to wall cladding. With ready to use stone veneers holding together small individual bits of stone which are stacked to together with glue, it’s very simple to clad any suitable structure.
Each stone is stacked and glued onto the panel which helps gives your wall or structure a natural 3D appearance. If you’re looking for an easy way to add appeal to your internal and external walls or structures, this option is for you.
Made from premium natural stone and a combination of durability and strength the range of options in this format are endless. It’s important to choose the right one that brings out the best in your home.
Stacked Stone Panels are available in a convenient size of 600x150mm and are light-weight. They can easily adhere onto your wall, similar to tiles.
Which Stone Cladding Is Right For You?
With so many options available to you at the tip of your fingers, there are factors to consider and take into account before locking in your material.
It’s wise to consider where the wall cladding will be going?
- 1. Would the cladding be facing mostly towards the sun or it is under the shade and can get mouldy?
- 2. Will it have direct water on it, would it be used as a feature wall for a saltwater pool?
- 3. Is it for your fireplace, is it indoors and does it get a lot of heat?
- 4. Can you install cladding on the plaster wall?
- 5. How high is the wall? Would it require mechanical fixing?
- 6. If it is for piers or columns, please consult with us to know which size and format will work the best with your specific column size.
- 7. Is it for the blade wall of your home?
The right cladding should complement your space, surrounds and budget.
How to Install Stone Cladding?
There are a few things to consider when it comes to the visual appeal of your wall and there is one key element that really makes or breaks this and it falls under, installation. Let’s take a look below at what the most important factors are.
Pick the right installer:
It’s important to engage the right team, one with the commitment and experience to help bring to life your dream wall.
When shortlisting the right people for the job, always be sure to ask for photos of previous similar projects completed as well as any references they may have.
Picking the right installer can make a world of difference and Is equally as important as the quality of your stone.
Make certain your foundation is solid and your surface is ready for application. For natural stone, you may build the substrate out of bricks, concrete or blockwork and depending on the height and size you may also need to have your wall signed off by an engineer.
Make sure any dirt or debris is removed from the wall prior to adhering your stone cladding, this will allow for maximum adhesion.
It’s important to consider things like wastage and breakage when ordering, depending on the type of stone cladding you may find some pieces are too small and you will need to sort through your extras to make the wall the size and shape you desire, it’s also possible that during installation or transportation that some pieces may break. We normally advise between 10%-15% wastage, depending on the product.
The dollars in the details, therefore its best to have full piece corner pieces to really enhance the overall organic feeling off your wall – you’ll find this a much cleaner finish as you will not have any visual interference brought to you from mitred corners.
Once your wall is cladded you can finish it off with some matching capping, this creates a clean, crisp look and really turns your wall into a distinct feature.
If you happen to only have a short retaining wall or a planter box it also looks great to use the full corner pieces for the capping.
It’s key to be patient when using any free form or ashlar type natural stone product.
Try setting out the pieces on the ground and begin putting together the pieces the way you’d like to see them when they are up on your wall.
Keep in mind you will be adjusting pieces to size and mixing and matching the pieces to create your own natural variation, it really is like art and a good artist always prepared his tools.
How is Stone Cladding fixed in place?
What adhesive to use for stone cladding?
When adhering the stone pieces onto the substrate be sure to use a quality adhesive, Armstone recommends the products from Mapei and we’ve found the moisture-sensitive glue from Mapei Granirapid Kit to be the best solution thus far.
The reasons why are quite important, Mapei Granirapid kit is a moisture-sensitive adhesive which helps resists against moisture. Moisture is the number one culprit for de-bonding glue. Which to put simply means if you don’t use this type of glue there is a chance your wall will fall apart over time.
Moreover, Granirapid is a fast setting glue which will allow you to adhere the pieces of your wall quickly and move through your application much faster as you won’t be needing to spend time adding support to pieces of stone that need time to adhere with regular adhesives.
“Granirapid is a High performance, deformable, fast setting and hydration two-component cementitious adhesive for ceramic tiles and stone material.
Particularly suitable for the installation of stone material that is moderately unstable to moisture and requires a rapid drying of the adhesive. Suitable for bonding floors subject to heavy traffic.”
How to Stick Stone Cladding?
Your installer will need to make sure each stone piece is clean and ready to take on the glue, swiftly paste the glue onto the back of each individual piece of stone and also on the substrate. All surfaces should be clean, dry and free of existing sealers or coatings. Dust off, wipe or brush all surfaces to be sealed to remove all loose particles that could adversely affect sealer penetration and performance.
Use packers to keep gaps consistent in between each stone piece. You can use plastic packers or packers made out of wooden bits.
Make sure to leave the area untouched for a further 24 hours once you have finished installing each piece.
If you’ve chosen to grout in between the joints of the stone it is very important to pre-seal the stone just before grouting. This will help the installer significantly to clean the grout off the cladding and also will make the stone much cleaner. You need to make sure the pre-sealer you use is not an adhesive bond breaker.
Armstone recommends the Aqua Mix Pro-Block as a pre-grout sealer.
We’ve found it provides the right amount of seal and does not hinder the installation process at all.
Does Stone Cladding need to be Sealed?
Any natural stone needs to be sealed, sealing helps with the maintenance of the stone. It allows for a layer of protection and assists in ease of cleaning down the track.
Armstone recommends the Aqua Mix Sealers Choice Gold, a water-based low VOC product that penetrates easily into your stone products and is completely environmentally friendly.
Stone cladded walls are a thing of true beauty and when done right they create a powerful statement about who you are, your taste and your success. This will transcend your environment into a refreshing space every day.
After reading this article we’d hope you’ve understood the basics of what stone cladding is, how to select the right option for you and the importance of selecting the right team to bring to life your project.
The ultimate goal is to make the wall a true ‘wow’ factor, for yourself as well as for your friends, family and guests.
We hope this helps, if you need any further advice you are always welcome to give us a call.
We love this stuff.
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