Monarch Stone International understands the challenges of the stone selection process – whether matching pre-existing, restoration work, or new construction. Our stone expertise will guide you through the multitude of decisions that go far beyond the perfect color. Critical to the selection in all stone applications are choices that include appropriate stone type based on your location ie, weather, density, work-ability, finish and installation considerations.
Sadly, the once-common working knowledge of what natural stone is and how it should be used – though still everyday practice at quarries and fabricators – has been lost in the information overload mixed in with the confusion over man-made building materials. To help fill that gap, consider the following insights provided by our company and other stone experts before planning for your stone restoration or matching a pre-existing project.
The biggest challenge architects face in a stone restoration or addition project is trying to match existing work. “There are many more technologies than in the past for cutting, splitting, and finishing stone efficiently,” says Ken Jackman of New World Stoneworks in Massachusetts, “but the real tough part is matching color.” Even if the quarry is still open, there’s no guarantee that the stone produced today will match what came out 120 years ago.
In the case of sandstones especially, the availability of the stone desired is closely tied to the availability of the bedding planes – the layers within the stone bed or block . “The usable stone is the vertical height, or the bedding height, between flawed bedding planes,” says Laurie Wells, of Old World Stone in Canada. “With many stones, the bedding height may be very shallow – only eight or ten inches.” As she explains, there are many instances where builders wanted to use stone as ashlar (block-like) facing, with dimensions of 24 or 30 inches, so they would turn the stone up on its side or face. “The problem with that scenario is you get delamination – a peeling off of the layers like the pages of a book.”
Stone color may be the buyer’s prime concern, but strength is equally important. While purchasing decisions are often driven by color and price, if the stone is not appropriate for your local climate conditions, nor strong enough to last, the investment could be compromised in the future. By working with knowledgeable stone experts, these issues will be discussed along with ASTM testing to confirm that the stone meets the minimum industry standards, as well as that it is the right stone for the application.
There are many details one needs to take into consideration when choosing stone for your next project, and so many techniques and materials have changed over the years. Monarch Stone International has over 35 years of experience handling stone for both architectural and landscape requirements. Let us manage the process so you don’t have to.
Staff Writer: Matthew Shephard