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A Brief Guide to Stone Cladding

Natural stone has been used as the staple material for all types of constructions since the beginning of time. The most important benefits of stone as a construction material are its durability, strength, and aesthetic appeal.  As a cladding material in modern-day buildings, it opens up a myriad of attractive options to enhance the appearance of any building exterior.  If you are looking to utilise stone cladding for your next building project, it is of paramount importance to gather a sound understanding of the process.

Basic Categorisation:

Clear understanding of the implications of natural stone’s properties and weight is required for achieving a reliable and safe fixing system while using stone for cladding. Weight can be a major concern because stone cladding requires attaching these heavy materials to a surface that is vertical.

  • Traditional Handset Cladding: This is a longstanding building practice that involves fixing natural stone to a pre-constructed structure. In these systems, the weight of heavy stones is transferred to load bearing fixings. It is important for these systems to have both compression joints and movement joints. Sandstone, limestone, and granite are the most commonly used stones for traditional handset façade cladding.
  • Rainscreen Principle: Natural stones are being increasingly used these days for creating high-performance rainscreen façades. In these systems, an exposed clip system or a concealed system is used for the installation of stone panels on the face of the building. These facades are equipped with an interior drainage cavity and are back ventilated, resulting in swift removal of moisture.
  • Custom Cladding:  It is also possible to create a wide range of custom-built cladding walls from stone that looks similar to intricate mosaics.

Material Categorisation:

Many different types of natural stones are suitable for high-quality cladding. These stones can be broadly categorised into three geological groups; sedimentary rock, metamorphic rock, and igneous rock. In order to select the best type, an architect needs to consider several factors such as intended use, project size, appearance, durability and strength.

  • Basalt: This volcanic stone with a blue-gray tint is suitable for both exterior as well as interior cladding. It has a fine grained appearance, and offers excellent insulating properties.
  • Bluestone: This is a commercial name that covers twenty different varieties of building stones, including limestone and basalt. Al types of stones in this category have a blue tint.
  • Granite: A coarse-grained stone, Granite is made up of interlocking crystals. It is one of the most abundant varieties of stone around the world, and is used extensively as a cladding material. Granite is rated highly for its durability, and texture and colour retention property.
  • Limestone: Flexibility and aesthetic diversity are two of the most liked qualities of limestone as a cladding material. Its colour ranges from pure white to brown with bluish tinge. The texture of limestone tends to range from soft and creamy to harshly veined and chunky. It is considered to be a great option for cladding because it can be shaped and carved without any difficulty.
  • Marble:Once considered to be a premier building material, Marble has slowly gone out of favour in the façade industry because of the development of cheaper alternatives and difficulties in using it as a cladding material.
  • Slate: This metamorphic stone with fine grains is an optimum material for exterior as well as interior cladding. Some of the reasons of its popularity include high durability, low maintenance, excellent water resistance, and sophisticated appearance.
  • Jerusalem Stone: Made of dolomite and a pale variety of limestone, Jerusalem stone is amongst the oldest of stones used for the construction of buildings. It is a commonly used external cladding material because of its high resistance to weathering.

Performance:

  • Sustainability: Stones are relatively neutral to environmental impact because their transformation into usable state doesn’t involve much change other than cutting.
  • Durability: Stones are extremely suitable for cladding applications because they are exceptionally dense and strong. However, please remember that some stone types such as limestone tend to get affected by weathering.
  • Installation: Installation of natural stone cladding should always be handled by experienced engineers.
  • Insulation: Stone cladding can be coupled very easily with thermal insulation products capable of restricting the building envelope’s heat loss or gain. The insulation should be non-absorbent, rot and vermin proof and non-combustible.
  • Maintenance: In order to prevent cracking over a period of time, natural stone must be kept clean. Moreover, certain stones tend to become slick or break down because of oxidiser deposits. Therefore, understand a particular stone’s maintenance needs before making any selection.

Be it stone or glass, CGS Façade Group has over hundred years of combined experience in building envelope design, engineering and consultation. Please contact our experts today to discuss the best possible cladding options for your upcoming project.