- Types of decorative stone
- Characteristics and features of premium decorative stone
- Fields of application of artificial stone
- Imitation stone: how to choose, what to look for
Artificial stone made using modern technologies has not lost its originality, having acquired a lot of advantages: lightness, low cost and a wide range of colors. How to navigate in the variety of types of decorative stone and choose quality products, you will learn from our article.
Natural stone – a symbol of stability and reliable protection – perfectly reflects the richness of natural shades and shapes. Facing types of granite or marble can transform and bring “rich elegance” to any interior: both in the living room in a country residence, and in a modest six-meter kitchen in Khrushchev.
However, there are a number of nuances that make this almost ideal material inaccessible to many people:
- High cost – the price of domestic decorative granite starts at $ 50 per sq. m.
- Difficulty of transportation and unloading – natural stone weighs a lot.
- Additional measures to strengthen walls and foundations – again due to the severity of the material.
- Sorting and professional installation costs.
Western manufacturers approached the solution of the issue creatively – by modifying the standard concrete solution and pouring it into molds, they opened a new page in finishing work. Artificial stone was purchased abroad for a long time, which, of course, reflected in its cost.
Domestic finishing stone appeared on the market about 15 years ago, occupying a price niche of $ 15-50 per sq. M. m. Today it accounts for about 95% of total sales, and the quality is in no way inferior to imported counterparts.
Types of decorative stone
By its composition, artificial stone belongs to lightweight concrete:
- Portland cement (M-400, M-500);
- fine aggregate (quartz sand);
- lightweight filler (expanded clay, perlite, fine ceramic chips, natural pumice);
- additives that increase strength and accelerate the setting;
- coloring pigments.
The production process is quite complicated. To begin with, a set of blanks is made from natural stone, and rubber molds are cast on its basis. The mixture is poured into molds and compacted by vibration. The result is a tile with a flat back and front surface that fully simulates the pattern of the prototype stone..
Dyeing most often occurs “in bulk”. Sometimes small industries use the surface painting method, which negatively affects the surface quality.
A unified generally accepted classification of artificial stone has not yet been developed. Therefore, each manufacturer makes every effort to give sonorous, but, alas, names that do not mean anything to the ordinary consumer. The easiest way to distinguish the varieties of this material, based on its shape:
- Chipped – a stone that does not have the correct geometric shape, which most faithfully imitates natural granite, limestone or marble.
- Sawn – stone cut into even rectangles or squares, mainly imitating sandstones or loose limestone rocks.
- Brick – a shape that imitates brickwork (usually old).
- Layered – a stone consisting of many layers of thin plates, imitating shale rocks.
The listed options can be combined with each other, giving rise to new options for shapes and colors. As a rule, the manufacturers’ arsenal contains from 1 to 9 collections, which are periodically updated. Especially large factories can provide an exclusive – production of forms according to an individual project.
Characteristics and features of premium decorative stone
At first glance, decorative stone of different price categories looks the same. To the uninitiated layman, it may seem that some suppliers are simply overpricing. Let’s not argue – such cases can also occur..
However, when looking for a purchase at a reputable store with a wide range of products, you can be sure that this cost is economically justified..
First, it is a high-strength, factory-made Portland cement. Secondly, a high-quality filler that lightens weight. In cheap variations on the theme of stone, expanded clay is used, containing the remains of quicklime. On contact with water, a chemical reaction can start, which can cause chips and cracks on the surface. In the manufacture of premium facing stone, improved expanded clay fine-grained sand or its expensive analogs – expanded perlite, ceramic chips and even natural pumice is used. Thirdly, high-quality plasticizers that increase the strength of the concrete base.
Natural stone is unique: each lump or cobblestone has its own shape and size. By imitating the surface of natural materials, some manufacturers save on the development of blank molds. As a result, we have a pattern of the same type throughout the area. For a premium stone, the number of repetitions per unit surface should be minimal (the ideal ratio is 1 repetition per 3 sq. M). To do this, it is necessary to make from 5 to 15 injection molds for each standard size, and this process is quite expensive..
Surface painting is a thing of the past. However, it is sometimes found in budget options for artificial stone. Large manufacturers use more reliable options – painting in bulk, painting by filling forms, or both at the same time. Such technologies provide the maximum imitation of the natural appearance – with all cracks, tone transitions, chips and chipping.
The premium finishing stone is characterized by a large number of collections, and they are constantly updated and improved. In addition to flat options, decorative corner elements, edging for doors and columns, cladding for stoves and fireplaces and even cover plates for retaining walls are provided here..
There is no limit to the imagination of manufacturers: facing stone of a wide price range and simply unimaginable assortment is ideal for decorating apartments, cottages and offices of any style.
Fields of application of artificial stone
There are no strict recommendations on the use of decorative stone – it all depends on the imagination and sense of style of the designer or the person who decided to do the repair on their own. Features of the technology allow the use of facing material for both interior and exterior works:
- heavier and coarser options traditionally find a place in the plinth trim;
- clothed collections are suitable for facades;
- torn, chipped, flaky forms perfectly set off the interior details.
Facing with artificial bricks looks great next to wooden and painted surfaces, harmoniously combines with various types of roofing, sets off forged elements in stairs, gazebos and awnings.
Finishing stone is one of the rare materials that do not set clear limits for use in the interior. Whether it is a complete facade or a small corner above the fireplace – artificial stone will become a highlight of the design.
Imitation stone: how to choose, what to look for
In addition to the banal advice to contact trusted manufacturers and not trust incredibly low prices, when choosing a finishing stone, you need to pay attention to important nuances.
Keep in mind that such products are not subject to mandatory certification, which means that the seller may not provide documents confirming the quality. Large factories, however, work with equally large developers who simply cannot complete the project without certificates. Therefore, manufacturers often carry out a voluntary certification procedure or present the results of laboratory tests of products..
Focus on the cut
If possible, be sure to consider the cut of the stone. The type of staining, filler fraction, structure – all this will be noticeable.
It is better if small elements are often repeated. Repetitions of large details more often than two by three square meters will stand out sharply.
Some manufacturers, out of a desire to save money, produce two types of artificial stone: for interior decoration (with a simplified composition) and exterior work (with modifying additives). If you have a choice, then it is better to buy a universal option.
Factory treatment with water repellent
Many manufacturers treat the surface of the stone with a special primer to protect it from moisture. If the material has not been impregnated at the factory, you will have to process it yourself.
It is best to type the tiles in random order – several pieces from different boxes.
When calculating the amount of decorative stone, it is necessary to throw a square in reserve: from the classic 10% for geometrically ideal surfaces to 15-20% for complex shapes.
Artificial stone is not picky to care for – it is enough to wipe it from dust from time to time. Additionally, it is recommended to carry out the treatment with water repellents once a year: impregnations on concrete are applied with a special brush until completely absorbed.