Technical Resources is basically a brief information about the material you are about to purchase and get installed. These Resources will help our architects, designers, contractors and clients to understand and appreciate help them specify and install with confidence. Please take your time to take a look at the very brief information about the materials prior to making a selection.
Natural Stones are perfectly imperfect.They will have a wide range of characteristics (i.e. factory-repaired holes, cracks and fissures). There will be variation from piece to piece. Materials will stain, scratch, etch, patina and/or effloresce. And there’s no such thing as a “perfect” installation. All of this is perfectly normal and is part of the inherent beauty of the materials; these are not stone defects. To minimize surprises and help set realistic expectations, you should know what to expect.
Surface erosion of natural stone. Marble, travertine, limestone and onyx will react to acidic foods (i.e. lemons or tomatoes) and acidic liquids (i.e. some cleaners or acid rain). This reaction will result in a dulling in surface sheen and change in texture, otherwise referred to as “acid etching”.
If etching is a concern; select a material with a Minimally Sensitive acid resistance rating, such as a quartzite or specify a light, honed surface which diminishes the visibility of acid etching.
All hard surfaces are prone to cracking, but steps can be taken to minimize the likelihood of cracking and to ensure the longevity of the installation. Cracks in flooring applications are typically due to material being installed on an uneven sub-floor, the sub-floor shifting after installation, or due to the material not being able to withstand the traffic conditions in the space. Refer to Trade manuals and product spec sheets prior to installation.
A white or dark film appears on the surface of a material, generally found in exterior applications or wet areas. Materials that are exposed to moisture may, over time, develop a white or dark film on the surface. Efflorescence in natural stone is caused by water carrying mineral salts from below the surface of the stone rising to the exposed face. In porcelain tile efflorescence appears on the surface of grout joints or unglazed tiles and is caused by moisture reacting with impurities in the mortar. Choose a material that is suitable for wet areas. For natural stone, if the installation is new, dust mop or vacuum the powder. You may have to do this several times. Do not use water to remove the powder; it will only temporarily disappear.
Factories will often fill especially porous materials such as Basalt or Travertine with resin or cement. Exposure to UV rays in exterior applications will change the color of resin.
Expect to see factory-filled holes in materials rated as Highly Absorbent as well as any Basalt or Travertine. The quality of the repair is dependent upon the fact of materials origin, the fabricator of the stone and the installer.
If factory-fill is a concern; choose an unfilled material. Do not use resin-filled material outside, as the resin will discolor over time. If materials must be filled for an exterior application, choose cement-filled as an alternative.
FACTORY-REPAIRED CRACKS + FISSURES
Factories will repair natural breaks in the material prior to crating it for shipment. Slabs are infused with resin which reinforces the strength of the stone. Expect to see factory-repaired cracks and fissures in nearly any natural material. The quality of the repair is dependent upon the factory of origin, the fabricator of the stone and the installer. Do not use resin-filled material outside, as the resin will discolor over time. If materials must be filled for an exterior application, choose cement-filled as an alternative.
Some tile installations will show lippage, or a difference in height from one installed tile to the next. This is often caused by uneven sub-floors or improper installation. It’s important to note that all hard surfaces have allowable tolerances (i.e. a certain amount of lippage is to be expected in every installation). Lighting schemes can either accentuate or diminish the appearance of lippage. Lighting at oblique angles will make lippage more visible. Some patterns, such as a 50% off-set (or brick joint), accentuate the effects of material warpage and result in more lippage. A running bond pattern (with the offset not exceeding 33%) as well as widening the grout joint will make lippage less noticeable, though it won’t eliminate it entirely.
Materials with Moderately or Highly Absorbent ratings are prone to the pigment of the grout leaching in from the edge of the stone. This creates a halo, otherwise referred to as “picture-framing”. Always seal porous materials prior to grouting or use. Always use a grout that is similar in color to the stone to avoid a picture-frame effect.
Light scratching occurs over time with exposure to sand and other abrasives. The finish will patina or dull over time as a result of this scratching.
If scratching is a concern; choose a material with a Moderate to High Abrasion Resistance rating. If a material with a Low Abrasion Resistance rating is used, use walk-off mats at entrances and expect the material to patina rapidly. Always use a cutting board for countertop applications.
Slight surface scratches may be buffed. Deeper scratches and nicks in the surface of the stone should be repaired and re-polished by a professional.
Staining often occurs when the stone has high absorption rate and/or it has not been properly sealed. Staining is the residual effect of a spill that cannot be removed with dishwashing detergent.Choose a material with a Minimally Absorbent rating. Always seal stone prior to use. To reduce the appearance of staining, always wipe up spills immediately. Oil and highly-pigmented liquids can penetrate and stain the stone and may need poultice to remove the stain.
As with any natural material, no two pieces of natural stone will be exactly alike. Color, as well as percentage, size and shape of markings, will always vary. Variation is not a material flaw. Get samples or choose your Natural Stone slab prior to installation. And do not forget that all natural stone has inherent characteristics; it is natural; and therefore always imperfect. (Or perfectly imperfect, depending upon your view.)
Some materials are easier to maintain than others. Be careful to consider these details prior to choosing your material.The appearance of natural stone will always patina over time. Without exception.All natural stone should be set properly, sealed and maintained. TBASALT Basalt is a porous material with naturally-occurring holes that may remain unfilled or be factory-filled with resin or cement. Basalt will stain when exposed to oil and highly-pigmented liquids.
All glass tiles will crack if not properly installed. Material will expand and contract when exposed to different temperatures found in shower areas. Movement (due to building sway, settling foundations, vibrations occurring in areas near elevator shafts, etc.) can also cause cracking. Larger-format glass is more prone to cracking than smaller-format.
If it is a concern; Be sure that the wall has the proper gauged support studs and that they are braced correctly.Set the appropriate grout joints. Wider grout joints must be used with large format glass tiles. Tiles will crack if the grout joints are not wide enough.Refrain from putting glass in contact with metal (i.e. faucets, handles, shower frame). Any glass to metal contact will cause the tiles in contact with the metal to crack. Use the proper adhesive. Different applications require different adhesives.
Backs of tiles must be fully covered in adhesive (back-buttered) during installation. Otherwise, tiles will crack. Level and plumb the wall prior to installing glass. An unlevel surface will create tension across the wall, which will cause tiles to crack.
And always refer to the manufacturers guidelines.
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