Photo courtesy of Unilock

The Unbeatable Benefits of Decorative Precast Concrete

(cover photo courtesy of Unilock)

Decorative precast concrete is a superior option for creating practical accents to your architectural or landscape design. Through the use of the incredible variety of precast concrete products, you can incorporate custom fixtures including planters, tables, columns, chairs, light poles, water fountains and more into your design that will last a lifetime. The variety of precast concrete pavers allow for a durable and incredibly decorative hardscape for your unique design. Permeable pavers have become incredibly popular, blending the decorative and high-end finish of decorative precast pavers with the eco-friendly benefits of stormwater runoff control. Nearly any paver or amenity you can dream of, decorative precast concrete can create to add just the right touch to your project.

Photo Courtesy of Wausau Tile

Photo Courtesy of Wausau Tile

Kafka Granite can supply crushed granite, marble, quartz and recycled materials for use in decorative concrete fixtures. Whether you’re planning amenities for a restaurant, hotel, office building, plaza, park, government building or university, or designing a new public space with a beautiful, yet permeable, hardscape, Kafka Granite supplies aggregates to many of the highest quality producers of decorative precast concrete products, including Wausau Tile, Unilock, Oldcastle, and more. The combination of high-quality raw materials and the exceptional craftsmanship of our customers calls for the best selection of decorative precast concrete products. When seeking durable outdoor solutions that are both functional and beautiful, precast concrete could be your solution.

What Is Decorative Precast Concrete?

Before 1950, precast concrete was a relatively unknown building material. When the Walnut Lane Memorial Bridge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania finally opened to carry traffic across the Monoshone Creek, it was the first time such a structure had been built using prestressed concrete girders. The implementation of precast elements made this first-of-its-kind bridge 30 percent cheaper than a regular concrete arch bridge design. The success of the Walnut Lane Bridge caused precast concrete to quickly become the trend for quickly constructing a variety of structures across the nation. Today you would be hard-pressed to look across a city and not see a variety of buildings utilizing precast concrete wall panels dotting the skyline.

Standard concrete applications are poured and cured on the jobsite. Precast concrete, in contrast, is poured off-site and brought to the site once cured, which is what adds the “precast” element to the name. It’s a way to work around potential job site restrictions that disable you from creating a feature on-site, as well as achieve complex customizations you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

Precast concrete can serve as architectural elements, such as walls, ramps and beams, as well as decorative features and amenities. These concrete structures can take on nearly specification you may have for your project. Since they can be produced off-site, multiple phases can be occurring for a project at the same time. Precast concrete created off-site doesn’t have to wait on the progress of on-site elements, allowing both to be crafted simultaneously. Once completed, each piece can be quickly assembled, cutting down on costs overall.

Decorative precast concrete enhance the practicality and durability of concrete products with a variety decorative finishes. These products offer a seemingly endless selection of designs, colors, finishes and details for whatever your project calls for, whether it be custom interlocking pavers or durable amenities such as benches, trash bins, planters—or even precast basketball hoop stands. Kafka Granite manufactures crushed granite, marble, quartz and recycled materials, like porcelain and copper slag, in its state-of-the-art crushing facility in the heart of Wisconsin. With a palette of more than 50 colors to choose from across the variety of aggregate materials, customization is inevitable. Many of Kafka Granite’s decorative precast concrete customers source a variety of aggregates in the production of their standard products, but also come to Kafka Granite for the best selection of crushed stone for custom designs.

Kafka crushes the natural stone or recycled materials to exact specifications—whatever size you may need—and gets to crafting the high-quality pavers or amenities you need to add the perfect unique flair to your project. Through a close partnerships with our customers, we are able to help provide you with one-of-a-kind elements.

Why You Choose Decorative Precast Elements

Photo Courtesy of Wausau Tile

Photo Courtesy of Wausau Tile

When the color variety of Kafka aggregates and manufactured sand is added to the exposed faces of precast pavers and amenities, your space suddenly goes from bland to memorable. You don’t always have to count on a flourishing garden or piece of art to bring life to a space when you could achieve stunning looks through the functional elements, too.

The veritable rainbow of colors you have to choose from can complement any space you’re constructing or designing. Flex your environmental muscles and choose the unique aesthetic quality of recycled porcelain or copper slag. When you dovetail precast concrete elements into your project, options are seemingly endless.

Don’t Forget to Look Down

Decorative precast designs go beyond large fixtures. Decorative precast concrete elements can include sidewalks, driveways, courtyards, and patios, too. Adding color and style variety to sidewalks, landings and stairway caps can bring a comprehensive beauty to an entire design. Considering every element is what will make your space truly stand out.

Transform your Decorative Precast Concrete Products with Kafka Granite

Ditch the bland amenities you think you might be stuck with. You don’t want to invest in something that is obtrusive to your design or simply isn’t durable. The addition of Kafka aggregates to precast concrete products not only adds a beautiful, decorative finish – but also strength and durability, which means the features you add will be there for the long haul.

Kafka stands by high-quality products and craftsmanship. Our quality checks ensure consistently produced aggregate for the production of decorative precast pavers and amenities. We also work closely with our Decorative Precast Concrete customers to help customize pieces, whether that calls for special colors and sizing, or incorporating recycled content.

If you’re a landscape architect looking for just the right solution, consider the possibilities of decorative precast concrete products. Get the high-quality products you need with all the decorative finish you crave. Necessary amenities such as trash bins or snuffers don’t need to be unsightly. Instead, create a thoughtful look so snuffers don’t distract from your overall design. Decorative precast concrete solutions will complete your project in the best way possible.

To be put in touch with several quality decorative precast concrete producers that utilize Kafka aggregates in their mix designs, call or send us a message today. Don’t let your next project finish without the durability, strength and aesthetic benefits of precast concrete solutions.

Ash Grey Basalt Interlocking Tiles by Norstone

How to Install Norstone Basalt Panels

When designing the interior space for any new office or commercial space, there are few products that look as good and are as easy to install as Norstone natural stone wall tiles. While stacked stone finishes are part of their impressive portfolio, the modern beauty of Norstone’s basalt tile collection is irresistible. As the world’s only medium-format lava stone cladding system, any ordinary space can quickly be made into an unforgettable one.

Whether you are looking for the perfect material to complete the exterior of your office or commercial space, or simply a stunning accent wall or fireplace in your own home, Kafka Granite is the Midwest’s exclusive distributor of Norstone products. Lynia interlocking tiles and Aksent 3D panels are crafted to bring a truly natural yet contemporary aesthetic to your next project. When seeking a modern natural stone solution that can be used both indoors and outdoors, basalt tiles could be your answer.

 

Ash Grey Basalt Interlocking Tiles by Norstone

Benefits of Basalt Tiles

Kafka is always seeking opportunities to bring you the best materials for the job. Just as we stand behind our broad variety of aggregate, we fully trust in the unquestionable quality and beauty of Norstone products, which is why we offer them to you. With two basalt tile options, you are guaranteed a natural wall cladding solution that offers a cleaner, more modern touch than Norstone’s more rugged rock panels.

Lynia IL Tile Collection

Ebony Basalt Interlocking Tiles by Norstone

Lynia interlocking tiles start as large slabs of cooled basaltic lava rock, the most common type of volcanic rock type. Once ready, these slabs are cut and honed into individual basalt strips that range in height. The assorted heights add a pleasing visual variety instead of bland uniformity when fully assembled. Once honed, the precision-engineered strips are then mesh mounted. Nine staggered strips, including spaces for grout, are included on each mesh-mounted unit.

Lynia IL Tiles are available in Ash Grey and its darker counterpart, Ebony. Ideal for modern atmospheres, these shades of grey can add a timeless design no matter where applied. These tiles can be used indoors or in the elements, as they’re durable enough for whatever the outdoors throws at them. Consider cladding feature walls, backsplashes, water features, fireplaces, service counter fronts or business signs to add a unique and sleek aesthetic. Popular commercial applications include hotels, restaurants, office buildings and casinos—wherever a professional and contemporary design is desired.

Aksent 3D Panels

Ebony Basalt 3D Panels by Norstone

Norstone’s 3D panels are a truly one-of-a-kind stone veneer. Similar to Lynia IL Tiles, each tile originates from a slab of cooled basaltic lava, but each is cut and honed at varying thicknesses. When mounted together on a sheet, the varying thicknesses of basalt tiles create a three-dimensional look that adds another level of depth and visual appeal. Additionally, Aksent 3D tiles offer a “stepped” interlocking edge profile. This means that these panels are designed so that each unit tightly interlocks into its neighboring panels in a seamless design. There are no grout gaps to fuss with and no vertical seams to stress about. The clean, seamless look will leave you (and all who see it) in awe.

Aksent 3D panels are also available in the same contemporary colors as the interlocking panels; Ash Grey and Ebony. Popular in office lobbies, exterior facades, pools, spas, water features and fountains, retail areas and more. When craving a contemporary and natural solution, look no further than the depth and variety of 3D panels.

Easy-to-install Wall Cladding for Anywhere

You don’t have to go broke for beauty. Norstone Basalt tile options will save you significant time and money when it comes to installation. The precision by which these tiles are engineered and pre-mounted render installation a quick and painless process.

Tools Needed for Installation:
Trowel
Thinset
Level
Tile Saw
Sponge
Unsanded Grout (for Lynia IL tiles only)
Stone Sealer

**Don’t use mastics as they aren’t suitable for the rock panel collection.

Step 1: Prepare Your Surface

Basalt tiles can be installed on cementitious surfaces, such as cement board, brick or block, or over a traditional lathe and scratch coat. Do not install these products over drywall or sheetrock. Since stone wall cladding is relatively heavy, ensure your wall or surface is able to withstand and support the weight of the product.

Step 2: Apply Thinset

Before laying each panel, apply a generous amount of thinset to the surface and to the back of each tile unit. Notch the thinset on the wall as you would if you were installing a tile backsplash or wall.

Step 3: Place the Tiles

When placing each tile unit, make sure you press it firmly into place while rotating the unit just a little. Norstone Basalt tiles are designed to easily interlock with neighboring units, so be sure to follow the installation pattern of your product. When necessary, cut panels to size using your tile saw. During this step, ensure to remove any thinset that may get onto the face of the tiles before it hardens.

Step 4: Grout and Seal

If you choose Aksent 3D panels, the interlocking edges and 3D aspect don’t require grout. However, Lynia IL tiles require the application on unsanded grout once the panels have fully set. Once you’ve grouted your Lynia IL tile feature, wait for that to fully set before moving onto the next step.

The final step to completing your gorgeous and contemporary basalt stone veneer wall is cleaning and sealing its surface. Sealed stone is easier to clean and maintain, which makes everyone’s life easier in the long run. Choose a sealer appropriate for the environment—indoors or outdoors, humid or dry—and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging. Before applying sealer to the whole space, test in an inconspicuous area first.

Step 5: Enjoy Your Timeless Design!

With the time and money saved on installing Norstone tiles, the final step is to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Your one-of-a-kind basalt application will create a warm and natural aesthetic while feeling modern or edgy. If you have questions about how to get started with your Norstone tile project, whether it’s to create a clean office environment or a modern commercial space, call or message Kafka Granite. We can guide you through choosing the Norstone product best for your project as well as answer any questions you might have about the product or installation. For a clean and modern design, let’s talk today.

WHITE IS THE NEW GREEN: White Roof/Cool Roof Epoxy Overlay

Going Green: Three Materials Perfect for White Roofs

A big piece to the environmental puzzle is reducing the planet’s energy use. While this might seem like too grand of a feat to contribute to on a personal level, it is very possible. Every individual business’s contribution to reducing energy use or emissions, no matter how small, adds up to make a greater impact. By recycling, using energy-efficient appliances and keeping a close eye on where you can make a difference, every eco-conscious commitment helps.

One difference to better the environment that any business can make is to install a white roof, otherwise known as a cool roof. Kafka Granite has been making eco-conscious strides toward providing environmentally friendly products manufactured in a state-of-the-art facility. Offering white roofing options is one way we can help you earn LEED accreditation points and have a positive impact on the environment in your city.

Dark Roofs and Urban Heat Island Effect

The term “Urban Heat Island” has joined the list of climate vocabulary in recent history. Due to growing populations, metropolitan areas have expanded faster than ever. There are more energy-consuming people, more buildings reaching into the sky and more cars idling on city streets in urban areas than in sprawling suburban counterparts. All of this has lead to Urban Heat Islands (UHIs).

In short, the Urban Heat Island Effect is when a city exhibits a higher average temperature than its rural surroundings. Metro areas are stocked with hard built surfaces that reflect the sun’s rays where suburban areas have fewer built surfaces and more vegetation. There are many factors inherent to cityscapes that lead to UHI Effect, including:

Dark Roofs:

Roofs are often the culprits of heat absorption. Roofs crafted from tarpaper or other dark materials cause roof temps to climb upward of 150 degrees Fahrenheit or more on summer days, which increases energy use to keep air conditioners and fans running on high.

Energy Consumption:

Cities are fully stocked with energy-consuming machines. Thousands of offices, restaurants and large venues need to be heated, cooled and lit nearly all day long. Add in idling cars sputtering out exhaust during never-ending rush hours and the city is suddenly stuffed with emissions from energy consumption.

Trapped Heat:

Most cities are outfitted with buildings that are much taller and closer together than suburban surroundings. This tight configuration allows for diminished airflow, which inevitably traps heat and raises temperatures.

Heat-absorbing and reflecting Surfaces:

White Quartz White Roof Overlay - Bensenville, IL - Installed by CentiMark Corp.

White Quartz White Roof Overlay – Bensenville, IL – Installed by CentiMark Corp.

Skyscrapers are tall mountains of glass and metal—all reflecting heat to one another and onto the surfaces that will absorb it. Glass-clad buildings essentially act as large mirrors bouncing sun to the ground all day long. The heat-absorbing asphalt and cement streets and sidewalks soak in the heat all day, causing them to release heat well into the night, when the sun is nowhere to be seen.

Increased heat reflection, heat absorption and energy consumption render large cities into literal hotbeds. In addition to compromised air quality, UHI also endangers water quality. Increased pavement and rooftop surface temperatures significantly warm rainwater runoff. This heated water runs into surrounding waterways like rivers and lakes, which could alter and damage native aquatic life and ecosystems.

Three Cool Roof Material Choices

Many people don’t realize they can play very direct and simple roles in reducing the effects of UHIs. From reducing energy consumption, utilizing environmentally friendly designs and incorporating eco-friendly building materials, any construction project can be a little friendlier toward the environment. One way Kafka Granite can help achieve a reduction in Urban Heat Islands is the implementation of cool roofs, or roofs that don’t trap heat as much as dark roofs. Cool roofs are lighter in color, strongly reflect sunlight, and can efficiently cool themselves.

1. White Quartz

White Quartz SandAvailable as sand or aggregate, white quartz is a naturally occurring stone that can be crushed to your specifications. White Quartz is the Kafka Aggregate with the highest SRI, or Solar Reflectivity Index, so it is the most effective choice.

 

2. Recycled Porcelain

Recycled PorcelainWhen seeking a white roof option that could garner even more LEED accreditation points, recycled porcelain is your go-to solution. Kafka is capable of crushing discarded porcelain in our state-of-the-art facility to become an ideal recycled aggregate or sand for use as a white roof material.

 

3. Birchwood Granite

Birchwood Pebbles

Birchwood Granite pebbles and 1.5” ballast is made up of a white color palette with some variation in the form of brown or black granite. It’s the whitest round stone available, and a perfect solution for a traditional roof ballast in a whiter color.

 

 

Installing a white quartz or recycled porcelain cool roof requires the use of a two-part epoxy. After the epoxy is spread, the aggregate or sand is evenly spread across the epoxy for a durable and long-lasting surface. Birchwood Granite is applied as a traditional roof ballast.

Implementing a white roof will dramatically reduce energy consumption and a building’s contribution to an urban heat island. The demand for electricity used for cooling interior spaces increases 1.5–2 percent for every 1-degree increase in air temperature. This results in 5-10 percent of communitywide electricity being used to compensate for the heat island effect. Increased heat can affect the local climate, aquatic life and health of those at risk in especially hot or humid climates.

Kafka Granite Can Make Hot Roofs Cool Down

Halting the rise of detrimental heat islands in their tracks can be possible if everyone contributes to eco-friendly efforts. Implementing a cool roof over your existing roof or installing one when it comes time to replace a rooftop is one smart way to pave the way for a greener tomorrow. Through the use of cool white quartz, recycled porcelain, or birchwood granite white roof material options, your business can start seeing lower energy consumption (and electricity bills) during your environment’s hottest months.

If you have questions about any of Kafka’s white roof materials, becoming a dealer of white roof material, or starting your plan for installing a white roof, call or message us today. Our experts are waiting to answer questions about our products and their environmental benefits today.