Thin Stone Veneer

The Ultimate Guide to Natural Thin Stone Veneer

Building stone has been used to create magnificent masonry projects for thousands of years—just look to the Roman Colosseum or the Egyptian pyramids! In all this time, architects, engineers, and builders have continued to advance their trades, creating new products, machinery, and innovative approaches to stone products. Here at Kafka Granite, we like to stay on the cutting-edge of things. In fact, we opened our new stone fabrication facility in the summer of 2018! 

Inside that fabrication facility, we cut natural stone down to precise measurements. The result? A versatile material to complement almost any building project. You may have heard of natural thin stone veneer but do you really know what sets it apart from other building materials, other than its thin specifications? 

Thanks to its versatility, light weight, and unique look, the popularity of natural thin stone veneer is on the rise, so we’ve created a guide to provide some helpful information to architects, engineers, contractors, and even homeowners seeking to learn more. Here’s what you need to know about this building material.

What is Natural Thin Stone Veneer?

Simply put, natural thin stone veneer is a thinner cut of building stone. Like building stone, these veneers are completely made up of quarried stone—meaning you won’t find any concrete composites in this high-quality material. Thin stone veneer can be used for everything from interior and exterior building walls to fireplace, chimney, and firepit facades. 

For a product to be considered natural stone veneer, whether full or thin, it should be tested to ATSM specifications and needs to meet certain levels for absorption, flexural strength, and compressive strength. In terms of dimensions, natural thin stone veneer ranges in thickness from a minimum of ¾ inches to a maximum of 1½ inches. The product weighs less than 15 pounds per square foot. 

The benefits of utilizing natural stone veneer in your building project are numerous. Here are just a few of the positives:

  • Weighs less than other stone building materials, cutting shipping costs
  • Can be installed without support ledges or footings 
  • With the proper surface preparations, adheres to a variety of surfaces such as plywood, drywall, paneling, concrete, and metal
  • Appropriate for indoor and outdoor applications
  • Low maintenance

Natural Thin Stone Veneer vs. Manufactured Stone

Manufactured Thin Stone Veneer

Sierra Granite - Dimensional Cut

Natural Thin Stone Veneer

Designed for lightweight, non-structural installation, natural thin stone veneer can be used for everything from building facades to interior features. Because it consists entirely of quarried rock, the material maintains its color and integrity as it weathers, allowing projects to retain the beautiful, rugged look of natural rock. Each piece of natural stone is inherently unique, giving the product more character than manufactured or cultured stone. In contrast, man-made cast concrete materials that contain oxide colors and other chemicals are prone to fading over time. As an added bonus, thin veneers don’t require the use of footings or ledges because of their relatively light weight compared to full veneer building stone. 

Natural Thin Stone Veneer vs. Natural Full Veneer

Thin Stone Veneer

Natural Thin Stone Veneer Flats

Thin Veneer Corner

Natural Thin Veneer Corner

You may be wondering how, exactly, natural thin stone veneer differs from full veneer. While the two are made from the same high-quality natural stone, the difference lies in an additional process that makes thin stone veneer thinner, which leads to varying weights as well as divergent production and installation costs. 

A nominal thickness makes thin stone veneer weigh in at under 15 pounds per square foot, while full veneer covers 30 to 40 square feet per ton—an enormous difference in weight, which directly affects shipping and installation costs. To further illustrate this distinction, you can fit 3,000 square feet of thin veneer on a truck compared to approximately 800 square feet of coverage with full veneer. That’s about 3.75 times the coverage per shipment! 

Due to the additional labor and equipment needed, exact cuts, processing natural thin stone veneer tends to be more expensive than creating building stone. But thin stone veneer makes up for it when it comes to shipping and installation costs. Natural thin stone veneer can weigh up to 75 percent less than full veneer, leading to significantly lower shipping prices. When it comes to installation, full veneer is heavier and requires more shaping on the jobsite, so a mason may need more time and money to install full bed veneer. 

Ultimately, the price of all building stone materials vary on factors like the location you’re sourcing materials from, shipping costs, and how many square feet of material you need for your project. The quality of the product and type of stone also play a huge role in determining cost.

A Quick Look at the Installation Process

If you’re interested in utilizing natural thin stone veneer in your next project, we recommend that you contract a professional mason in order to ensure that the product is installed correctly. Here’s a brief summary of the process, so that you know what to expect. 

Before beginning the installation process for an exterior project, the area that will be in contact with the natural stone veneer needs to be waterproofed to industry standards. This will work to maintain the integrity of the installation as time passes. Once waterproofing is complete, any chemical film on the wall should be removed, and the surface should be prepared according to the type of material. Unsealed concrete, for example, needs no further preparation before the application of thin stone veneer. Wood surfaces, on the other hand, require a non-corrosive wire lath and a setting mix to ensure proper application. 

Once the surface is fully prepared, mortar (likely type N or S) can be used, potentially along with a bonding admixture to strengthen the bond. To set natural thin stone veneer, begin with any corner pieces, alternating long and short ends as they are stacked on top of each other. Once finished with the corners, you may begin filling in the rest of the pattern by pressing each stone firmly against the scratch coat wall, allowing oozing mortar to create grout joints around the edge of each stone. 

Natural Thin Stone Veneer from Kafka Granite

Our natural thin stone veneer has a nominal thickness of ¾” to 1½”, allowing this masonry product to meet the standard of weighing less than 15 lbs per square foot. As further evidence that our line of natural stone veneers is authentic and up to our standards, you’ll find that the natural colors of our various stone options run through the entire product., allowing it to weather naturally while maintaining integrity as a fundamental element of your project.

At Kafka Granite, we provide high-quality aggregates and building stone products to architects, designers, contractors, masons, and distributors. Our line of thin stone veneer includes natural granite, quartz, and marble building stone options, all sourced from our various quarries throughout North America. You’ll find the classic Kafka Granite colors you expect, as well as the same high standards of quality you’re used to finding in all of our products. Whether you’re looking for warm burgundy and desert tones for a building exterior or more of an airy gray color scheme for a client’s fireplace project, you’ll find the perfect color among our many options. 

Find the Right Material for Your Project with Kafka Granite

We’re proud to be an industry leader in natural stone products, and we look forward to working with you on your next building project. Our natural thin stone veneer is the perfect addition to interior and exterior features alike. Whether you’re searching for a specialty stone product with a natural, rugged look or one with a smooth, gleaming finish, Kafka Granite has an option that will make your project shine. Contact us today to learn more about how we can make your project shine.

Which Type of Mortar Should I Use for Thin Stone Veneer?

Whether you’re a designer, builder, masonry professional, or even a homeowner exploring the possibility of including natural stone in an exterior or interior project, you probably know that mortar is the “glue” that holds masonry units together, binding building blocks, filling the joints between them, and providing structural support. This workable paste consists of different amounts of hydrated lime, Portland cement, and sand combined to create a mix that meets certain requirements. There are five official types of mortar, all classified according to their bonding properties, flexibility, and compressive strength. 

So, how do you choose the right mortar mix for your project? First, think about the masonry products you’re installing. Kafka Granite’s natural thin stone veneer, for example, will lend a unique look to your project—but what goes under and around this product matters just as much as what you see on the surface. Without the right type of mortar, your project will crumble quickly. We created a quick guide to mortar characteristics and some of the most popular types of mixes in order to help you select the best option.

Characteristics of Mortar

Before choosing a mortar type, it’s crucial to understand the structural requirements of a project. What type of building material will be used? What elements will an exterior structure need to withstand? Once you understand exactly what you need out of your bonding materials, you can select a mortar type based on the following properties. 

Bonding Properties

Mortar adheres to building units, working to keep them together. Bond strength is measured by the force required to break the bond between the mortar and that unit. A high-tensile bond strength is ideal for exterior projects that need to hold up to the elements. 

Flexibility

Masonry units will crack if exposed to movement caused by moisture and settling. That’s where mortar comes in—to flex and absorb that movement, protecting the structure of the project. 

Compressive Strength

Compressive strength is important for a number of reasons. While the mortar needs to be strong enough to maintain the structural integrity of the installation, you need to select a mortar with a compressive strength less than that of the stone you’re installing. If you choose a mortar with a higher compressive strength than that of your masonry units, you may find yourself with cracked components and exterior projects eventually worn away by the freeze-thaw cycle.

 

The Most Popular Mortar Types

Type N

If you’re looking for a reliable, general-purpose mix, type N mortar might be the winner. This mortar mix has a medium compressive strength and consists of 1 part Portland cement, 1 part lime, and 6 parts sand. It typically achieves 28-day strength at approximately 750 psi. 

Kafka Granite’s masonry experts recommend type N mortar for use on exterior and above-grade projects that are exposed to severe weather and high temperatures, as well as on interior, load-bearing installations. Type N is also the preferred mortar mix for soft stone masonry as its flexibility helps to prevent cracks in the stones that stronger mortars might actually cause.

If you’re a homeowner or designer searching for the right mortar mix, you’ll find type N is the best choice for general application and likely the ideal choice for your project.

Here are some ideal projects that call for type N:

  • Soft stone masonry
  • Exterior or interior above grade walls
  • Chimneys 
  • Repointing newer brickwork

Type S

When it’s time for something a little (or much) stronger, builders turn to type S mortar. A high-tensile bond strength and a high compressive strength of over 1,800 psi sets this mix apart and makes it ideal for a wide range of projects at or below grade. And that 1,800 psi is just the minimum compressive strength—builders often mix type S for strengths between 2,300 and 3,000 psi. 

These significant bond and compressive strength numbers make type S able to withstand forceful soil pressure, wind, and seismic loads. Because of these unique properties, type S is the go-to for many below-grade applications such as masonry foundations and sewers as well as many at-grade projects.

Here are some projects that are best suited to type S:

  • Exterior Masonry
  • Brick patios
  • Masonry foundations
  • Sewers
  • Manholes
  • Retaining walls 
  • Various repair projects 
  • Planter construction

Type M

With the highest amount of Portland cement in its makeup, type M mortar mix provides at least 2,500 psi of compressive strength. While this mix is ideal for heavy loads and below-grade applications such as foundations, it provides relatively poor adhesion and sealing properties. This makes it poorly suited to many exposed applications. 

Here are some suitable applications for type M: 

  • Foundations
  • Retaining walls
  • Driveways 

Find the Perfect Thin Stone Veneer for the Job with Kafka Granite

Depending on the type of thin stone veneer you’ve chosen to install, type N or S mortar will fit your needs beautifully. But mortar is the (relatively) easy part. The true task is picking the perfect cut and color of thin veneer to use in your project. Kafka Granite’s natural thin stone veneer is a line of natural granite, quartz, and marble building stone suited to a variety of applications from building facades to fireplaces.

We can’t wait to be a part of making your next project truly stunning. Reach out today with any questions, and our knowledgeable sales team will get you the information you need.

Chateau Rustic

7 Reasons Why Thin Stone Veneer Is Perfect for Your Next Home Project

With such a wide range of masonry products available, it can be difficult for homeowners to settle on the right building stone for their non-structural projects. Do you want cultured stone or natural? Limestone or granite? If you aren’t working with a designer, you may not even feel familiar enough with your options to choose at all. Here at Kafka Granite, we’re dedicated to providing high-quality specialty building materials and aggregate, as well as acting as a resource for homeowners, builders, and designers alike. 

Today, we’re clueing homeowners into the benefits of a product that is growing in popularity for home projects: natural thin stone veneer. If you’re on the hunt for a building material that conveys all the high-end allure of natural stone while cutting shipping and installation costs, this material will fit flawlessly into your project. Here’s what makes this specialty masonry product ideal for a wide range of projects in, on, and around your home. 

1. Versatility

Building facades, fireplaces, decorative interior walls, pillars—name a project, and natural thin stone veneer can be incorporated to lend your new home a unique look. With the right surface preparations, including a metal lath anchored down, this masonry product can be applied over a variety of surfaces, such as plywood, paneling, concrete, and even metal, without the use of costly footings required by full bed veneer.

2. Natural Look

Natural stone will likely always have a place in home design, simply for its beauty and unique profile. Not only does it lend a rugged, yet sophisticated look to outdoor features, but it can also serve to bring the beauty of nature indoors. And because each piece of natural thin stone veneer is unique, any project that incorporates it will take on a distinctive, timeless look that you won’t find replicated in your neighbor’s home. When it comes down to character, manufactured stone simply can’t compare.  

3. Lightweight

Thin stone veneer weighs in at less than 15 pounds per square foot, or up to 75 percent less than full veneer. This makes it significantly easier and more economical to install because it doesn’t require footings or ledges. But that’s not to say that you should tackle this project entirely by yourself. To ensure that everything goes smoothly in the installation process, we do recommend hiring a professional stone mason to accomplish the actual installation. 

4. Affordability

The positives of thin stone veneer don’t stop at a light weight; that weight also lowers shipping and installation costs drastically when compared to full veneer building stone. That stone mason you’re contracting to install your new thin stone veneer will have a much easier time shaping and laying this product, making it ultimately cheaper in terms of installation and shipping costs. That being said, the overall cost of your project will depend on the type and quality of the stone you settle on, as well as the scale and requirements of your chosen project. 

5. Durability

The oxide colors and other chemicals in cast concrete materials make projects that incorporate manufactured stone prone to fading over time. In contrast, natural thin stone veneer consists entirely of quarried rock and will retain its color and integrity as it weathers, leaving you with a beautiful, lasting project. This makes the material ideal for exterior features like building facades or fire pits that will be exposed to wind, rain, and other weather events. 

6. Various Color Combinations

Natural stone is available in a vast variety of types and colors, meaning that the sky’s the limit when it comes to the color palette you can create or complement with your project. At Kafka Granite, we source our exclusive line of natural granite, quartz, and marble stone from quarries across North America. From airy gray tones to warm shades of burgundy, you’re bound to find a unique hue that makes your home project stand out. 

7. Attractive Cuts

You might think picking a color is the difficult decision, but wait until you get to the point of choosing between numerous different cuts of stone. Are you looking to convey the beauty of natural stone, but with an ultra-contemporary feel to it? A sawn dimensional cut will serve you well. More interested in adding some country farmhouse flair to your facade? A heritage blend will create that desired feeling of old-world country charm. The choices may seem dizzying, but the good news? High-quality natural thin stone veneer looks handsome in just about any cut and color combination. 

Natural Thin Stone Veneer from Kafka Granite

Kafka Granite’s range of marble, granite, and quartz building stone comes in a wide variety of shades and cuts—but no matter which one you choose, you’ll be imbuing your new home feature with a beautiful, natural look. If you’re interested in utilizing natural thin stone veneer in your next project, contact Kafka Granite today. Our knowledgeable sales team is ready and willing to answer any questions you may have and help get your home project started off on the right foot.

Gun Metal Dimensional

A Cut Above the Rest: A Guide to Kafka Granite’s Thin Stone Veneer

We’ve already sung the praises of natural thin stone veneer. With its light weight, unique look, and unbeatable versatility, this building material is ideal for incorporating the beauty of natural stone into any non-structural project, from exterior facades to interior features. 

But with so many different colors and styles of stone to choose from, where do you start? How does a mosaic cut differ from a heritage blend? What kinds of thin stone veneer colors should you even expect to find? We have answers in the form of a helpful guide that should serve as a starting point in your search for the perfect specialty building stone for your project. Here’s an overview of Kafka Granite’s natural thin stone veneer offerings. 

How We Came to Produce Natural Thin Stone Veneer

At Kafka Granite, we’ve always been passionate about creating high-quality aggregates and paving the way for future applications and innovative new products. That drive and growth mindset led Kafka Owner and Founder Glenn Kafka to purchase a very unique quarry in Northern Ontario. This quarry held an unprecedented, raw material—multicolored, mica-enriched quartzite. 

Instead of using this glistening stone exclusively for crushing, Glenn decided to introduce Kafka Granite’s first specialty building stone products. Our line of natural thin stone veneer now consists of stunning granite, marble, and quartz building stone sourced from our network of quarries across North America. The unique features of thin stone veneer, coupled with Kafka’s dedication to quality, create a product that stands apart from anything else on the market.  

Thin Stone Veneer in Classic Kafka Colors

In our opinion, you can never have too many colors to choose from—that’s why we’re constantly expanding our selection and searching for the next fierce, fiery red or cool-toned grey to introduce. Our current thin stone veneer collection features some of the classic Kafka Granite colors that designers and builders know and love. 

  • Chateau Granite: a unique, natural granite blend characterized by grays, blacks, and hints of pink
  • Galaxy Glitter: a sparkling stone with tones ranging from deep gray to black
  • Gun Metal Marble: a cool-toned, blue-gray marble 
  • Imperial Gray Granite: a traditional, deep gray granite
  • Misty Gray Marble: a light gray marble
  • Sedona Glitter: a glistening stone with warm burgundy, desert, and rose tones
  • Sierra Granite: a taupe-gray granite
  • Starlight Granite: a rich black granite

Available Thin Stone Veneer Cuts 

Natural thin stone veneer is incredibly versatile. Not only can it give a project the rugged, beautiful look of natural stone, but this specialty building product can also be cut to fit in with a clean, contemporary style. This means that the kind of cut you choose for your natural building stone can drastically alter the final look of your project. For example, a mosaic cut can give a building facade a casual, irregular look, while the same natural stone in a castle cut would create a more sophisticated style. 

While it’s true that cut is typically driven by style, the cost of the product and its installation may also end up playing a role in this decision. Again, take the the mosaic cut. These irregular stones would take more effort—as well as more time and money—to lay than stone with a dimensional cut, which has a perfect 2:1 ratio.

Every style of our natural thin stone veneer weighs less than 15 pounds per square foot and maintains a variable thickness of ¾”-1½”. Here’s what you can expect from each cut.

Castle Cut

The castle cut is an elegant, sophisticated square cut with each stone varying from 4”-30” in length and 2”-9” in height. This cut creates a clean, classic look.

 

Rustic Cut

With stones measuring between 4”-30” in length and 2”-9” in height, the rustic cut offers a natural seam face that shows off the exterior of the rock. This surface once collected sap, mineral deposits, and other unique features that add a unique color and character to the stone.  

 

Dimensional Cut

Thin stone veneer featuring a dimensional cut has a smooth, clean finish, fitting perfectly into a more contemporary style. For this cut, stones vary in length from 4”-30”, with sawn heights of 2¼”, 5”, and 7¾”. 

 

Sawn Dimensional

In contrast to the dimensional cut, each unit of our thin stone veneer with a sawn dimensional will have a smooth, sawn face rather than a more natural, split face. This added characteristic maintains the clean, smooth finish of the dimensional cut but creates an ultra-contemporary end result. This product comes in consistent, 5” heights, while additional heights may be available with special order.

Mosaic Cut

The mosaic cut is ideal for projects designed to have more of a casual feel. Irregular lengths and heights of 6”-16” create thin stone veneer units that combine for an easy, rugged presentation. 

 

Heritage Blend

Add some country farmhouse flair to your project with a heritage blend, featuring stones with irregular length and height from 2”-10”. This style complements projects seeking to instill some old-world country charm.

 

Ashlar Cut

The ashlar cut features masonry units with a natural split face, random length of 4”-30”, and random height of 2”-9”. While these dimensions are the same as the rustic cut, the split face of the ashlar cut shows off the interior of the stone, rather than the exterior. 

Make Your Project Stand Out with Kafka Granite

At Kafka Granite, we take immense pride in introducing new, innovative products while maintaining the strength and quality that our customers have come to expect. Our thin stone veneer checks those quality boxes. With beautiful, natural colors and a light weight that helps reduce production, shipping, and installation costs, this specialty building stone could be precisely what you need to take your project from solid to stellar. Contact us today with any questions, or to learn more about our diverse selection of natural thin stone veneer products.

Black Diamond Landscape Stone - Private Residence, WI

How to Pick Your Landscape Stone Aggregate Color

To many, landscaping is a work of art. When crafted properly, it can add curb appeal and leave passersby with a  positive first impression. You might spend all of your time primping, pruning, planting and planning your landscaping during every warm summer moment, or you might simply throw some perennials in a flowerbed and call it quits. Whatever type of green thumb you are, Kafka Granite can help you make your garden and landscaping look even better through the perfectly complementary pathway or garden base.

With nearly 60 colors of landscape supply to choose from, picking the right color could be a tough decision. With so many colors available, you’re able to make your landscaping a one-of-a-kind design that won’t look like the typical yard using big box-store stone. Go bold or go neutral, the choice is up to you, but whichever way you go you can rest assured that Kafka’s decomposed granite and landscape supply will be the finishing touch you’ve needed to reach aesthetic perfection in your yard. With Kafka Granite’s easy to use aggregates you don’t need to be a design master to create a garden worth a second look.

How to Pick the Color of Your Landscaping Stone

Choosing what color you want your landscaping stone to be isn’t much different than coordinating your outfit. By using standard design concepts and tools, you can make the right choice to complement the rest of your landscaping and home.

Using the Color Wheel for Your Landscaping

You may recognize the color-selection tool to the right: the standard color wheel. Although simple, learning how to use the color wheel can help you create a landscaping masterpiece just likes the pros. The color wheel is built around the three primary colors: yellow, blue and red. While the complexities of the color wheel can run deep, playing it simple can often make the biggest statement when it comes to your landscaping. When picking colors to feature in your garden, limiting the variety to three colors is best. You’ll get a clean, cohesive look if you stick to a few colors instead of all of the colors.

Complementary Colors

A foolproof way to pick a great landscaping stone color is to consider complementary colors. Complementary colors are any two colors opposite each other on the color wheel. For example, if your garden has a lot of purple in it, consider choosing a landscaping stone with more yellow in it. Kafka’s Caramel Quartzite would complement gardens roaming with lots of violets or purple phlox.

Triadic Colors

Similar to the idea of complementary colors, triadic colors are any three colors that are spaced equally apart on the color wheel. Instead of primarily sticking to just two colors, following the triadic theme lets you pick three colors that will undoubtedly go together when using the color wheel to help you decide. In this case, picking a decomposed granite to fill your garden or use as a pathway material that is yellow or tan in color will go well with a garden stuffed with flowers that are light blue and maroon.

Analogous Colors

If you’d rather your landscaping stick to one area of the color wheel, choosing analogous colors is a safe bet. Analogous colors are any three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. Sticking to shades of red or blue, for instance will lead to visual harmony. However, there is one caveat: Try to avoid picking analogous colors where one is a “cool” color (blues, purples) and one is a “warm” color (reds and yellows).

3 Insights to Consider when Picking a Landscaping Stone

Garden Palette

Consider the colors you already have in your garden. As mentioned in the examples above, the colors of the flowers and plants in your garden could help you choose the perfect complementary, triadic or analogous color for your landscaping stone. Kafka’s decomposed granite color variety spans browns and tans to violets and greens. If your garden is full of red roses, a pathway made from Wintergreen granite may be exactly what your garden needs.

Home Design

How you design your landscaping may rely heavily on the design of your home. Perhaps you want your landscaping aesthetic to match the era your home was built, or maybe you want your landscaping stone in the garden to complement the color of your home to build a more cohesive look. Taking into consideration the color of your home can help guide your decision when it comes to choosing landscaping material.

Stand Out or Stay Neutral

When it comes to selecting the color of decomposed granite for your garden or pathway, remember staying neutral is always a reliable option. Even if your garden is full of vibrant complementary colors, choosing a neutral color that is more subtle may be the perfect backdrop for beautiful flowers. Also, if your home and garden already add lots of color to your landscaping and curb appeal, maybe it’s best not to add another color to the mix through your landscaping stone.

In the End, It’s up to You!

Ultimately, landscape design is completely up to you. While Kafka Granite is always here to offer helpful tips for selecting which color aggregate may be best for your garden or pathways, the choice is yours! Complementary, triadic, and analogous colors are good options to consider if you want to play it safe with color selection and make sure your end result is aesthetically pleasing. In the end, though, your landscape’s color palette can be as neutral or eclectic as you like. Kafka’s decomposed granite color variety is here to help you express yourself and create the best garden yet.

Sunset Pink Permeable Paver Grit- Buckingham Fountain - Chicago, IL

A Kafka Granite Guide To Permeable Paver Grit

Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference—such is the case with permeable paver grit. Standard permeable paver grit comes in ¼” x ⅛”, and the question is how does something so small make such a big difference in landscaping and construction? Permeable paver grit has numerous benefits for the environment, your budget and your project. View our selection today!

What Is Permeable Paver Grit Made of?

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of permeable paver grit. The permeable paver grit at Kafka Granite is comprised of over 40 different types of crushed granite and quartzite available in a palette of colors to match your project – the most popular being Starlight Black, Caramel, and Colonial Red.

Our granite and quartzite aggregates are extremely hard materials that easily withstand the rigors of even the most extreme freeze/thaw cycles. Unlike softer aggregates, such as limestone, our granite and quartzite will not break down and clog your runoff system over time, ensuring maximum drainage for many years to come.

The Role of Permeable Aggregates

Permeable paver grit is made to seamlessly fit between permeable interlocking concrete pavement, also known as PICP. Our aggregate fills the spaces between paver blocks or bricks, which not only adds to your design’s appeal, but it also creates an optimal drainage solution for your project. If you want to avoid harmful stormwater runoff, optimal permeability is key.

Permeable paver grit is an eco-friendly way to optimize the drainage of any project. Permeable paver grit helps reduce stormwater runoff as well as replenishes groundwater reserves. Stormwater can collect and carry harmful pollutants when it settles on the ground, but the permeability of this material helps stormwater seep through the surface of the ground, allowing it to be naturally filtered. This means less stormwater runoff reaches and contaminates our lakes and streams.

How Stormwater Runoff Affects Us All

In the past, contractors and landscapers might have used marbles or limestone as a paver grit but we now know that this can prove to be detrimental to both your project and the environment. By using softer materials like limestone, you run the risk of getting clogged joints over time as your materials break down. Clogged joints cause your expensive commercial permeable pavers to not perform the way they were intended.

In a natural setting that has been left undeveloped, trees and vegetation break the momentum of rain, which in turn helps with erosion and helps filter the stormwater before it reaches larger bodies of water. After the stormwater has been filtered by vegetation, it is drained into streams that then transport the now filtered runoff to large bodies of water. But what happens after land has been developed? Runoff collected from developed areas commonly contains pollutants from cars, fertilizers and other chemicals.

Here Are the Most Common Pollutants that Stormwater Can Pick up:

  • Oil, grease and coolant from automobiles
  • Fertilizers
  • Pesticides
  • Bacteria from pet waste and septic systems
  • Soil from uncompleted construction sites
  • Soap from cars or equipment washing

Biggest Concerns from Unmanaged Stormwater Runoff:

  • Pollutants from stormwater contaminate our waterways and kill off fish and wildlife. This in turn has the power to close local businesses that depend on a source of locally caught fish.
  • When too much water is accumulated and rushes to streams and other drainage systems due to a lack of permeability, it can lead to flooding.
  • When water is kept from reaching the ground naturally, a water shortage can accumulate, which affects the entire community and ecosystem.

Permeable Paver Grit Paired with Decorative Precast Pavers

Kafka Granite does not directly produce precast pavers, but we take pride in providing speciality aggregate and permeable paver grit used in these designs. Our aggregates are sourced from throughout North America. The raw materials are then transported to our crushing facility in Central Wisconsin to ensure the highest level of quality control possible. We then sell our aggregate to the leading paver manufacturers in the country, all of which produce permeable pavers.

Kafka Granite offers nearly 60 different colors of natural stone and recycled materials in any size. Our aggregates can be found in pavers coast to coast. Kafka Granite’s crushed granite, marble, quartz and recycled materials can be used in decorative precast pavers and a broad assortment of amenities such as precast concrete water fountains, trash bins, snuffers, planters, tables, benches, columns, chairs and more.

Find Your Grit at Kafka Granite

True grit doesn’t come from within, it comes from Kafka Granite! To make the most out of your permeable paver project, be careful not to overlook the important function of the permeable paver grit or joint infill.  Contact Kafka Granite to make your next project a success.  

6 Examples of Great Architectural Precast Concrete Applications

Architectural precast concrete was a catalyst to innovative construction techniques that influenced processes as well as architectural design. With the ability to be formed, poured and set off-site, construction of even the largest buildings and structures could be streamlined and expedited thanks to the marvel of precast concrete. This precast innovation was first introduced in the early 1900s and has made modern architecture what we know it as today. With such a longstanding history and proof of durability and stability, there are some truly prime samples of architectural precast greatness.

Kafka Granite has been in tune with architectural precast for decades. Through this time, it has been able to innovate and aid in advancement of a greatly useful product. By providing nearly 60 colors of quality crushed sand and aggregate to create a decorative finish in exposed aggregate precast concrete structures, designers have been able to explore different aesthetics and precast concrete manufacturers have been able to depend on a reliable product thanks to Kafka Granite.

The Importance of Architectural Precast

Construction is a time-consuming and expensive venture. Especially large structures could take years of construction simply to complete the exterior. In today’s on-demand society, waiting years to complete a construction project—especially for much-needed structures such as high-rise housing or parking ramps—just isn’t an option anymore. Contractors need to work as efficiently as possible while still allowing designers to source materials that fit their vision.

Before architectural precast concrete came to the market, construction often required skilled workers to be on-site in order to tediously build forms and pour the concrete. Not only was this a costly necessity, but it also meant other work couldn’t be completed simultaneously while the concrete was setting. Precast concrete enables architectural panels to be made in large numbers off-site while other construction tasks can be completed on-site. This means buildings can go up quicker and cheaper while maintaining architectural integrity and aesthetic.

A boom of popularity in the 1930s saw an impressive number of iconic buildings being made with precast concrete. Here are six stunning examples of buildings made with the help of precast concrete panels.

Sydney Opera House

The complex design of the Sydney Opera House was possible, in part, to precast concrete. The distinctive peaked and curved roof is made up of a series of precast concrete panels that are covered in glossy white- and matte-cream tiles, which took Swedish manufacturers a year to complete on their own. Although this structure took 10 years longer than expected to complete, there’s no denying that the 2,194 precast concrete sections didn’t add to the project’s delay.

 

Pan American Building

Completed in 1963, the PanAm headquarters served as a symbol of progressive mobility in the U.S. At more than 800-feet tall, the structure was behemoth marker dividing the sightline of Park Avenue. Inspired by Bauhaus design, it was similar to other iconic buildings nearing completion round the globe at the same time. It also sits atop Grand Central Station, making it a convenient building to many New Yorkers.

 

Diego Portales University

Exposed concrete slab walls add to the natural feel of these hulking structures so to complement its natural surroundings. The seemingly sporadic placement of windows and balconies are actually expertly positioned to work with the view and travel of air for maximum cross-ventilation. The Diego Portales University is an incredible sight to see that flawlessly incorporates the modern wonders of what concrete can do.

Walters Art Museum of Baltimore

The Walters Art Museum of Baltimore, Maryland opened in 1934 and has been satiating the thirsts of art-lovers everywhere since. Free admission is granted year-round, which means you can come by to see some of the finest curated art collections in the country or the impressive statement made by the architectural precast concrete façade anytime you please. The highlighted slabs, in this instance, mimic large canvasses in a way of their own, giving you a taste of what’s inside.

Jubilee Church

The architectural precast panels used to create this church are doing double duty. Not only are they the cornerstone of this structure’s design, but they also clean the air. These precast concrete fins contain titanium dioxide. Not only does this inclusion keep the church looking pristinely white, it also absorbs ultraviolet light from the sun that breaks down pollutants that come in contact with the church’s surface. The UV light decomposes organic materials naturally. Additionally, large white surfaces help diminish the detrimental effects of urban heat islands by reflecting the sun’s heat. How is that for some seriously hardworking concrete?

The Pierre

As a stunning example of how precast concrete embraces nature, The Pierre is a private residence that was built atop a natural stone deposit on the owner’s property in Washington State. Parts of the stone were cut away to make way for the home, but nothing went to waste! The cut-away stone was crushed and used in making the cement (talk about incorporation, eh?). While some might see concrete slabs as provoking an industrial feel, this home tucked into the San Juan Islands is here to prove naysayers wrong.

The Timelessness of Architectural Precast

From Brutalist to Bauhaus to totally natural, precast concrete can be formed to any aesthetic your construction project needs. If you thought the use of concrete slabs was restricted to prefabricated homes, bland parking ramps or industrial-inspired architecture, think again.
The varieties for which you can apply precast concrete are endless, and with an impressive variety of naturally colored stone, it is easier than ever before to truly customize the exposed finish of your precast concrete wall panels. When seeking a construction solution that is completely customizable and will save time and expenses, learn more about precast concrete. To ask questions and discover how to make architectural precast possible for your next project, call or message Kafka Granite. Our experienced experts can help direct you to quality precast concrete manufacturers that can incorporate our aggregates into your design.

Sierra Granite - Dimensional Cut

Cultured vs. Natural Stone Veneers

At Kafka Granite, we’ve been proud to be a leader in all things aggregates in the Wisconsin area and beyond for years. Through hard work and dedication, we’ve continued to evolve our offerings to meet the wants and needs of our customers. Our latest evolution has come in the form of new natural thin stone veneer.

With a wide range of natural thin stone veneers, we’re excited to unveil this new exclusive selection of masonry product. With a beautiful range of granite, marble, and quartzite, each cut and color of stone offers dazzling hues and crystalline uniqueness.

But when thinking about including veneers in your next new build or renovation project, you’ll be faced with the challenge of deciding between natural and cultured stone veneers. What is the difference between the two products and how can you decide which one is right for your project?

Natural Stone Veneers

Building stone has been in use for hundreds of years. If you’re a traveler, you’ve most likely seen this building material in the Roman Coliseum and many other historical structures throughout the world. While cultured veneers are a relatively new innovation, real stone veneers have a long and prestigious history.

Natural building stones are made by slicing off slabs of desirable rock such as granite, limestone, or marble, and then modifying that cut into the desired shape and weight for different applications. A typical building stone can range in depth anywhere from 3-5 inches and yield 35-40 sq ft per ton.

In recent history, thin stone veneer has been developed to give them same high-quality finish as building stone, but to cut down on labor and transportation costs, and take natural stone to new applications that were previously cost-prohibitive with building stone due to the necessary footings and support.  In comparison, natural thin stone veneer typically ranges from ¾”-1 ½” in depth and weights 10-15 lbs per sq. ft.

If you’re comparing the cost of building stone against thin stone veneers, the building stone variation typically comes out the winner when it comes to lower costs in regard to materials, but with a heavier weight, the thin stone veneers are less expensive to ship and install.

The average building stone can easily last upwards of 50 years, or longer depending on conditions and upkeep. There are many historic buildings that still maintain their original stone veneer siding. Granite, marble, and quartzite wears naturally with natural stone color throughout.

Cultured Stone Veneers

Cultured stone is a manufactured alternative to natural stone veneers to some. While cultured stone can be modified to look close to natural stone, the differences between the two go much deeper than their surface appearance.

Cultured stone is created with a mixture of cement, aggregates, and pigments. These ingredients combined result in a stone-looking material that is generally more economical than natural stone veneers. Provided that these materials are mass produced rather than handcrafted, many big box stores carry manufactured stone veneers, making ordering convenient for some. But you may just find that the cultured stone use for your project is also the same faux stone being used in other builds all across your town.

Building stone starts at a thickness depth of around 2” while the thin variety only goes up to 2”. The final stones end up weighing in at under 15 pounds. Being under 15 pounds, the material qualifies as an adhered veneer. The cement used to create these lookalikes is what helps to keep the cultured veneers light. You can choose to dry stack your manufactured veneers or use a traditional mortar and stone configuration.

While tempting due to availability and potential cost savings, cultured veneers can end up costing in the the long run. Being colored with artificial pigments, the color is no through-and-through, resulting in a less natural weathering.  Additionally, being manufactured primarily of concrete, cultured veneers require continual maintenance and care over the span of their life.

Learn More About Veneers with Kafka Granite

Whether you’re ready to place your order for natural stone veneers today or are still conflicted as to which type of veneer is right for your next project, give us a call today. Our experts would be more than happy to discuss the benefits of natural stone.

Kafka Granite Organic-Lock Stabilized Pathway Mix Installation

Organic-Lock has long been viewed as the strongest organic binder on the market today. At Kafka Granite, we’ve been partnering with Organic-Lock for years to create our stabilized aggregate pathway materials. Thanks to our partnership with Organic-Lock we’re able to offer durable pathway materials that can hold up to anything from busy parks to torrential rains.

Organic-Lock is designed to stabilized aggregate surfaces, making it the perfect binding agent to be added to our unique blends. Through this combination, we’ve been able to offer products that can result in natural-looking, permeable surfaces that can hold up to extreme conditions. Today we’re walking through how to properly install our pre-blended Organic-Lock aggregates on your job site.

What is Organic-Lock?

Organic-Lock is a powdered binder made from renewable resources. It is specifically designed to be blended with crushed aggregate to create natural looking pathways and surfaces. But how does it work?

First, the binder locks the aggregate in place to minimize erosion and worksite maintenance; saving you time and money in the long run. When it rains or your pathways become saturated by moisture of any kind, the liquid permeates the aggregate where it then comes into contact with the Organic-Lock binder. When this happens, the moisture and Organic-Lock binder together turn into a gel that coats each piece of the aggregate. The gel then expands in size and works like glue to hold the pathway together. This process greatly reduces erosion and keeps your finished pathway in one piece longer. This video contains some great illustrations to further highlight how this unique mixture works.

Preinstallation

Your pre-blended aggregate and Organic-Lock mixture will be supplied by Kafka Granite. When prepping your installation surface, you’ll need to focus on moisture content and optimal site preparation. Your delivered mixture will always have room to improve, so we recommend using the snowball or step test to find the ideal mixture of water and aggregate for your batch of material. Ideally, you want your mixture to have an 8-10% moisture content. Here’s how to use those two methods to get your aggregate to this magical moisture level.

The Snowball Test:

When first assessing your material, scoop up a handful in one hand. Try to compact the material into a snowball shape. If it crumbles and can’t hold its form then you need to continue adding moisture. If you can compact it into a ball but it has a noticeable wet sheen then your moisture content is too high.

Too Dry

Too Wet

Just Right!

The Step Test:

In place of the snowball test, you can use the step test to determine your mixture’s readiness. Once again, form a rough ball, then place the ball on the ground and step on it. If your mixture has too much moisture it will have a wet sheen to it, if it’s too dry it won’t be able to hold its shape. An ideal mixture should show a perfect impression of your boot’s tread while holding its shape without any wet sheen visible.

If your mixture is showing a wet sheen the best thing you can do is add additional dry material until you can complete a successful snowball or step test. Once you have reached the ideal moisture content for your mixture, replicate your exact measurements for the rest of your material.

Left: Too Wet | Right: Just Right

 

Installation

The most important aspects of a successful installation of our stabilized mixture are subgrade and base construction, surface watershed management, spreading, compaction, and installation completion. This video will walk you through successfully executing each of these five steps to ensure an astounding finished product.  

The installation process for our stabilized mixture is simple. Our products come with individualized product installation specifications, so there will be no guesswork when it comes to the amount of subgrade you need, how compacted your base should be, or what type of base you should use depending on your region’s DOT recommended crushed granular road base.

This portion of our video guide will also help you to assess potential issues for your pathway system; such as sprinkler heads, uneven terrain, a dense canopy cover, and more. We’ll equip you with all of the installation guidelines and best practices, such as maximum slope, that you’ll need to ensure that your pathway is installed correctly the first time. Saving you time and money by eliminating costly do-overs. If you have any further questions about our stabilized Organic-Lock products give us a call today.

Thin Stone Veneer

The Difference Between Thin Stone Veneers and Building Stone

Veneers present endless application potential. From interior fireplaces to exterior facades, natural stone veneers can be used to add depth and drama to any space. Kafka Granite is excited to share our new natural building stone products with our loyal customers. Architects, designers, and contractors can now fulfill all of their natural stone veneer needs with Kafka.

Building Stone

Building stone has been in use for centuries. If you’ve ever been to Rome, you’ve most likely seen the veneers in use in the Roman Coliseum. And since that time, humanity has searched for more and more ways to incorporate the breathtaking stones found naturally in nature into their final designs.

Building stone typically ranges in depth from 3-5 inches. With this range of thickness, building stone require foundation footing. This special footing is needed to address the special thickness, weight, and size challenges that come along with building stone. But with the use of proper footing or flooring strength, building stone can be used in almost any setting.

Building stone tends to average between 35-40 square feet per ton, but the final weight of your building stone may vary depending on the type of rock used to create the veneer.

When comparing the price of installing building stone against thin veneers, the former typically win out in terms of product cost, but may surge ahead when it comes to installation costs. When it comes to installation, the sizeable weight and size of building stone needs to be accounted for. Being heavier than its thin counterpart, building stone can be viewed as more difficult to work with as they require more time and effort to install. But a seasoned professional will be able to handle this application with ease. With more weight per sq. ft. of coverage, this also dramatically affects shipping costs compared to thin stone veneer.

Thin Stone Veneers

Thin stone veneers are an attractive option for many, as they reduce freight and installation costs without sacrificing the quality and beauty of the natural stone. A typical thin stone veneer weighs somewhere between 10-15 pounds per SqFt, eliminating the use of the foundation footings necessary when using building stone. This allows the product to be more easily installed in a variety of interior applications, remodels, and tall heights where building stone may be cumbersome.

Thin Veneer Corner

Thin Veneer Corner

While thin veneers have not been around as long as building stones, this resource is still full of potential. A thin veneer is a great alternative for those looking for a natural stone solution that is both easy to work with and pleasing to the eye. Thin stone veneers are made from the same high-quality material that building stones are, they are simply cut into ¾”-1 ½” depths.

As mentioned previously, thin stone veneers are significantly lighter than building stone meaning that the material can be applied to nearly any surface and doesn’t require quite the same level of planning and consideration that building stones do. This modification makes thin veneers a popular choice of both internal and external structures as additional modification do not need to be made to support the weight of these light stones.

And due to their lightweight nature, thin stone veneers are very easy to install. Being easier to handle and transport, every step from cutting to setting tends to be a bit less labor intensive. Additionally, with their lessened weight, a thin stone veneer project can typically be completed faster than a building stone one, leading to savings when it comes to labor.

Thin stone veneers are very similar in weight to artificial stone, meaning that you can get the benefits of cheaper products, such as ease of application and shipping while enjoying the benefits of higher end stone, like a more visually pleasing finished product.

You may be worried that due to their weight and depth, thin stone veneer is weaker than building stone, but both stones are incredibly strong. While building stones are intrinsically stronger, both thin veneers and building stone has the capacity to last a lifetime.

Find the Veneers you Need with Kafka Granite

At Kafka Granite, we’re beyond thrilled to share our newest natural thin stone veneer with our loyal customers. Whether you’re looking for show-stopping mica-enriched quartzite or traditional granite colors, find your next veneers at Kafka Granite.