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: M, S, N, O, and K, all of which are 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’ve 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 to use, 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 hardened mortar and that unit. A high-tensile bond strength is ideal for exterior projects that need to hold up to the elements.  

Extent of bond is another key characteristic that should be taken into account. This property involves the amount of surface contact between the mortar and the thin stone veneer or other masonry unit. Mortar with a good extent of bond will be durable and resistant to water penetration. 

Flexibility

Masonry units will crack if exposed to movement caused by moisture, settling, and other forces. The last thing you want is to watch your build fail after completing it. That’s where mortar comes in—to flex and absorb that movement, protecting the structural integrity of the project. Different types of mortar boast varying degrees of flexibility, and the right mix will depend partly on the material that you choose to utilize in your 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’ll 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.

Color

While physical characteristics may take a backseat to structural elements, the color of your mortar is still an important consideration. While mortar is generally thought of as the glue that holds your project together, it won’t just be on the backs of your thin stone veneer units—when properly applied, the mixture should ooze between the units, filling gaps and remaining visible. In fact, mortar can account for up to 15 percent of what you see when looking at your complete project. So although the hue won’t affect your mortars effectiveness, it will impact the finished look. 

 

Mortar typically comes in neutral colors such as white, buff, and light or dark gray, but it can also be tinted to match a variety of shades. You might choose a hue that blends in with your thin stone veneer units, one that pulls out certain shades of your natural stone, or one that offers a stark contrast. If you’re working on a project that will be exposed to the elements, keep in mind that lighter mortar will show dirt and grime more easily than a darker color.

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 provide the information, samples, and expertise you need to get started. 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. 

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 artificial 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.

Sierra Granite - Dimensional Cut

Manufactured 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 manufactured 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 artificial 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.

Manufactured Stone Veneers

Manufactured stone, or faux stone, is a artificial alternative to natural stone veneers. While manufactured stone can be modified to look close to natural stone, the differences between the two go much deeper than their surface appearance.

Man-made 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 artificial stone used 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 artificial stone veneers light. You can choose to dry stack your manufactured thin stone veneers or use a traditional mortar and stone configuration.

While tempting due to availability and potential cost savings, manufactued stone veneers can end up costing in 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, artificial 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.

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.

The Story: Kafka Granite Introduces Specialty Building Stone

After nearly 40 years in the crushed aggregate industry, Kafka Granite recently announced they would be launching a new line of Specialty Building Stone products. Watch the video below to learn how the story unfolded. 


Glenn Kafka, Founder: In 1979, I started in the decomposed granite business. Bought a quarry. 40-acre deposit, and I started bidding road projects and what not. I was moving this rock; it was probably 12 feet in diameter, and I got so far, and it fell back against the blade and it hit it hard, it jarred me, and voila. It glittered. Not quite to this effect, but it did glitter. It had, it had some mica in it, and it was what we call dynamite orange to this day. It sparkled. And I’m like, “wow; It would be awesome if we would crush that and make a decorative aggregate.” So that’s kind of how I had the idea of crushing different colors. Today we have 60 different colors of aggregates, and we collect them from Canada and throughout the U.S.

I did not find this mica-enriched quartzite. I searched for years, looking for aggregates, but this one found me. It sparkles, it glitters. The colors are amazing, are vibrant. It’s just, like, something you’ve never seen before.

The colors. There are so many colors that I haven’t even brought here yet. I’ve never seen anything like this, it was like a red, and a green, and this black, and it just sparkled, and glistened, and it was amazing. And it’s something that nobody else has. It intrigued me.

I said, why don’t we market the glitter stone in a thin stone veneer? That would be something that nobody has. A week later I was up there, and a month later I owned it.

Jason Hestekin, Director of Dimensional Stone Division: So I talked to Glenn 20 years ago about his products, and back then I already knew what was, what was different about what he did. Kafka does things one way, and it’s a top shelf. And part of being Kafka is blazing the trail and setting a new bar.

I’ve worked at a few other quarriers. I’ve been out in the yard, I’ve been in the fabricating end of it, I’ve been in sales. From residential, commercial, agricultural; homes that are bigger than most commercial projects. Just some incredible things that you just to see. You see things because you’ve seen so much. And you’re not afraid of “can you, can’t you,” whatever that looks like. Yes. We can do it; there’s a way. We have proven for a long time we can do a lot of things, and our aggregate industry, we are ready. We are doing everything we can to be a building stone supplier.

Glenn: As far as the quality, we actually have a jump on that because we’re taking a piece of stone that is this large, and we’re trying to make that perfect. What we’ve done in the past was taken that stone and made it into a million little pieces, and had to keep that quality.

Jason: It is so specific. Can you do that in building stone? That’s crazy. Nobody has that type of specification; that type of requirement. And we’re already exceeding that? We got this.

The most exciting part of all of this is, is it isn’t just one product or one specific material, it is a large amount of products that we already have that have an endless amount of opportunity. Something nobody else has. And it’s not one thing, it’s 10, 15, 20, 30, 40 different products that nobody’s never seen. And we’re going to bring all of them to the market.

The launching pad for Kafka’s building stone is our Glitter Series. We will launch with a couple of specific colors, and as we continue to work through that quarry, we will bring other Glitter products to the market. This mica-enriched material is unbelievable, and you have this big “Wow! Holy smokes, I have never seen anything like this before.” It defines what you want to do, which is, nobody else has it so it’s unique, it’s top shelf, it’s the best of the best. We can do all of that with so many other products we already have–that’s the turning point.   

So, you can also expect to see our Legacy Series, and that will be a combination of products from many other quarries that we own. And you can expect to see that immediately this year. Those products are things that are not out on the market that nobody else has. We can truly be a one of a kind. We’re creating our own market, and we’re going to lead the way with it.

Glenn: I’m not getting in this business to compete with anybody that’s already in this business. That’s not my goal. My goal is this. To offer something that nobody else has–something that I love. And I want to show the world. With the mindset of quality comes first, and the product can never be good enough, that’s what we hang our hat on, and that’s where we’re focused on in the future.

I believe that we’re barely scratching the surface. The possibilities are endless.

Jason: We’re ready to roll.

Announcing Specialty Building Stone by Kafka Granite

Kafka Owner and Founder, Glenn Kafka, is excited to share with his loyal customers Kafka Granite’s newest natural stone offerings. Having purchased his first 40-acre quarry in 1979, Glenn has worked tirelessly over the years to evolve and grow the Kafka name into what it is today.

Amongst his first discoveries within that first quarry was an unexpected find; an orange granite with traces of mica in it. This aggregate was discovered by accident when a large solid boulder toppled backward and broke, revealing the dazzling surprise inside. This discovery inspired Glenn to wonder “what if we crushed down this stone to make a decorative aggregate?” And the rest, as they say, was history. Once the concept of crushing decorative aggregate was seized upon, Kafka began producing over 60 unique color variants of specialty aggregates, including Dynamite Orange Granite.

And while satisfied with the results of his crushing endeavors, one day Glenn was approached by an individual looking to sell a quarry with some very unique features. Glenn wasn’t interested in opening another quarry in Canada, but it was promised to Glenn that this new quarry found in Northern Ontario contained something spectacular; multi-colored mica enriched quartzite. And so, after seeing a sample, a week later Glenn decide to venture out to go see the site. Once he laid his eyes on the quarry, he knew just how special it really was. A week later he sent trucks to the quarry to bring back raw material, and a month later he owned it!  Glenn couldn’t help but think: this stone is far too spectacular to merely crush; what other products could we make of it?

The stone found at Kafka’s newest quarry sparkles and glitters in glistening, vibrant hues, making it something that’s yet to be seen on today’s market. Glenn himself has admitted to never having seen anything quite like this new stone. Red, green, black, and more shades have already been discovered within this dazzling new resource. And while Glenn saw this potential for this product as a crushed aggregate, he also had the thought to use this one of a kind stone to make something completely new; glittering natural stone veneer.

There are no comparable products on the market today that can hold a candle to our new stone’s brilliance and shine. At Kafka, we have always prided ourselves on the high product standards we maintain, and we knew that these specialty building stone products would have to live up to our established Kafka standards. After all, part of being Kafka is blazing the trail and setting a new bar.

Our crushing facility produces some of the highest quality, speciality aggregates on the market, and we’re maintaining that same level of quality when it comes to our thin stone veneer and building stone.

And we’re not just talking about one product; these high standards are being applied to our entire new building stone line, which will someday be comprised of a multitude of products. These new products have an endless amount of opportunity.

Naturally, when it came time to decide on the launching series that we would use to introduce our new veneers to the market, the only name that seemed fitting was the Glitter Series. Launching with a few preselected colors, the line will eventually expand to encompass a wide range of sparkling colors as we work through our new quarry. But the Glitter Series will not be our only foray into veneers, our newly released Legacy Series will likewise be comprised of thin veneers and building stone. These new granite, marble, and quartz building stone products will be made from the same Kafka colors that our customers know and love. This high-end building stone will be ideal for any number of applications from building facades to interior features and will be available in a wide range of cuts and colors. 
We didn’t get into this business to compete with anyone else. We came to create our own market and lead the way. At Kafka Granite, our goal has always been to offer something that nobody else has. And whether that’s through specialty aggregates or veneers, we strive to ensure that our products stand apart from the rest. When it comes to our new veneers, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible. Make sure to stay tuned for future updates about our new veneer lines and the exciting products we’re turning out.

Listen to how the story unfolded by watching the video below.

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.

basalt bathroom tile

4 Walls Made Stunning with Basalt Tiles

When it comes to designing the perfect space, there are a lot of elements to consider. You need to incorporate the right textures, colors and functionality in order to make the most of your space, no matter where it’s located. If you’re in dire need of a timeless design feature to bring any space, new or old, up to date, check out the unique aesthetic and diverse benefits of basalt tiles.

Norstone has been innovating how natural stone can be used, which includes a variety of natural stone veneer applications. Precision-cut basalt veneer comprises Norstone’s Interlocking Lynia and Aksent 3D tile collections—both of which can be used in nearly any way you can imagine. Kafka Granite is the Midwest’s premier distributor of Norstone products, which means you can get started with adding modernity with a natural twist to your project now.

What Is a Basalt Veneer Tile?

Basalt is an all-natural stone, so while its dark gray tones insinuate a modern design, it still adds a natural element to the overall aesthetic. Basalt is an incredibly abundant rock that underlies much of the earth’s surface. Basalt is a volcanic rock that develops from quick-cooling magma after it breaks through the crust of the earth. Its fine-grained nature gives it a smooth and consistent appearance

Norstone has mastered the craft of cutting blocks of basalt stone into thin veneers that are hand-assembled into sheets that are roughly 1 square foot in area. By pre-assembling panels with precision, installation is easier than ever. There are two basalt tile veneer options being made right now:

Aksent 3D Panels: When you truly want your walls, backsplashes, water features (or whatever you like) to make a statement, Norstone’s new Aksent 3D Panels are a surefire choice. These tiles are dimensional, meaning each individual veneer is set on its panel in a precise way that adds depth and vividness to any area.

Lynia IL Tiles: Unlike Aksent 3D Panels, these mesh-mounted tile sheets are made up of nine staggered precision-cut basalt tiles that are set at a uniform height. Each tile is .4” to .6” in thickness, creating a sleek, uniform look across your project’s surface.

The Easiest Tile to Install

When you think of installing tiles on any project, your mind might instantly jump to thoughts of endlessly placing individual pieces. The time-consuming placement of spacers and working with single tiles over large spans of area is distant memory with Norstone’s basalt tiles. Both IL and 3D options arrive pre-assembled. They are expertly crafted so that each unit perfectly interlocks with its neighboring unit. Stepped edges ensure a cozy fit as well as a natural, varied look instead of long stretches of vertical seams.

By requiring very few tools and minimal experience, these have become some of the easiest tiles to install. Simply apply a scratch coat of a polymer-modified thinset and lay your pre-assembled sheets. Lynia IL tiles require the use of unsanded grout once the thinset has cured, but Aksent 3D panels don’t require grout so to better achieve the dry-stacked stone aesthetic. Both varieties require a natural stone sealer since basalt is a porous surface—doing this will ensure your basalt addition stays gorgeous for years to come in any environment.

Four Times Basalt Tiles Made a Boring Wall Awesome

Norstone’s basalt tiles can be used in virtually any setting: feature walls, backsplashes, bathrooms, shower enclosures, retaining walls, water features, indoors or outdoors. Anywhere a contemporary feature could make the perfect statement, these tiles can be used. These are four instances where a drab wall was ditched in lieu for a sleeker, sexier design.

1. Bringing Indoors Outdoors

There are a few reasons the Gray 3D Aksent Panels used in this bathroom really make the space what it is. The modern yet natural look and feel of dimensional tile made from a natural stone is mimicked by the modern bathtub that’s made warmer by a wooden surround. This bathroom feels both modern and midcentury through its fixtures and aesthetic. However, what really makes this bathroom stunning is the extension of the basalt tiles from indoors to the wall outside, which makes the room feel large and as if it’s extending outside. The versatility of Norstone basalt tiles is being used to its fullest here.

basalt bathroom tile

2. Residential and Commercial Kitchens

Whether you are designing the perfect kitchen in the home or looking to create a professional and durable commercial kitchen, Lynia IL Tiles can bring any kitchen into modern times. Bring incredible design to an incredible space with sleek and durable basalt that can deflect whatever food comes its way.

basalt tile kitchens

3. Large Focal Walls Made Easy

When creating a focal wall, it’s easy to pick a tile material or pattern that becomes overwhelming or too busy on a large scale. The smooth texture and cooling grays of basalt are soothing to the eye, even in big proportions, and won’t have you worrying if you chose too much of a good thing.

basalt tile accent wall

4. Modern Stone Pools

Picking a pool’s surround is a big job. It sets the tone for the area whether it’s indoors or outdoors, so being on-par with the surrounding aesthetic is important. However, it has to be a material durable enough to stand up to rowdy poolgoers, varying temperatures and constantly running water features. This pool and water feature are brought into a sleek and modern design with the use of Gray Lynia IL Tiles. Where the designer could’ve stuck with a bland cement surround or a blue liner, they chose an option that will stay trendy and contemporary for decades.

stone pool tile

Choose the Basalt Tile to bring Your Space up to Speed

When it comes to designing the ultimate contemporary space using all-natural materials, look no further than basalt veneer tiles. Get in touch with Kafka Granite today to find out more about the dynamic uses and durability of Norstone Tiles. Whether you need the ideal material for indoor or outdoor use, dry or wet areas, basalt can provide the natural yet modern appeal popular today for any room you’re working on.

Ochre Rock Panels by Norstone

Your Guide to Picking the Perfect Norstone Products for You

Picture immense feature walls covered in cascading natural stone or imagine your kitchen backsplash making a bold statement with modern lines in a contemporary gray. Norstone has been crafting natural stone tiles to fit a variety of design needs from natural to contemporary. Kafka Granite is proud to be the Midwest’s exclusive distributor of Norstone’s premium stone veneer panels and tile, and we’re always willing to help you find the right Norstone solution for you.

What Is Norstone?

Norstone is a premier manufacturer and supplier of natural stone products globally and has been focused on innovating natural stone as an interior and exterior design element. With its advanced stone systems, Norstone is able to provide thin stone veneers and tiles that turn ordinary spaces into remarkable ones.

Norstone products have been used to adorn everything from fireplaces and feature walls to pools and luxury showers. Large-scale businesses, such as hotels and concert halls, to private residencies have taken advantage of the immense beauty, functionality and ease-of-installation offered from Norstone products.

Charcoal Rock Panels by Norstone

Go with Natural Rock or Modern Basalt Tiles

Norstone makes a variety of natural stone products to fit the ever-changing needs and trends of today. They manufacture standard and XL stacked stone veneers, as well as natural basalt tiles that can be acquired in a three-dimensional panel or flat tile pattern. These varieties come in a smattering of different colors to match the aesthetic your heart desires and, the best part: they’re so easy to install, which insures a beautiful natural stone feature wall without the steep labor costs of individually placed stone.

Norstone Standard Rock Panels

Norstone Standard Rock Panels

 

Norstone XL Rock Panel

Norstone’s XL Rock Panel are still one square foot panels, but with larger stone pieces than the standard panels.

Norstone’s stacked stone veneers resemble large blocks of stone meticulously stacked and arranged in just the right way to fit your space. However, Norstone has ditched the bulk, time and weight of entire stones to bring you just the veneers—which are essentially just the face of the stone—preassembled into one square foot panels. With four different colors available of its natural stone rock panel tiles, as well as its bigger brother XL rock panels, nearly any design aesthetic can be achieved with this staggered natural stone option. Unlike assembling a wall out of stone piece by piece, these veneers will arrive in preassembled panels that seamlessly interlock with finger-jointed corners for a seamless design. The goal is to be able to create a luxury-level space in an easy and manageable way.

 

 

Basalt IL Tiles

Basalt IL Tiles

 

Basalt 3D Panels

Lynia 3D Panels are the only three dimensional basalt veneer rock panels on the market.

If a textured stone surface isn’t quite the match for your space, Norstone also manufactures sleek natural basalt tiles. The Lynia Tile Collection is a “righteous marriage of design, technology and extraordinary stone” that will make any room feel like a haven for all things contemporary. Available in two tones of grey, Ash Grey and a dark Ebony, basalt tiles can complement nearly any space design with modernity in mind. Unlike the flat Standard Lynia IL Tiles, Norstone’s new Aksent 3D Tile Collection is composed of sheets of staggered basalt tiles to create the only three-dimensional basalt panel on the market. Both varieties of basalt tiles are crafted by hand with unique interlocking edge profiles so that one panel of tiles will seamlessly interlock with neighboring panels.

Where Are You Installing the Tiles?

Before you commit to one of Norstone’s products, truly take into consideration where you are looking to install it. What is the overall aesthetic you’re trying to achieve? What is the aesthetic of the existing surroundings? For example, while you may love the look of Lynia IL Tiles, they may not be the perfect complement in a log home or rustic restaurant.

If you’re seeking a natural surround for around your fireplace, pool waterfall, retaining wall, or kitchen backsplash, Norstone’s Rock Panel Collection could be your best fit. The unique and varying texture that shows through on the face of these stacked stone panels will take you back to natural rock ledges or stony walls found in nature. The Ochre panels have a beautiful range in natural colors, while the stark White Quartz panels are more modern with still a rough, natural stone finish.

Ochre Standard Rock Panels

If sleek lines and contemporary fixtures will surround your project, then Lynia IL tiles will only add to the modern atmosphere you’re trying to achieve. The long, sophisticated lines of basalt tiles are the epitome of modernity.

Ebony Basalt Interlocking Tiles by Norstone

No matter which design appeals to you more, you can rest assured that all of Norstone’s panels are assembled by hand to ensure that meticulous specifications are met. Finger-jointed corner systems means you won’t have to miter corners or worry about cutting each tile with hopes they’ll fit together. The only iteration of Norstone’s tiles that requires grouting with an unsanded grout is the Lynia IL collection. However, these prearranged tiles are mounted on a mesh backing for a perfect one square foot sheet every time. The simplicity of installation will save you time when it comes to measuring, cutting, laying, and grouting.

The Perfect Stone Solution for Indoors or Outdoors

You don’t have to keep Norstone tiles restricted to indoor applications. While the naturally sourced stacked rock veneers and basalt tiles will “wow” anyone who comes into your space, they can also earn a great deal of curb appeal when used for exterior facades, retaining walls, water features, and landscaping. The applications are seemingly endless—you simply need to have a space that’s begging for an easy and beautiful update.

Ash Grey Basalt Interlocking Tiles by Norstone

A Short List of What to Consider

Budget: Consider your budget. With Norstone products, you’ll be spending a fraction on labor costs with these preset stone veneers than what you would spend on a mountain of full-sized, individually stacked stone to create the same look. And because this is a groutless solution, with the exception of Lynia Interlocking Tiles, you will be saving money on those associated expenses.

Design: By taking into account the aesthetic of the areas surrounding your project, you’ll be better guided in choosing between all of what Norstone has to offer. While all four product lines are made from naturally sourced stone that cannot truly be mimicked by machined or man-made stone, the standard stacked stone veneer will complement more traditional projects in a wide variety of settings while the modern basalt tiles will make any space feel more contemporary.

Time: Each panel is assembled to exacting specifications to that you can rest assured each will perfectly nest into the edge profile of its neighboring panel. With little to no cutting of individual tiles or corner miters, installing an entire project will take a fraction of the time than if you were to cut and set each stone individually. Groutless solutions mean your job is done after the adhesive has set, but even when grouting with Lynia IL tiles, you’re guaranteed consistent grout lines and a clean look.

Standard Charcoal Rock Panels by Norstone

Kafka Has the Natural Stone Veneer Solution for You

Chat with us today. We’d be more than happy to discuss your architectural project, send you free sample to help you make your decision, and point you in the direction of your nearest Norstone dealer for residential projects. We know you’ll be pleased with the burst of beautiful design Norstone adds to any space.