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.

Photo courtesy of Unilock

4 Recycled Crushed Materials to Start Using in Your Design

Kafka Granite has always taken measures to help the environment. After all, we pride ourselves on the environmental benefits of naturally occurring decomposed granite in comparison with concrete or asphalt. Permeable paver grit, which contributes to groundwater recharge, and white roof options to reduce urban heat islands contribute to our portfolio of eco-conscious aggregates. Using sustainable materials in your next big project could give you points toward a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Creating a LEED-certified project is a reflection of your project’s minimal stress on the environment. It shows you’ve taken the environment into consideration from the design of your project to the material you used. One way to help earn LEED certification (and the trust of many earth-adoring people) is to use recycled materials as often as you can. This means using insulation from recycled jeans, rubber playground surfaces made from recycled tires, or even pathways or precast concrete fixtures made from recycled porcelain and fire brick —think outside the box for where recycled materials can be used in your project.

 1. Rejected Toilets and Sinks

Recycled Porcelain Aggregate

Recycled Porcelain Aggregate

Kafka Granite has teamed with Wisconsin-native businesses Wausau Tile and Kohler Corporation to stick to an impressive recycling initiative. This three-way relationship started when Kohler noted that its landfills were becoming saturated with brand-new toilets and sinks. These fixtures simply didn’t meet the high-quality standards of inspectors, so off to the landfill they went. Wausau Tile took interest in the discarded porcelain goldmine and approached Kafka Granite for its impeccable crushing facility. The crushed porcelain was to be used for a new product line that Wausau Tile was going to create, but another world of benefits was also unlocked.

Companies like Wausau Tile can use recycled crushed high-quality porcelain in terrazzo flooring and as a unique component to decorative precast concrete. Its potential has also been explored and makes a great material to use in exposed aggregate architectural panels, pathway materials, and epoxy overlay streetscapes. Whistling Straits, the famous Kohler Company owned golf course, is even using their recycled porcelain as bunker liners using the Better Billy Bunker Method. Recycled porcelain is incredibly durable and absorbs minimal water, which makes it especially ideal for climates where continual freezing and thawing is common.

 

 

2. Old Electronics Glass and Mirrors

Kafka Granite Recycled Smoked Glass

Kafka Granite Recycled Smoked Glass

Other materials adding an element of smoke or sparkle to quartz countertops everywhere are electronics glass and discarded two-sided mirrors. Thousands of outdated boxy TVs are tossed to the curb every day, but now the thick smoky glass could see new life by being crushed for other purposes. Two-sided mirrors are also seeing new life as they can add a reflective glimmer to be used in terrazzo flooring, countertops, or anywhere else crushed recycled mirror could add a unique touch. The depth added by these crushed materials gives new life to old, useless glass.

 

 

 

 

3. Copper Slag

Kafka Granite Recycled Copper Slag

Kafka Granite Recycled Copper Slag

Kafka also recycles some less obvious materials for crushed aggregate, such as copper slag. Recycled copper slag is a unique option that you can use as a recycled aggregate in your next project. Durable, attractive, and recycled, these options could help push you toward a LEED certification. But what exactly is copper slag?

Copper slag is a byproduct of copper smelting. Smelting is the refining process that copper ore goes through. Copper ore is what’s mined from the earth, usually from quarries, and is a mix of minerals and rock. In order to extract the usable ore from the mineral and rock blend, the mixed deposits undergo smelting; the process during which the deposits are heated with an agent that triggers a chemical reaction that forces the desired metal end-product out of the ore deposits.

The non-metallic dust, soot and rock are what make up copper slag. Copper slag is friendly to both the health of people, as oppose to alternatives like silica sand that is harmful when inhaled, and the environment. It also has an impressive strength-to-weight ratio, making it a durable, long-lasting option for different projects. Copper slag is primarily black in color with flecks of red and lighter greys, resulting in a pleasant and versatile aesthetic that is mostly used as aggregate in precast concrete to increase its recycled content.

Many prestigious projects have utilized our copper slag recycled materials, such as Chicago’s Navy Pier. The designers on the project were looking for a material that could stand up to the test of thousands of visitors and rapidly changing weather, all while being made using recycled content. Our copper slag ended up being exactly what the project called for, and ended up being a large contributing factor that helped the final Navy Pier project received a gold SITES certification.

4. Firebrick

Kafka Granite Recycled Firebrick

Just like copper slag, firebrick is an eco-friendly material that can earn your project those highly desirable LEED points. But what exactly is firebrick?

Firebrick refers to the dense bricks made to withstand intense heat. These bricks are usually found lining kilns, furnaces, and fireplaces. These bricks are designed to hold even under during rapid temperature changes; such as in locations with mercurial environments. When firebricks reach the end of their application, though, they could end up at a crushing facility like Kafka’s. Crushed firebrick blends have a great blend of light tans, greys, browns and reds. Such a varied yet neutral color palette and strong compaction characteristics makes crushed firebrick a great recycled option for pathways.

Crushed Recycled Material Available for LEED Certification

Being environmentally conscious is never a bad thing, especially if it can earn your project LEED certification. Architectural customers as well as the eco-friendly consumers will benefit from using recycled materials in their next projects. Instead of clogging landfills, these materials are being crushed to exact specifications to breathe unique life into many products like terrazzo floors, precast concrete, and even pathways. Kafka Granite has been pushing the environmental envelope for years and has just what you’re looking for when it comes to recycled aggregate. To get free samples or find where you can get your hands on recycled porcelain, firebrick and copper slag, contact us today. We’re waiting to help find the right aggregate for your project, especially if helps toward LEED certification.

Midnight Blue Granite

Why Is Rip Rap Used for Breakwaters?

The Multi-use Landscaping Tool

There is a certain majesty to waterfront property that is hard to beat. The serenity provided by the sound of lapping waves and gentle movement of the water makes for an idealistic setting for most businesses. Kafka Granite is fortunate enough to be surrounded by numerous bodies of water in the Mosinee area.

With over 15,000 lakes in our home state of Wisconsin, we frequently receive calls regarding how to protect waterfront property from erosion. In these cases, we recommend rip rap breakwaters to those seeking multi-use landscape structures that are both useful and aesthetically pleasing. And just to note, we always tell our customers to refer to their state DNR shoreline regulations when considering making any changes to their property’s shoreline.

Breakwaters and Rip Rap

In need of multi-use landscape supplies that are not only beautiful but functional? Rip rap is comprised of naturally occurring rock that has been broken into pieces ranging from 6” to 30” shards. Kafka Granite offers exceptional quartzite and granite rip rap in a vast spectrum of colors.

Rip rap, sometimes seen as riprap, rip-rap or stone armor comes from the nautical word rip-rap, which in 1822 meant “stretch of rippling water.” Rip rap can be classified as either graded or uniform. Graded rip rap is a mixture of stones that vary in size and shape, whereas uniform rip rap is a mix of stones that are all of a similar size and shape. Records of rip rap can be found well before the 1900s. In fact, rip rap became one of the first forms of erosion control when it was used in the building of the Panama Canal in the early 1800s.

Breakwaters are exactly what the name implies; they are offshore structures that protect property from the force of waves by breaking water before it reaches the shore. The first cited use of a breakwater was in 1769.

Shoreline Erosion

Shoreline rip rap used for breakwaters serves many purposes besides being simply pleasing to the eye. Breakwaters made of rip rap help reduce erosion and absorb the force of waves. Without the use of breakwaters, waves can make a significant impact on shorelines. When left unchecked waves can both deposit debris along a shore or result in erosion. Waves will deposit sediment along the shore when the force of the wave dissipates before it reaches land, this results in layers of gravel, sand and debris being left behind. Erosion occurs when waves break along the shore and then carry parts of the shore back out to the water. It is estimated that wave erosion is to blame for the loss of four billion tons of soil annually, resulting in over $20 billion being spent on replacement soil each year.

Shoreline erosion is a natural process that can occur in lakes, rivers, streams and along the coast. Many factors can contribute to shoreline erosion including storms, strong waves, rain, ice, runoff, winds, loss of vegetation and more. As mentioned above, over time shoreline erosion can present an enormous threat to your property’s value, structural integrity and present a serious financial obstacle, so it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure your property’s longevity with the use of a rip rap breakwater.

How to Use Rip Rap

Rip rap has many uses; as landscape stone, to form a breakwater, as abutments and more. Rip rap can also be used as a beautiful accent feature or to build striking retaining walls. We are frequently seeing new ways to use this diverse landscape stone, with customers fabricating fountains, steps, benches, and more from beautiful natural chucks of stone. Anyone who owns land along a lake or riverway should first contact their local county, city, or township with questions regarding standards or permit requirements before starting work on their shoreline.

Advantage of Rip Rap Against Other Types of Retainers

Rip rap is an easy-to-use and easy-to-maintain landscape stone that is a very low-maintenance alternative to other traditional retaining walls. Rip rap should be checked annually or after any large storms to ensure that no stones have been displaced. You shouldn’t allow wooden vegetation to grow on your rip rap due to the eventual displacement of your stone from the plant’s root system. Wooden vegetation includes shrubbery such as willow and dogwood plants and smaller grasses such as fox sedge, rattlesnake manna grass and tall manna grass.

A breakwater made of rip rap has another great advantage that you might not have considered—natural wildlife habitat! Traditional vertical seawalls offer no protection or benefits for the local ecosystem, but a rip rap breakwater provides an excellent place for wildlife to feed and hide. Once installed you can expect to see a whole new ecosystem develop around your property. Below are some further advantages of rip rap breakwaters.

  • Rip rap is specifically designed to fight again erosion
  • You will receive a high level of protection for minimal shoreline maintenance
  • Rip rap is intended to withstand a high degree of impact and velocity
  • Once installed, rip rap provides lasting long-term protection
  • Rip rap is a natural repellent to common pests such as rodents and muskrats
  • Rip rap will help secure the longevity of your property’s value

Kafka Granite Rip Rap

After you’ve consulted with your local DNR and are ready to build your rip rap breakwater, look no further than Kafka Granite. Our rip rap selection is comprised of a variety of colored, sized and shaped stones reaching up to 4 feet in diameter. We offer 13 distinctly unique color options including:

  • Cajun Spice Granite
  • Caramel Quartzite
  • Chocolate Brown Granite
  • Dynamite Orange Granite
  • Imperial Gray Granite
  • Linwood Granite
  • Mauve Granite
  • Midnight Blue Granite
  • Platinum Granite
  • Ruby Red Granite
  • Shamrock Green Granite
  • Starlight Black Granite
  • Wintergreen Granite

Rip rap is a great solution for those looking for an aesthetically pleasing stone for a large scale project, for both contractors and architects alike. No project is too small or too large at Kafka Granite. Additionally, while usually known for our crushed stone aggregates, we take pride in offering unique raw rip rap that shines in both form and feature. The natural colors found in our rip rap are sure to complement your next shoreline or breakwater project perfectly. Get in touch with Kafka Granite today to discuss your next rip rap breakwater project. Our rip rap selection is now available for online viewing.

Standard Red Cedar Granite Pathway Mix - Cityville Dog Park - Des Moines, IA

Clever Uses For Decomposed Granite Pathway Material

We at Kafka Granite make an incredible amount of pathway material each year. Our standard, stabilized, and wax polymer pathway material options are perfect for long and winding paths through public parks, woodsy bike trails, and even golf courses. While we know our decomposed granite makes for an excellent walking, biking, or golf-carting path, we also know it’s good for a few unexpected uses.

 

Traditionally, clients come to Kafka Granite to find the perfect aggregate blend for any number of diverse projects. And with over 50 color varieties, and a custom crushing facility, we are able to meet the needs of even the most challenging of projects. Yet we do get the occasional unusual project, but we know that every project is unique and has its own special needs and demands. That’s why we offer standard, stabilized, and wax polymer pathway mixtures.

 

Standard Decomposed Granite Pathways

Standard DG pathways are all natural solutions to your walkway needs. Standard pathways perform better than conventional gravel pathways as they create a firmer surface while remaining natural and allowing water to permeate through. A standard pathway is ideal of low traffic, outdoor walkways, and spaces.

 

Stabilized Decomposed Granite Pathways

For commercial applications or in higher traffic areas, a stabilized pathway mix is the more suitable option for most. The Kafka Granite stabilized pathway mix is comprised of decomposed granite or crushed stone blended with a stabilizing binder. It’s this combination that binds and locks the pathway mix to provide a durable, permeable, and natural aggregate surface. A stabilized pathway resists the erosive effects of weather and traffic better than traditional gravels or a standard pathway mix, making it a great option for areas that receive heavy rain or snow. Stabilized pathway mixtures are ideal for firmer outdoor pathways that can withstand heavier traffic but still provide a natural look.

 

Wax Polymer Decomposed Granite Pathways

The Kafka Granite wax polymer pathway mix is a unique alternative to pavement that offers a waterless and dustless pathway solution. With our state of the art crushing facility, we have the ability to combine the aggregate color of your choice with engineered wax polymers for a sealed, non-permeable surface that does not get muddy or dusty. This unique mixture provides solutions for extremely high traffic areas, steep slopes, and other demanding pathway projects. The pre-mixed formula can be easily installed without water, and is easy to maintain. It also allows greater creativity in design applications for architects and landscapers.

 

Choosing The Untrodden Path

As aforementioned, the traditional uses for our DG pathway mixtures typically include recreational trails, resort walkways, and corporate pathways. But we always love assisting landscape architects and contractors create something out of the ordinary with any of our DG pathway mixtures. Next time you have one of these projects lingering on your to-do list, consider using one of Kafka’s decomposed granite pathway mixes!

Salt & Pepper Granite Stabilized Pathway - Toro Corporate Headquarters - Bloomington, MN

Salt & Pepper Granite Stabilized Pathway – Toro Corporate Headquarters – Bloomington, MN

Serene Water Feature

Want to create your own babbling brook? Or perhaps you have great ideas for a fountain in your future! Whatever watery focal point you’re looking to create, consider using our decomposed granite as the perfect surrounding material for your next water feature. We offer nearly 60 different colors of decomposed granite—including recycled materials—and it can complement practically any aesthetic you’re craving.

When you’re drawing up plans for your dream backyard pond or water feature, consider the color and material variations available to you. From vibrant and bold colors to natural hues of brown and grey, your possibilities are endless. Ensure your new pond has a serene surrounding. Adding bright pathway materials around your pond will make the entire water feature a work of art in your space.

 

Desert Spar Gold Granite Stabilized Pathway Mix - Bay Park Dog Park - East Rockaway, NY - Installed by Laser Industries

Desert Spar Gold Granite Stabilized Pathway Mix – Bay Park Dog Park – East Rockaway, NY – Installed by Laser Industries

Dog Run Done Right

Creating a great dog run can be endlessly useful yet tricky. You may leave the grass in the running area as is, but over time the lawn is going to deteriorate. The continual movement of man’s best friend is going to tear up the grass, make muddy pits, and look generally unpleasant. Cleaning it will become a hassle, and you could find yourself starting each summer off by laying new sod. To get out of sod purgatory, consider decomposed granite pathway materials instead of leaving the grass.

Dog runs don’t have to be unsightly. Kafka’s wide palette of decomposed granite colors will leave your dog run a vibrant complementary feature to your yard or an unnoticed part disguised by granite that goes unnoticed. Whatever design element you’re looking to achieve with your dog run, DG can help you with it. What’s more is that a dog run with a decomposed granite base won’t get worn down and muddy with continuous use. Dogs’ little “presents” are easy to scoop and DG allows everything to permeate into the ground. Your canine friend will be a little cleaner, too, as they won’t have sand or dirt stuck to them after a good run like they would if you went with a different substrate. For the most functional and beautiful dog run on the block, check out our decomposed granite pathway materials.

Xeriscaping

You may be wondering what xeriscaping even is. While you may not have heard much about it in the past, you’re sure to learn more about it in the near future. Xeriscaping is creative landscaping that has the ultimate purpose of conserving water. Once intended for drought-stricken areas, such as Arizona or other perpetually hot geographic areas, xeriscaping is trending as freshwater resources are depleting and people become more environmentally conscious.

Xeriscaping saves water, requires less maintenance, can achieve any desired landscape design, and doesn’t need any sort of fertilizer or pesticide to look beautiful and up curb appeal. Using decomposed granite as your topdressing for your xeriscaping project enables water to permeate to the soil while reducing weed growth — plus, your landscape is sure to look beautiful with Kafka’s color and material variety. Pick a color or multiple colors to complement or contrast your home and drought-resistant plants. While xeriscaping may seem harder than traditional landscaping using bark mulch, it really isn’t. Plus, decomposed granite topdressing won’t erode as much, which means you won’t be replacing it every year.

Bocce Ball

While decomposed granite pathway materials make great decorative and functional surfaces, they also make great athletic surfaces! What isn’t to love about that? Decomposed granite pathway material is a proven surface for bocce ball courts. It will never become muddy as water can permeate through the DG and into the ground below.

Bocce ball courts using decomposed granite as their foundation can be easily maintained and won’t take long to dry after a heavy rain, which means you can go back to playing bocce as soon as the sun is shining again.

Kafka Pathway Materials for All Occasions

As it’s plain to see, our decomposed granite pathway material is ideal for many situations. The durability and permeability make DG an excellent choice for much more than walkways! Plus, our seemingly never-ending list of color choices makes it possible to fulfill any landscaping design you’re going for. What can you think up? We can help you find the DG that’s right for you today.  

Wisconsin Granite Boulders - Private Residence, WI

Landscape Inspiration for Your Next Retaining Wall Project

Retaining walls are often more than just an aesthetic addition to your landscaping project. They’re used to help control downhill erosion, manage water runoff, and even create usable landscaping space if your green space is steeply graded and difficult to use otherwise. When it comes to building a retaining wall, though, you could be overwhelmed by the number of options available to you.

Kafka Granite knows landscaping stone and can help when it comes to making a unique retaining wall. We offer a variety of granite boulders, cobbles, and decorative rip rap—a large angular stone—that can be used to make a one-of-a-kind retaining wall that will blend seamlessly with your natural aesthetic. The variety of naturally colored stone offered make it possible for your retaining wall to become exactly what you’ve dreamed of: a beautiful, natural solution that blends in with your landscape rather than obtrusive  manufactured concrete block.

Must-dos for Building a Retaining Wall

When building a retaining wall from natural granite boulders or rip rap, the size of the stone you’ll need to build the wall you want will impact your wall’s finished design. If your retaining wall is low and following a particularly curvy course, perhaps around a flowerbed, water feature, or outdoor space, you’re most likely on the lookout for smaller-sized granite boulders. Both boulders and rip rap landscaping stone options can blend into your landscape’s surroundings or stand on their own as a decorative feature.

As professional designers and contractors, most will be familiar with the retaining wall process. But to err on the side of caution, here are the most important details to keep in mind when plotting out your next retaining wall project outside of the traditional type, color, and size of stone considerations.

You’ll need to have an in depth understanding of where the property lines are located, power lines are buried, and  where there is a difference in grade throughout the area. Knowing the difference in grades within the property will allow you to plan where and how your retaining wall will adjust to the environment’s natural ebb and flow. With this information you will be able to discuss with your client how they wish to address some of the project’s challenges. For example, is the final retaining wall going to cut into any hills (and how much material will you have to remove in front of or add behind the new wall) or is it going to follow the natural slope of the property? These conversations will allow all involved to better visualize how the final retaining wall will work in your overall landscape design.

The soil your retaining wall will be holding back is also a vitally important consideration. Soils can range from being clay-based to very sandy. The type of soil used will help determine how much reinforcement your retaining wall will need to provide. Also, a heavy clay soil will provide less drainage than a sandier soil. To ensure optimal drainage and avoid damage from saturation or frost-heave to your retaining wall in the years to come, we recommend using gravel as your primary backfill. When your soil is less than ideal for using behind a retaining wall, using gravel backfill for roughly 2 feet behind the wall is a good solution for drainage. Use gravel backfill until 6 inches below the top of the retaining wall because that is where you can safely fill in with topsoil.

Get the Natural Retaining Wall You’ve Always Wanted

Ditch the manufactured blocks that the big box stores sell and provide your clients with something truly spectacular. Opt for a unique and natural retaining wall that will add just the aesthetic you’re looking for to your landscape design. Whether you want to create a retaining wall that will house next flowerbeds or you need to cut into a hill to create a flat, usable space in your green space, don’t wait. The ideal landscape stone is available from your nearest Kafka Granite dealer.

If you’re interested in Kafka’s granite boulder or rip rap retaining wall options, we can help you to find a dealer near you. If you’re interested in becoming a part of our dealer program, we can help with that, too! Give us a call and let’s talk about your next big project.

Salt & Pepper Stabilized Pathway Mix - Akron Art Museum - Akron, OH

Complete Your Project with Today’s Landscaping Trends

As we head into 2018 landscaping season, so should your landscaping design. The trends for landscape design change slightly from year to year, and now more than ever is a growing emphasis on bringing facets of green living—living more environmentally friendly—to the great outdoors. When designing the ideal outdoor space for your next project, there are quite a few elements to keep track of on your landscape checklist.

Kafka Granite is a premier manufacturer of architectural and landscape aggregates in the heart of the Midwest, so keeping our thumb on the pulse of landscaping trends is crucial. We work with landscape architects to perfect the materials used in green outdoor spaces for large-scale projects. Whether it’s the ideal material to complete a walkway, a supply of boulders for retaining walls or water features, or the perfect aggregate for decorative precast concrete  pavers, flower beds, trash cans, and more, we take pride in creating the best of the best when it comes to crushed aggregates for landscape projects.

Things to Consider for the Perfect Landscape

You might have a dream landscape in mind, but before you start digging and plotting, there are a few things to consider. When you begin a project, one of the first constraints you have to work within is a budget. Especially small budgets mean you need to get clever in terms of materials—and maintenance costs. A design outfitted with several seating areas, fire pits, pergolas, and sprawling gardens is going to be substantially more costly than wide-open lawns. Considering cost every step of the way will force you to prioritize the goals of the project and better plan for features to include.

In relation to cost is function. How will this space be used? Does it need to be fit for large crowds, heavy foot traffic, vehicular traffic, etc.? The functionality needs of your landscape architecture often dictate where the budget absolutely needs to go. For example, while having an impermeable wax polymer pathway through the project isn’t exactly what you want, it may be what the project needs in to eliminate erosion on a very steep slope while maintaining a natural aesthetic.

You also have to work within your physical boundaries. Small, awkward areas can be complex to not only design, but install. By exploring all the different colors and textures of materials available, even the smallest of landscaping projects can be crafted into functional, beautiful areas that people can enjoy and use. However, keep in mind limitations that may occur during installation. Often times, with some creative problem solving, a quality landscape contractor, and a little extra elbow grease, solutions can be found for the tight areas where heavy equipment access is unlikely.

5 Booming Trends in Landscape Architecture

Xeriscapes (Dry Gardens)

Creating an xeriscape or a dry landscape is an excellent solution in particularly arid climates. When an area receives little to no rain and is subject to drought, consider this as it requires no irrigation. While these have become popular options in dry climates, xeriscapes can be created anywhere water conservation or minimal maintenance is desired or required. Planning dry gardens means taking into account how the sun reaches your project so you can appropriately plan where you would want to plant shade-producing trees or shrubs and where you’d plant grasses or succulents.

Low-water-use plants in conjunction with an appropriate base, such as a decomposed aggregate, make for a water-conscious landscape design that can provide ample space for gathering, walking around, and more.

Salt & Pepper Stabilized Pathway Mix - Akron Art Museum - Akron, OH

Salt & Pepper Stabilized Pathway Mix – Akron Art Museum – Akron, OH

Using Native Plants

One sure-fire way to have your landscape design blend into its surroundings is to use plants and flora that are indigenous to the area. It would be awkward to include a variety of palms in the heart of Wisconsin, so plan accordingly. Successfully incorporating native plants, though, requires a bit of research. Discover what plants thrive in the area, as well as call that space home, by garnering inspiration from nearby forests or nature preserves.

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting is exactly what it sounds like: Collecting rainwater in wells or barrels for reuse in lieu of letting it run off. Developing the right system to collect rainwater is a process that may need additional assistance. You could create very simple systems, e.g., rain barrels under downspouts, and more complex ones that include sunken reservoirs and more complicated withdrawal techniques. Harvested rainwater is ideal for watering gardens, irrigation, and groundwater recharge.This trend is booming especially in urban landscapes.

90% Starlight Black, 5% Salt & Pepper, 5% Snow White Custom Stabilized Pathway - American Greetings Headquarters - Westlake, OH

90% Starlight Black, 5% Salt & Pepper, 5% Snow White Custom Stabilized Pathway – American Greetings Headquarters – Westlake, OH

Gathering Areas

Don’t let your landscaping architecture go unnoticed. Let your beautiful space be observed and appreciated while being used to maximum capacity by creating inviting gathering areas. Especially if your project includes an open expanse of space that’s begging to be filled, a popular trend is to fill that space with areas to congregate, sit and meet with one another. Maybe it’s the perfect spot for employees to eat their lunches or for passersby to take their next phone call. It could be a gorgeous midway point for people to take a quick break when heading from point A to B.

Your gathering area may be anchored by precast concrete benches, low-lying flower beds, fire pits, or more. If your budget and space allows gathering to be a possibility, the opportunities are endless.

Efficient Irrigation

While not as outwardly trendy as a sleek and custom precast concrete planters and benches, efficient irrigation is a landscaping trend that’s hard to ignore. An irrigation system is simply one that waters your landscaping at regular intervals. Efficient irrigation systems will only provide plants, trees, and shrubs with water when and where they need it. It’s also important to have rain sensors so that your irrigation system won’t kick in before, during, or after rainfall. Efficient irrigation is a way to conserve water as well as ensure you won’t have to worry about flooding from over-watering in the future.

Get Started on Your Next Landscaping Project

So, what will your next landscaping project shape up to be? These trends aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so utilizing these tips now will put your project in the limelight for years to come. If you’re a landscape architect searching for the right aggregate, pathway material, or decorative stonefor your next project, call or chat with us today.

Platinum Granite Standard Pathway Material - Metropolitan Correctional Center - Chicago, IL

How to Use Your Landscaping to Manage Water

Long gone are the days of creating a beautiful landscaping for only aesthetic purposes. Landscape architects today are constantly on the lookout for how the land can serve some utility purposes as well. As masters in their field, landscape architects can plan and create an environment that is both beautiful as well as functional. The trend to “go green” isn’t going away anytime soon.

The surge in environmental consciousness is leading designers and architects to find ways to reduce carbon footprints, utilize environmentally friendly or recycled materials, and minimize a project’s environmental impact whenever possible. Many companies, including Kafka Granite, are creating building materials in greener ways than ever before, which is why we support these efforts where we can. One way to make your commercial landscaping work for the environment is to use it as part of your project’s water management. A useful and beautiful landscape for your project is very possible through research, planning and using the power of permeability.

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

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

What Does Water Management Mean?

The water that lands on the ground during a rainfall might not ever cross your mind again once it’s over and dried up. However, consider the fact that one inch of rainwater hitting one acre of asphalt over one hour yields 27,000 gallons of water. In ideal conditions, this rainwater would easily flow into your city’s sewers and be on its way to your water treatment facility. However, too often do these systems become overwhelmed by heavy storms and debris, causing flooding and even sewage backups. This causes pollutants such as oils and trash to sit stagnant or flow into public waters, neither of which help the environment.

Furthermore, an incredible amount of water is used for the outdoors, especially in regions that experience droughts or very hot, drier seasons. The amount of water used to preserve landscapes is staggering. For example, in North Carolina the average amount of water used for the outdoors is 20–30 percent of a facility’s total water use annually. For environments that have notoriously hotter weather, this water consumption for the sake of lush lawns could be even higher.

So what exactly does water management mean when it comes to landscape designs and function? Best Management Practices (BMPs) for landscape water conservation range from plant selection to irrigation in order to reduce landscape water use. Adopting BMPs for your next landscape design project will help with financial savings and environmental efforts.

How to Start Planning a Water-efficient Landscape

Oftentimes, commercial and industrial workplaces sit across large plots of land. This vast area is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of rainwater and save on using water for outdoor purposes. Before you start implementing a landscape design, you need to consider what the land will be used for.

Ask yourself the following questions before you begin to cultivate your design. When you can answer the questions below then you know that you’re ready to begin creating your landscaping vision. If you are in doubt about the legalities and protections that are in place at the site of your next build we recommend contacting your local government or Department of Natural Resources to answer any uncertainties that arise while reviewing the questions below.

  1. What is the natural habitat of the area?
  2. What are some native plants and animals currently residing on or nearby the project?
  3. What will the pedestrian or vehicular traffic be like once completed? Is this a recreational area?
  4. Will I need automatic irrigation systems?
  5. How will I create a suitable hydrozone for the space?
  6. What type of ground cover should I be utilizing?
Platinum Granite Standard Pathway Material - Metropolitan Correctional Center - Chicago, IL

Platinum Granite Standard Pathway Material & Platinum Permeable Paver Grit – Metropolitan Correctional Center – Chicago, IL

Keep Hard Surfaces in Mind: Reduce Stormwater Runoff

Optimal landscape architecture isn’t restricted to lush green surfaces and garden beds. Creating the best landscape for water management also means thinking about the hard surfaces in your project, i.e., driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, and courtyards. When these surfaces are made of nonporous material, such as nonporous asphalt and concrete, this creates unwanted stormwater runoff, which draws pollutants to waterways.

Ensuring you use porous materials that provide ample drainage is a key factor to achieving ideal water management with your landscaping. Decomposed granite provides stable, compact surfaces while still allowing rainwater to pass through. Consider a combination of permeable pavers and permeable paver joint infill for large expanses, such as parking lots. Kafka Granite offers a large variety of durable granite and quartz aggregates for permeable paver grit that can withstand intense freeze/thaw cycles. These aggregates emphasize the aesthetic goals of your landscape design as well as provide a way for hard-surfaced areas to provide even more water management opportunities.

Kafka Can Help Your Landscape Start Saving Water

A water management plan integrated in your landscape design can help your project environmentally and financially. Through planning a tight irrigation schedule, creating hydrozones, and implementing permeable surfaces wherever possible, you’ll be conserving water and time all while helping the environment. Reducing stormwater runoff helps ease the stress on sewer systems, reduces sewage backups and flooding, and alleviates the amount of pollutants and debris running into waterways. Interested in permeable solutions for your landscape? Let Kafka Granite help you create a beautiful and eco-friendly space—send us a message or call today for your next project!

Rustic Granite Stabilized Pathway - Downtown East Commons - U.S. Bank Stadium - Minneapolis, MN

A Short Guide to What You Need to Know about Decomposed Granite

While decomposed granite (DG) might not be on your radar, it’s a common material you come across in your garden, in a park, or on a pathway or walking trail through your community. It crunches under your feet at the baseball field. It can can be compacted to create a beautiful, natural surface while remaining firm and permeable, and stabilizing additives can be added to further enhance these valuable qualities. It’s in more places than you think, but after checking out this guide, you might have a few ideas of your own for the broad variety of uses and aesthetics decomposed granite brings to the table.

What is decomposed granite?

Granite is the most common igneous rock (rocks forming through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava) on Earth. In the case of granite, it originally crystallizes below Earth’s surface where its slow cooling allows large crystals to form. You may have seen granite take shape as some of America’s favorite sights like Yosemite Valley or a few guys on Mount Rushmore.

Decomposed granite is the completely natural derivative of granite. When granite erodes and endures weathering over time, it easily starts flaking and crumbling away from its parent source. This decomposed granite crumbles into various sizes of particles and can be further crushed and screened to specific sizes for different project needs. Granite weathers into decomposed granite in part because one of its components, feldspar, chemically weathers into a clay mineral called kaolin, which, when exposed to more water, further deteriorates.

Where can you find decomposed granite?

Crushed decomposed granite is produced by more than 100 quarries throughout all regions around the United States. Because of the varying levels of chemical composition around the U.S. and Canada, quarries in different regions will produce DG of different colors. In Kafka Granite’s home turf, vibrant reds, browns, and golds are most prominent. Other regions may be known for their tans or greys. Because of the demand for DG in a variety of colors, Kafka Granite also crushes natural stone to mimic the qualities of decomposed granite, and therefore Kafka Granite is able to offer more than 50 different colors—a rare offering by most suppliers. Our natural decomposed granite and crushed stone alternatives are crushed and screened to size and can be used interchangeably for decorative and practical applications.

What is decomposed granite used for?

Many would assume that granite and all of its derivatives are primarily used for countertops and architecture, but you may be surprised to hear that once granite has been transformed into decomposed granite it’s applications take on a multitude of uses. Despite its name, decomposed granite is still very strong. In fact, DG is harder than marble and the unique composition allows it to compact firmly for patios, ballparks, driveways, pathways and landscapes, or more high-traffic applications such as roads, while yet maintaining drainage characteristics not found in most other hardscape surfaces.

Caramel Quartzite Stabilized Pathway - Grande Cheese Headquarters & Research Center - Fond du Lac, WI

Caramel Quartzite Stabilized Pathway – Grande Cheese Headquarters & Research Center – Fond du Lac, WI

Kafka Granite is an industry leader in DG and offers both standard, stabilized, and polymeric wax decomposed granite mixtures. These innovative mixtures are comprised of various colors of granite, quartz, marble and in some cases, recycled materials such as porcelain, kiln slag, copper slag, firebrick, and more. Thanks to the care we give in creating attainable eco-friendly products, Kafka Granite has been able to assist many designers and architects receive LEED and SITES Certifications. Decomposed granite is a versatile and robust material that can be used in everything from the trails and Erin Hills Golf Course to the Downtown East Commons at the U.S. Bank Stadium.

How can you stabilize granite aggregate?

Sometimes standard DG just isn’t right for your project. You may need more stability and durability. Your pathway might need to be able to withstand heavier traffic, or your ballyard may need the moisture-retaining properties of an organic binder to minimize dust and mud. Kafka offers several crushed granite mixes that have been engineered to support high traffic areas, such as our stabilized and wax polymer pathway mixtures.

Whatever the reason, crushed granite can be stabilized with natural binders such as Organic-Lock and Stabilizer Solutions. These binders help create a durable surface that resists the erosive powers of weather or heavy traffic—all while maintaining the natural aesthetic you may have been going for in the first place. This means stabilized decomposed granite is an excellent alternative to obtrusive or less-natural looking asphalt or concrete pathways, driveways, etc, while still remaining permeable.

Custom Erin Hills Blend Wax Polymer Pathway - Erin Hills Golf Course - Hartford, WI - Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

Custom Erin Hills Blend Wax Polymer Pathway – Erin Hills Golf Course – Hartford, WI – Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

For the highest level of erosion resistance and durability, the Kafka Granite wax polymer pathway mixtures is an optimal solution. This hearty mixture can withstand intense erosion and be laid on the steepest of hills, due to its completely sealed, impermeable surface. However, this surface yet retains a natural aesthetic and can be easily maintained and manicured overtime, unlike traditional hardscape materials.

Where can you buy decomposed granite?

Decomposed granite can be purchased in a variety of ways. Depending on the size and scale of your project, we’ll be able to assist you with finding your ideal decomposed granite mixture. It is usually easier for smaller-scaled operations to source our aggregate mixtures from a member of our expansive dealer network. With dealers spread out all over the Midwest, finding a Kafka Granite near your next project is easy.

When it comes to large-scale projects, we most commonly assist contractors, architects, and designers by providing direct quotes for their architecturally specified projects. With a versatile portfolio comprising standard, stabilized, and wax polymer pathway mixes, we can help any project find its ideal pathway mixture.

When you get in touch directly with Kafka, you’ll be able to speak with one of our crushed granite pros who can help you determine exactly what you need for your specific project. You can also receive samples and ask questions before making a final decision.

Caramel Quartzite Stabilized Pathway - Grande Cheese Headquarters & Research Center - Fond du Lac, WI

How Much Aggregate Do I Need for My Pathway?

When starting any new pathway project, one of the first steps when assessing your construction needs is calculating how much decomposed granite aggregate you will need to complete your project. As a landscape architect or contractor, knowing exactly how much to specify or order is somewhat of an art. If you order far too much aggregate surplus, you could have just wasted part of your budget that could’ve been put elsewhere. Estimate too little, and you’ll endure the burden and costs of shipping what little amount of material you need to complete the pathway, on top of delays on the jobsite.

With our experienced team members and innovative online tools, Kafka Granite is here to help you through the entire ordering process. Our experts can help you determine how much decomposed granite you’ll need in tons depending on the purpose of your pathway, or you can utilize our easy-to-use coverage calculator to help you find an accurate estimate according to your measurements.

Factors to Consider When Planning A Pathway

Pathway Cross Section

Standard & Stabilized Pathway                                       Cross-Section Diagram

When planning for a pathway project, there are a number of factors that should be taken into consideration. Whether it’s color or permeability, decomposed granite aggregate pathways have quite a few variables that need to be figured out before investing in the material.

How Deep Should Your Pathway Be?

This is one of the main determinants for how much material you should use. Measurements you need to know before ordering pathway materials include the path’s length, width, and depth. While you may already know its projected length and width, which will help you determine its area in square feet, do you know how deep your pathway should be? Kafka recommends going no shallower  2″ compacted for wax polymer pedestrian pathways and 3″ compacted for standard or stabilized pedestrian pathways.

2” Deep: A 2-inch depth is only suitable for a pedestrian-traffic pathway using wax polymer pathway mix. It is not recommended to intall any standard or stabilized pathway at a 2-inch depth.

3” Deep: A 3-inch depth is necessary to create a standard or stabilized pathway suitable for pedestrian traffic. A 3-inch depth is also required to withstand vehicular traffic using wax polymer pathway mix.

4” Deep: A 4-inch depth should be used for standard or stabilized pathways that will sustain heavier traffic weight. If vehicles will use your standard or stabilized pathway, plan for this depth.

Kafka Granite most commonly sells decomposed granite aggregate by the ton. This calculator will help you determine how many tons of DG is right for your project. Simply input the square footage of your crushed stone path and discover an estimate for how much you need based on the pathway’s depth.

The most cost effective way to order pathway material is in bulk truckload quantities. If ordering in bulk doesn’t work for you, we can also ship the product in 3000-lb. supersacks. For any of our pathway color or mix options, the DG is crushed and screened to a 1/4” minus size, which always allows for a firm surface that compacts well. Each pathway material including standard, stabilized, and wax polymer mixes utilize their own sizing specifications. Architectural specifications can be found below:

Three Pathway Mixes to Choose From

In addition to the depth of your pathway, you should consider what mix of aggregate your project would benefit from the most. Kafka offers three DG pathway mix options: standard, stabilized, or wax polymer.

Platinum Granite Standard Pathway Material - Metropolitan Correctional Center - Chicago, IL

Platinum Granite Standard Pathway Material – Metropolitan Correctional Center – Chicago, IL

Standard Pathway Mix: Durable, beautiful, natural and environmentally friendly—it’s hard to beat the value of standard DG pathway mix. With a specific size of ¼” minus with fines, our standard mix is the ideal size for perfect compaction while still allowing water to permeate and recharge the earth below. Choose this option if your pathway will be serving as a low-traffic walkway, nature path or rustic garden trail.

 

 

 

 

Rustic Granite Stabilized Pathway - Downtown East Commons - U.S. Bank Stadium - Minneapolis, MN

Rustic Granite Stabilized Pathway – Downtown East Commons – U.S. Bank Stadium – Minneapolis, MN

Stabilized Pathway Mix: The core of our stabilized pathway mix is a similar mix design as the aforementioned standard mix, but a stabilizing binder is preblended to the DG. We have different stabilizers available depending on factors such as your pathway’s climate, slope, use, etc. Stabilized pathway mix is more durable than standard mix as it resists the erosive effects of weather and traffic better—all while retaining its environmentally friendly permeability.

 

 

 

 

Custom Erin Hills Blend Wax Polymer Pathway - Erin Hills Golf Course - Hartford, WI - Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

Custom Erin Hills Blend Wax Polymer Pathway – Erin Hills Golf Course – Hartford, WI – Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

Wax Polymer Pathway Mix: The toughest of pathway mixes, wax polymer pathway mix combines crushed stone with engineered polymers. Wax polymer pathways require no water during installation. When looking for a dustless, sealed, non-permeable pathway material that looks far more natural than asphalt or concrete, this wax polymer pathway mix may be just what you’re looking for. Consider this option if your pathway is going to be in a particularly well-traveled area since it simply doesn’t get muddy—no matter the rainfall. Wax polymer is incredibly strong and durable, meaning it can stand up to the heaviest foot traffic.

 

 

 

What Color Works with Your Design

Lastly, consider the color of crushed stone that would go best with the pathway’s surroundings. Kafka offers nearly 50 colors of crushed stone and recycled materials, so you aren’t restricted to only a few common colors. Make your pathway pop or blend in; modern or rustic. The choice is up to you.

Find Out What You Need to Get the Job Done

Your project is important, so making sure every checkpoint along the way goes as planned, including ordering the right amount of material, is crucial. By simply plugging in the square footage of your pathway, you’ll be able to create an estimate for how much material to order using our calculator above. This crushed stone pathway coverage calculator can help you determine your budget and overall needs. Assess what type of traffic your pathway will endure, determine what pathway mix will work best for your project, pick just the right color and there you have it—the perfect decomposed granite pathway mix for your project. Contact us today and let’s start building.