Kafka Architectural Aggregates Color Chart

How Does Natural Stone Get Its Color?

No two pieces of natural stone look alike—even if you’re comparing two pieces of granite extracted from the same quarry. This variation of color, pattern, and texture is part of what makes natural stone so unique and so highly prized as a building and landscaping material. If you’re on the lookout, you’ll notice it in a variety of projects, from chimney facades to public pathways. Currently, thin stone veneer is a particularly popular natural stone product for both commercial and residential projects.

But how, exactly, does natural stone get those striking colors, and why can’t you find the color you’re looking for in your area? Geology holds the answer to these and further questions.

What Causes Color Variations in Natural Stone?

When it comes to color variations in natural stone, it’s all about minerals. Take Wisconsin, for example. Kafka Granite’s home state has glacially deposited minerals to thank for the wide range of colors we see in our local stone quarries.

Minerals and other organic components that were present when rocks were being formed resulted in the rainbow of different colors that we see today. The exact arrangement and abundance of said components are what create the beautiful graining, textures, and varied hues that natural stone is so well known for.

Those various minerals and organic compounds all have different properties and chemical makeups, meaning that they all affect natural stone in different ways. Iron oxide, for example, creates a vivid red color, while serpentine can create a green coloration in stones like marble. The abundance of the mineral deposit will also determine how varied the colors are in a particular stone. You might be able to clearly see a mineral deposit in stone extracted from a certain part of a quarry, while other areas contain lesser amounts of the mineral and therefore fewer bursts of color.

Here’s a look at how minerals affect the hues of several common types of natural stone.

Granite

Granite, primarily composed of minerals and rocks like quartz and mica, is found in a wide range of colors across the country. An abundance of potassium feldspar will give a deposit of granite a warm, pink hue, while the presence of quartz will create that classic, milky-white tone. Thanks to its glistening tones, granite is an excellent option for interior and exterior thin stone veneer projects.

Marble

With zero impurities present, marble is largely white and uniform—but you’d be hard pressed to find any significant amount of naturally occurring marble that doesn’t contain color variations. The striking veined patterns that make marble such a popular natural stone are caused by deposits like feldspar and iron oxide.

Quartz

Quartz is a naturally clear stone, so the presence of any impurities will change its appearance. You’ll find this stone in just about every color you can imagine, although some are more common than others. Purple, yellow, and gray are just some of the hues you’ll come across when purchasing quartz stone products. 

Why Can’t I Find a Specific Color of Stone in My Area?

If you’re looking for a specific color of natural stone for your project, the good news is that there’s an immense variety of colors out there. The bad news is that you might find your own options somewhat limited, depending on the area from which you’re trying to source materials. 

Wisconsin’s unique geology makes it rich in naturally occurring decomposed granite, along with quartz and feldspar. But other areas of the country may lack some types of natural stone entirely, or they may have an overabundance of one color. The solution, then, is to locate a supplier of high-quality natural stone products, one who can source the color that matches your design.

Kafka Granite’s Natural Stone Products

Kafka Granite is proud to offer natural stone products in dozens of dazzling colors. We have so many hues on hand because our immediate area is rich in the mineral deposits that create them. As we mentioned, our state of Wisconsin is known for its naturally occurring decomposed granite in fiery reds and golds—but that’s not all we have to offer. We’ve spent over 40 years scouring the country for different colors of natural stone. 

Today, we source our natural stone products from quarries across North America. This allows us to offer a color and product selection that you simply won’t find anywhere else. So if you’re wondering why you can’t find pink granite or anything other than gray limestone when sourcing materials for your next project, now you know: your area likely doesn’t have any deposits of the type or color of natural stone you’re on the hunt for. But if you have your heart set on a specific color for your installation, we’d be happy to help. 

Looking for the Perfect Color of Natural Stone for Your Next Project?

If you’re having a hard time finding the right natural stone for your project, don’t settle. Instead, contact Kafka Granite today. Architects, designers, stonemasons, and more come to us for our extensive selection of specialty aggregates, thin stone veneer, and other natural stone products. If you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for, our knowledgeable sales team is here to help. We look forward to helping you incorporate the beauty of natural stone into your next project.

Quality Control 101: What Is Specific Gravity?

So far, in our quality control series, we’ve discussed Mohs hardness and absorption—but there are still many other factors that play a role in creating specialty aggregates, natural thin stone veneer, and other products that will last. Today, we’re diving into the importance of specific gravity and bulk specific gravity in stone. Let’s take a look at what this physical property can tell us, why it’s so important, and how it’s measured.

What Is Specific Gravity?

Specific gravity is a ratio of the mass of a substance to the mass of the same volume of liquid (typically distilled water). This physical property plays an important role across a wide range of processes, from biological processes like kidney function to product performance. 

You may have also heard this property referred to as “relative density.” The word “relative” should hint at the fact that specific gravity is a unitless measurement. To make sense of this property, measurements must be compared against a standard. For solids and liquids, that standard is water at its most dense (about 39 degrees Fahrenheit), while gases are measured against room temperature air.

As water is the typical standard, it is understood to have a specific gravity of 1. A specific gravity below 1 indicates that a substance is less dense than water and will therefore float in the liquid, while a specific gravity greater than 1 means that the substance is more dense and will sink. Specific gravity in natural stone ranges from 2 to 3, meaning that stone is two to three times denser than water.  

Water Absorption and Bulk Specific Gravity in Stone

Specific gravity doesn’t exist in a vacuum, however; when it comes to the performance of natural stone products, other physical properties must be accounted for. Water absorption and specific gravity are two properties that go hand in hand.

All types of natural stone are porous to some degree, meaning that they will absorb a certain amount of water. Absorption allows us to assess that porosity, which in turn allows us to evaluate how well a stone will withstand weathering and structural stress. In general, denser stone is less porous. Because water absorption is measured as a percent by weight, however, a low-density and high-density stone can have the same absorption capacity—but the higher-density stone will actually absorb more water by volume. 

To allow for this caveat, we measure bulk specific gravity. This property takes into account a stone’s absorption capacity, giving us a better understanding of how strong the resulting product will be, how it might be affected by the freeze-thaw cycle and other natural forces, and what it can realistically be used for.

Specific Gravity and Quality Control

So, how does specific gravity in stone relate back to quality control? When it comes to natural stone products, consistency is key. Specialty aggregates used in architectural precast, decorative precast, and other manufactured products need to meet specifications for a particular application or installation. At Kafka Granite, we make key measurements like Mohs hardness, specific gravity, and absorption available directly to our customers, so that they can make the most informed decisions when sourcing materials for their projects.

Even non-load bearing products like natural thin stone veneer have to hold up to the installation process, the elements (if exterior), and forces like heat and changes in humidity. This means that every masonry unit needs to fit into an acceptable range of physical properties, from Mohs hardness to bulk specific gravity. 

How Is Specific Gravity in Stone Tested?

It’s not enough to simply be aware of standards—those standards need to be met every time. Kafka Granite adheres to ASTM material specifications for our stone products. Samples of our dimension stone are sent out for a number of tests, including ASTM C97: Standard Test Methods for Absorption and Bulk Specific Gravity of Dimension Stone. This particular assessment is used to measure both absorption capacity and bulk specific gravity for all types of dimension stone except slate. 

Absorption is up first. At least five test specimens are dried for 48 hours in an oven to ensure they’re completely free of moisture. Their dry weight is recorded, and they are then submerged in water for another 48 hours to make sure they’ve naturally reached their absorption capacity. When fully saturated, the samples are weighed again. The percentage difference between these two values is the absorption capacity.

To determine bulk specific gravity, the saturated specimen is suspended by a wire in air and weighed. The process is repeated with the stone suspended in water. The difference between these two values is the bulk specific gravity, which can then be used to determine density.

The testing process is similar for our specialty aggregates, but it’s important to note that, unlike dimension stone, aggregate or crushed stone isn’t required to conform to any one standard. However, this data determines whether crushed stone is appropriate for a specific application—so it still needs to be collected. Samples of our specialty aggregates are subjected to a similar process of drying, soaking, and weighing to determine both their absorption and specific gravity.

Kafka Granite’s Commitment to Excellence in Stone Products

Our decades of experience in the industry have made it clear to us that architects, designers, stonemasons, and others need high-quality specialty aggregates and masonry units that will hold up under stress and against natural forces. At Kafka Granite, we’re committed to providing consistent, useful products that fit perfectly into a project. If you’re searching for thin stone veneer or other natural stone products, reach out today. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have.

Quality Control 101: What Is Absorption?

Here at Kafka Granite, we’re dedicated to providing high-quality stone products—but that’s not the only thing that makes us an industry leader. Our dedicated team is constantly seeking out colorful new deposits and developing innovative uses for natural stone and products to meet the ongoing needs of our customers. We’re also happy to share our technical knowledge. To that end, we’re diving into the next topic in our quality control series: absorption. 

In previous installments, we’ve talked about the overall importance of quality control, dug a little deeper into Mohs hardness, and specific gravity. Now, we’ll be looking at what absorption is, how it’s measured, and why it matters to the end-user.

Why Does Absorption Matter?

Absorption is the percent by weight increase in the mass of a material when water is absorbed into its pores. (This does not include any water adhering to the surface of the material.) This acts as a measure of a stone’s porosity, which can tell us quite a lot about how durable that stone will be for a particular installation.

If you’re wondering exactly why water absorption matters in natural stone products, know that it all comes back to quality control. Different absorption levels determine how well a specific type of stone will withstand weathering and structural stress, and, by extension, how a product can be used. It’s essential that the qualities of a stone match the needs of the application; otherwise, your project simply won’t last.

Absorption capacity is particularly important in natural stone products that will be exposed to the elements and undergo the freeze-thaw cycle. If you’re creating a building facade from natural stone, for example, you’ll need to select an appropriate type of stone—one that is durable and not overly porous. If your material absorbs too much water, you’ll find it much more vulnerable to freezing weather. 

As another example, if you’re sourcing decorative aggregates for the face mix of your pavers, you should opt for an aggregate mix with a lower absorption. Continued freeze-thaw cycles and other forces will make aggregates with higher absorption levels more likely to break down over time, eventually compromising the integrity of the paver itself.

Finally, absorption can also tell us about a stone’s stain resistance. To protect the integrity of your installation and reduce the risk of your material becoming stained over time, it’s essential to choose a stone with a low water absorption.

How Do You Test for Water Absorption of Stone?

Water Absorption of Dimension Stone

Dimensional stone sold for commercial use must meet certain criteria across a number of categories, including absorption, specific gravity, and compressive strength.

ASTM International is a non-profit organization that develops both material standards and testing methods for products and materials throughout numerous industries. ASTM C97: Standard Test Methods for Absorption and Bulk Specific Gravity of Dimension Stone is used to test absorption capacity for a variety of types of dimension stone, such as marble and granite. 

Here’s a brief look at how the test progresses:

  • Five or more test specimens are prepared.
  • The samples are dried in an oven for 48 hours to ensure they are completely free of excess moisture. 
  • When totally dry, the specimens are weighed.
  • Next, the samples are submerged in water for another 48 hours to make sure they’ve naturally reached their absorption capacity.
  • When completely saturated, the samples are weighed again.

The absorption capacity of each sample is determined by calculating the difference between the fully dry and fully saturated weights. The resulting value, expressed as a percentage, gives us one piece of the puzzle for determining whether a type of stone is appropriate for a specific application.

Along with testing methods, there are ASTM specifications to which natural stone products must adhere. The standard requirement for water absorption in granite, for example, is .4 percent, while marble is .2 percent. 

It’s important to note that the absorption capacity of each type of dimension stone is actually a range, rather than one number. Absorption capacity in granite typically ranges from .8 to .01 percent, while marble goes from .8 to .04 percent. This means that a portion of natural stone sold on the market will fall outside of ASTM specifications. 

This brings us back to the essential nature of quality control. Remember that the most affordable option may not be the best option for your project—in fact, specifying low-quality natural stone products may actually end up costing you more in repairs and replacements in the long run. If you ever find yourself in doubt, be sure to ask your supplier for proof of ASTM testing.

Water Absorption of Crushed Stone

Our crushed stone is also regularly tested for absorption, Mohs Hardness, and specific gravity. But unlike dimension stone, there is no universal standard for water absorption of aggregate or crushed stone. Instead, organizations or businesses typically have specifications for materials they use in different projects. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation, for example, has a set standard for epoxy overlay aggregates. It’s essential that materials used in projects like high-friction surfacing installation meet these specifications. Otherwise, the aggregate will break down—reducing traction and failing to perform. 

To ensure that an aggregate meets the requirements for a particular application, samples are tested according to ASTM standards, such as ASTM C127: Standard Test Method for Relative Density (Specific Gravity) and Absorption of Coarse Aggregate

The method for testing water absorption in aggregate or crushed stone is similar to that of dimension stone:

  • Aggregate samples are first dried to remove any excess moisture.
  • Once dry, the oven-dry density of the aggregate is measured.
  • Next, the samples are soaked in water for a prescribed period to ensure that they reach maximum absorption capacity.
  • Finally, the soaked samples are used to determine the saturated-surface-dry density and absorption.

High-Quality Stone Products From Kafka Granite

When you purchase specialty aggregates or other natural stone products from Kafka Granite, you can rest easy knowing the materials you receive will be of the highest quality. To further demonstrate our commitment to transparency and quality, all test data is available to our customers upon request.

We pride ourselves on our attention to detail and continuous pursuit of excellence—and we’re always happy to discuss your newest project. If you have any questions about our range of products or specifications, feel free to contact us today.

Moh's Hardness Test Example

What Is Mohs Hardness?

We’ve touched on the importance of quality control in stone products before—after all, consistency is critical throughout the process of manufacturing precast concrete aggregates and other specialty natural stone materials. Today, we’re diving even deeper into one of the factors that contribute to a stone’s inherent quality: Mohs hardness. Here’s some information on the history of the measurement and exactly what it means for consumers. 

A Quick History of Mohs Hardness

We have Friedrich Mohs, a German mineralogist, to thank for the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. This essential scale is used to measure the scratch resistance of a material like quartz or granite. Possible measurements range from 1 to 10, with 1 indicating the softest material and 10 the hardest.

Mohs created his scale in 1812 as a way to identify specific minerals. By scratching a specimen with one of ten reference minerals, a person could identify the relative hardness and, potentially, the exact type of mineral they were dealing with. Geologists in the field continue to use this method for identifying minerals. At times, hardness picks are used in place of reference minerals. In a pinch, ordinary objects like glass, a knife blade, or even your fingernail can be used to determine the relative hardness of a mineral. 

How Does Mohs Hardness Affect the End User?

The Mohs hardness scale is particularly important to Kafka Granite’s industrial customers, such as manufacturers of terrazzo flooring. Depending on what the aggregate is being used for, there may be an industry specification or product standard that states how hard the stone needs to be.

Continuing with our terrazzo example, those applications typically call for a softer stone, because it polishes easier. Marble is one excellent option here. On the other hand, manufacturers of architectural precast wall panels or decorative concrete pavers usually prefer to use aggregate made from one of the harder stones, because they are more abrasive—and they’re looking for an exposed aggregate finish that will last a lifetime. 

This abrasive quality allows harder stone products to stand up to harsh environments. Since terrazzo flooring is typically found indoors, it does not face the same elements of freeze/thaw, snow removal, and vehicular traffic that epoxy overlay streetscapes may be exposed to. Exposure to both natural elements and human traffic can play a significant role in the breakdown of a material.

Mohs Hardness and Construction Specifications

Before embarking on a project, manufacturers need to know that their chosen material meets certain industry standards or requirements. Depending on the product being manufactured, such as high-friction surfacing, there may be stringent specifications that need to be hit—both to ensure the integrity of an aggregate and the longevity of the finished product.

Take epoxy overlay aggregates, for example. Hardness is an extremely important quality for products made from these materials. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has a number of exact requirements for the types of stone they use in high-friction surfacing applications, including size and hardness of the aggregate. For obvious reasons, the DOT wants the stone to wear down as slowly as possible over time. A harder aggregate allows the final product, whether it be an entrance ramp or a bridge deck, to retain its integrity.

Sourcing stone that meets stringent specifications is no easy task, particularly if you’re searching for a particular color. Luckily, Kafka Granite offers a wide range of products with different levels of hardness. Whatever you have in mind, we’ll work to find a stone that matches your vision. You may only know that you need a hard, gray stone for your manufacturing project, for example. While we do have gray marble, we’re also able to supply gray granite that would better meet the needs of your project.

Mohs Hardness and Cost

Quality control in specialty aggregates is essential, but it’s not the only factor that will determine your choice of supplier. Hardness also has a direct effect on the equipment being used to process stone. More abrasive stone is harder on machinery and will eventually wear it down, while something that’s softer has less of an impact. This, in turn, affects cost—and potentially your ability to source certain materials. Marbles are more affordable to produce than quartz, for example. Ideally, industrial manufacturers will be able to work with their aggregate supplier to source material that both meets specifications and fits within their set budget.

High-Quality Aggregates for Your Next Building Project

Kafka Granite is proud to be one of the largest manufacturers and suppliers of specialty aggregates in the country. We offer over 60 varieties of crushed marble, quartz, granite, and recycled materials. If you’re searching for a specialty aggregate for use in architectural precast concrete, pavers, terrazzo flooring, or any number of natural stone products, contact us today to learn more about how we can crush and screen aggregates to your desired specifications.

The Geology of Natural Stone

Designers, architects, and stone masons get to see quite a variety of stone products, from specialty aggregates to natural stone veneer. Even more people get to see the end results of Kafka Granite’s products—in the form of building facades, bridge overpasses, golf cart pathways, and more. But have you ever wondered about where that stone comes from, and how it came to be? Where, exactly, do we get these striking colors and high-quality material? 

Today, we’re backing up a few steps to take a look at the geology of natural stone. And don’t worry if you don’t remember anything from your middle school geology class—we’ve got you covered with this peek into the rock-solid foundation of our industry.

Where Does Natural Stone Come From?

Geology is an earth science that deals with understanding the structure of the planet. It also holds the key to every natural stone product out there. Before the Earth was a solid mass dotted with features like oceans and volcanoes, it was a ball of mineral gases. Natural stone is the result of those mineral gases solidifying and being compressed over millions of years. 

As the Earth’s crust solidified, heavier minerals were pushed towards the core of the planet, where they were subjected to intense pressure and high temperatures. Eventually, these newly solidified minerals were pushed upwards towards the surface, where they formed rock beds. Some of these deposits became the very quarries from which we extract our own natural stone today. 

3 Rock Types to Know

Quartz, granite, limestone, and marble are just some of the natural stones that we use in our products, but these various kinds of rocks can all be classified into three main types.

Igneous

To put it simply, igneous rocks were here first. This type of rock is created when liquid magma or lava cools down and becomes solid. If that process takes place below the surface of the Earth, it results in intrusive igneous rocks, like granite. But if the lava erupts and cools on the surface, we’re left with extrusive igneous rocks, such as basalt. You’ll find these kinds of rocks everywhere from basins to deep in the oceanic crust.

Sedimentary

Sedimentary rocks are fairly self-explanatory: they’re formed by solidifying sediments, such as volcanic ash. The distinctive mesas that litter the landscape of the American Southwest are a prolific example of sedimentary rock. The exact nature of the sediment determines the type of rock that is formed. Clastic sedimentary rocks, such as shale and sandstone, are created from pieces of pre-existing rocks that become compacted. Organic sedimentary rocks form from plant and animal debris being compacted over millions of years, while chemical sedimentary rock is created by dissolved minerals depositing and solidifying from water.

Metamorphic

Again, the name offers a hint: metamorphic rocks were once igneous or sedimentary rocks that underwent a transformation. That transformation involved extreme conditions, like high heat and pressure, that changed the chemical composition of the rocks. Metamorphic rocks include marble and quartzite, two popular choices for specialty aggregate and stone product manufacturers.

How Does Natural Stone Get Its Color?

If you’ve worked with natural stone before, you’ve likely noticed that no two pieces are exactly the same. In fact, this is one of the major draws of natural stone as a building material; the color variations add a kind of character that is difficult to replicate with man-made products. 

So, where does natural stone get its array of colors from? It’s all thanks to the nature of the minerals and other organic components that make up each type of stone. Depending on the exact minerals and the way in which they settle, blocks of stone extracted from the same quarry can vary greatly in color, texture, and pattern. Marble, for example, is widely known for its veined pattern. Those veins are caused by deposits like iron oxide and feldspar. The “purest” marble is largely white and free of color variation, but particular varieties are actually sought after to lend a certain look or color to a project.

Applications of Natural Stone

It’s worth noting that different types of rocks are useful for different building purposes, depending on their hardness and other key physical properties. There are ASTM Standards set out that describe the minimum and maximum specifications for a variety of natural stone types, which is invaluable for quality control

Today, natural stone is extracted from quarries around the world—Kafka Granite owns a number of them across North America. While our business isn’t nearly as old as the rocks that we crush into specialty aggregates, our decades in the industry have shown us that there are nearly endless uses for natural stone. The material is ideal for thin stone veneer products, where all the color variations of a stone can be put on display. Natural stone can also be used in the creation of retaining walls, accent pieces, pathway mixes, and a whole host of other applications. 

Incorporate the Beauty of Natural Stone Into Your Project

Whether you’re an architect seeking a solution for a large commercial project or a designer planning out a rustic, farmhouse-style home, Kafka Granite has the right product for your unique needs. We’re eager to help you find the ideal natural stone product for your project. Contact us today to speak to a knowledgeable sales representative.

The Unique Geology of Wisconsin

Though Kafka Granite sources stone from quarries across the continent, we’re proud to call Wisconsin our home—and the wellspring of many of our beautiful products. But what, exactly, makes this great state the perfect spot for our business? 

Essentially, it’s all in the geology of the area. We’ve put together an overview of the thousands of years of history and natural forces that have made Wisconsin’s geology so unique today. Read on to learn more about this fascinating state.

Wisconsin Stone Over the Centuries

Wisconsin’s uncommon geology didn’t happen in a year—or even a century. It took hundreds of thousands of years for Earth’s cooling and heating patterns to transform the area into what it is today. More specifically, we have glaciers to thank for the vast majority of Wisconsin’s mineral deposits and topography.

The Wisconsin Glaciation

About every 100,000 years, the planet goes through a long period of cooling, followed by a shorter period of warmth. The last occurrence of this cycle, known as the Wisconsin Glaciation, began about that long ago—with the Laurentide Ice Sheet advancing across North America. Large swaths of Wisconsin became covered in ice, which was diverted and interrupted by the natural topography of the area. 

It took thousands of years for the ice to halt its approach and for the glaciers and sheets to melt or retreat from Wisconsin, but that slow process left us with a natural landscape unlike anything else seen in U.S. geology. The shrinking Laurentide Ice Sheet left behind the many lakes and rivers that characterize parts of the state, as well as a wide variety of glacially deposited minerals—the very minerals that create many of the colors in Kafka Granite’s collection!

A Wealth of Minerals

Wisconsin contains deep deposits of iron and other ores, which have characterized the state—just look at the University of Wisconsin’s mascot, Bucky Badger, an homage to the local lead miners of the early to mid-1800s. But you can also find deposits of minerals and gemstones from A to Z across the length of the state. Quartz and calcite are just two extremely common finds.

Decomposed Granite in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s unique geologic makeup, coupled with thousands of years of natural erosion, also resulted in large deposits of decomposed granite (DG) throughout the state. When feldspar, one of the main components of granite, breaks down, it results in flaking, crumbling material that can be further crushed for projects like pathways and baseball fields. Wisconsin boasts a variety of hues of naturally occurring decomposed granite, from bold reds to vibrant golds.

Decomposed granite mining is limited to certain geographical locations throughout the country, but Wisconsin is particularly rich in this material. Today, DG is extracted from the ground, then sent through a screening process. If needed, this natural resource can be crushed to specific sizes and gradations to meet specifications for a particular mix or project. 

What Does Wisconsin’s Geology Mean to Kafka Granite?

Thanks to the rich landscape created by the last Ice Age, Wisconsin offers an invaluable variety of materials, from natural round boulders to crushed quartz, granite, and marble in a startling range of colors. This selection enabled the rapid growth of Kafka Granite—because we were able to source and acquire so many different colors quickly, and in close proximity to our home base.

A Variety of Colors and Stone Products

This level of variety is not normal in much of the country. Head to another state, and you’ll see nothing but gray limestone for miles. Some areas of the country may not have any granite at all, or may only have one such deposit. It’s not easy to source all of these colors if you’re in the middle of Kentucky, for example. 

Wisconsin’s geology—and that of its surrounding states—allows Kafka Granite to source materials like black, pink, and gray granite, or gray limestone, all within 200 miles. In Pennsylvania, you’ll find more gray granite than you can use, but you won’t find the same range of other products and colors. 

It’s that level of convenience that has allowed us to meet the needs of architects, designers, and stonemasons around the country. In fact, about 85 percent of our colors are sourced from Wisconsin or the Upper Peninsula. 

We have an immense variety of naturally occurring materials, which you can even pick up on from the comfort of your car. The next time you’re in the area, take a drive around the state—notice the shoulders of the road, which are created from whatever stone is locally abundant. You’ll see shades like purple, gray, and green, all of which will tell you that there’s an abundance of stone that color in the area. Around our facility, you’ll notice plenty of gray and black granite.

Natural Stone Products From Kafka Granite

We’re immensely proud of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit that has made Kafka Granite a leading manufacturer and supplier of specialty aggregates and other building products. Clearly, beautiful, rugged Wisconsin has played a pivotal role in the growth of our company over the years. Not only is it home to our crushing facility; but Wisconsin’s geology means that it offers plenty of natural resources and mineral deposits to satisfy the high demand for unique colors and products.

If you’re looking for natural stone products in a wide variety of colors and sizes, you’ve come to the right place. Contact Kafka Granite today to speak to a knowledgeable sales rep about your project.

Kafka Granite manufacturing

The Importance of Quality Control in Stone Products

The importance of quality control throughout the natural stone quarrying, crushing, and fabricating process can’t be overstated. In fact, all quality stone products require a certain level of testing and oversight during their manufacturing process. Why? Because in order to create reliable, manufactured aggregates and other stone products like thin stone veneer, you need to start—and finish—with high-quality, consistent material. 

Whether you’re sourcing quality architectural aggregate or commercial landscaping materials, you need to be sure that you’re getting the best material for the job. That quality assurance you’re looking for starts as soon as natural stone is extracted from a quarry and extends throughout the manufacturing process. 

Kafka Granite supplies products that are used for a wide range of applications, such as architectural precast concrete, terrazzo flooring, manufactured quartz countertops, epoxy resin tile, and more. But we didn’t become one of the largest manufacturers and suppliers of specialty aggregates and other stone products in the country through sheer luck—our work requires high-quality materials and careful adherence to set standards. Here’s why it’s so important to monitor and control the quality of stone products.

Why Is Quality Control Critical in Granite and Other Natural Stone Processing?

Not all quarried stone is the same. The quality of the natural stone you source for a project will play a significant role in the overall look of the finished installation—and its continued performance. Your completed building facade might look stunning as the mortar dries, but how will it look five years later? What about five decades? Natural thin stone veneer, for example, should weather beautifully and retain its structural integrity over time. But imposter products, or artificial stone passed off as natural stone, will not yield the same results. 

Price is a factor in any project, and you may be tempted to go with the cheapest option around. But that road may lead to ruin in the form of imperfect stone products that don’t stand the test of time. For instance, precast concrete manufacturers need consistently sized aggregates to use in their mix designs, or their machines will produce varying results—rather than uniform product. Consistency is also critical in pathway materials. These mixes need to meet a certain gradation specification in order to work properly with their binders, and a poorly graded aggregate or incorrectly mixed binder will affect the outcome of the project. Before you get taken in by the price tag, be sure to ask your supplier for the specifications of their products, so that you can ensure you’re getting reliable materials.

What Goes Into Creating Quality Stone Products?

At Kafka Granite, we pride ourselves on producing architectural and landscape aggregates, along with specialty building stone products, that meet industry standards and perform admirably in a wide range of projects. Let’s take a quick look at what goes into the manufacture and installation of quality stone products.

Industry Standard Tests

To remain compliant and produce reliable products, manufacturers need to adhere to quality assurance specifications, regulatory standards, industry standards, and any other regulations that pertain to their natural stone products. A number of these standards are set down by ASTM International, a non-profit organization that develops technical standards for materials and products across a wide range of industries. 

Kafka Granite runs industry standard tests on all of our stone products, evaluating our crushed stone for criteria such as absorption, Moh’s hardness, and specific gravity, as well as regular sieve analysis. All of our thin stone veneer is tested for ASTM C615, the Standard Specification for Granite Dimension Stone. This test data is made readily available to our customers.

Installation Education

We don’t keep our knowledge to ourselves. Education is crucial to the proper installation of many of our products, both to ensure efficient use of the installing contractors’ time and to create a beautiful final result. When working with contractors on installations, we make sure they have the knowledge needed to get the job done correctly. That includes an understanding of the proper conditions under which to install a certain product and the proper tools needed for the job. Our Stabilized Pathway Mix, for instance, should have an 8-10% moisture content for ideal installation. We recommend the snowball test or step test to make sure that the mixture has been prepared properly. We also provide information on the amount of subgrade you’ll need, as well as base construction, surface watershed management, spreading, and compaction.

Innovation

As a leader in the specialty aggregate industry, we are constantly making strides in new applications and manufacturing processes that can improve products while maintaining quality. We work closely with our industrial and manufacturing customers to source aggregates that perform best with their processes, ensuring that they receive the materials they need to produce excellent finished products. And when it comes to pathway materials, Kafka Granite is proud to source some of the best binders in the industry. We recently sourced a polymeric wax that is proprietary to Kafka Granite. Our Wax Polymer Pathway Mix is currently patent pending. This particular pathway mix has proved extremely useful on golf course pathways and other pathways that need to withstand both heavy erosion, but maintain a natural look and feel..

Exceed Standards With Kafka Granite

Here at Kafka Granite, we put time, effort, and a lot of research into creating high-quality crushed aggregates and specialty building stone products. We’re proud to adhere to all industry standards and act as an example of manufacturing excellence in the specialty aggregate and crushed stone industry, and look forward to providing classic and innovative stone products for years to come. Give us a call today—we’re always happy to answer questions about our products, help you with a unique project, or provide samples.

6 Examples of Great Architectural Precast Concrete Applications

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

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

The Importance of Architectural Precast

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

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

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

Sydney Opera House

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

 

Pan American Building

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

 

Diego Portales University

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

Walters Art Museum of Baltimore

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

Jubilee Church

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

The Pierre

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

The Timelessness of Architectural Precast

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

The Benefits of Architectural Precast Concrete

From department store walls to parking garages to beautiful facades, architectural precast concrete serves a bigger part of building America’s structures than you might realize. By enabling small and large-scale construction projects to be built quicker and with more precision than ever before, architectural precast concrete is a staple in modern construction.

Kafka Granite has been supplying a wide variety of natural stone for architectural precast concrete since the 1980s. From our own quarries and sites across North America, a broad variety of raw material is brought to our state-of-the-art crushing facility in Wisconsin. The highest standards are applied to our aggregate from step one to done, which means you can expect the best product possible for your architectural precast project.

How Precast Concrete Made History

The concrete industry in the U.S. didn’t find its footing until the end of the nineteenth century, and before precast concrete became in option, construction projects required skilled workers to be on-site to tediously build formwork for cast-in-place concrete. Not only was this a time-consuming and inefficient process, but it was also a very costly one. The U.S. relied on stone, brick, and wood instead of concrete for construction projects far longer than other countries.

The 1910s saw the beginning of precast wall panels being manufactured and marketed for the construction of economical housing. The appeal? Precast concrete could be manufactured to mimic stone or other patterns, making for housing that was affordable and attractive. The origins of precast architectural concrete saw the manufacturing of concrete slabs that were 9 feet tall and 4 to 10 feet wide. These premade slabs could be quickly slotted together for fast and cost-effective home construction.

The 1930s saw increased use and the introduction of exposed aggregate to the process. The benefits of precast concrete were impossible to deny and had it becoming a standard for construction. Some benefits found early on included:

      Minimal formwork needed as cast forms could be reused throughout projects

      A controlled production environment could achieve a higher-quality product

      Reinforcements could be placed more easily than on-site cast-in-place forms

      Curing time was greatly reduced

      Aggregate concrete panels were lighter in weight than panels without aggregate

The 1950s and ‘60s saw an increasing love affair with architectural precast concrete in part due to better construction equipment to handle large slabs, such as cranes. Better manufacturing technology and processes also caused a boom in texture, color, and pattern variety, making it appealing for both residential and commercial use. Precast panels featuring exposed aggregate became especially popular and featured on iconic buildings such as the Walters Art Museum of Baltimore, Maryland and the Pan American building in New York City.

Architectural precast concrete has come a long way since it came into popularity. It has revolutionized the structural environments we live and work in, making building America more efficient, durable and cost-effective than ever. Today, some of Kafka Granite’s aggregate can be seen in precast concrete wall panels on skyscrapers, sports stadiums, and other commercial projects throughout the world.

How Kafka Makes Precast Concrete Beautiful

While architectural precast concrete can be formed into virtually any shape, size, or pattern, Kafka Granite’s variety of aggregates can bring a bold essence unmatched by others. When selecting an aggregate or sand to add to your architectural precast concrete project, Kafka can match the precise standards your project needs with our state of the art crushing and cutting facility. With one of the widest aggregate color portfolios, you will be able to find the perfect aggregate blend to compliment your project. From bright and bold greens, oranges and reds to subtle and rustic neutral tones, the variety can also be crushed to custom sizes, while the most common are 9/16 x 3/16” and 3/16”-.

Common Applications of Aggregate in Architectural Precast Concrete

Architectural precast aggregates add a desired aesthetic to any project you have in the pipeline. These precast concrete forms are truly multipurpose and have been used as the perfect solution for multistory office buildings, parking structures, medical complexes, sports stadiums, and more.

There are many reasons behind the widespread use of architectural precast concrete. In addition to the aforementioned aesthetic designs that can be achieved, this product also provides immense durability. Precast concrete is entirely fire-, rot-, termite-, and mold-resistant. Solid construction can also withstand tornado-force winds, which means the people inside of these structures can stay safer in the face of natural disaster.

Stationed in Wisconsin, Kafka Granite is all too familiar with how much adverse weather can impact a project’s progress. Precast concrete enables structural components to be made and cured in a controlled indoor environment where weather isn’t a factor. So while rain, snow or excessive heat might stop work on a construction site, progress is still being made in precast concrete manufacturing.

The tight quality control during the manufacturing phase of architectural precast means that walls, floors and more will show up on the jobsite ready to placed, leveled and fully installed—and faster than you could imagine.

Get Building Today with Kafka Granite

The history and innovation of exposed architectural precast concrete has revolutionized the way America is building. From a local municipal building to a state of the art stadium, it saves time and money, which means the buildings and infrastructure we rely on can come together sooner. The addition of exposed aggregate will help you create a beautiful and timeless aesthetic as it’s one of the most common surface treatments for precast concrete today.

If you have questions about sourcing aggregate for architectural precast concrete,  call or message one of our experts today. Kafka’s products can add a one-of-a-kind appeal to your architectural precast wall panels, leaving your project memorable for decades to come.

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

Basic Principles of Commercial Landscape Design

Commercial properties are often large, sprawling expanses that may be the site for a corporate campus, warehouses, office buildings, or more. Despite not being a small or cozy area, expansive commercial landscapes don’t have to remain barren or boring. Kafka Granite is familiar with making large-scale projects look beautiful inviting, as can be seen by our work on the Navy Pier, Buckingham Fountain, and Loyola University. We understand trying to strike the right balance between creating a good-looking space while maintaining its functionality.

By providing landscaping materials that are both beautiful and incredibly durable, Kafka is able to offer the product you need to make your commercial landscape architecture stand out from walkway to retaining wall. Whether you’re starting with a blank slate or have some pathways or parking lots in place, let us help you with designing your commercial landscape. Not only will we help you to transform or complete your project, but with our green alternatives you can take your project one step closer to obtaining a SITES or LEED certifications.

Combine Form and Function

The very first step to ensuring your commercial landscaping is stunning, and logical, is to make a plan. How extensive or simple this step is may depend on the size of your lot or the scope of your project; the larger the lot or project, the more planning you may have to do. If you’re sure of what your property needs when it comes to the landscape, then you might be able to do this part by yourself. If you’re uncertain about how you want the layout of your landscaping to “flow,” then the eyes of a professional landscape architect may be necessary.

Draw a map of your property and make note of where structures and trees already exist as well as where the sun hits during the day as this could affect where you plant certain types of sun-loving flora. Once permanent items are marked, the next step is to play around with where you envision things like parking lots, outdoor seating, pathways, gardens or courtyards. Remember that pathways and courtyards don’t have to be so linear or square—make sure to test out different curving lines or shapes, and see what feels best. Additionally, consider how you truly want the space to be used. Can you see your staff wanting to sit outdoors for lunch? Do you envision guests walking along an especially scenic part of the lot? Is there a steep grade that would benefit from a retaining wall? By thinking about how the space will be used, you’ll be better able to plan for what you build in it.

This initial phase is also a good time to try and tie your landscape architecture to the design of your building. You can complement the colors or textures of existing structures by using different colors of granite or flowers within your gardens. Create a tentative color palette for your overall design to serve as an inspiration for the rest of your project.

Make a Good First Impression

The landscape architecture of your business is also important in that it can make or break a visitor’s first impression. If your business is one that sees a lot of visitors, who are clients or otherwise, focus on making a good first impression. This means making the entrance a focal point so that it’s easy to find and is welcoming. Establish a clear path from the parking lot to the entryway.

When it comes to essential elements like trash bins outside the entry, consider using tasteful and good-looking alternatives to the plastic garbage can. By using alternatives like a crushed granite decorative precast waste receptacle, you can make garbage go away with an aesthetically pleasing container. What’s more is that decorative precast features can be made using any color of granite to match or complement materials used elsewhere, and they can include outdoor furniture like benches, tables, and more. Kafka Granite for example, offers over 50 different colors of decorative precast aggregates.

 

Choose the Colors and Materials of Your Landscaping Material

Now that you’ve decided what features you need from your landscaping and how you’ll make a welcoming first impression for your guests, it’s time to figure out what materials you’ll want to use to make your plan a reality. Questions to ask yourself to help figure out what materials you’ll need include:

What will your pathways be made of?

Do you prefer cobbles, pavers or decomposed granite? Each material will have a different aesthetic appeal and one may match the look of your building’s architecture more than the others.

What color will your pathways be?

Color is always a tough decision whether you’re painting a wall or choosing an aggregate. Do you want a natural look? Perhaps you want a look where the pathway truly pops? When you come to Kafka Granite for crushed granite walkways, you’ll be met with over 50 color options. With variety like that, you have your pick of neutrals, greens, reds and more.

What kind of traffic will be on your pathways?

Something you may have considered in your planning stage is how your pathways will be used—are you expecting just foot traffic or will there also be bike, golf cart, ATV or light vehicular traffic? By measuring the wear and tear that will be taking place on your paths, you can choose the best material available whether it’s standard, stabilized or wax polymer. We’ve spoken extensively about the difference between these three pathway materials on our blog.

What is your parking lot going to be made of?

Not every parking lot has to be an endless sea of asphalt. Don’t be afraid to incorporate your parking lot into your grand landscaping architecture design. In lieu of asphalt, imagine using permeable paverss with environmentally friendly permeable paver grit.

What surrounds your gardens?

Depending on your landscape architecture, the gardens or foliage in your design may be natural and unenclosed, or they may require a bit more structure from distinct edging and retaining walls. Retaining walls can be made from boulders or more angular decorative rip rap if you’re looking for a unique and beautiful option. And when it comes to your flowerbeds, will you be using decomposed granite landscaping stone or mulch as your base? These options may seem small but they can make all the difference when it comes your project’s end result. 

How much money or time can you put toward maintenance?

If the answer is, “Very little,” then perhaps high-maintenance gardens aren’t the solution for your landscape. Crushed stone-based xeriscapes can are becoming more popular as they require less maintenance and water, and they are a beautiful alternative to thick gardens. Consider this factor when ultimately deciding how much hardscape to incorporate into your design.

Get Started on Your Commercial Landscape Architecture Today

If you’re looking to get started on a commercial landscaping project, make sure you do it right. Coming to Kafka ensures you get the best materials and the best selection on the market to achieve exactly what you envision. Call us today to find a dealer near you or to speak with one of our expert consultants. If you’re a landscaping materials dealer searching for a way to carry a great selection, chat with us to find out about our dealer program. With so many colors and materials to outfit every part of your landscape’s design, you’ll be thrilled you chose Kafka Granite.