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 cultured 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.

Thin Stone Veneer

The Ultimate Guide to Natural Thin Stone Veneer

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

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

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

What is Natural Thin Stone Veneer?

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

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

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

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

Natural Thin Stone Veneer vs. Manufactured Stone

Manufactured Thin Stone Veneer

Sierra Granite - Dimensional Cut

Natural Thin Stone Veneer

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

Natural Thin Stone Veneer vs. Natural Full Veneer

Thin Stone Veneer

Natural Thin Stone Veneer Flats

Thin Veneer Corner

Natural Thin Veneer Corner

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

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

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

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

A Quick Look at the Installation Process

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

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

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

Natural Thin Stone Veneer from Kafka Granite

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

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

Find the Right Material for Your Project with Kafka Granite

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

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

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

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

Characteristics of Mortar

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

Bonding Properties

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

Flexibility

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

Compressive Strength

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

 

The Most Popular Mortar Types

Type N

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

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

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

Here are some ideal projects that call for type N:

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

Type S

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

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

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

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

Type M

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

Here are some suitable applications for type M: 

  • Foundations
  • Retaining walls
  • Driveways 

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

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

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

Gun Metal Dimensional

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

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

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

How We Came to Produce Natural Thin Stone Veneer

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

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

Thin Stone Veneer in Classic Kafka Colors

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

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

Available Thin Stone Veneer Cuts 

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

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

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

Castle Cut

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

 

Rustic Cut

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

 

Dimensional Cut

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

 

Sawn Dimensional

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

Mosaic Cut

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

 

Heritage Blend

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

 

Ashlar Cut

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

Make Your Project Stand Out with Kafka Granite

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

Sierra Granite - Dimensional Cut

Cultured vs. Natural Stone Veneers

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

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

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

Natural Stone Veneers

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

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

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

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

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

Cultured Stone Veneers

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

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

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

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

Learn More About Veneers with Kafka Granite

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

Kafka Granite Organic-Lock Stabilized Pathway Mix Installation

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

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

What is Organic-Lock?

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

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

Preinstallation

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

The Snowball Test:

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

Too Dry

Too Wet

Just Right!

The Step Test:

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

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

Left: Too Wet | Right: Just Right

 

Installation

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

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

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

Thin Stone Veneer

The Difference Between Thin Stone Veneers and Building Stone

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

Building Stone

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

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

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

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

Thin Stone Veneers

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

Thin Veneer Corner

Thin Veneer Corner

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

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

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

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

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

Find the Veneers you Need with Kafka Granite

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

Custom Blend Stabilized Pathway - Kenyon College - Gambier, OH

Revitalizing the Historic Middle Path Pathways at Kenyon College

When the charming and historic Middle Path running through Kenyon College’s campus became pitted, messy, and dangerous, Kafka Granite stepped up to the plate and provided the perfect stabilized DG pathway solution to give this aging pathway new life. Having helped many high-traffic areas resurface their existing pathway systems, we knew that we were up to the challenge.

Using Decomposed Granite for Kenyon College

Some might think that the name “decomposed granite” implies a lesser significance than that of the stronger sounding marble, granite, or stone, but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Sometimes, it’s the little things that make all the difference, as was the case with Kenyon College.

When it came time for Kenyon College of Gambier, Ohio to tackle the mounting problems being posed by its historic Middle Path, Kafka Granite was called to come up with a custom solution that would preserve the historical significance of the path while making it safe for future generations. Through a forensic approach, thorough testing and deep collaboration between Kafka Granite and the college’s design and landscaping team, the historic charm and aesthetic of Kenyon’s Middle Path was preserved by the use of a one-of-a-kind stabilized pathway system.

Using a Stabilized Pathway System to Save the Middle Path

The famed Middle Path is a 3,600-foot-long, 8-foot-wide walkway was originally crafted from local river stone. The landscape of Kenyon’s campus is delicately structured around the well-traveled path, rendering it a staple to the scenery. The smooth, round characteristic of the river stone, however, was creating deep wells, soft patches, and excessive displacement that made for puddles, mud, ice and unsafe travel in inclement weather. Calling Ohio home, the College was frequently plaqued by many differnet types of weather conditions, so they needed a durable aggregate that would hold up to anything the state could dish out.

Kenyon sought a solution that would maintain the aesthetic and experiential dimension of the sound of the stone’s crunch underfoot while providing more stability and compaction for less aggregate displacement while being permeable enough to avoid puddles. Replacing the path with concrete or asphalt would offer more stability, but these materials wouldn’t preserve the charm and overall aesthetic of the much-loved pathway, and would lead to oversaturation in the rainy months.

We were able to create a stabilized pathway solution that was the perfect ratio of organic stabilizing binder and crushed stone. Additionally, we were able to produce the perfect aggregate that was both the perfect color and gradation to give the school’s pathway material optimum compaction and performance. A variety of product mock-ups were rigorously tested on-site at Kenyon using a variety stabilizing binders, specifications, and installation techniques before settling on the combination of a custom Kafka Granite color combination and Organic-Lock stabilizing binder.

Custom Blend Stabilized Pathway - Kenyon College - Gambier, OH

The Installation Phase

We were present at the construction site, which allowed our experts to oversee proper installation as well as answer any questions to grounds crew ran into. Through a close relationship in which multiple experiments and tests were run, our two teams combined were able to identify the best binder for the school’s historical pathway system.

The final organic binder utilized in the stabilized DG was Organic-Lock by Envirobond, which made for the perfect solution to Kenyon’s problem of a deteriorating pathway. With Kafka’s pathway mix blended with Organic-Lock, Kenyon College’s stabilized pathways will experience less erosion than their predecessor, which was the original problem that prompted Kenyon College to reach out to Kafka Granite. Furthermore, the new DG stabilized pathway system will yield less mud and dust while remaining permeable for optimal drainage. The new pathway blends in seamlessly with the natural beauty of the Kenyon College campus and has the added benefit of being ADA accessible, meaning that everyone will be able to enjoy its beauty.

Furthermore, stabilized DG offered a thin loose top layer of aggregate, which replicated the feel of the original path. By being able to conduct thorough testing, provide a solution that was aesthetically ideal, and oversee the entirety of the installation process, our team was able to aid in preserving the historic charm and sophistication of Kenyon College’s iconic Middle Path.

Find Your Perfect Pathway Material at Kafka Granite

At Kafka Granite, we offer more 60 unique colors of aggregate and a full portfolio of innovative products, such as our all new natural stone veneers. From recycled materials to stabilized aggregates, we have the pathway mixes your project needs to meet its goals, be it preserving the past or meeting the demands of the present. If you would like to learn more about the Kenyon College project you can read the full story in the November 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Custom Precast Polished Veneer featuring Caramel Quartzite - Project by Valori Precast - Cadence Park - Irvine, CA

2018-2019 Architectural Trends

Can you believe it; 2018 is almost over! We’ve had a crazy third and fourth quarter, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. This year brought many changes and advancements to Kafka, including the introduction of our new specialty building stone series. As we grew and expanded, so did the greater architectural industry. As we head into the new year, we’re looking back at the most popular design trends of 2018 and making predictions as to what will be hot in 2019.

The Biggest Design Trends of 2018-2019

Natural esthetics, sustainability, and eye-catching colors will rule the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019. These new 2019 design trends span across interior and exterior design, with a little something for everyone. Here are some of the trends that we were happy to embrace in 2018 and a few that we’re looking forward to in 2019. We can’t wait to see what else the new year has in store for us.

Bringing the Outdoors Indoors

Interior designers have begun to focus more on making the interior aspects of their corporate projects more cohesive with the accompanying exterior features of a project. Today, design trends are showing us that people identify having a natural-inspired space helps them to relax and focus. From offices to retail establishments, we predict that designers will continue to hunt for ways to bring the outdoors in when it comes to design in 2019.

A few easy ways that this can be accomplished include using raw materials, such as stone veneers or natural elements like plant life to round out their design aesthetic. Kafka recently introduced many new veneer options to the market, and we’ve already seen these products be used to incorporate a touch of outdoor relaxation into interior spaces. On the whole, we predict that stone veneers and additional natural products will become popular for accent walls, front desks, and interior accents in 2019.

Sustainability

While contractors have been focused on acquiring important credentials such as LEED or SITES certifications for years, the clients behind most builds are now starting to focus on sustainability as well.

In a culture that is constantly looking for ways to innovate when it comes to being eco-friendly, construction and design present many outlets for such pursuits. From zero-emission cars to solar-powered appliances, every aspect of modern life has slowly become greener. And when it comes to 2019 design trends, sustainability will continue to be a hot topic for designers and builders.

At Kafka Granite, we have been offering green alternatives to popular construction and design materials for years. We use a variety of recycled materials, such as rejected toilets and sinks, old electronics glass and mirrors, copper slag, firebrick, and more to create some of our most popular products. These eco-friendly products have already shown immediate results for design professionals across industries. In the past few years, prestigious projects like the revamp of Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier were able to obtain the highly coveted certifications, such as theSITES Gold Certification through GBCI, using our recycled aggregate blends.

Embracing the Pantone Color of the Year

Every year Pantone releases their pick for “Color of the Year.” While in years past this was more of a fun way to kick off the new year, over the years, the selections have gone on the have much more of an impact than just a passing headline.

The yearly Pantone Color of the Year (CoTY) now has far-reaching implications. Everyone from appliance manufacturers to home goods distributors works tirelessly during the weeks that follow the release of the CoTY in December to create products that match the year’s hottest new colors. By February, shoppers can expect to see the year’s color saturating their daily lives. The 2018 Pantone Color of the Year was Ultra Violet. Pantone has already selected 72 colors from eight different color pallets from which they believe the final 2019 Color of the Year will be chosen. Our bet is on something close to fuchsia.

What Trends Would you Like to See Emerge in 2019?

We’re excited to dive into 2019 and see what the interior and exterior design industries have to offer us when it comes to design trends. In the new year, we plan on continuing to unveil new and exciting thin stone veneer. Whether you’re slated to break ground on an interior or exterior project in 2019, know that Kafka Granite is here to fulfill all of your aggregate and veneer needs through new, on-trend products.

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.