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.

Gun Metal & Misty Gray Marble Blend - Dimensional Cut

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Thin Stone Veneer

The manufacturing process for creating thin stone veneer products has been around for some time, yet this versatile material is still a mystery to many. A few short years ago, Kafka Granite expanded our line of stone products to include thin stone veneers made from granite, quartz, and marble, in the classic Kafka colors that architects, designers, and builders have come to know and love. 

Homeowners and designers alike are now discovering and benefiting from the unique properties of natural thin stone veneer. Here are a few fast facts you may not have known about this specialty building material.

1. Thin Stone Veneer Doesn’t Require Footing

One of the most significant advantages of thin stone veneer over full veneer is that the former can be installed without support ledges or footings. Why? It all comes down to weight. At less than 15 pounds per square foot, thin stone veneer can weigh up to 75% less than full veneer building stone. This makes installation significantly easier, but it also cuts down on shipping costs dramatically. 

2. Natural Thin Stone Veneer Works for Interior and Exterior Projects

Natural thin stone veneer is prized for its versatility and durability. As we mentioned, its light weight cuts down on shipping and installation costs. And because natural stone retains its integrity as it weathers, natural thin stone veneer is an ideal choice for both interior and exterior projects. That means that anything from your kitchen backsplash to a building facade can be enhanced by the beauty of natural stone.

3. When Installed Correctly, It Looks Just Like Full Veneer Stone

Thin veneer ranges in thickness from ¾ inches to a maximum of 1½ inches. This is significantly thinner than full veneer building stone. You might wonder how this slimmer version could possibly compare to stone that is several inches thicker. In reality, thin stone veneer stands up quite nicely to its full counterpart. The two are both made of quarried stone, meaning that they’ll both retain their integrity and hold up as time passes. Because of its less expensive shipping and installation costs, thin stone veneer is the ideal choice for adding natural stone into non-structural projects. Some types of thin stone veneer are also available in corner-shaped masonry units, meaning that a project can be extended around corners while maintaining the illusion of full building stone.

4. Not All Thin Stone Veneer Is Created Equal

Thin stone veneer products can be made from natural stone, but they can also be made from manufactured stone. Cultured or man-made stone is made from materials like Portland cement and aggregates. Oxide colors and other chemicals are used to give these man-made materials the look of natural stone. 

But while manufactured stone may look like natural stone during the installation process, the two won’t weather the same, particularly when used in exterior projects that are exposed to the elements. The chemicals in man-made stone are prone to fading over time. In contrast, natural thin stone veneer consists entirely of quarried rock—meaning that this material will retain its color and integrity as it weathers.  

5. There’s a Right and a Wrong Mortar for Thin Stone Veneer

If you’re a homeowner, you may not be at all familiar with mortar—but there’s more than one type of mixture out there. Of the five official types of mortar, type N, S, and M are the most popular. However, you still need to make sure that you’re using the correct mortar for the type of product you’re working with. If you choose a mortar with a higher compressive strength than that of your building material, for example, your masonry units could crack over time. Kafka Granite recommends type N or S for use with our natural thin stone veneer.

6. Installing Natural Stone Veneer Calls for a Professional

While it is possible for homeowners to install thin stone veneer on their own, we do recommend hiring a professional stonemason to ensure that this specialty building product is properly applied. A knowledgeable professional will be familiar with the necessary conditions and pre-installation steps that need to be taken, as well as the artistry behind blending shape, color, and pattern for a stunning outcome.

With the proper surface preparations, natural thin stone veneer can be adhered to a wide variety of surfaces, including plywood, concrete, and metal—but the surface of exterior projects will first need to be waterproofed. Depending on the material of the surface that will be in contact with the thin stone veneer, your stonemason may also need to apply additional materials, such as a non-corrosive metal lath. 

You might think following a DIY video or installation instructions online is all there is to creating a beautiful project with thin stone veneer, but even professional masons will get different outcomes with the same materials. Some simply have a better eye for arranging units than others. Because no two sections of natural thin stone veneer are the same, masons will have to meticulously fit pieces together, sometimes even altering them with a rock hammer or saw. Additionally, these professionals need to balance shape and color, whether by following a visible pattern or creating a more freeform mosaic. All of this is to say that you’re not just paying a professional stone mason for the labor—expertise and eye for design are also important factors.

Natural Stone Veneer From Kafka Granite

If you’re searching for a way to incorporate natural stone into your project, thin stone veneer offers an affordable, lightweight alternative to full veneer building stone. At Kafka Granite, we’re proud to offer a wide range of colors and cuts, ensuring that you find the perfect style of natural stone for your project. Contact us today to learn more about this specialty stone product.

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.

Galaxy Castle

An Overview of Kafka Granite Natural Stone Veneer Products

Architects, designers, masons, and homeowners have long valued the look of natural stone—but one thing that stops a lot of projects before they even get started is the price of materials. High-quality natural stone can be expensive due to shipping and installation costs. As a result, some designers have had to make do with cultured stone or brick. Kafka Granite has a better solution: a range of products that can incorporate the beauty of natural and stand the test of time. Here’s a look at our natural stone veneer product offerings and some insight into how we came to produce specialty building stone.

When Did Kafka Granite Begin Producing Natural Stone Veneer Products?

As one of the largest suppliers of specialty aggregates and crushed stone in the country, we’re always looking for new ways to utilize these natural resources. Our decades of experience in the stone industry perfectly positioned Kafka Granite to expand into specialty building stone. Furthermore, in the last ten years, Kafka Granite dabbled with thin stone veneer as the exclusive Midwest distributor for Norstone USA, which features natural stone veneer rock panels and interlocking tiles. Last year, we debuted our own line of natural stone veneer products.

Our newest, 700-acre quarry provided a launching point for a range of unique natural building stone products. This quarry offered mica-enriched quartzite that sparkled with shades from green to black, and Kafka Granite Founder Glenn Kafka knew that he had found something special. While this quarry may have been the inspiration for our thin stone veneer products, it was only the beginning. Our product line has since expanded to include thin stone veneer in a variety of classic Kafka colors and cuts. 

Natural Stone Veneer Products From Kafka Granite

We source our stone from quarries all over North America and ensure that our materials meet the highest quality standards. We’re pleased to offer the classic colors designers, contractors, and builders have come to know and love, as well as several unprecedented, glittering options to add that extra “wow” factor to any project. 

Our selection of natural stone veneer products includes granite, quartz, and marble building stone. Here’s an overview of what you can expect in terms of color and cut. For a more comprehensive look into the various cuts we have available, take a look at our breakdown of the different types of thin stone veneer cuts.

Colors

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

Cuts

  • Ashlar Cut: natural split face showing off the interior of the stone
  • Castle Cut: sophisticated square cut
  • Dimensional Cut: consistent heights for clean lines
  • Mosaic Cut: irregular, rugged look
  • Rustic Cut: natural seam face showing off the exterior of the stone
  • Heritage Blend: old-world country charm
  • Sawn Dimensional: smooth, sawn face and consistent heights

The Specs

Kafka Granite’s natural thin stone veneer has a nominal thickness of ¾” to 1½”, and each square foot weighs between 10 and 15 pounds. Our products meet the ASTM specifications for thin stone veneer, which require specific measurements for compressive strength, modulus of rupture, flexural strength, and absorption, and bulk specific gravity. As with any Kafka Granite product, we run rigorous quality assurance tests on our specialty building stone material to ensure that every masonry unit meets our high standards. 

The Future of Kafka’s Natural Stone Veneer Product Offerings 

With our extensive network of quarries and commitment to excellence and innovation, we’re constantly working to develop exciting new products and different variations of our current offerings. With only 60 of over 700 acres exposed in our newest quarry alone, the future looks bright—and colorful. Be on the lookout for more striking hues to be added to our selection of natural stone veneer products.

Incorporating Natural Stone Veneer Into a Project

Natural thin stone veneer is a wonderful material choice for a number of reasons. Its light weight, versatility, and affordability make it ideal for non-structural projects large and small. Because thin stone veneer doesn’t require special footings for installation, it can bring the stunning look of natural stone to installations from building facades to interior features. Our stone veneer products have been used by both architects and homeowners to make projects stand out. To maintain the integrity of the product, we recommend letting a professional stonemason hire the installation.

Complete Your Project With Kafka’s Natural Stone Veneer

Whether you’re a designer sourcing material for an expansive exterior installation or a homeowner looking for the right natural stone for a fireplace facade, Kafka Granite has you covered with a variety of natural thin stone veneer options. Contact us today to discuss your project—we’re happy to connect you with a knowledgeable representative who can speak to your unique needs and provide a quote or free sample. We look forward to helping you incorporate the beauty of natural stone into 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 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.

Wax Polymer Pathway Mix for Golf

Keeping Golf Course Pathways Pristine With Kafka Granite

You don’t need us to tell you that golf course pathways are essential to the operation of a course. Whether your terrain is crisscrossed with cart paths or features narrow, walking-only trails, that pathway system enables your entire course to function. When golfers aren’t walking the paths, maintenance workers and caretakers need those pathways to transport material and equipment, seed the greens, and otherwise monitor and maintain the course.   

At Kafka Granite, we put our years of experience in specialty aggregates to work developing customized solutions to age-old problems like erosion and weathering. Often, that involves an innovative application of one of our products—or the creation of something entirely new. Along those lines, we developed our Wax Polymer Pathway Mix to overcome an issue with pathways washing out at the Erin Hills golf course, site of the 2017 U.S. Open. 

We’ve put together some helpful information for golf courses looking to install high-quality pathways or overcome existing terrain issues. Here’s what you need to know when looking for a new pathway material. 

Where Traditional Golf Course Pathways Fall Short

Standard hardscapes like asphalt or concrete might not be the best choice for your course. These pathway materials fail in a number of ways, from small to seemingly insurmountable. Poor design, coupled with inappropriate pathway material, can leave your hardscape cracking and crumbling or more natural solutions messy and muddy – what’s worse? The wrong material can also leave your pathways dusty in summer and mucky in the spring, not at all what your golfers need for a good game. Many path solutions require constant maintenance or expensive repairs – problems Kafka aimed to solve.

When it comes to aesthetics, pathways play a significant role in the look of your course. Concrete may wear fairly well, but it won’t blend in with the rest of your course. And that’s not even going into the care of these hardscapes—some materials will need significant maintenance as they weather under severe temperatures and erosive effects of rain or high winds.

Characteristics of an Effective Golf Course Pathway Mix

You’ve likely run into some of the issues mentioned above while working to keep your course pristine. If you’re searching for a new type of pathway material to install, you should have a few qualifications in mind for a material that will avoid or minimize these problems. 

Your cart pathways require a pathway mix that is durable but doesn’t need extensive maintenance. Golf courses with hilly terrain and steep surfaces will benefit from a versatile pathway material that can resist erosion and withstand foot and cart traffic. And depending on the location of your course, your cart pathways will need to be able to resist the ravages of severe weather patterns and changing temperatures.

In short, your ideal pathway material is:

  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Installed simply
  • Easily maintained

So, where can you find a material that fits all of these criteria? It might be time to reach out for an expert opinion. A knowledgeable professional at Kafka Granite can narrow down your options and work to identify the right material that will meet the unique needs of your course. When in doubt, refer back to those material qualifications and examine how a potential pathway mix might either fit in with your existing cart paths—or replace them entirely. 

Kafka Granite’s Golf Course Pathway Solutions and Bunker Sand

At Kafka Granite, we’ve developed a pathway material and bunker sand specifically for tricky golf course terrain. Here’s a look at two popular products that have made their way onto golf courses across the Midwest. 

Wax Polymer Pathway Mix

Our Wax Polymer Pathway Mix fits the bill for a wide variety of golf course needs, but it’s particularly useful for highly erosive pathway systems. Made up of a non-erosive, wax-coated aggregate, this pathway material blends in with the natural beauty of a course while standing up to heavy foot and cart traffic. Its unique composition allows the Wax Polymer Mix to be laid on the steepest of hills and the twistiest of paths. 

Because the material is pre-mixed, installation is simple. The process doesn’t even require water! Your team just needs to lay the mix, level the surface, and compact—and you’ll be left with an attractive, resilient pathway. This material is also impermeable, waterless, and dustless.

Wax Polymer Bunker Sand

Kafka’s Wax Polymer Bunker Sand was originally developed for high maintenance, out of play bunkers at the Whistling Straits course. This material is a great choice for courses looking to cut back on the amount of maintenance required to keep out of play bunkers in good shape. Made to be extremely resistant to erosion, our bunker sand holds up under everything from heavy rain to high winds. And in terms of installation, the product can be easily placed over preexisting bunker sand.   

Before Kafka Wax Polymer Bunker Sand

Immediately following 2″ of Rain with Kafka Wax Polymer Bunker Sand

Transform Your Golf Course Today

Whether you’re looking for a versatile pathway material for the hilliest section of your course or a reliable bunker sand that can stand up to the forces of nature, Kafka Granite can help. We’re dedicated to providing the materials and information you need to make your course truly remarkable. Contact us today to request samples or learn more about how we can help make your pathway project a success.

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 for the evidence! 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. 

Uses for Natural Thin Stone Veneer

It almost goes without saying that the unique qualities of natural thin stone veneer make it an excellent option for just about any nonstructural project. Here’s how the contractors, designers, and builders we work with find a use for this specialty building material.

Thin Stone Veneer for Commercial Projects

As we mentioned, thin stone veneer weighs significantly less than full veneer. This results in lower shipping and installation costs, which can make natural thin stone veneer a more affordable option for commercial projects requiring a large amount of coverage. As an example, this specialty building stone could be used to complete interior accent walls or exterior building facades in restaurants, hotels, office buildings, and other commercial structures.

Thin Stone Veneer for Residential Projects

Natural thin stone veneer is an excellent option for residential projects, as well. Because it requires no special footings or anchors, this material will have lower installation costs than full veneer, saving you both time and money. If you’re a homeowner, remember that we recommend hiring a professional stonemason to ensure the product is installed correctly. 

We’ve seen thin stone veneer used for residential projects like fireplaces, chimneys, pillars, staircases, and even interior water features. This natural material is extremely durable and works wonderfully to incorporate the beauty of nature into both interior and exterior builds.

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: M, S, N, O, and K, all of which are classified according to their bonding properties, flexibility, and compressive strength. 

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

Characteristics of Mortar

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

Bonding Properties

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

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

Flexibility

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

Compressive Strength

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

Color

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

 

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

The Most Popular Mortar Types

Type N

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

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

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

Here are some ideal projects that call for type N:

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

Type S

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

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

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

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

Type M

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

Here are some suitable applications for type M: 

  • Foundations
  • Retaining walls
  • Driveways 

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

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

We can’t wait to be a part of making your next project truly stunning. Reach out today with any questions, and our knowledgeable sales team will provide the information, samples, and expertise you need to get started. Whether you’re a designer,
builder, masonry professional, or even a homeowner exploring the possibility of including natural stone in an exterior or interior project, you probably know that mortar is the “glue” that holds masonry units together, binding building blocks, filling the joints between them, and providing structural support. This workable paste consists of different amounts of hydrated lime, Portland cement, and sand combined to create a mix that meets certain requirements. There are five official types of mortar, all classified according to their bonding properties, flexibility, and compressive strength. 

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.