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

Full stone veneers have 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 full stone veneer 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 full veneer, but to cut down on labor and transportation costs, and take natural stone to new applications that were previously cost-prohibitive with full veneer 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 full stone veneers against thin stone veneers, the full 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 thin or full stone veneer 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.

Full cultured veneers start 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 and Full Natural Stone Veneers

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.

Full Stone Veneers

Full stone veneers have 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.

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

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

When comparing the price of installing full veneers against thin veneers, the fulls 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 full veneers needs to be accounted for. Being heavier than its thin counterpart, full veneers 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 full veneer. This allows the product to be more easily installed in a variety of interior applications, remodels, and tall heights where full veneer may be cumbersome.

Thin Veneer Corner

Thin Veneer Corner

While thin veneers have not been around as long as full 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 full veneers are, they are simply cut into ¾”-1 ½” depths.

As mentioned previously, thin stone veneers are significantly lighter than full stone veneers, meaning that the material can be applied to nearly any surface and doesn’t require quite the same level of planning and consideration that full veneers 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 full 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 building stone is weaker than the full veneer alternative, but both stones are incredibly strong. While full veneers are intrinsically stronger, both thin and full 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.

Stabilized American Heritage Pathway Mix - University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame, Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park : A Kafka Granite Case Study

At Kafka Granite, we take pride in having provided materials for a number of sizeable projects throughout the years. From Yankee Stadium to Navy Pier, we have been proud to have helped city planners, corporations, and universities alike revitalize their interior and exterior spaces through innovative projects and initiatives. One such opportunity to help reinvigorate an established space was the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park project at The University of Notre Dame.The University was looking to reclaim their once great sculpture garden and transform it into a green living space that could be enjoyed for generations to come and we were only too happy to assist.

With the generosity of Charles B. Hayes, the University of Notre Dame was able to acquire the funds needed to restore this once great park to its former glory and beyond. The park originally opened in its phase one iteration in December of 2012 with five sculptures comprising the collection. A portion of the park was then closed after the last 2014 University of Notre Dame home football game to provide a space for materials to be stored during the Campus Crossroads Stadium Expansion. It was at this time that dirt excavated from the stadium project was stored in the then closed sculpture park. After the fill was removed, contractors were then sent in to excavated coal ash that had been generated by the University’s power plant. Additionally, the fly ash that had accumulated underground due to the presence of a landfill which previously occupied the same lot had to be excavated.

With the site cleared it was time for the University of Notre Dame to being phase two construction in an effort to create the sculpture garden.

WHEN: August 2017

WHERE: The finished Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park spans an impressive eight-acre swath of land all the way from the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center to the corner of  Angela Boulevard and Eddy Street. With the addition of the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park the University of Notre Dame has been able to complete their “greenbelt” vision; a green space highway that encompasses the Compton Family Ice Arena, Irish Green lawn, Notre Dame Avenue, and Cedar Grove Cemetery, creating a gracious and natural southern entrance to the campus.

Kafka Stabilized American Heritage Pathway Mix, made with Organic-Lock, can be found dispersed through the entirety of the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park. These pathways connect each section of the park and give a cohesive and natural look to this vital feature of the park’s functionality.

The Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park can be found at the University of Notre Dame campus on the NE corner of Angela/Edison and Eddy St. in South Bend, IN.

WHO: Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates (MVVA) were tasked with creating this modern sculpture garden. They faced many challenges along the way, but with the help of the Snite Museum of Art, the finished Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park is something to behold. MVVA knew that they needed a high-quality pathway material that could withstand all four Midwestern seasons while preserving the natural, sacred-inspired aesthetic. With success working with Kafka Granite on past projects such as the Kenyon College Middle Path and Brooklyn Bridge Park, MVVA felt confident that Kafka Granite Stabilized Pathways would be a solution for Notre Dame as well. Kafka was able to offer the park a high-performing pathway in the desired color. The product was a natural fit.

WHAT: Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates had quite the task ahead of them when taking on the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park project. This park posed some unique challenges that every aspect of the finished design would have to overcome and complement, including the finished pathway system. When searching for an aggregate provider, MVVA would only consider products that met the following requirements:

  1. The final product needed to complement the religious aspects of the park.
  2. The pathway would need to match the indigenous plants, shrubs, and trees utilized in the park.
  3. The overall theme of the park needed to reflect what the site would have looked like prior to the University of Notre Dame’s founding in 1842, meaning that the pathway system chosen had to be natural looking.
  4. Every material used would need to be able to stand up to the test of a four-season Midwestern year.
  5. The final pathway material selected would need to be permeable to help with water management.
  6. Any material chosen needed to work together with the rest of the park to reflect the inaugural installation’s theme: Reclaiming Our Nature
  7. The products needed to be able to seamlessly flow around the concrete bases of the park’s installations and be easily amended should the layout change.

But apart from the physical demands of the pathway, there were broader objectives that the overarching project needed to meet, and the pathway that would eventually lead through the exhibition would play a large role in accomplishing the University’s goals. Overall, the finished park needed to:

  1. Assist the University in creating a true arts district for all to enjoy.
  2. Serve as a literal gateway to the local community.
  3. Create a “greenbelt” for the southern campus entrance.
  4. And lastly, create a sacred place that could be enjoyed at any time of day, every day of the year.

HOW: Kafka’s Stabilized American Heritage Pathway played a role in the final vision of Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates. It was clear to MVVA that Kafka Granite was the best choice for this project. After verifying that Kafka had the material that the park needed there were still several challenges that the contractors had to overcome while getting their new pathway system into place. First, the layout of the park is somewhat undulating, meaning that the final pathway mixture needed to be pliable but have enough rigidity to maintain its form once placed. And second, the final pathway chosen needed to be able to survive in a harsh outdoor setting and withstand heavy foot traffic. The aggregate mixture that was ultimately chosen, the Kafka stabilized pathway mixture in the color American Heritage, utilizes patented Organic-lock technology that addressed both of these needs. It was this advancement that set Kafka Granite apart from its competitors.

The binding agent used in the stabilized pathway mixture is the strongest organic aggregate binder on the market and is made from 100% naturally occurring materials. The finished material drastically reduces erosion compared to other natural crushed stone pathways and is wheelchair accessible. On top of its ability to resist erosion, the stabilized pathway mixture remains flexible and has self-healing properties so the surface will not crack or crumble over time like traditional hardscape materials. Organic-Lock™ is designed to create a stabilized surface that reduces maintenance while maintaining a natural look and feel.

Once Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates narrowed in on Kafka’s Stabilized American Heritage Pathway with Organic-Lock, they decided to install a mock up. Due to the site’s history as a landfill and later a storing facility during construction, there was no clean pad to hydrate the stabilized pathway mixture on prior to installation. To overcome this obstacle, crews laid down 4×8 sheets of plywoods to hydrate the decomposed granite mixture prior to installation. This may have been an unorthodox mixing and preparing method, but in the end, it ended up being the perfect solution to this challenging installation.

With a finished pathway system that seamlessly blends through the entire sculpture garden, everyone that comes to visit the newly completed Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park can enjoy the magnitude of the finished destination. The newly renovated Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park has already had an enormous impact on the community surrounding the site. With breathtaking sculptures, lighted walking paths, a natural stone amphitheater, and captivating native flora, the finished Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park will be enjoyed by all for years to come.

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

Complete Your Project with Today’s Landscaping Trends

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

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

Things to Consider for the Perfect Landscape

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

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

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

5 Booming Trends in Landscape Architecture

Xeriscapes (Dry Gardens)

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

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

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

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

Using Native Plants

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

Rainwater Harvesting

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

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

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

Gathering Areas

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

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

Efficient Irrigation

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

Get Started on Your Next Landscaping Project

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

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

How to Use Your Landscaping to Manage Water

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

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

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

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

What Does Water Management Mean?

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

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

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

How to Start Planning a Water-efficient Landscape

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

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

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

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

Keep Hard Surfaces in Mind: Reduce Stormwater Runoff

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

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

Kafka Can Help Your Landscape Start Saving Water

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

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

How Much Aggregate Do I Need for My Pathway?

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

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

Factors to Consider When Planning A Pathway

Pathway Cross Section

Standard & Stabilized Pathway                                       Cross-Section Diagram

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

How Deep Should Your Pathway Be?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Pathway Mixes to Choose From

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

What Color Works with Your Design

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

Find Out What You Need to Get the Job Done

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