Black Diamond Landscape Stone - Private Residence, WI

How to Pick Your Landscape Stone Aggregate Color

To many, landscaping is a work of art. When crafted properly, it can add curb appeal and leave passersby with a  positive first impression. You might spend all of your time primping, pruning, planting and planning your landscaping during every warm summer moment, or you might simply throw some perennials in a flowerbed and call it quits. Whatever type of green thumb you are, Kafka Granite can help you make your garden and landscaping look even better through the perfectly complementary pathway or garden base.

With nearly 60 colors of landscape supply to choose from, picking the right color could be a tough decision. With so many colors available, you’re able to make your landscaping a one-of-a-kind design that won’t look like the typical yard using big box-store stone. Go bold or go neutral, the choice is up to you, but whichever way you go you can rest assured that Kafka’s decomposed granite and landscape supply will be the finishing touch you’ve needed to reach aesthetic perfection in your yard. With Kafka Granite’s easy to use aggregates you don’t need to be a design master to create a garden worth a second look.

How to Pick the Color of Your Landscaping Stone

Choosing what color you want your landscaping stone to be isn’t much different than coordinating your outfit. By using standard design concepts and tools, you can make the right choice to complement the rest of your landscaping and home.

Using the Color Wheel for Your Landscaping

You may recognize the color-selection tool to the right: the standard color wheel. Although simple, learning how to use the color wheel can help you create a landscaping masterpiece just likes the pros. The color wheel is built around the three primary colors: yellow, blue and red. While the complexities of the color wheel can run deep, playing it simple can often make the biggest statement when it comes to your landscaping. When picking colors to feature in your garden, limiting the variety to three colors is best. You’ll get a clean, cohesive look if you stick to a few colors instead of all of the colors.

Complementary Colors

A foolproof way to pick a great landscaping stone color is to consider complementary colors. Complementary colors are any two colors opposite each other on the color wheel. For example, if your garden has a lot of purple in it, consider choosing a landscaping stone with more yellow in it. Kafka’s Caramel Quartzite would complement gardens roaming with lots of violets or purple phlox.

Triadic Colors

Similar to the idea of complementary colors, triadic colors are any three colors that are spaced equally apart on the color wheel. Instead of primarily sticking to just two colors, following the triadic theme lets you pick three colors that will undoubtedly go together when using the color wheel to help you decide. In this case, picking a decomposed granite to fill your garden or use as a pathway material that is yellow or tan in color will go well with a garden stuffed with flowers that are light blue and maroon.

Analogous Colors

If you’d rather your landscaping stick to one area of the color wheel, choosing analogous colors is a safe bet. Analogous colors are any three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. Sticking to shades of red or blue, for instance will lead to visual harmony. However, there is one caveat: Try to avoid picking analogous colors where one is a “cool” color (blues, purples) and one is a “warm” color (reds and yellows).

3 Insights to Consider when Picking a Landscaping Stone

Garden Palette

Consider the colors you already have in your garden. As mentioned in the examples above, the colors of the flowers and plants in your garden could help you choose the perfect complementary, triadic or analogous color for your landscaping stone. Kafka’s decomposed granite color variety spans browns and tans to violets and greens. If your garden is full of red roses, a pathway made from Wintergreen granite may be exactly what your garden needs.

Home Design

How you design your landscaping may rely heavily on the design of your home. Perhaps you want your landscaping aesthetic to match the era your home was built, or maybe you want your landscaping stone in the garden to complement the color of your home to build a more cohesive look. Taking into consideration the color of your home can help guide your decision when it comes to choosing landscaping material.

Stand Out or Stay Neutral

When it comes to selecting the color of decomposed granite for your garden or pathway, remember staying neutral is always a reliable option. Even if your garden is full of vibrant complementary colors, choosing a neutral color that is more subtle may be the perfect backdrop for beautiful flowers. Also, if your home and garden already add lots of color to your landscaping and curb appeal, maybe it’s best not to add another color to the mix through your landscaping stone.

In the End, It’s up to You!

Ultimately, landscape design is completely up to you. While Kafka Granite is always here to offer helpful tips for selecting which color aggregate may be best for your garden or pathways, the choice is yours! Complementary, triadic, and analogous colors are good options to consider if you want to play it safe with color selection and make sure your end result is aesthetically pleasing. In the end, though, your landscape’s color palette can be as neutral or eclectic as you like. Kafka’s decomposed granite color variety is here to help you express yourself and create the best garden yet.

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

A Kafka Granite Guide To Permeable Paver Grit

Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference—such is the case with permeable paver grit. Standard permeable paver grit comes in ¼” x ⅛”, and the question is how does something so small make such a big difference in landscaping and construction? Permeable paver grit has numerous benefits for the environment, your budget and your project. View our selection today!

What Is Permeable Paver Grit Made of?

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of permeable paver grit. The permeable paver grit at Kafka Granite is comprised of over 40 different types of crushed granite and quartzite available in a palette of colors to match your project – the most popular being Starlight Black, Caramel, and Colonial Red.

Our granite and quartzite aggregates are extremely hard materials that easily withstand the rigors of even the most extreme freeze/thaw cycles. Unlike softer aggregates, such as limestone, our granite and quartzite will not break down and clog your runoff system over time, ensuring maximum drainage for many years to come.

The Role of Permeable Aggregates

Permeable paver grit is made to seamlessly fit between permeable interlocking concrete pavement, also known as PICP. Our aggregate fills the spaces between paver blocks or bricks, which not only adds to your design’s appeal, but it also creates an optimal drainage solution for your project. If you want to avoid harmful stormwater runoff, optimal permeability is key.

Permeable paver grit is an eco-friendly way to optimize the drainage of any project. Permeable paver grit helps reduce stormwater runoff as well as replenishes groundwater reserves. Stormwater can collect and carry harmful pollutants when it settles on the ground, but the permeability of this material helps stormwater seep through the surface of the ground, allowing it to be naturally filtered. This means less stormwater runoff reaches and contaminates our lakes and streams.

How Stormwater Runoff Affects Us All

In the past, contractors and landscapers might have used marbles or limestone as a paver grit but we now know that this can prove to be detrimental to both your project and the environment. By using softer materials like limestone, you run the risk of getting clogged joints over time as your materials break down. Clogged joints cause your expensive commercial permeable pavers to not perform the way they were intended.

In a natural setting that has been left undeveloped, trees and vegetation break the momentum of rain, which in turn helps with erosion and helps filter the stormwater before it reaches larger bodies of water. After the stormwater has been filtered by vegetation, it is drained into streams that then transport the now filtered runoff to large bodies of water. But what happens after land has been developed? Runoff collected from developed areas commonly contains pollutants from cars, fertilizers and other chemicals.

Here Are the Most Common Pollutants that Stormwater Can Pick up:

  • Oil, grease and coolant from automobiles
  • Fertilizers
  • Pesticides
  • Bacteria from pet waste and septic systems
  • Soil from uncompleted construction sites
  • Soap from cars or equipment washing

Biggest Concerns from Unmanaged Stormwater Runoff:

  • Pollutants from stormwater contaminate our waterways and kill off fish and wildlife. This in turn has the power to close local businesses that depend on a source of locally caught fish.
  • When too much water is accumulated and rushes to streams and other drainage systems due to a lack of permeability, it can lead to flooding.
  • When water is kept from reaching the ground naturally, a water shortage can accumulate, which affects the entire community and ecosystem.

Permeable Paver Grit Paired with Decorative Precast Pavers

Kafka Granite does not directly produce precast pavers, but we take pride in providing speciality aggregate and permeable paver grit used in these designs. Our aggregates are sourced from throughout North America. The raw materials are then transported to our crushing facility in Central Wisconsin to ensure the highest level of quality control possible. We then sell our aggregate to the leading paver manufacturers in the country, all of which produce permeable pavers.

Kafka Granite offers nearly 60 different colors of natural stone and recycled materials in any size. Our aggregates can be found in pavers coast to coast. Kafka Granite’s crushed granite, marble, quartz and recycled materials can be used in decorative precast pavers and a broad assortment of amenities such as precast concrete water fountains, trash bins, snuffers, planters, tables, benches, columns, chairs and more.

Find Your Grit at Kafka Granite

True grit doesn’t come from within, it comes from Kafka Granite! To make the most out of your permeable paver project, be careful not to overlook the important function of the permeable paver grit or joint infill.  Contact Kafka Granite to make your next project a success.  

6 Examples of Great Architectural Precast Concrete Applications

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

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

The Importance of Architectural Precast

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

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

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

Sydney Opera House

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

 

Pan American Building

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

 

Diego Portales University

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

Walters Art Museum of Baltimore

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

Jubilee Church

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

The Pierre

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

The Timelessness of Architectural Precast

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

Sierra Granite - Dimensional Cut

Cultured vs. Natural Stone Veneers

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

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

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

Natural Stone Veneers

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

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

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

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

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

Cultured Stone Veneers

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

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

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

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

Learn More About Veneers with Kafka Granite

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

Kafka Granite Organic-Lock Stabilized Pathway Mix Installation

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

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

What is Organic-Lock?

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

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

Preinstallation

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

The Snowball Test:

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

Too Dry

Too Wet

Just Right!

The Step Test:

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

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

Left: Too Wet | Right: Just Right

 

Installation

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

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

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

Thin Stone Veneer

The Difference Between Thin Stone Veneers and Building Stone

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

Building Stone

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

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

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

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

Thin Stone Veneers

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

Thin Veneer Corner

Thin Veneer Corner

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

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

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

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

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

Find the Veneers you Need with Kafka Granite

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

Custom Blend Stabilized Pathway - Kenyon College - Gambier, OH

Revitalizing the Historic Middle Path Pathways at Kenyon College

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

Using Decomposed Granite for Kenyon College

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

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

Using a Stabilized Pathway System to Save the Middle Path

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

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

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

Custom Blend Stabilized Pathway - Kenyon College - Gambier, OH

The Installation Phase

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

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

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

Find Your Perfect Pathway Material at Kafka Granite

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

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

2018-2019 Architectural Trends

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

The Biggest Design Trends of 2018-2019

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

Bringing the Outdoors Indoors

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

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

Sustainability

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

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

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

Embracing the Pantone Color of the Year

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

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

What Trends Would you Like to See Emerge in 2019?

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

The Benefits of Architectural Precast Concrete

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

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

How Precast Concrete Made History

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

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

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

      Minimal formwork needed as cast forms could be reused throughout projects

      A controlled production environment could achieve a higher-quality product

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

      Curing time was greatly reduced

      Aggregate concrete panels were lighter in weight than panels without aggregate

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

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

How Kafka Makes Precast Concrete Beautiful

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

Common Applications of Aggregate in Architectural Precast Concrete

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

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

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

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

Get Building Today with Kafka Granite

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

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

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

Basic Principles of Commercial Landscape Design

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

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

Combine Form and Function

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

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

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

Make a Good First Impression

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

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

 

Choose the Colors and Materials of Your Landscaping Material

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

What will your pathways be made of?

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

What color will your pathways be?

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

What kind of traffic will be on your pathways?

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

What is your parking lot going to be made of?

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

What surrounds your gardens?

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

How much money or time can you put toward maintenance?

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

Get Started on Your Commercial Landscape Architecture Today

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