Stone cladding's natural beauty makes it a favorite design technique for architects in a number of different applications: to accentuate a building or to cover the entire inner or outer wall. With so many different uses and materials -- marble, limestone and granite to name a few -- selecting the right cladding method is crucial to ensure a long-lasting, safe finish to your building project.
One of the more common methods of cladding stone, the direct-adhered method, has many advantages over other means of cladding. Thinner, less expensive stone can be used vs. other methods, and no on-site drilling is required occur to apply the stone. This removes the possibility of cracking or breaking the tiles. The direct-adhered method uses a liquid latex, combined with a cement-based filler powder. The result is what builders refer to as a thin bed mortar. This is then applied to a clean, smooth substrate -- the material the stone is actually bonded to -- as well as the underside of the stone.
Similar to the direct-adhered method, spot bonding uses an epoxy adhesive to adhere to the substrate. The distinction is that the epoxy is only applied to approximately 10 percent of the area. The result is gaps or pockets of air between the stone and the substrate which reduces the potential for water staining and allows for movement with the building -- from wind and settling, for example. This method of stone cladding uses special, extremely strong epoxies specifically designed for this application.
The mechanical stone cladding method uses fixed or embedded anchors or ties to attach the stone to the substrate. Because holes to be drilled and mechanical ties or anchors used, this method of cladding requires stone that is a bit thicker than other methods. Stone that is 1 inch in thickness is recommended, along with leaving a gap of approximately 3/4-inch between the stone and the substrate. This allows for movement and better drainage, as is the case with spot bonding.
A type of mechanical cladding method for exterior walls, aluminum backing is used to provide structural support and a relatively easy means of installation. Aluminum panels are shaped to fit the project, and thin pieces of stone are attached to the panels and subsequently mounted onto the substrate with runner clips. To assist in the process, the aluminum panels are designed to interlock, making for a seamless appearance.