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Before spec’ing materials for a residential or commercial project, many architects assume that the inherent toughness of natural stone make it a nearly universal good fit. While it can be, the unique characteristics and capabilities of natural stone dictate the application, structural design required to support it, longevity and a myriad of other considerations an architect must address before materials are spec’d and throughout the project.
An organic material, natural stone can present architects with decisions they may not have to make when using other building materials. Before spec’ing natural stone and to properly align materials with the project, architects should keep in mind what natural stone offers, including:
1. Unique Aesthetics
Among the most attractive qualities of natural stone is it’s one-of-a-kind appearance. However, if nature-made color variations and patina or surface texturing caused by veining and pitting isn’t anticipated or a priority for the build, the unique aesthetics could be construed as unappealing at best or as defects at worst.
2. Durability and Sustainability
Known as a “lifetime product,” Type III dolomitic limestone is a proven durable material that reduces ownership cost over time. It is a worthy investment over most precast stone options that may initially deliver the desired look, but will likely break down over time and require replacing.
Moreover, natural stone is a preferred material in the growing sustainable design movement that’s happening in residential and commercial construction. Beyond being a durable product of the earth, stone is fully recyclable and generally low maintenance regardless of application — characteristics that comply with Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) standards for construction materials with environmentally sound lifecycles, from raw materials extraction through their uses and applications.
Natural stone is ideal for a variety of applications, both in architecture and design. While commonly showcased in building veneers, patio pavers and pool copings, water features and accent walls, natural stone is increasingly finding its way into kitchen and bathroom countertops and washbasins, fireplaces, furnishings, stairs and balustrades.
4. Substantial Weight
The beauty, durability and versatility of natural stone can sometimes overshadow a hefty reality about natural stone — its weight. If structural engineering doesn’t compensate for supporting natural stone from the outset, it can lead to costly unintended consequences like construction delays and increased building costs.
Natural stone is a building material that resonates with many people, so architects must be comfortable spec’ing its use. Architects, contractors, distributors and homeowners are learning how to use limestone’s one-of-a-kind characteristics to create maximum impact in Understanding and Selecting Natural Stone: A 5-Step Checklist. Click the button below to access your copy now!