Lightweight stone composites are a popular choice of material when it comes to cladding. Not only because of their reduced weight but also their increased longevity, durability, and improved customization.
To install lightweight stone cladding panels, we must undergo specific preparations from planning the type of stone cladding we will put up, measuring sizes, and readying the necessary tools to the installation process itself.
This article will show you the steps and what to consider when we undertake our lightweight cladding installation projects.
Preparing for Composite Cladding System Installation
Check Your Local Building Codes
This is the first step we should all look into, especially before installing laminated stone panels as exterior wall cladding.
It will be helpful to know what your local building codes and zoning ordinances permit or prohibit so that you can narrow down your choices for the material or style.
Ready the Tools and Equipment You Need
Whether we are doing a do-it-yourself installation or hiring professionals, it is best to prepare the tools we will need to install the lightweight stone cladding system early. It might be “common sense,” but it is advice that we often overlook.
Some examples of tools that we might need are
- carpentry square
- tape measure
- impact drill or hand drill
- chalk line
Since we are a reputable factory of stone composite panels, we all have the necessary equipment to install, cut, and shape the said material.
Wear Safety Gear
Before we proceed to the installation, we need to ensure our safety by wearing the following equipment:
- safety glasses
- an outfit that covers the skin
- safety shoes
- safety hat
Lightweight Stone Cladding Installation Process
This section contains the actual steps of putting up the lightweight stones as cladding after finishing the preparation stage.
1. Measuring the Area
We must measure the height and width of the area where we will put the lightweight cladding to know how many panels we need.
From here, we can also draw out cladding preferences in terms of the size and shape of each panel.
Once we determine the preferred panel size, here’s a tip: to know how many lightweight stone panels we need, we should divide the width of the area where we will place the cladding by the installed width of the panel.
Note: If the composite stone panel is not prefinished, we have to treat their faces and edges before installing them.
2. Installing the Substructure
The cladding substructure will host the lightweight stone panels and transfer the weight of the latter to the external wall.
In Sinodec’s projects, we use aluminum framing as our substructure because of the flexibility it offers, especially for complex projects.
3. Installing the Insulation Foam
Insulation foam can be an elastomer or polymer that provides a barrier between the room and outdoors temperatures.
Natural lightweight stone claddings already have excellent thermal insulation capability. But if we want the building to improve at keeping the indoor temperature regular (or preferred), adding insulation foam before the cladding is the key.
4. Installing the First Row of Cladding
When installing the first row of our lightweight stone panels, we should always start from the bottom. The first row should also be 2 centimeters (cm) above the ground. With our aluminum framing as a substructure, we will only have to hang the cladding.
The framing has a hanger and horizontal rail where we can put a clip or fastener to attach the stone honeycomb panel, such as laminated marble, depending on your preferred composite.
Since this row is crucial as it is the foundation of our entire wall cladding, we recommend using a chalk line before installing the clip for the cladding. This way, we can ensure that the direction of the panels will be straight.
5. Installing the Succeeding Rows of Cladding
Once we have ensured the perfect installation of the first row, we can now continue to hang the rest of our lightweight stone panels.
Some stone panels are built on overlapping each other, hence having a face width (longer than the installed width since it will be the one to coincide with the other panels). We do this to prevent water from running at the back of the cladding.
6. Installing the Last Row of Cladding
At this stage, the space left in the framing might not be enough for the size of your lightweight stone panels.
In this case, we will measure the remaining space in the framing and use the measurement to cut the stone panels into the correct size.
7. Finishing and Detailing of the Exterior Wall Edges
This includes the trims and corner pieces we have to install for the finishing. It is crucial to do this seamlessly to ensure optimum protection of the exterior walls and build the appearance we aim for in the building.
Is It Important to Leave Expansion Joints?
We apply expansion joints in construction and this case, the wall cladding because the materials we will use may expand (heat) and contract (cold) depending on the weather of the place.
The joints create a gap wherein our lightweight stones can “move” with enough space, compared to when they are compressed, which might cause damage to the cladding in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is Lightweight Stone Cladding Structural?
No. Claddings are not meant to be structural. Their purpose is to protect the structure—the walls in this case—from the damaging effects of external elements such as:
- ultraviolet (UV) light
Installing stone composite claddings can also be for decoration, both for the exterior and interior of the building. They also provide insulation benefits that help with comfort and energy efficiency.
Is Lightweight Stone Cladding Better Than Traditional Natural Stone?
If you have been exploring our other blogs, we also wrote about the advantages of having natural stone as wall cladding, especially for exterior use. It is durable and hardwearing, which is ideal for structural protection.
However, the challenges with natural stone are its weight, cost, and installation. This is where the lightweight stone comes into play.
The stone composite is still natural stone but thinner and attached to a stable material as the base. The best example is a marble aluminum honeycomb with a 5-millimeter (mm) sheet of marble combined with an aluminum honeycomb using aerospace epoxy.
The hexagonal honeycomb shape allows us to multiply the amount of the natural stone instead of using an entire slab as cladding. The following benefits that it gives us are the following:
- It lessens the weight of the wall cladding;
- Eases the installation through less use of manpower and through the aluminum framing where we only have to hang the lightweight stone panels;
- Lessens installation time;
- Eases customization for unique architectural designs and;
- Lowers the cost of purchasing and transportation.
Lightweight stone composite is a popular choice for wall claddings, especially for exterior use. Aside from being “light,” it is a durable material and flexible for architectural customizations.
Installing lightweight wall cladding stones includes adequate preparation, such as knowing the building codes before the installation. In the latter, we go in this order:
- area measurement
- insulation foam (optional)
- the first row of cladding
- succeeding rows of cladding
- last row of cladding
- finishing the edges
Let us know if this helped you understand how we install lightweight stone cladding panels by commenting down below.