Lightweight stone panels are an economical alternative for a structure if we want to incorporate natural stones in our building. While we can choose our stone, we also have to choose its base. How do we do it?
In choosing the right base or backing for lightweight stones, we will have to consider two Ws:
- Where will we use them and;
- Why will we install them in a particular place or structure?
All of the available backings for lightweight stone composite panels improve the natural stone’s quality and reduce its weight, but it is best to know which base matches the stone by considering the two Ws.
In this article, we will show you which base material attaches better to a specific wall and which backing is better to decorate the floors.
Picking the Best Material for Stone Composite Panel Backing
In Sinodec, we inform our clients—local and abroad—about what they need to know before choosing their lightweight stone for a specific project.
We certainly consider the value it will add to the structure’s appearance. But we want to maximize the benefit of our stone composite panels by choosing the most applicable backing.
1st “W”: Where Are We Going to Use the Lightweight Stone?
There are many ways where you can use stone composite panels, and we have provided examples below:
- internal wall cladding
- external wall cladding
- elevator cab
- furniture (e.g., kitchen furnishings)
Each usage requires different kinds of strengths. For example, external wall cladding needs extreme durability and resistance. Kitchen furnishings like a countertop will need waterproof properties.
2nd “W”: Why Are We Going to Install the Lightweight Stone?
Your reasons for installing laminated stone panels can be
- protection or;
- all two above.
The good thing is that all lightweight stones embody these three traits at different levels, but determining the reasons will help us narrow down our choices.
Choices for Lightweight Stone Base
In this section, we will enumerate a variety of bases for the stone composite panels that you can choose from.
Keep in mind that they all provide better impact resistance and are hardwearing, as we will no longer add these to their descriptions.
1. Aluminum Honeycomb (Hexagonal Honeycomb)
We often install aluminum honeycomb-backed natural stones for
- internal and external wall claddings
- elevator cab walling
- kitchen countertops
- bathroom vanity tops
|Usual thickness||10 to 25 mm|
The honeycomb shape in construction is important because it allows equal strength distribution using less material.
Imagine if you use a ply, it would have to be full aluminum with no holes in the hexagonal shapes. While it would still be durable, honeycomb panels allow us to lower the cost.
Some of the benefits that aluminum honeycomb base can give our wall claddings are
- flexibility and malleability, which is beneficial for complex architectural designs;
- reflective insulation since aluminum reflects heat to where it is from;
- resistance to corrosion and rust and;
Aluminum honeycomb is packed with qualities that offer stability. Still, we must take precautions by not exposing it to salt water, and carbon skins as these may erode the material.
Carbon skins cause galvanic corrosion (dissimilar corrosion) when placed near an aluminum honeycomb.
2. Aluminum Composite Material (ACM)
Another type of aluminum backing is the aluminum composite which we also use for
- internal wall claddings
|Usual thickness||7.95 mm|
Lightweight stoned backed with aluminum composite is also hardwearing like the honeycomb, but the difference is the weight; ACM is heavier than aluminum honeycomb because it uses polyethylene (PE) or low-density polyethylene (LDPE).
Nevertheless, aluminum composite offers promising qualities like
- ease of installation and;
- environmentally friendly because they are recyclable.
3. Aluminum Polymer
We can use lightweight stones with this base for
- interior wall cladding
|Usual thickness||2.5 to 4 mm|
Aluminum polymer is thin—around 2.5 to 4 millimeters (mm)—that we can also use to upgrade the interior by adding overlays. This material, aside from having the qualities of aluminum, is also
- corrosion resistant and;
- has strong resistance to chemical attacks.
You must wonder if glass makes a good base for stone composite panels because “it might crack.” To assure you, the right glass doesn’t shatter easily. We use this for
- internal wall cladding
- elevator cabs
|Usual thickness||6.35 to 19.05 mm|
Glass-backed lightweight stones serve a practical purpose (as we stated above) and are an excellent decorative addition to the interior, making the place more aesthetic.
The reason is that they help specific stones like onyx and marble illuminate light, which make their colors deeper and glossier while emphasizing the veining pattern.
So when we use this for our floors, it will look like we are walking on top of a beautiful light. For elevator cabs, we will mostly see them in hotels or luxurious places.
We mainly use tempered or laminated glass that both have the following qualities:
- corrosion and rust resistance;
- not affected by parasite infestation and;
- good insulator (thermal, electric, and sound).
One thing you need to remember is that glass is not as heat resistant as the other backing materials. Tempered glass, for example, can tolerate only up to 260°C while aluminum can take up to 660.3°C.
Lightweight stones with ceramic bases are commonly used as
- wall cladding (mechanical anchoring)
- vanity tops
|Usual thickness||6 to 10 mm|
Ceramics might be heavier than the previous base examples, but they are excellent backing for natural stone flooring to increase hardness and resistance. We commonly use this with marble since it needs a harder base.
Other notable features of ceramic are
- heat resistant, which is necessary for countertops;
- water resistant, which is suitable for vanity tops and flooring;
- good insulator, which is ideal for keeping the floor at an average temperature.
Ceramics is an almost-perfect base for natural stone composites, but take precautions when it comes to sudden temperature changes as it may cause shock to the material.
Yes, you read it right. We also use granite for laminated stones despite being a natural stone. This base is applicable if you are planning to use lightweight stones on
|Usual thickness||5 mm|
Granite is one of the most durable and hardest stones, but it is also surprisingly light compared to marble.
We utilize a granite backing when we need to install the thicker portion of the panel. The hardness is also advantageous for pavings, holding the honed or sandblasted marble from below.
Here are some of the granite’s qualities that make us recommend it to our clients
- weather resistant;
- heat-resistant and;
- good thermal insulator.
Can We Customize the Size of the Lightweight Stone Panels?
While we provided the usual thickness of the base materials, they are not absolute. We can customize your lightweight panels’ length, width, and height depending on your preference and what is best for the project.
Lightweight stones, stone composites, or laminated stones are a great alternative to natural stones because they have more impact resistance and provide extra durability to a structure. However, we must also choose a suitable base to maximize the lightweight stone’s benefits.
To choose the suitable base, we need to consider where we will use the lightweight stone panel and what purpose we want it to serve (decoration, protection, or both).
With a wide variety of choices, considering the two factors and the characteristics of the different bases will help us choose the best one.