In our series of articles about laminated stone panels, we discussed their advantages and the value they can bring to our building. These laminates are versatile but like any other material, they are not universal.
So, the question lies: How do we know when to use stone composite panels?
One thing is for sure; our composite panels are not to be used as load-bearing walls. But if you are looking for material for:
- complex architectural wall designs
- cladding or facade
then lightweight stones are applicable and can be beneficial for the structure. You also want to consider other factors such as the budget and location of the building (e.g. if the place is prone to calamities).
In this article, we will elaborate more on the things to consider to help you decide if laminated stone panels are a suitable construction material to use or sell.
Limitations of Lightweight Stone Panels
As we have mentioned, stone composite panels are a step toward efficient material usage in construction. They provide us more flexibility in how we want our structure to look with consideration to durability.
But lightweight stones do not apply to some structures’ fundamental components, which we will discuss in this section.
Laminated Stone Panels Are Not Load-Bearing
Load-bearing in construction is a structural element that supports its own weight and the weight of the other parts of the building, such as the roof or flooring if multistory.
While stone composite panels are strong enough to handle their weight, we did not design them to carry the load of other elements.
Here are some examples of load-bearing building parts.
1. Walls. Not all walls are load-bearing. For example, a partition wall’s purpose is to divide the room but doesn’t carry any weight other than its own.
A load-bearing wall carries the structure’s load including the beams and joists, then transfers them to the foundation.
Laminated stone panels can serve as cladding or paneling for decorative purposes and extra protection, but they cannot be the main material for walls that bear the building’s load.
2. Columns. These are structural support that helps other load-bearing elements carry weight through compression. Some examples are the widely used columns in the ancient Greek and Roman periods.
Structural columns can be square or circular, and their thickness has to be calculated depending on the load they have to carry,
To visualize, Greek columns have many types and we prefer the thicker Doric to be on the ground floor if the building is multistory. On the other hand, we use Ionic columns on the upper levels and Corinthian for aesthetic.
Laminated stone panels can’t serve as columns but can be their coverings, depending on the architect’s recommendation.
3. Beams. Another load-bearing element, a beam transfers weight to the column, which then transfers it to the foundation below. Beams are installed horizontally and are important in supporting the weight of the roof, walls, ceiling, and floors if the building is multistory.
4. Floor Joists. These support the weight transfer of the floors and the ceilings, and they contribute to the structural integrity of the building.
Floor joists are horizontal elements between the beams and walls but are not always required in a structure (although we recommend having them!).
Lightweight stone panels can be the flooring as we have tackled in the earlier articles, but we can’t use them as joists.
What to Consider Before Choosing Lightweight Stones
Since you already know when we cannot use laminated stone panels, we will now go to the considerations you must make if you are torn between using them and choosing other materials such as natural stones.
Aside from having professionals in the company, Sinodec has a vast experience with different structural and civil engineers with whom we worked. They also helped us decide when to recommend stone composite panels.
Determining our budget’s limit is essential when building or renovating a structure. We will not only spend money on the materials but also on the following:
- professional fees of the engineer and architect
- necessary permits
- contingency fund
- other fees necessary
Suppose we are deciding between lightweight or natural marble for the floors or as wall cladding. As a stone factory, we can guarantee that both materials have exceptional quality and durability.
However, traditional marble—especially rare and luxurious ones—can cost a lot because of the mining, market demands, and shipping. Plus, this stone weighs heavily, and that would mean more manpower for the installation.
Laminated marble panels, on the other hand, are not “cheap” but can be less expensive than their traditional form. They are also lighter and less fragile compared with traditional marble, and these lessen the shipping costs.
Because of the weight of marble stone composite panels, we can install them with less workforce.
Time is a major component of any project. Especially if you are a construction foreman, everything has to be efficient from the materials down to their actual application.
In this case, we will use natural stones again as our example. A finished wall cladding made of marble or limestone is truly pleasing because it will provide the building with a luxurious appearance that is timeless.
The challenge is the length of the installation. It can take a while—probably 3 weeks to more than a month—depending on how wide the walls are. If we are not in a rush, then this will not be a problem.
But if we want our wall claddings installed in less than a month, lightweight stone panels are the way to go. Putting them in place can take as little as 2 weeks in total since we can easily hang them on our aluminum framing substructure.
Location of the Structure
When it comes to durability and longevity, we can trust both traditional and laminated stones to last for decades.
Although weathering might take a toll on our natural stones’ appearance. With rainy places or seaside locations, you might want to rethink getting natural stone walling as this will require constant maintenance; this is to ensure that the quality stays the same.
If you don’t mind the cleaning, maintenance checks, and even sealing, then you will have no problem with using natural stones in these areas.
However, if you want a material that has more resistance to weathering that requires less maintenance, laminated stone panels will be fitter with your structure.
We always recommend lightweight stones to our clients who have complex design expectations for their buildings or houses. As we have mentioned in the past, laminated stone panels are flexible; we can adjust the thickness or shape without compromising the quality.
But if the flooring or cladding you want is simple and can be achieved with natural stones, we can also pick the latter considering that we have the budget and time.
Local Design Codes and Standards
Your engineers always ensure that the structure adheres to national or local design codes and standards to promote safety and avoid problems in the long run.
Having said that, your codes must allow the usage of laminated stone panels for a specific part of the building before choosing the material. While we haven’t encountered standards that forbid the usage of lightweight stones for cladding or flooring, it is better to be certain.
In choosing whether or not to use laminated stone panels for our projects, we have to know firsthand that these panels are not load-bearing. Although, we can use them for a variety of elements such as wall cladding and flooring because of their versatility.
We also have to consider other factors that will help us decide whether to push through in using lightweight stones or if there are other preferred materials such as traditional stones. Some of these factors are:
- time allotted
- architectural design
- local design codes and standards
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