Many are unaware or new to discovering stone composites, especially if their preference leans toward natural stones when it comes to building and renovating structures.
But what if we tell you that stone composite panels can offer twice as much as natural stone can and at an affordable cost?
Laminated stone panels are one of our top choices in construction because of their:
- less weight
They make building and renovation cost-efficient and less time-consuming compared with using other materials, with an emphasis on walls, flooring, ceiling, and furniture.
In this article, we will tackle everything related to laminated stone composite panels, from their meaning and composition to the best factories to get your supply.
A composite is a combination of two or more materials that are different from each other in physical and chemical characteristics.
The intention behind creating composites is to build something better in traits that we require—it can be in compression, flexural, or tensile strength—and combining different materials is often the solution, as the output will embody the materials’ quality traits.
In engineering, composites are often composed of two primary materials which are the matrix and the reinforcement. The matrix is monolithic and where we embed the support. The reinforcement, on the other hand, is precisely how it sounds: it adds strength to the matrix.
In the stone composite panel’s case, natural stones such as marble or limestone can be the matrix. Reinforcements, such as aluminum honeycomb or ceramic bases will strengthen these stable materials.
A laminate is a type of composite with layers of more than two materials glued together by a kind of adhesive. One more thing: laminates are flat sheets. That is why we refer to stone composite panels as laminated stones too.
You can still see and distinguish the original form of the materials in a laminate. For example, in a laminated marble with an aluminum honeycomb, you can still point out which is the marble and which is the honeycomb.
The reason for the previous statement is that no chemical amalgamation is required to manufacture laminates.
Natural stone composite panels or laminated stone panels refer to the same material. We might also hear the name of the natural stone combined with “stone composite,” such as:
- marble stone composite or;
- laminated limestone.
Most importantly, they are also called lightweight stone panels. Keep reading to know why.
Since we have given enough background on the terms “composite” and “laminate,” you might already have an idea of what they mean when combined with the word “stone.”
Laminated stone panels are natural stones combined with other materials we call a base or backing. By now, you must be wondering, “How come they are called lightweight stones if combined with other materials? Wouldn’t that make them heavier?”
Of course, it wouldn’t. Let us check the parts of a lightweight stone.
A piece of the lightweight stone panel is composed of two layers:
- natural stone sheet (first layer)
- base or backing (second layer)
We stick them together using adhesives—aerospace epoxy, to be exact, for Sinodec—creating new and improved material.
We often use lightweight stone panels in non-structural parts of the building as coverings and protection, but we can also utilize them as decoration and material for furniture. Below are some examples of where we can apply stone composites.
- internal wall cladding
- external wall cladding
- elevator cab
- furniture (e.g., kitchen furnishings such as countertops or tables)
- vanity tops
Stone factories like ours witnessed these many uses of lightweight stones throughout our projects. However, their most common application is on floors and walls, such as cladding.
We mentioned earlier that laminated stone panels contain two layers. In this section, we will expound on those layers by giving you the following:
- a variety of natural stone or base panel samples and;
- some tips about which base panel is better for a specific type of project.
The natural stone sheet of our lightweight panels can be any stone our clients prefer. Sinodec has different types of rocks, either in slabs or blocks fresh from the quarry; we are confident that we can provide you with various choices, and here are our popular ones.
One of the stones that we have been using since ancient times, marble is an all-time pick because of its appearance and durability. This stone has an inherent gloss that we can further improve through polishing.
Marble is notable for its unique veining patterns and diverse colors. Some of their examples are:
- White Carrara
- (Black) Nero Marquina
- (Burgundy) Rosso Marquina
As you can see, they can go from light to dark solid colors, unlike other stones. The veins are also colored differently.
Onyx is a stone with translucent properties allowing light to pierce through. We often use this with transparent backings such as glass and place it in locations with light. The latter emphasizes this stone’s beautiful colors that range from neutral to dark.
Some examples of onyx colors are:
In prestigious hotels, they often use onyx for the walls of their elevator cabs.
Granite is a hard stone that we can use as a structural material. It is also suitable for flooring since it can handle foot traffic.
But the same with the previous stones, granite projects elegance through its bold and full colors like:
- Andromeda White
- (Black) Desert Dream
- Almond Gold
- (Blue) Amadeus
Limestone is popular as wall cladding, and a lightweight version will also be more durable. This stone has earthy-looking soft colors, commonly used in the Middle East for building and decoration.
Some examples of limestone colors are:
- (White) Capri
- (Beige) Moca Cream
- (Grey) Azul Verde
A lot often mistake travertine for marble, but it is a type of limestone. The difference is instead of forming underwater, travertine forms on land.
This stone is also harder than marble but not when compared with granite. If you pick this as your natural stone sheet, you will have different soft shades as your color palette, mainly brown. Take a look at the list below.
- Rapolano Silver
- Persian Yellow
- Roman Golden
We widely use this stone in construction because of its non-porous characteristic. It does not easily absorb water or moisture and doesn’t quickly freeze. We can use slate for wall claddings, floorings, and staircases since it also has resistance to traffic.
Slate has naturally unique colors like:
While it is not as hard as the other stones we listed, it is still durable. We can also view its softness as an advantage since sandstone is easier to shape and cut.
The colors of sandstone play within the following:
This stone is harder than granite, but the cost is mid (usually the same with most granite but cheaper than marble). Lightweight quartz is another excellent material that we can use for our external wall cladding or kitchen furnishings like countertops.
Some of this stone’s standard colors are:
After choosing the natural stone we prefer, we will select the backing or base panel.
All of the choices we included here are durable and impact-resistant—mainly when we use them in areas most applicable—therefore, we will no longer add these descriptions to each material.
This is our top pick as a lightweight stone backing made from aluminum alloy shaped into a honeycomb.
In engineering, we consider the honeycomb shape as a staple. These small honeycomb shapes—especially when placed beside each other such as the aluminum we use—stabilize the surface above while using minimum materials.
Using an aluminum ply and honeycomb will save more material in the latter. Although in some cases, we can also use a ply.
|Notable characteristics||Most applicable way of usage|
|flexible and malleable, able to accommodate complex designs|
good reflective insulation
corrosion resistant, although beware of galvanic corrosion
non-combustible, unless kept with a flammable material
|internal and external wall cladding|
kitchen furnishings like countertops and sinks
bathroom vanity and sinks
|Usual thickness = 10 mm to 25 mm|
While we also use aluminum alloy for ACM, the difference is that the aluminum is combined with polyethylene (PE) or low-density polyethylene (LDPE). This makes the panel heavier than if we use the honeycomb.
However, we can assure you that both aluminum-made backings are of good quality.
|Notable characteristics||Most applicable way of the usage|
easy to install
resistant to weather damage
|internal wall claddingfaçades|
|Usual thickness = 7.95 mm|
We mentioned that natural onyx paired with a glass backing would give us a heavenly material when hit with light. This is only one example that shows glass as a great decorative material that can clear the place’s ambiance.
In creating stone composite panels with this base type, we must choose the kind of glass since there are many. We usually use tempered and laminated glass, which we will define below.
Tempered Glass (Toughened Glass). This is made from float glass that we toughen so it is not easy to break.
Tempered glass also has a minimum of 69 MPa compressive strength. If it has 100 MPa or more, then it is considered a safety glass.
Laminated Glass. This bond of two plies of glass with interlayers prevents its shattering even when it breaks. The types of glass that we combine will depend on the project’s needs.
|Notable characteristics||Most applicable way of the usage|
|resistant to temperature |
good thermal insulation
not prone to parasite infestation
internal wall cladding
|Usual thickness = 6.35 mm to 19.05 mm|
We use ceramic tiles as a base for lightweight stones, especially if we need something hard or thick but not too thick. We like to combine this with natural marble stone sheets, especially for floorings, to ensure sturdiness.
Although bear in mind that this type of laminated stone can have more weight compared with others with different base panels.
|Notable characteristics||Most applicable way of the usage|
|heat and fire resistant|
kitchen furnishings such as countertops and tables
wall cladding (mechanical anchoring)
|Usual thickness = 6 mm to 10 mm|
Another hard material is granite, a natural stone that we can utilize as a stone sheet.
If you are wondering why we will use another stone if we want to make the stone sheet of choice weigh lighter, it is because we often use this with marble; granite has less weight but is more withstanding to cracks and chips.
|Notable characteristics||Most applicable way of the usage|
|resistant to weather and temperature changes|
resistant to cracks
good thermal insulator
less expensive compared with other stones
|flooring pavings |
(honed or sandblasted marble is preferable)
|Usual thickness = 6 mm to 10 mm|
The production of laminated stone panels can be expensive, especially for a factory that manufactures high-quality lightweight stones.
In this section of our article, we will show you how we fabricate Sinodec’s lightweight stone panels, such as combining the natural stone sheet with the chosen material for backing.
1. Our focus in the first step is on the natural stone. The blocks from the quarry are cut into thin slabs. This is not yet the final size of the panels.
Since we will be splitting the natural stone in half after we combine it with the backing (check the fourth procedure), the size of the stone slabs should be thick enough to accommodate the required output thickness of the panel.
For example, if we aim for a panel with 5mm-thick marble, the slab must be 10 mm or with more allowance.
2. Next, we will apply aerospace epoxy to bond it with the backing or base of choice. Remember, we will bond both the stone’s faces with the ground so that the stone will be sandwiched in the middle.
If you are wondering why we utilize aerospace epoxy, this adhesive is made explicitly for aerospace missions. It is meant to be light and durable, not wearing out and tearing apart despite exposure to different elements and harsh conditions.
3. The sandwich panel will be subject to heat and pressure for lamination.
Think of it like paper lamination, the paper in the middle of two pieces of plastic. In this case, the stone is the paper, and the plastic is the backing
4. Once successfully laminated, we saw the sandwich right in the middle of the stone, creating two panels.
5. The successfully sawn panels will now undergo the finishing process. Finishing is one of the final processes of stone manufacturing, where we can see the material’s beauty.
There are different types of finishes which we also explained as a subpart of this section.
6. After the finishing, we will perform the mechanical cutting, where we trim the panels according to the project’s dimension specifications. This is where we serve custom shapes and cuts as final touches.
7. Before the packaging procedures, Sinodec performs a quality control inspection in every panel.
This is to ensure that our products fulfill the standard, and if there are minor or major defects, they will be fixed or pulled out (depending on the gravity) before being put on the market.
This finish will make the lightweight stone smooth, like satin but matte. This is also the stage before polishing, in case we manufacture polished lightweight stone like marble.
If you are planning to apply an external wall cladding, we recommend the honed finish for a smooth structure appearance.
As the name indicates, a polished laminated stone panel will be shiny since it will reflect light.
If we polish stones like marble or onyx paired with a glass base panel, we will have flooring or internal wall cladding with vivid colors and veining patterns. This is because the light will illuminate the stone more.
With the use of a sandblasting machine and an air compressor, sand particles are blasted onto the surface of the stone. This creates a rough and textured but uniform finish.
Commonly done to granite or limestone, we use a hot torch flame to the surface of the stone. This finish has a rough texture and is also non-slip, which is good for flooring that is prone to water.
In this finish, we use a chisel to put parallel marks on the lightweight stone’s surface. The marks can be horizontal, vertical, or inline.
Since lightweight stone panels are flexible in terms of fabrication, we can also add carvings using tools like hammers, chisels, and even a stone carving machine, depending on the design and preferences of the client.
Using a laser engraving machine, we can put messages, pictures, and other details on the lightweight stone. If the architectural design of the building contains details depicting beauty, then using this laser technology can be in our choices.
We have exported and supplied lightweight stones to different projects—both residential and commercial—and we also provide home depots and construction shops with the same products for many reasons, which you will learn in this section.
Laminated stone panels have the following characteristics that make them the best option if natural stones are not a choice.
You already saw this coming since we call the material a “lightweight stone panel,” after all. But why is this an advantage, exactly?
While we have factors to consider, such as the project type and the client’s preferences, the natural stone sheet in a lightweight stone can be as thin as 5 mm. You may check the examples below on how heavy this material is per square meter.
|Lightweight Stone Examples||Estimated Weight|
|Marble with aluminum honeycomb||about 30 kg/Sqm|
|Beige limestone with aluminum honeycomb||about 30 kg/Sqm|
The weight of the material affects the:
- speed of installation
- the number of people necessary for manpower
- transportation costs
1. Let us consider that the speed of installation will vary not only because of the material (which are lightweight stones in this case) but also the complexity and size of the project.
So you, a construction foreman who works closely with the project’s owner, will neither spend time shrinking the project’s size nor downgrade the complex architectural aspect. You will pick a material that will make the job time-efficient but will not compromise the quality.
The answer? Choose materials that are easy to carry and install, like natural stone composite panels.
2. The weight of the materials affects the number of people necessary to carry and install them. In this case, lightweight stones will be easier to manage than natural stones since a typical 20 mm thick slab of marble weighs 58 kg/Sqm.
3. Transportation costs will vary depending on the:
- number of materials
- point of destination (if overseas, we will have to consider trade laws and taxes)
The most common methods are by sea or rail, and we must also consider the fragility. In this case, laminated stone panels need care and caution but are not as fragile as natural stones.
To explain, little mistakes in transportation can damage a slab of marble, which is why different equipment and cargo protection are present while on the go, adding up to the cost.
We developed this saying because of the lightweight stones’ characteristics: “You can install them and forget that they are even there.”
Laminated stone panels do not need constant maintenance compared to whole natural stones that need regular sealing because of their porosity and cleaning.
This doesn’t mean we don’t encourage you to clean your lightweight stone panels because you should, especially if you see that they are dirty or stained.
We can usually remove spills by wiping them as soon as they happen. If the dirt or stains stay, we can use the following:
- a soft cloth
- warm water
- mild dishwashing soap
You can also use products found at stores, such as stone cleaners (if the dirt is on the surface), but our best advice is to ask your supplier since they will tell you which products you can use.
We cannot deny that natural stones are still durable despite being heavy since we have been manufacturing different products from them for the past ten years. That is why even though we are only using a 5 mm thin sheet out of them, this sheet still has excellent qualities.
In lightweight stones, we combine these qualities with those of their bases (that we will discuss later). The usual base we use and apply to almost all projects is aluminum honeycomb.
A limestone with an aluminum honeycomb will have increased impact resistance mainly because of aluminum’s compressive yield strength, which is 120 MPa which can still improve by hundreds, depending on the aluminum alloy.
Compressive strength is the capability of a material to resist pressure from compression from many loads. Even though lightweight stone panels are not load-bearing walls, this proves that they are a strong addition as a non-structural component.
A high level of vibration in the structure can lead to cracks, heavy noise, or building failure. That is why it is essential that we can dampen the beat in a way that the material changes the frequency of the structure.
Natural stones and aluminum honeycomb are good at vibration damping by lessening the radiated noise and decreasing the waveform energy. Other backing types, such as ceramics, provide the same benefit as the stone sheet.
The challenge for natural stones like marble, limestone, granite, onyx, or travertine is their porosity. While this does not mean that they are not durable, too much-absorbed water and moisture can cause tiny cracks, stains, and damage to the stone’s appearance in the long run.
With stone composite panels, we will not worry about moisture causing the materials to crack. That is why lightweight panels are often used in external wall cladding, even in places with rainy weather.
Lightweight natural stones are resistant to heat and fire because of the properties of the rock of choice and the material we will use as the base.
To give you an idea of how much heat our popular backings can handle, refer to the list below.
|Base material||Heat resistance|
|Aluminum (honeycomb)||660.3°C or 1,221°F depending on the type of aluminum alloy|
|Aluminum Composite Material (ACM)||600°C or 1,112°F considering that it is graded as non-combustible|
|Glass||260°C or 500°F for tempered glass|
|Ceramic||1,600°C or 2,912°F depending on the type and pureness of the ceramic|
|Granite||249°C or 480°F|
And yes, we also use granite as a base for lightweight stone in some projects, which we will discuss later in this article.
Different types of corrosion can occur; rust is just one type. Contrary to popular belief, decomposition can also target non-metal materials.
Thankfully, laminated stone panels are resistant to corrosion since our natural stones are also resistant enough to weather.
Aluminum is resistant to rust, ceramics are resistant to acids and bases that cause corrosion, and glass also has a fair resistance to the said process considering that we use a good quality.
However, we should be careful when placing carbon skins near a lightweight stone with aluminum honeycomb panels because it can cause galvanic corrosion. This is when we put two dissimilar metals (one is less corrosion-resistant than the other) in an electrolyte like water.
Weathering is a natural geological process where natural elements such as rain and wind break down rocks over time. It is where the rock’s mechanical breakdown and chemical alteration happen.
While weathering is not entirely bad, using materials for a building prone to this phenomenon might not be a good idea; it can affect the quality and sturdiness of the structure.
Stones don’t break down quickly when natural elements touch them. However, attaching them to aluminum honeycomb and glass will strengthen this resistance since these base panels have little to no reaction to weathering.
Thermal insulation is essential in walls and floorings because it ensures comfort for the people and objects inside.
Laminated stone panels provide excellent insulation benefits because the stones’ inherent insulation capabilities combined with the base material with the same quality trait.
We use lightweight stone panels for wall façades, sidings, and interior decoration. These structure parts can be the most complex depending on the architectural designs.
But did you know that laminated stone panels are not just plain and square-shaped? The materials we use to fabricate these products are flexible, therefore, are more highly customizable than traditional stones.
We can cut, bend, and shape the panels however we want, like this curved lightweight marble.
Sinodec also has a triangle-shaped lightweight limestone that is reasonably priced.
With stone composite panels, our ideal building and home are possible even if they have a complicated style.
China is one of the major producers, suppliers, and exporters of natural stones, including laminated stone panels. Numerous countries incorporate Chinese building products in their projects because of their quality and the people’s expertise.
In this section, we listed four Chinese factories with proven experience in lightweight stone production; this short list may be helpful if you are searching for a trusted supplier.
|Location||No.51, Panlong Road, Shuitou, Fujian, China|
Popularly known as Sinodec, this stone factory is a veteran in manufacturing stone products like lightweight stones and supplies both local and international companies and projects. Sinodec also provides assistance not just at the beginning of the installation but until aftercare.
|Location||1/8, Huancun Road, Zoumaying Village, Shishan, Nanhai, Foshan, Guangdong, China 528225|
HongZan’s main products are honeycomb panels, which have been in the industry since 2002. With its complete equipment, this factory can manufacture and export to different continents, including America and Europe.
|Location||501, Quanyutang Business Center, Xianhou County 368, Xiamen, Fujian, China 361009|
This factory has proven experience in walling as it has been involved in different projects in the USA, mainly in the improvement and remodeling of hotels, condominiums, and houses.
|Location||TD Industrial, Nan’An City, Fujian, China 362000|
Tianyuan Stone is a manufacturing company that creates kitchen furnishings, flooring, and lightweight panels made of stone. This factory is likewise experienced in handling construction projects professionally, garnering clients both in China and abroad.
Laminated stone panels or lightweight stones are innovative materials in construction that allow us to be cost-efficient and quick in building while ensuring durability.
The reason why we choose laminated stone panels is that they are significantly lightweight and flexible compared with traditional stones, making them adaptable to any architectural design.
Moreover, lightweight stones provide us with different choices in appearance and qualities by selecting the appropriate stone sheet and backing depending on the type of project. With this kind of material, having quality non-structural output and support is possible.