Commercial and Institutional Architecture: Waterjet design provides upscale appeal

September 1, 2006
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An intricate waterjet-cut design created a grandiose effect in the foyer as well as dining and living rooms of a private residence in South Carolina.

Today's most knowledgeable designers - as well as “with-it” contractors and savvy homeowners - know something about waterjet technology. The process is a computerized, cold cutting procedure that can cut most materials into any two-dimensional shapes. Anything that can be drawn on a computer can be cut by an abrasive waterjet system. For this reason, it was decided to use waterjet technology for an installation that consisted of a 1,600-square-foot stone floor design, covering three rooms - a foyer, dining room and living room - of a newly constructed private residence in South Carolina.

“Each individual piece was then assembled into sections using Laticrete materials, and the overall design was dry-fit in our plant,” explained Harri Aalto of Creative Edge, a waterjet design and fabrication firm headquartered in Fairfield, IA.
“This project included a very intricate and unusual stone design,” stated Harri Aalto of Creative Edge, a waterjet design and fabrication firm headquartered in Fairfield, IA. He explained that the project came to be when the homeowner discovered Creative Edge via the Internet, and asked that the company be contacted. The interior designer, Dawn Bryant of Neoclassic Design, in turn, contacted Aalto, who after some conceptual deliberation presented a recommended floor design, which was ultimately agreed upon.

“The designer did a nice job overall with the home's interior design,” stated Aalto. “When we started conceiving the stone flooring project, Ms. Bryant assisted Annie Aalto of our company, in selecting the perfect colors for the floors. It was a good team effort.”

Aalto went on to state that the design included a number of “floating” stone medallions, which were designed using 10 varieties of marble, granite and semi-precious stone. The surrounding field tile consisted of 18- x 18-inch tiles of Crema Marfil marble.

“After the floor designs were approved, it was time for the stone to be cut, explained Aalto. “Each individual piece was then assembled into sections using Laticrete materials, and the overall design was dry-fit in our plant. We wanted to make sure that the designs were flowing - that the waterjet-cutting was absolutely perfect. After we were convinced that they were, the medallions and borders were carefully packaged and then shipped posthaste to the jobsite, where our installation people did an outstanding job installing the floor. To say the client was pleased would have been a gross understatement.”

The floor installation was completed with Laticrete® 255 MultiMax Multipurpose Thin-Set Mortar and Laticrete® SpectraLock™ Pro Grout.

Installing the waterjet-cut pieces

And while careful planning went into the design and fabrication of the stone pieces, consideration also had to be given to the installation. “The borders did not join, but rather, they would break off at the entryway,” explained Aalto. “If at installation, just one of the pre-assembled stone panels were off as little as 1/16 of an inch, we would lose the design. We needed to use a thin-set material that was guaranteed not to move or shrink, meaning that the stone components on the floor would never shift and therefore destroy the integrity of the design.”

With this in mind, Laticrete® 255 MultiMax Multipurpose Thin-Set Mortar was chosen to ensure a rigid bond between the stone and the flooring substrate. This product was chosen because it is a lightweight, 3-in-1 mortar that replaces mastic, multipurpose and medium-bed mortar with superior non-sag performance on large-format stone and tile, Laticrete reports. Additionally, it is reinforced with Kevlar® for added strength and contains Microban®, which inhibits the growth of stain causing bacteria with antimicrobial protection as well as being Greenguard® Certified.

“And even though the grout joints throughout the entire installation were just 1/32 of an inch wide, we wanted to make sure that a grout was used that was incredibly hard, easy to clean, did not lose its color over time, and most importantly, would not shrink or flake,” said Aalto. “This was not an inexpensive floor; we did not want to jeopardize the design by using anything but the best possible grouting material. That's why I demanded that our installation people only use Laticrete® SpectraLock™ Pro Grout.”

Bob Sawyer, project supervisor for Creative Edge's installation team, stated, “We've worked with various stones from all over the world. Crema Marfil can be a bit tricky, as it is not the hardest marble and can 'move' a bit if it is not adhered to the substrate with a very strong installation system. Using [the specified installation products], we felt very sure there would be very few, if any, problems with these floors for as long as the house would be standing.”

Private Residence: South Carolina

Interior Designer: Neoclassic Design
Stone Fabricator/Designer: Creative Edge, Fairfield, IA
Installation Products: Laticrete International, Inc., Bethany, CT

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