Recent advancements in technology are allowing natural stone to be installed with greater efficiency. In the countertop sector, companies are introducing new products to help with preparation and installation of vanities, kitchen countertops and undermount sinks. New adhesives and grouts have also been introduced for stone tile installations.
The following is a look at some of the new products that companies have established to ensure top-notch installations.

Sink preparation and mounting

The Sink Undermounter from Braxton-Bragg is a fully adjustable and removable undermount system that fits almost any sink thickness, and installs in approximately five minutes. The Sink Undermounter works for both solid surfaces and granite countertops, and fits 25-, 36- and 50-inch cabinets. (Use two sets for setting oval and round-shaped sinks).
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For cast iron sinks, the Braxton-Bragg Sink Setter installs in three easy steps. First, the user installs brackets to fit the cabinet and the sink size opening. Second, the sink is set on brackets; and third, the user adjusts the leveling screws until the sink is level and resting at desired height. The Sink Setter is adjustable, uses all-steel construction and provides solid sink support. It also eliminates the need for bracing and shims as well as cutting.
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Granite City Tool of St.Cloud, MN, and Barre, VT, offers the Dia-Pro Tools Sink Undermounter, which can easily undermount any sink - oval or round - and can be used with solid surfaces or granite countertop materials. The device, which can be used side-to-side or back-to-front, eliminates the need for wood supports. It is fully adjustable and removable, comes with required hardware, and is available in three lengths - 25 inches, 36 inches, and 50 inches - which can be trimmed to fit any cabinet size. (Two undermounter packages are needed for ovals and rounds.)
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Regent Stone Products of Virginia Beach, VA, now offers the Regent No Drill Sink Kit as an alternative to the traditional methods used to set undermount sinks. The No Drill Sink Kit includes everything needed to install an undermount sink quickly and easily. The kit includes one tube of Quick Set Epoxy for mounting the four bolted anchor plates; four clips; four washers and wing nuts.
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For undermount sinks, Tenax USA, of Charlotte, NC, suggests RIVO 15 and RIVO 50. Both are fast (15 and 50 minutes gel time respectively), inexpensive epoxy glues created for gluing granite to metal, wood or ceramics. The strength of the glue and the particularly fast drying time makes RIVO the optimal solution for gluing undermount sinks, for setting the countertop onto the cabinets, against sheet rock panels and to attach appliances to the countertop itself. RIVO comes in a part A and part B set (1+1 liters, 4+4 liters, 17+17 liters) or also in a brand new single tube, usable in a caulk gun and premixed in a special nozzle.
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Countertops and seams

The Super Seam Setter from Granite City Tool can be used as a fast, convenient way to join and level countertop seams. Users simply apply the power-ful suction cups to the stone and ratchet the seams together, and then pull forward the non-marring leveling cam.
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VIC International of Knoxville, TN, now sells a Seam Clamp/Leveler to provide a simpler way for the installer to pull seams tight and adjust tops level for better installations and higher customer satisfaction. These clamps are secured to the stone with two vacuum cups that have built-in pumps. The leveling screws are equipped with plastic feet so the stone is protected against scratches. One end of the clamp is fitted with a rubber pad so that the clamp can be used as a “pusher” to hold the backsplash in place. These clamps are sold in pairs and come in a foam-lined carrying case for easy transportation.
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The Braxton-Bragg Seam Setter is designed to get the seam flush and acceptable. The two 8-inch vacuum cups are secured to each side of the seam. Adhesive or silicon is applied to the seam, and the ratchet pulls the two pieces together to form an extremely tight seam. Then the two levelers, spaced approximately 10 inches apart, adjust the countertop up or down, whichever is needed to get the seam perfectly tight and level. Shims can be added between the stone for additional support.
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The Last Patch[tm] Gel from Bonstone is now available in 2-ounce. kits for countertop seaming. The clear knife-grade kit, along with the accelerator, provides installers with fast, durable results. Attributes include: UV and freeze-thaw stability, no shrinkage, honed or polished appearance, and compatibility with Touchstone[tm] colorants. The Last Patch[tm] Gel kit is a slightly flexible system for seams that require movement with marble, granite, limestone and other natural stones. This product is extremely useful for interior and exterior applications of seams or patching which require UV protection.

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Braxton-Bragg is now providing specially formulated K-Bond Granite Colored Pigments, which are designed to blend with the most commercially popular granite colors, including Black Galaxy, Ubatuba, Giallo Veneziano, Santa Cecilia, Blue Pearl and Baltic Brown. All colors are available in 2-ounce squeeze bottles, each sold separately and as a complete color set with all six colors. K-Bond Granite Colored Pigments come ready to add to standard adhesives to join seams. According to the company, this product is great for installation on vanities and countertops since it saves time and eliminates the need for color mixing.
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Mortars, grouts, adhesives and epoxies

Custom[r] Building Products, a manufacturer of tile installation products, recently announced the introduction of Complete Contact[tm] and Complete Contact[tm] RS, polymer-modified, full contact mortars that are excellent for setting large modular tile and stone.
Using advanced mortar technology, Custom's new Complete Contact mortars provide full mortar transfer to the back of the tile, eliminating the need for back-buttering or “beating in” the tile, saving time and effort for the installation professional, Custom reports.
The new mortars are easy to use, with exceptional fluidity and superior handling characteristics, even though they require less water than traditional thin-sets. Complete Contact's advanced formula holds its ridges and supports the deeper notched trowels required for setting larger tile. This versatile mortar allows thin-bed as well as medium-bed applications for virtually any size tile, according to Custom Building Products.
“Custom's latest innovation in mortar technology gives tile professionals a product that makes their job easier,” said Diane Wood, senior product manager at Custom Building Products. “Complete Contact eases some of the physical demands of the installation because it is so easy to work with and it removes the need to back-butter or beat-in tile during the setting process. It actually eliminates a step. We are anticipating a tremendous response from our customers about Complete Contact.”
Complete Contact RS is rapid setting, ideal for industrial locations and commercial venues such as restaurants, hotels and shopping malls, when fast curing is needed. Complete Contact RS uses Custom's exclusive CCT[tm] (Controlled Cure Technology), a fast-curing formula that provides high early and final strength, allowing surfaces to accommodate heavy commercial traffic just 24 hours after grout application, reports Custom Building Products.
Custom Building Products
Complete Contact Mortars

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Granite City Tool now supplies Bellinzoni Blitz Adhesive, a high-performance adhesive which uses a completely new concept in the design of resins for a stronger than ever adhesion capability. Blitz combines the mechanical and chemical prop-erties of an epoxy resin with the shorter drying time of a polyester resin. The result is a two-component adhesive with ex-ceptional strength and fast application, making bonding, laminating and filling stones easier and more cost effective.
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TEC Specialty Products has recently introduced new Double Duty[tm] Plus, which the company reports to be the first adhesive in the industry that represents the only all-white, non-slip mastic that quickly and securely bonds large, heavy wall tiles and natural stone to a variety of substrates. Double Duty[tm] Plus is specially formulated to create a strong, no-sag bond on wall tile (including porcelain) and stone up to 16 inches square - and do so without slippage, the company reports. As such, it eliminates the need for spacers or special installation techniques and speeds installation.
“In the past, many contractors took extra steps to guard against slippage when setting large wall tile and stone because they weren't certain whether the mastic used would hold based on a variety of factors, including the substrates involved,” said TEC Brand Manager Sandy Eich. “With Double Duty[tm] Plus, however, no extra steps are needed because it works with all substrates and can handle 77% larger tiles than ordinary mastics without slippage.”
Suited for walls and ceilings, Double Duty[tm]Plus is a 100% acrylic interior adhesive. Like its predecessor, Double Duty[tm], it has a creamy texture that is easy to trowel, according to TEC. The advanced bright white formulation provides a translucent backdrop to light-colored tile, natural stone and grout. It will not stain even the most luminous marble. Additionally, TEC brand Double Duty[tm] Plus satisfies stringent VOC regulations and exceeds ANSI A136.1, Type I and Type II specifications.
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Tenax reports that it has improved its line of super clear glues, with its introduction of Crystal, a completely transparent glue that is UV stable and as strong as an epoxy. Its formula has been recently enhanced to set faster and is available in flowing and knife grade. Crystal's strength and transparency makes it the right solution for seams and safe laminations of granites, marbles and engineered stones.
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Superior Stone Products has recently introduced the Poly-Epoxy Knife Grade, which is a transparent adhesive that possesses excellent properties for countertop seaming applications. It has improved flexibility and bonding strength versus a standard polyester formulation, yet is just as simple to use and fast setting, the company reports. Its very low initial color allows easy color matching to any stone with standard polyester coloring pastes or iron oxide pigments.
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Now available through Bonstone's Touchstone[tm] is Sanipoxy, a 3-component, 100% solid epoxy compound developed for sanitary applications. Sanipoxy can be used for setting and grouting ceramic and quarry tile, pavers, mosaics and most hard natural stones on horizontal sur-faces. This stain-resistant epoxy grout is ideal for residential and commercial countertops and floors. The Sanipoxy grout gives the appearance of cement grouts with the durability of epoxy and comes in 16 various colors. The pre-colored sand filler eliminates any chance of fading throughout your grout.
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Surface preparation and underlayment

Schluter[r]-Systems offers Schluter[r]-Ditra, which is specifically designed to allow the installation of ceramic and stone tile over any even and load-bearing substrate. Ditra is 95% lighter than backerboard or plywood, can be installed in a fraction of the time it takes to install any other underlayment, and requires no special tools or fasteners upon installation, Schluter reports. It prevents the main cause of cracking on a tiled surface, and provides uncoupling through its open rib structure, which neutralizes the differential movement stresses between the substrate and tile.
The Ditra also provides reliable waterproofing for installations that are not exposed to constant water pressure. For example, Ditra can prevent water from a leaky faucet or appliance from infiltrating the subfloor, thus avoiding the potential for mold and mildew growth. The interconnected channels on the underside of Ditra provide a route for excess moisture and vapor to escape from the substrate, allowing it to breathe. This function is especially useful when tiling over fresh gypsum and mortar screeds, young concrete, and concrete subject to moisture migration.
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Creating an extremely flexible membrane when cured, the Laticrete[r] Blue 92 Anti-Fracture Membrane practically eliminates cracks in tile work. Now equipped with Microban[r] antimicrobial protection to inhibit the growth of stain causing mold and mildew in the membrane, Laticrete Blue 92 Anti-Fracture Membrane can be used whenever hairline cracking threatens to occur.
While the thin-bed method of tile installation provides many advantages, problems with shrinkage cracking in concrete and other substrates can counteract any good installation. Laticrete Blue 92 Anti-Fracture Membrane prevents this from adversely affecting the finished floor.
“Laticrete Blue 92 Anti-Fracture Membrane reduces crack transmission in marble and other stone, ceramic tile and thin brick, installed using thin-set method,” said Sean Boyle, Laticrete Product Marketing Manager. “It's also ideal under thin resin terrazzo. Not only was the product rated Extra Heavy Service per ASTM C627/TCA, but it adds no appreciable thick-ness to floor construction. Easy to apply, to cleanup and fast to cure, Laticrete Blue 92 Anti-Fracture Membrane is a great preventative measure for any residential and commercial installation.”
Laticrete Blue 92 Anti-Fracture Membrane is a component of the Laticrete[r] Residential Lifetime Warranty and is included in the Laticrete[r] Residential Tile & Stone Installation Solutions. Suitable substrates to be used in conjunction with Laticrete Blue 92 Anti-Fracture Membrane include concrete, mortar beds, renders, cement backer board, cement terrazzo, concrete masonry and exterior grade plywood for interior applications only.
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