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.
Below is just a sampling of the variety of products available on today’s market.
Akemi’s Platinum Polyester is the company’s top-grade adhesive, and it is easily colorable for bonding and laminating. It is a good base color to achieve the best color match for seams during installation, the company reports. Platinum is available in a knifegrade or flowing consistency. As all of Akemi’s polyesters, Platinum is easily polished and ideal for routine installations, and it offers exceptional color-matching capability for engineered stone, according to the company.

Akemi’s new countertop repair kit, Akelux®, contains everything a professional needs to repair scratches, small holes, chips and damaged edges on all natural and engineered stone surfaces, regardless of the finish, according to the company. Specially formulated adhesives cure in minutes using a special UV light, which is included in the kit. Also included are special structure crystals that can be mixed into the adhesive to mimic the structure of the stone to be repaired. Repairs can be made in minutes, and they are invisible, reports Akemi. The Akelux® Countertop Repair Kit comes with transparent and colored adhesives, polishing paper, Akelux cleaner, sanding block, UV light, Pyrelux® Burner for marble and other accessories to make repairs easy, according to Akemi.

Akemi’s new color-matched polyester adhesive kit provides the stone professional / installation professional with 15 pre-mixed Mixbond® adhesives that are used in combination with each other to match virtually any color of natural and engineered stone, thus eliminating the need to carry 50 or more different colors, according to Akemi. With a good, solid base color already pre-mixed, the professional is able to easily adjust for shades without ever having to use coloring tints, reports Akemi.

Blitz from Bellinzoni offers a superior bonding strength similar to an epoxy, and it also works outdoors.

StonEpoxy, a highly resistant fast-setting two-component epoxy resin adhesive used for setting and bonding marble, granite or ceramic, on floors and walls, is now available from Bellinzoni. StonEpoxy can also be used for the repair, reinforcements or bonding of concrete, mortar, natural stones, screed and bricks. When mixed, the adhesive becomes a smooth easy-to-use paste, which can be applied to a thickness of 1 cm or 0.39 inches. StonEpoxy hardens in about three hours, will not shrink and can be used in temperatures between 41°F to 75° F, the company reports.

Special Preparation from Bellinzoni is a high-grade wax for marble, granite, travertine and other stone surfaces. Special Preparation is a quick-drying formula that penetrates the stone, giving the stone a superb, long-lasting sheen while deepening the color. According to the company, the product is not to be used on floors.

The TouchstoneTM Edge System (TES) from Bonstone -- a clear, flowing epoxy -- is polishable and holds up through rigorous machining, according to the company. Unlike polyesters and acrylic adhesives, the Touchstone™ Edge System epoxy will not shrink, crack or delaminate. TES is an exterior grade epoxy that is ideal for high humidity or freeze-thaw conditions.
The TouchstoneTM Edge System can be used with Bonstone’s “Easy-mix” dispenser. Touchstone colorants are available for tinting the company’s Edge System adhesive and because the epoxy is clear, adding tint produces true color, according to the company. TES has a 2:1 mix ratio (by volume) and set time of two hours at 70° F. Touchstone Edge System is available in quarts, gallons or 5-gallon pails.

Available in both flowing and knifegrade viscosities, Bonstone’s transparent polyester adhesives provide superior strength and consistent color matching for natural stone, engineered stone and all countertop applications. Touchstone Polyesters provide excellent stability, rapid cure, low shrinkage and light cured film, according to the company. Touchstone Polyesters are tack free in 10 minutes, and the product is available in quarts, gallons or 5-gallon pails.

The Touchstone™ Express II Knifegrade Epoxy from Bonstone -- also available from VIC International Corp. -- is a two-part water clear, odorless, exterior grade epoxy that will enable a fabricator to work on an edge in half the time it takes for most epoxies, the company reports. Express II is ideal for countertop fabrication, as it is easily polished and will hold up through rigorous machining. Express II is also excellent for rodding countertops, and unlike polyesters and acrylic adhesives, Touchstone™ Express II will not shrink and is ideal for high humidity or freeze-thaw conditions, the company reports.
Touchstone colorants are available for tinting the company’s Express II Epoxy, and since the epoxy is water clear, adding tint produces true color, according to Bonstone. Touchstone Express II can be used with the company’s “Easy Mix” dispenser.
Express II has a 2:1 mix ratio (by volume) and set time of 30 to 45 minutes at 75°F. Touchstone Express II Epoxy is available in quarts, gallons or 5-gallon pails.

Peel ‘N Stick Undermount Sink Clips from Braxton-Bragg are a cleaner and quicker way to mount stainless steel sinks, according to the company. A primer pen comes with the set (similar to a felt marker) with enough primer to do approximately 20 clips.
Installation is quick and easy, the company reports. First, use the primer pen to clean the surface where the clip is to be mounted. The primer is specially formulated for a perfect, tight bond with the adhesive on the back of the clips. Then, peel the protective paper from the clip and press it firmly in place. Next, apply caulk to the rim of the sink and mount the sink in place. Finally, place the slotted bracket on the clip and tighten the wing nut.

Braxton-Bragg has also introduced the EdgeMarc AC Seam Level, which is designed to give perfect results in one of the most critical areas of installation, according to the company. A good seam makes for a professional installation and a perfectly machined edge now can be complemented by a perfect seam using the EdgeMarc AC Seam Level. The EdgeMarc allows for precise leveling and fine-tuning to achieve a perfect seam, according to Braxton-Bragg. With the small Edgemarc compressor giving continual power to the suction cups no premature release will occur, keeping seams tight and level. The height of the EdgeMarc machine is also an added advantage, because it allows for immediate seam clean up, eliminating the extra work incurred by hardened adhesives, the company reports.

Axson Wood and Stone II, also from Braxton-Bragg, offers four high-quality adhesives designed to fit specific requirements for fabricating different types of stone. Axson Wood and Stone II has consistently been recognized for its high quality, while keeping its price affordable, making it the adhesive of choice for many fabricators, reports the company.

Granite City Tool has come up with a solution to fix an uneven seam with its new Silicon Rubber Heating Strips, which give installers a second chance to set the seam and save the job, according to the company. To use them, simply lay the strip over the seam, plug into a standard 115V outlet and in minutes it will heat up, so an installer can pop the seam. They are available in two sizes: 25 x 4 inches and 35 x 4 inches. UR®, cUR® and VDE recognitions. Maintains approximately 165°F.

The T-31 anchor machine from Granite City Tool is an anchoring system for bottom-mount sinks and back anchoring for structural facing.
All machines use Diamond Anchor Bits for 3/16- , 1/4- and 3/8-inch size anchor slots.
Machines are shipped completely assembled with operation instructions and parts list, and are available in both pneumatic and electric models. The pneumatic model takes 18-20 CFM at 90PSI, and the electric model uses standard 110V.  The machine features: corrosive resistance pivots for smooth operation, reversible cutting operation alignment indicators on machine frame and are supplied with a lightweight carrying case.

Granite City Tool’s undermount sink installation tool allows for undermount sinks to be installed with ease, the company reports. It will hold the sink in place while the permanent mounting hardware is being installed.
It enables undermount sinks to be placed before silicone starts to set up, and eliminates the rush to get mounting hardware in position, the company reports.
Most sinks can be installed by one person instead of two, and it works on kitchen and lavatory undermount sinks, said the company, adding that the tool is rubberized to protect sinks from being chipped or scratched.

GranQuartz has introduced a dry core bit designed for the jobsite to enhance productivity and get installers in and out the door faster. The Diarex® Pro SeriesTM Dry Core Bits provide ultra-fast and clean-cutting performance, easily and conveniently drilling dry through any 3-cm-thick granite or engineered stone countertop at the jobsite. The convenience of working dry also includes the minimal cleanup time required compared to wet bits, according to GranQuartz. This is especially true when the core bits are used in conjunction with our Core Bit Muzzles and Surface Pro® Dustless Vacuum System. The Diarex® Pro SeriesTM Dry Core Bits fit on any high speed angle grinder with a 5/8-inch 11 spindle, and is available in 1-, 1 1/4-, 1 3/8- and 1 1/2-inch sizes.

Now available from GranQuartz is the new Cyclone 5 Step Dry Polishing Pad system. The unique formulation of the pads allow you to polish granite in only five steps, making it ideal for the jobsite, enhancing productivity and getting installers in and out the door faster, the company reports. Not only does productivity improve with fewer polishing steps, but the convenience of working dry also includes the minimal cleanup time required compared to wet pads, the company added. Cyclone 5 Step Dry Polishing Pads are available in a standard 4-inch diameter, and are now available in any of GranQuartz’s eight stocking locations.

GranQuartz has released Diarex® Rapid Edge, a state-of-the-art epoxy formulation that was designed specifically for the countertop installer. With Diarex® Rapid Edge, the countertop installer enjoys lightning fast installs with faster drying times and easy cleanup, the company reports. Diarex® Rapid Edge provides a convenient 15-minute application window and an industry-best 15-minute dry time. Diarex® Rapid Edge will not stick to polished surfaces as any excess is easily razored-off. The epoxy dries in a semi-flexible form and is resistant to both shock and temperature changes resulting in a long-lasting seam, according to GranQuartz. The epoxy formulation is transparent in color, mixes with a simple one-to-one mixing ratio and has resealable plastic containers and the convenience of three kit sizes, which include 20 ounce, 32 ounce and gallon sizes.

The Abaco Ratchet Seam Setter from Regent Stone Products provides a quick and easy solution for accurate, safe positioning and leveling of stone countertops, the company reports. The powerful 8.4-inch vacuum cups secure both sides of the countertop, and pull together to provide a tight seam. The tool is lightweight and simple to use, features a quick screw down vacuum, large leveling knob and easy ratchet tightening.

One of the easiest ways to get countertops from the delivery truck to installation is with Regent Stone Products new Carry Clamps, the company reports. The fully vulcanized rubber pads provide a secure grip and prevent damage to the tops, according to Regent. The clamping force is directly dependent on the weight of the slab being transported, hence the heavier the slab the stronger the clamping force. The cantilevered action of the carry clamps is more effective than using vacuum cups to transport job pieces, according to the company, and shoulder straps are available to lessen the strain on the user.

The drill sink kit from Regent Stone Products allows for the mounting of an undermount sink or dishwasher without drilling. The base is attached to the surface with an Epoxy adhesive, then installers align the sink and tighten the wingnuts and clip flange, which results in a strong and secure mounting, the company reports. The product is great for stainless steel and porcelain sinks, and an acrylic adhesive kit is available for engineered stone, according to Regent.

Tenax has developed a new polyester resin called PolyTenax. The main characteristics of this glue are a fast curing time and an improved bonding strength (similar to an epoxy system), the company said. The product is smooth, easy to spread and polish, and another plus is the color stability when in contact with UV light, according to Tenax.

Katter K is a new fast epoxy system that was also developed by Tenax. The main features of this epoxy are that it is fast setting, and the possibility of curing also when in presence of moisture and wet materials.
The ratio 2:1 makes it easy to mix, and the fast reacting and curing time (less then 10 minutes in bulk at 25°C) makes it suitable for rodding and lamination jobs, reports Tenax.

Tenax also offers Crystal, a clear, strong glue that is available in both knifegrade and flowing and has the characteristic of being completely UV stable. Its strength makes it suitable for lamination jobs (including granite), and its transparency is useful every time there is a need for a true invisible seam, the company reports.

VIC International offers the USA-made Seam Setter VC2, the next-generation installation tool used for joining seams, leveling seams and stabilizing backsplashes. The product, manufactured by Omni Cubed, Inc., is used with one of two pump options: the “Automatic VC Pump” which simultaneously pumps, monitors and maintains pressure for all vacuum cups, or the “Manual VC Pump” which can be used with the “Manual VC Reservoir” accessory to create holding times of up to one hour between “re-pumpings.” The Automatic VC Pump is operated by either AC Power or four AA batteries (enables use where electricity is not available). Both pumps are lightweight, quiet and compact for convenience during use, the company reports. Up to four seam setter units can be linked together to a single pump for larger or multiple seam requirements. The non-spinning leveling feet slide on rails for custom placement, and allow “fine-tune” leveling from both sides of the seam. To prevent scratching of surfaces during tightening, the leveling feet also feature replaceable vinyl caps. Users will find that the open and accessible work area at the seam eliminates the hassle of applying and re-applying the units multiple times during use. Convenient carrying handles allow the units to be used for backsplash stabilization. The product is available in pairs, and a protective carrying case is also included.