What’s more dramatic in a room than a stone wall backdrop? It’s amazing how something so hard and cold can translate into such a warm and inviting interior feature. Stone is a natural element possessing textures and colors that merge well with many design styles.
Historically, natural stone wall cladding required masonry construction, fabrication and installation. A time consuming and expensive undertaking. Alternatively, thin stone would be adhered to the wall with the material becoming vulnerable to cracking and delamination as a consequence of wall movement.
Recent technological advancements include efficient and contemporary mechanical cladding systems as well as the introduction of new panel materials. These more manageable panels can be mechanically anchored to the substrate. These systems provide for the ability to offer mixed media; which were previously ill advised if not impossible.
This article will address contemporary cladding techniques and stay away from the old school masonry and thinset methods. Moreover, our focus will be on stone, tile and Ultra Compact .
SURFACE WALL PANELS.
Today’s wall cladding manufacturers provide mechanical mounting systems that are far superior to the “Clips and Dovetail” anchors of yesteryear. The best of these systems use aluminum support channels or rails made from post consumer metals, augmented with thermally isolated segments to improve the buildings thermal performance and contribute to the building LEED certification. These systems are proven to be “smart” and “green”.
These mounting systems allow for a precise and far more technical way of mounting wall panels thereby allowing for the introduction of mixed media presentations. Here is an example of a consumer electronic demonstration incorporating stone with metal in a freestanding presentation.
PANELS ARE ATTACHED TO THE WALL IN TWO METHODS
This 12mm UCS material is augmented with a saddle clip creating a faux Kerf for attachment to a continuous horizontal rail. Space is created between the substrate and the paneling that is perfect for cable runs or access to other building systems with no interruption in the wall facade.
To achieve a lipped textured look, panels are slabbed with varying thicknesses, and kerfed in the same location. This will produce a wall plane with differing face protrusions.
Different panel make and sizes can add accents like reveals and chair rails. With the consistent channeling, wall panels can be suspended over open areas to create openings that seem to defy gravity. The channels can be used to mount kerfed panels horizontally for soffits and underhangs.
The second method of mechanical attachment is achieved with undercut anchors. These allow for attachment to the back of the stone similar to the old school T31 attachments. They are designed for today’s more thin and condensed materials such as UCS panels. Holes are cut with a special drill that expands when halfway into the back of the panel. When the compression screw is tightened it expands in the back of the hole (similar to a toggle bolt) making a tight fit.
With these anchors combined with today’s contemporary cladding systems, the panels can be set extremely close together creating technically accurate and well defined joints.
If this is too stark for your tastes, open reveal joints are limitless.
Mounting systems are the unsung heroes of today’s wall cladding but the stars are the panel materials themselves. As we mentioned earlier, stone is beautiful and stately. Today’s quarry techniques can provide stone veneer 2 to 3 cm thick.