Video: Fake Diamond
2023 Author: Douglas Hoggarth | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-24 11:23
For centuries, natural stone has been one of the most popular building and finishing materials. True, with the advent of new technologies, it has a very dangerous competitor - an artificial stone.
Of all natural materials, natural stone has the largest number of skillful imitations, which each of us has encountered more than once. But few people will be able to name the exact place of this meeting - it is very difficult to distinguish an artificial stone from a real one "by eye". By the way, how to give a strict definition to this material.
However, there are still criteria for dividing these materials into at least two large groups. Some "stones" are obtained artificially, as a rule, using raw materials from their natural prototype. Usually we see finished products made from these materials. These are slabs, panels, countertops, balusters, vases, etc. In this case, the task of manufacturers is not so much to imitate the natural material itself (for example, marble), but rather to imitate a finished product made from it (for example, a marble countertop).
We would like to tell you about another group of materials widely represented on the Russian market. This is a man-made finishing stone, which outwardly is almost indistinguishable from basalt, sandstone, cobblestone, limestone or any other natural stone in its original state. However, the adjective "artificial" matches it 100%.
Born in USA
Artificial finishing stone is a fairly young material. It became widespread only about two decades ago, largely thanks to the American company Eldorado Stone Corp., according to the technology of which artificial stone is produced today in dozens of countries around the world. Initially, this lightweight cement-sand material, indistinguishable from natural stone in appearance, was intended for cladding the plinths of buildings. Today it is used for almost any cladding work: facades, fences, terraces, gazebos, grottos and interiors are decorated with artificial stone.
It is noteworthy that in the West this material is used not only for finishing work, but also for the restoration of architectural monuments. In the event that any individual fragments of architectural structures become the property of museums, restorers often replace the removed parts with similar ones, but made not of natural, but of artificial stone. Examples include fragments of Buckingham Palace in London or St James's Tower in Windsor. Despite the fact that both residences belong to the royal family, artificial stone produced by the English corporation Haddon-stone was used for their restoration.
The popularity of artificial stone is explained, first of all, by its relatively low cost, ease of installation and excellent decorative qualities.
On the Russian market, this finishing material in imported version appeared about five years ago. It should be noted that at first, due to its high cost, it was not available to everyone. However, today the situation has radically changed due to the fact that artificial stone began to be produced in Russia.
It has become unprofitable to import artificial stone from abroad - in recent years, prices for it have almost halved, and today mainly domestic materials are presented on our market. Among the leading Russian manufacturers and sellers of artificial stone are such companies as Alkora-Keramika, KAMROCK, Forland and Ecolit.
In terms of quality, the domestic artificial stone is not inferior to foreign counterparts, it is more adapted to use in the harsh climatic conditions of our country, and at a price it is more affordable. Therefore, today, the main advantages of artificial stone include its relative cheapness.
So what is artificial stone? The basis of this finishing material can be acrylic and carbamide resins, polymer concretes, cement and other binders. Polymer binders are used to reinforce the material, increase its strength and improve various performance characteristics. However, when choosing a material for finishing work, it is worth asking in advance about its composition, because some polymer components may be unsafe from an environmental point of view.
It is important to note that Russian manufacturers of artificial stone mainly use traditional, "proven" building materials: Portland cement, light natural fillers (expanded clay) and dyes of natural origin, to increase the strength of the material - additives that are used in concrete.
The process of making an artificial stone is similar to a children's game of Easter cakes. The prepared mixture is poured into special forms, and the result is an unusual tile: on the one hand, it is absolutely flat, as it should be for a tile. But on the other hand, the surface exactly repeats the shape, color and texture of natural stone. The quality of a product is determined not only by its composition, but also by the forms that were used in production. The more such forms a manufacturer has, the more diverse and effective its artificial stone looks, and the more difficult it is to recognize the imitation.
The size of artificial stone facing materials on the market can range from 5 cm2 to 0.5 m2 with a thickness of 1-2 cm, and the thickness of cobblestone and wild stone simulators can reach 10 cm. "Recipes" for making artificial stone also differ from each other - here each manufacturer has its own secrets and know-how. For example, "Alkora-Keramika" uses fiber-optic fiber for the manufacture of artificial stone, which increases the strength of the material, prevents the penetration of moisture and the destruction of cement. In addition, the fiberglass prevents chipping, which can occur due to improper styling or weathering.
New properties and old traditions
Artificial stone owes its appearance, first of all, to the centuries-old traditions of using natural stone in construction work. Therefore, it is not surprising that when speaking about the qualities inherent in artificial stone, it is often compared with a natural analogue. Of course, artificial material is unlikely to ever supplant natural, especially as reliable, durable, prestigious and familiar as stone. However, artificial stone has many adherents, and there are many reasons for this.
Firstly, artificial stone is more decorative than natural. The fact is that natural stone has a limited color gamut, which significantly narrows the possibility of original color and design solutions. In working with artificial stone, such problems do not arise: outwardly indistinguishable from natural, it can have any colors and shades. Including, the most rare or even not found in nature. At the same time, an artificial stone, unlike a natural one, never has a radioactive background.
We have already mentioned that the artificial stone on one side has a smooth surface, so it does not need to be sawed, processed, "sunk" into the wall and painfully adjusted to one another. It is completely "ready to use" and fits perfectly on any surface. In addition, artificial stone can be three to four times lighter in weight than its natural prototype, such as products from KAMROCK. And the weight of artificial stone, imitating various types of brickwork, is generally incomparable with the weight of a real brick. So when facing with artificial stone, the need to strengthen the walls with special iron reinforcement simply disappears. It is also important to note that the work of laying artificial stone is not much more difficult than laying ordinary tiles.
In other words, facing with artificial stone is a less laborious and costly process than working with a stubborn and expensive natural material. But the durability and strength of natural and artificial stone are quite comparable, and the frost resistance of the latter ranges from 100 to 150 or more cycles. In many advertising materials, sound and heat insulation properties are also attributed to artificial stone. However, with a wall thickness of 60 cm, three centimeters of cladding material will hardly play a decisive role. After all, the main function of artificial stone is still a decorative finish.
Russian climatic conditions are a serious test for any building material. But the first "strength test" of the artificial stone has already passed - the almost five-year history of using this material in our country shows that with a competent approach it can be successfully exploited even in the conditions of a long and harsh Russian winter. By the way, in Canada, a country with a very similar climate, artificial stone has been very popular for a very long time.
Scope of application - at your discretion
The use of artificial stone for various cladding works truly knows no boundaries. This is one of the few materials that does not pose any restrictions for architects, designers and future owners. Today on the market there is a great variety of varieties of artificial stone and artificial brick for every taste. Even the names of these materials are already capable of setting the buyer in the most romantic way and include his imagination: "Iowa mountains", "rough cleavage", "rocky mountain", "mountain range", "old brick", "ancient layer", "river boulders "," basalt layer "," Narzan valley "and many others.
In Russia, as in the rest of the world, artificial stone is used in facing elements of facades and roofs, plinths, columns, all kinds of garden buildings (gazebos, grottoes, fountains, etc.) and even fences. This material is used for finishing loggias, various decorative inserts, belts and other architectural elements of buildings and structures. The list could be continued endlessly - after all, everyone can use the artificial stone as his imagination allows.
There are no strict recommendations on what type of stone to use for certain facing works. Traditionally, "heavy" types of artificial stone, such as those that imitate cobblestone, or the so-called "chipped edge" are used for finishing plinths. A "mountain range" and some others are often used to highlight various architectural details. However, it would be wrong to say that there are any clear rules here. You can use a stone as your artistic instinct tells you, it is only important to correctly select the texture, color and shape of the stone, not forgetting about the proportions and not ignoring the architectural logic.
Faux stone cladding looks great next to a wide variety of materials, from traditional wood surfaces to smoothly plastered walls. Artificial stone goes well with tiled roof slopes, wrought iron railings of stairs and balconies, stucco, mosaics and stained glass windows.
However, one should not think that this material was invented only to complement and emphasize the dignity of one's luxurious surroundings. It should be borne in mind that even a small detail, highlighted with artificial stone, is sometimes capable of completely transforming the facade of the most ordinary building. You don't have to buy a thousand dollars worth of material for this. Having a taste, this problem can be solved even with the help of one square meter of artificial stone (with an average price of the latter $ 30 / m2)
By the way, with the help of artificial stone, you can not only decorate buildings under construction, but also transform those that were built a long time ago. Remember the similar brick buildings ten years ago: thanks to the new material, even they can be given a unique face.
As mentioned more than once in this article, one of the main advantages of artificial stone is its ease of installation. It is worth emphasizing that any master will be able to paste over a 300 m2 basement with this material in one week. True, despite the seeming simplicity of the process, without experience, it is still not worth taking on such work - after all, every business has its own professional subtleties.
Artificial stone fits well on almost any surface and is attached to it using ordinary cement mortar or special adhesives and mastics. The mortar is applied to the back, flat surface of the stone, and the excess is removed with a trowel. There are two ways to install artificial stone - with jointing and seamless. The first option is more common, since with this method the facing material is significantly saved due to the fact that the stones are attached at a distance of 1.5-2.5 cm from each other. In this way, "river boulders" are laid. At the same time, some types of artificial stones, such as "mountain range", can only be laid seamlessly, and then they fit tightly to each other. The sticker is led in small sections of 50 cm from top to bottom.
Depending on the type of surface to be veneered, it may be necessary to pretreat it. If it is brick or concrete, artificial stone can be laid immediately, but if it is supposed to be faced with wood or metal, the surface is sheathed with a mesh (as a rule, an ordinary chain-link is used for this purpose).
When buying an artificial stone, you should insure yourself and buy 10% more of the exactly calculated amount. Thus, you protect yourself in case of waste, mechanical damage and other annoying accidents. In addition, different parties of the same stone may differ in shades, so you should have a stock of tiles that guarantee a "painless" transition from one shade to another.
Some manufacturers of artificial stone, in particular Alkora-Keramika, apply a special soil to the outer surface of the artificial stone for additional protection. When buying a material, it is always worth asking if the manufacturer has done such processing of the material. If not, you must make it yourself. In addition, experts recommend regular processing of artificial stone (especially if it is used for outdoor decoration) at least once a year. This procedure can be done independently. To do this, wipe the surface of the artificial stone with a damp cloth and use a regular brush to apply a primer on concrete (you can buy it at any hardware store). As for the choice of the tile itself, it is recommended to take it at random from different boxes,otherwise, you risk getting contrasting color spots on the wall. It is also important to note that an artificial stone cannot perform the function of a supporting structure, and this point must be taken into account when designing.
In conclusion, I would like to advise readers planning to purchase an artificial stone to pay attention to the "personality of the seller". So that in a year you do not have to painfully eliminate miscalculations and mistakes, contact large, stable, long-running firms - and your dream of a unique home will become a reality for a long time.