On Thursday last week, we had industry experts from the Stone Federation of Great Britain, Fila UK and Marmox UK over to the new Design Studio to present three CPD seminars to RIBA Architects and SBID and BIID Designers.
I'd like to start by saying a huge thank you to our speakers who travelled from all over the UK to give their free RIBA approved seminars to the architects and designers who came to our Stone Design Studio open day.
"The Importance of Correct Cleaning and Sealing" of natural stone:
Martin Ballard from Fila UK kicked off with a presentation on the "Importance of cleaning and sealing natural stone". Most people already appreciate the need to use the correct sealer (stone impregnator) to prevent staining on marble and limestone but less well recognised is the need for correct cleaning during the installation process.
The production process at the quarry leaves deposits on stone tiles that can inhibit the successful penetration of a sealer. The installation process will also leave deposits of adhesive and grout on the surface of the stone. Therefore the tiles should be cleaned before the sealer is applied. Water will remove some of the particles but for an effective clean, a stone-friendly detergent is needed. There are different types of cleaner for different types of stone and your supplier should know which is the best one to use. We have been using Fila since 2003 as I think they provide the best all-round solutions for our customers.
Skipping this vital step of cleaning can lead to difficulties later in the life of a marble or limestone floor and mean that the floor never really achieves its potential to impress.
If you would like details about the recommended products and processes for cleaning, sealing and for ongoing maintenance, if you subscribe to this blog, I'll post more details shortly together with some technical leaflets that you can download.
"Selecting the Correct Natural Stone"
Our second CPD seminar was presented by Ian Major and David Ellis of the Stone Federation of Great Britain and gave excellent advice on what to consider when selecting natural stone for architectural and interior design projects.
They explained the need for getting samples that are representative of the stone type. For very large commercial projects, the seminar recommended that the buyer ensures that they fully understand the physical properties of the stone and the variation that may occur in a natural product. It may even be worthwhile visiting the quarry to examine the bed and blocks that their material will be produced from.
When buying for domestic or smaller commercial projects, it may not be economically feasible to visit the quarry but buyers should check that the supplier or importer understands the range and variation of the stone and can demonstrate this to the buyer by providing a suitable range of samples.
The subject of CE Marking, which becomes law in July this year, prompted the most reaction from the audience. David Ellis, chairman of the Stone Federation of GB, explained that this was an EU regulation that was being introduced and will apply to construction materials across the board, not just to natural stone. It will have a major impact on Architects, Interior Designers and Specifiers. I think this would be a valuable topic for a future seminars and articles. If you agree, either subscribe to the blog or contact me directly and I will keep you in the loop.
The new CE Marking regulation will ensure that the stone has been tested to European standards and will show the provenance and technical characteristics of the stone. From this, it will be possible to determine if the stone will be fit for purpose.
Personally, I think this is a great move that will level the playing field for honest stone importers. On several occasions over the last few years, we tendered to supply genuine French Limestone or Italian Marble for projects but lost out where the customer was offered a much cheaper product with either a French or Italian sounding name. How many customers realise that the "Dijon Limestone" from one of the UK's major retailers is actually from Egypt and not from Burgundy in France? At Amarestone, we sincerely hope that the introduction of the CE Marking legislation will stop customers from being confused in this way.
You can read more about this subject in our previous blog and we will return to this subject again before July.
"Considerations when Tiling Bathrooms"
Our final CPD seminar of the day was presented by Mark Bowman from Marmox UK. This covered the subject of waterproofing wet rooms and bathrooms and the benefits of using a tilebacker board.
It's a common misconception that the tiles and grout will be adequately waterproof and so it doesn't really matter too much what's beneath the tiles. This leads to some of the worst problems that we are asked to investigate. Without proper tanking (waterproofing), water will eventually find its way through to the substrate. Plaster, plasterboard and wood, either chipboard or plywood, will degrade and swell if it gets wet. This will cause tiles to lift and grout to crack and, particularly in first floor bathrooms, water will get through to the ceiling below.
To do the job properly will only add a small percentage to the overall cost but the amount it can save is potentially huge.
The benefits of a good tilebacker board are that they provide:
- sound insulation
- thermal insulation
- waterproofing (or tanking) and
- they can take the weight of natural stone tiles
I'm a real fan. Our preferred brand is Marmox and we have been using their products successfully since we started in business without any issues.
Again, this is a big topic and I'll put further technical details onto the web site for you to download. Sign up to receive the blog and we'll keep you informed as the new information becomes available.
Thanks again to our speakers and to the architects and designers who braved the rain and the cold to come and take part.
Keep an eye open for the next event.
The next blog topic will be on Stone Restoration.
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Steve and Denise Turner
0345 260 8070