Although decorative stone is not exactly the material that can be used for, so to speak, continuous wall decoration, it can be effectively combined with other materials, highlight zones, and highlight accents. In addition, such decoration gives the room sophistication, shades of naturalness, and can even help turn an ordinary room into a part of a medieval castle.
Let’s try to figure out the main advantages of decorative stone as a finish, how to properly prepare surfaces for laying it, and how to properly lay decorative stone on our own.
Advantages of decorative stone
Of course, as a decoration, you can use not only artificial stone, but also natural. However, now we will focus our attention on its artificial analogue, since it is more practical: natural stone is very heavy and expensive, which makes it less popular in the modern market. That is why we will immediately move on to the main advantages of artificial decorative stone:
- in comparison with natural stone, it is lighter at times, which pleases, because you do not have to additionally strengthen the foundation;
the durability of artificial stone can be compared with natural counterparts, i.e. this coverage is not for a couple of years;
the variety of possible shapes, sizes and colors is simply amazing: you can make a wall for brick, granite, shell rock, etc., especially since there is always the opportunity to order the manufacture of a stone of the desired design, or even make it yourself, which is not so difficult;
artificial stone is quite simple to install, because its back side is completely flat, which cannot be said about natural stone, so there should not be any special difficulties;
- another plus is the versatility in terms of possible surfaces. So, artificial stone can be laid on top of concrete, brick, wood and metal walls;
- this coating is not afraid of fire, so it can be used to decorate stoves and fireplaces, which looks very beautiful in the interior. Stone is also used in swimming pools, saunas and baths, since it has low water absorption, and an additional hydrophobic protective film completely eliminates the effect of moisture on the material. In addition, the stone is very resistant to fungal influences, temperature extremes, direct sunlight, so it can be used in almost any room;
There are a lot of opportunities to harmoniously fit artificial stone into the interior. It goes well with wood, plaster, and forged products, so it fits into almost any interior. It is good to accentuate certain elements in the interior with a stone: columns, arches, niches, doorways, fireplaces, separate walls, the head of the bed, etc., but laying out all the walls completely with a stone is not a good idea. It’s very easy to get not a stylish room, but a cold castle;
caring for the stone is also not difficult – if necessary, you just need to wipe it with a damp cloth, you can use a detergent, but do not use abrasive substances and cleaning agents.
It is also worth noting that you need to be very careful with the stone in narrow dark rooms – there it should be used only in a minimal amount or not at all. Also, be careful with lighting: the more stone is used in the room, the brighter the artificial lighting should be, so as not to make the room gloomy and dull.
As for the shortcomings, it is difficult to distinguish them, since, depending on the composition of the artificial stone, they can be different. So, there are species that are not very resistant to abrasion, others are afraid of moisture and require the use of protective equipment, and still others are afraid of high temperatures and the effects of chemicals. But here the choice is based on the room in which the stone will be used, so the flaws may not even be noticed.
Types of artificial stone
Depending on the composition, preparation method and scope of use, artificial stone can be divided into three types:
porcelain stoneware consists of clay, feldspar, mineral and coloring additives. All this is mixed and pressed under high pressure, and then fired. Porcelain stoneware more resembles a tile than a stone, it can be glossy or matte, have a different texture, and convey the relief of many natural stones. Its main advantage is durability and resistance to temperature extremes, but resistance to chemicals is not very high;
agglomerates – a type of artificial stone, which consists of polyester resin, and marble, granite chips, and other additives. Such material can have almost any color and shape, which allows you to simulate as accurately as possible
natural stone surface. Agglomerates withstand temperature changes well, are very strong and durable, but there are also disadvantages: low resistance to chemicals, direct sunlight, high abrasion. As for the strength, it largely depends on what minerals are included in the composition of the stone: for example, quartzites, for example, will make the stone very strong and durable. All these properties determine the use of such a stone as a decoration for furniture;
a stone made of colored concrete is just the material that is most often used for wall decoration. It consists of Portland cement, sand, various additives that affect color, strength, etc. So, even a fiberglass mesh can be used as a reinforcing base, which will bring the artificial stone closer in strength to natural and even metal.
In any case, artificial decorative stone has a natural base, which means that environmental friendliness can also be added to the list of advantages.
The preparation of walls for laying decorative artificial stone begins with an assessment of their condition. They must be flat, smooth and strong enough to withstand future stress. The evenness of the walls deserves special attention: the deviation should not be more than 2 mm per 2 meters of the wall. Especially this rule should be adhered to if you put smooth stones, such as river stone or bricks – then all the irregularities can affect the appearance and strength of the finished coating. If coarser stones of different shapes are used, then the evenness of the wall no longer plays such a decisive role, and the deviation may be slightly higher than that indicated, because due to the relief of the stone, the differences are leveled. But all the same, the bumps in the wall should be cut off, and the holes and cracks should be putty.
Next is the plastering of the walls with the laying of a reinforcing mesh, although for some types of decorative stones you can do without a mesh, since their weight is not very large. But you still have to plaster some wall defects.
Naturally, before proceeding with such a finish, you need to get rid of traces of old finishing materials: paint, wallpaper, plaster. It is not very difficult to get rid of them: the wallpaper can be removed with a spatula, sometimes wetting them with plain water will help. The paint is also removed with a spatula, it can be heated with a building hairdryer or solvents can be used.
When everything hardens, you need to prime the wall and start preparing the glue. So, for a stone it is best to use a special glue for a stone: it is prepared according to the instructions, according to which most often it is necessary to pour the powder into a certain volume of water, stirring the mixture in parallel with a construction mixer. The result is a thick, ready-to-use adhesive.
You can also use liquid nails, ceramic tile glue, and even cement-sand mortar as glue. In the latter add additional PVA construction glue, as well as plasticizers.
Before proceeding with the direct laying of the decorative stone, you need to clearly imagine how everything should look like in the end. It is advisable to draw a sketch where to take into account what part of the wall the stone will occupy, what shape this area will be, how the stones will be laid – end-to-end or with the formation of a seam, how many stones will be needed at all, because it is difficult to saw them without losing their appearance.
The completed drawing is transferred to the wall to make it easier to navigate during the installation process. Moreover, if the area with a stone in some place must have an even edge, for example, near the floor or in some part of the wall, then it is better to pre-install limiters – corners that are attached to the wall. In this case, the exterior of the wall will look quite aesthetically pleasing.
Necessary tools for laying decorative stone
- selected type of glue;
- container for making glue;
- spatula or trowel for applying glue;
- drywall, cardboard, tile crosses to form a joint of the required thickness;
- level to monitor the evenness of the masonry;
- grout or putty and a sponge or gun for applying it;
- protective hydrophobic layer and roller for its application.
Laying decorative stone
It is not difficult to lay the stone: the glue is applied with a spatula with a comb or a trowel to the width of the row, which is laid first, and then the stones are glued one by one, pressing them well. Moreover, if the excess solution flows out, then they must be removed as soon as possible so as not to spoil the appearance of the stone. If the laying goes end-to-end, then each next stone gently leans against the previous one. If you need a seam between the elements, then in order for it to be even, you can use, for example, drywall pieces – the seam turns out to be wide, but looks very good with certain types of stones. You can use cardboard – its advantage is that you can select the width. You can also use crosses for tiles: this will be quite convenient, and you won’t have to cut anything.
It is better to start gluing from the corners of the room, laying one row at a time: it is better not to start the next row until the previous one is ready. As for where to start laying – from above or below – there are no rules here, but if you start from the bottom, then parts of the solution may fall on the already laid stone.
Please note that some types of decorative stone, such as bricks, are best laid with an offset to achieve a more natural result. If you need pieces of a whole stone, then it is best to use a grinder or a special machine for cutting ceramic tiles.
When the entire stone is laid out and the solution has dried, and this happens after a couple of days, you can remove the auxiliary elements. If there are joints between stones, then you need to prepare a grout solution: it is difficult to apply it with a rubber spatula, as is the case with ceramic tiles, so grouting can be applied with a sponge or even a damp cloth wrapped around your finger. You can also use silicone grout, which is applied with a gun, which is very convenient.
The grout usually consists of a cementitious glue paste that can be tinted to a specific color to improve the decorative effect, or putty can also be used. If a cement composition was used as an adhesive, then when it is squeezed out from pressing on stones, it forms a sufficient amount to use it as a grout. When the mortar has hardened a little, it can be leveled with a wooden spatula to give the desired shape. This is a great way to simulate brickwork. Otherwise, we proceed according to the above scheme. After all the work carried out, you need to check whether parts of the solution or glue have fallen on the stone, and, if necessary, remove them with a dry cloth.
Above the stone is not necessary, but in some cases it is simply necessary, to cover with a protective layer. So, if the stone is in constant contact with moisture, if people are constantly in contact with it, if the stone was painted on top, then it is better to use a protective layer. As the latter, water-based formulations are used, which are more pleasant to use, or solvent-based, which create a stronger film on the surface of the stone. Such compositions are applied using a roller or spray gun.
Caring for a decorative artificial stone is simple – it will be enough just to wipe it with a damp sponge, sometimes with a detergent, to clean it of possible dirt.