What is an artificial stone, what are its pros and cons, existing varieties, features of the choice of material, do-it-yourself laying technology on the floor. Artificial stone is a material made of synthetic components that completely imitates natural rock. As a rule, it is based on natural crumbs from various rocks, polyester resins, clay and mineral additives. This material has many modifications and is excellently used as a floor covering.
Artificial stone composition
The term "artificial stone" includes several completely different materials. What unites them is that they are made by man using special technologies and imitate natural breeds. Artificial stone is most often made from cement of different colors, sand, gravel, stone chips. The mixture also contains coloring pigments and minerals. To improve the strength characteristics, fiber reinforcement technology is often used. A special substance based on fiberglass, steel and synthetic fibers is added to the composition of the future stone.
For the production of artificial stone, polyurethane and plastic molds are used. In a vacuum mixer, the filler is mixed with the resin, after which the composition is poured into molds. After the mixture hardens, it is easily removed from the mold. Artificial stone can be similar to the most different types of natural "brother": malachite, granite, marble, onyx, sandstone, jasper and others.
Advantages and disadvantages of artificial stone
Each type of artificial stone has its own technical characteristics. But in general, the advantages of this material are as follows:
- One-piece structure… A monolithic product made of artificial stone looks solid, and its structure does not change its properties throughout the entire thickness of the material.
- High level of strength… According to many experiments and studies, in terms of strength, various types of artificial stone are not inferior to natural counterparts, and also approach metal in this indicator.
- Moisture resistance… Artificial stone does not react in any way to high humidity, does not absorb water. Therefore, mold or mildew will never appear on such a surface.
- Resistance to chemicals… Artificial stone can be placed on the floor in kitchens, bathrooms, garages and other areas, that is, in any places where there is a possibility of exposure to chemicals on the floor surface.
- Durability… Products made from this material are very wear-resistant, since they are not afraid of erosion, strong mechanical loads, temperature drops and other unfavorable factors.
- Fire safety… Artificial stone tiles for floors are non-combustible and have low thermal conductivity. Therefore, it can be laid on the floor even near fireplaces, stoves, in fire-hazardous areas.
- Environmental friendliness… Despite the synthetic components that make up this material, it is absolutely harmless and hypoallergenic.
- Relatively light weight… Compared to natural counterparts, artificial stone is much lighter, and therefore easier to transport and lay.
- Aesthetic appeal… A rich color palette, many textures of synthetic stone allow you to create real works of art on the floors. It is much more difficult to embody all design fantasies with a natural stone, since each natural piece of rock is individual, and it can be very difficult to assemble the details into a whole picture.
- Relatively low cost… Artificial stone is much cheaper than natural stone.
Artificial stone, as a rule, does not require any special care. And you can easily repair damaged areas, remove chips, cracks with the help of cement mortar, glue and a piece of stone. As for the disadvantages of artificial material, they are purely individual for each type of stone. For example, agglomerates are less resistant to abrasion than other types. And stones based on concrete are recommended to be additionally treated with hydrophobic compounds so that they are not negatively affected by water.
The main varieties of artificial stone
Artificial stones are divided into four large groups: agglomerates, porcelain stoneware, acrylic and concrete-based materials. They differ from each other in production technology, components that make up the composition, technical characteristics and, accordingly, in the scope of use.
This type of artificial stone is created by vibrocompression of a natural filler with polyester resin. The combination of components into a material also occurs under the influence of high temperature. Quartz, marble, limestone, granite are often used as fillers. The material is closest to natural, as it includes up to 92 percent of natural stone (chips).
Agglomerates can be of different colors and represent a successful imitation of natural rocks. They are very durable, withstand high bending and compression loads, large temperature drops. However, it is not recommended to use this material for laying on the floor over the "warm floor" system, since this coating will deform and deteriorate due to heating.
Agglomerates are produced by large companies around the world. Small enterprises do not manufacture this type of stone due to expensive equipment and high quality requirements for the substances used in the process. Therefore, in the domestic market, you can purchase material from well-known world brands.
Quartz agglomerate is produced by factories Samsung (South Korea), DuPont (United States of America), Caesarstone (Israel), Silestone (Spain). High quality marble agglomerate is made by companies from Italy - Quarella, Santamargherita.
Acrylic artificial stone
Acrylic stone is a composite that includes mineral filler, tint pigments, and acrylic resin. The latter is a connecting component. The mineral filler is aluminum trihydrate. This substance is a constituent element of white clay, from which high quality porcelain is made. Unlike agglomerates, only about 5-7% of natural filler is included in the composition of such an artificial flooring material. This makes acrylic stone floor tiles more ductile. It is easier to restore and repair.
This material has a huge palette of shades, which makes it possible with its help to bring to life any design ideas. The leaders in the production of acrylic stone in the world are the South Korean companies Samsung and Lion Chemtech, as well as the American DuPont.
This artificial stone is produced by vibrocompression using high pressure. After pressing, the material is fired, which makes it more durable. In the composition of porcelain stoneware there are several types of clay, feldspar, mineral additives and color pigments.
Outwardly, this artificial stone looks like glass or ordinary ceramic tiles. But at the same time, it has high strength characteristics and perfectly withstands sudden changes in temperature.
The texture of porcelain stoneware can be completely different - from glossy shine to muted matte, from perfect smoothness to relief.
It should be noted that this type of artificial stone is problematic in processing.Therefore, the damaged area of the floor covering cannot be repaired.
The main world leaders in the production of porcelain stoneware are Italian companies. Brands such as Refin, Ariostea have proven themselves excellent.
Concrete-based artificial stone
This type of artificial stone includes sand, Portland cement, reinforcing components, plasticizers, colored pigments, expanded clay or pumice chips. Due to the low cost of the components and a fairly simple manufacturing technology, the material has a budget price and is widely used both in construction and in interior decoration of premises. In appearance, it resembles a brick or various natural rocks similar to it in texture. Such a stone weighs a little, and its strength characteristics are quite high, therefore it is excellent for arranging floor coverings. It will not carry a heavy load on the foundation or floors.
Features of the selection of artificial stone for the floor
When planning to make repairs in a residential or non-residential premises, take into account the peculiarities of the operation of the floor covering in it. Before buying an artificial stone for the floor, it is recommended to study not only its technical characteristics, but also the features of the choice of this material:
- Stone appearance… Examine it carefully for halftones, as well as color transitions. The more there are, the more natural and natural such material will look. The stone looks unnatural, which in color resembles concrete tiles with an even color, texture and size. In living nature, it is impossible to find specimens of the same color. Therefore, to create a beautiful floor covering, it will be optimal to order not one shade of material, but several that go well with each other.
- Body of stone… High-quality artificial material should not include large filler elements, the size of which is more than 5 millimeters. Otherwise, the stone will have uneven strength, which is fraught with the appearance of splits and cracks on the surface in the future. The size of the filler particles can be seen on the stone cut. For example, in porcelain stoneware and agglomerates, ideally, they should be distributed over the stone mass as follows: durable fine material (marble chips, sand) lies directly near the front side, thereby creating a strong protective layer; lightweight aggregate such as expanded clay is located at the bottom near the rear surface.
- Packing material… It is also of great importance. Especially if you need to transport it yourself without loading equipment. Ideally, boxes for artificial stone should be equipped with special pallets that will prevent the material from being damaged or crumbled.
As for the functionality of this or that artificial stone, it is best to choose porcelain stoneware as a floor covering for the kitchen and bathroom. For the living room, you can purchase acrylic stone, which has the widest palette of shades. Various agglomerates work well as well. If you are making a floor in a non-residential area, such as a garage, you can buy a stone based on concrete. It is inexpensive and practical. It is recommended to lay matte stone tiles in the bathroom and hallway. Scratches can quickly appear on the glossy one due to the presence of sand and dirt particles under the feet, and water ingress on the glazed surface will lead to increased slipperiness and injury.
When installing flooring in rooms where the originality of the pattern and unique design come first, it is better to opt for acrylic stone. The rest of the varieties of artificial material do not differ in a variety of colors, textures and patterns.
Artificial stone installation technology on the floor
In general, the process of laying artificial stone tiles on the floor is not much different from the installation of ordinary tiles. You will need to carry out the work in stages: preparation of the base, the material itself, laying and grouting.
Preparatory work before laying artificial stone
First of all, you should inspect the rough base on which the tiles will be laid. If there are irregularities on it, then they should be eliminated. You can fill in a new screed or use a self-leveling mixture to fill in defects. The working surface must be absolutely dry and clean, without cracks, voids. If there are oil stains on the subfloor, sand them with sandpaper. It is recommended to treat the prepared base with a primer. At the same stage, a plan for laying the artificial stone should be prepared. You need to decide on what scheme you will lay tiles, draw up a drawing or pattern. If necessary, rough markings can be applied to the subfloor.
Before starting work with tiles, its top layer should be cleaned of the protective coating, which manufacturers often apply in order to protect the material from damage during transportation. Typically, technical wax is used for these purposes. It can be easily removed with warm water and cleaning agents. The paraffin can be removed with a spatula. Installation can be carried out at temperatures from +5 degrees. Make sure that the floor heating is turned off.
Tools and materials for laying artificial stone
Regardless of what kind of artificial stone your floor tile is made of, during its installation you will need the following tools: a ruler or tape measure, a building level or level, a rubber trowel, a pair of spatulas (regular and notched), a drill with a mixer attachment, a grinder with a diamond wheel or a conventional tile cutter. When choosing a comb trowel, note that the larger your tile, the larger the teeth of the tool should be.
You also need to prepare silicone sealant, special glue for artificial stone, grout, crosses.
Some types of artificial stone, for example, agglomerates, porcelain stoneware, have a very low or zero level of water absorption. For this reason, the adhesive must be selected so that it guarantees a strong adhesion of the surfaces. It is not recommended to use cement mortars. It is advisable to opt for adhesive mixtures with a high percentage of polymers.
Instructions for laying tiles on the floor
It is recommended to start laying from the center of the floor. The tiles should be placed symmetrically, along the edge of the floor, there should be whole or cut slabs of the same size near the walls.
We work in this order:
- We coat a small area of the floor with an adhesive mixture using a comb trowel. We also apply it to the back of the tile.
- Without waiting for the mixture to dry, put the product on the floor and lightly press down on it.
- Place the next slab on the edge and abut the previous one. After that, put the element on the floor with its entire surface.
- Make sure that there is a small uniform gap between adjacent boards, not filled with glue. For this we use crosses.
- If you need to change the position of the element (shift, press in), then this can be done within ten minutes after fixation.
- We go from the center of the floor to the walls, gradually adding glue.
- On the ledges of the walls or outside corners, we start laying with whole slabs. Put the cut ones in the inner corners.
- In the passages between the rooms, we place the seams along the line of transition from one to another.
- When laying in niches, distribute the material so that the cut parts of the same width are in the center or symmetrically along the edge.
- We check the evenness of the masonry periodically with the building level.
If you have to take a break from the installation of artificial stone in the same room, then it should be borne in mind that the previously laid material settles.The tiles that are laid later will also sag as the glue dries. Therefore, if you continue laying on the same level, it will lead to a difference in height. It usually takes 1 to 3 days to completely dry the glue.
After the glue is completely dry and adheres to the tiles, you can begin the grouting process. To do this, you need to purchase a composition of a suitable shade. However, you can experiment and choose a grout color that will contrast with the main shade of the flooring material. This will enhance the tile pattern. And the sealant to match the artificial stone will make the surface more uniform and neutral.
When starting work, check that the seam is clean. If there is dust or debris, the finished seam will be damaged. Apply the mixture with a special rubber spatula diagonally relative to the joint. If there are gaps between the wall and the floor, then they must first be filled with silicone. The rest of the grout mixture from the tile surface is removed with a damp cloth. After laying the tiles and grouting, you can completely wash the floor after 14 days at the earliest. How to lay an artificial stone on the floor - watch the video:
Artificial stone tiles are a modern, stylish and practical floor material. In many respects, it is not inferior to natural stone, and in some respects it is even superior. Choose products only from well-known manufacturers, and the surface will serve you for many years without losing its attractive appearance and durability.