John Lambert, General Manager at Forticrete, discusses how walling stone can help properties integrate seamlessly with the local vernacular.
As one of the most prominent features on a property, the choice of cladding material will have a huge impact on the look and feel of a building. For new build projects, the property needs to look attractive and help shape desirable communities where people want to live.
With so many different size, finish, colour and regional variations of cladding available, it can be challenging to select the right product for the right job whilst ensuring that the project fits with the local vernacular, a core requirement for planners across the UK under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). So, when it comes to specifying products for new or refurbishment projects, building product manufacturers in particular, have an important role to play in advising builders and clients on the choices available.
A durable, versatile and low maintenance building material with a high thermal mass, natural stone has long been a popular choice of cladding material for the UK built environment. However, due to its expense to quarry, cut and transport, many across the industry are on the lookout for viable alternatives.
Luckily, UK manufacturers have been producing and improving cost-effective and environmentally sustainable alternatives to natural stone since the 1920s. Reconstituted stone walling is an ideal choice for housebuilders and clients looking to achieve a natural finish. The latest developments in stone walling are made from a carefully controlled mixture of graded limestone and other natural aggregates, cements and pigments, in accordance with national product standards for reconstituted stone masonry units.
Available in standard and premier grades of material, these innovative ranges are through-coloured and can be dressed on site to suit individual requirements, while retaining the original colour and texture.
The many different clays and natural stones quarried across the country vary significantly from region to region, from the weathered Pennine Sandstone of Northern Britain or the light blue natural stones of Bath and North East Somerset. By replicating these regional blends, reconstituted walling stone can meet site specific requirements across the UK, whilst still delivering a cladding material that will last for years to come.
Manufacturers even have techniques which can create a ‘Cottage’ finish which gives a rough irregular shape, tumbled stone without straight or pitched arises. This replicates stone traditionally walled in its quarried state, which is more prevalent on small cottages in the South West of England and in Wales.
Contrary to popular belief, reconstituted walling stone enables housebuilders to replicate the colours and textures of natural stone walling at just a fraction of the cost. Further showcasing their commitment to helping housebuilders succeed in these challenging economic times, many manufacturers are now introducing value added services such as simplifying the ordering process and reducing on-site waste, ensuring reconstituted walling stone is a truly high-quality, versatile option.
For example, Forticrete has introduced Project Multi Packs. The packs are simple to stock, simple to deliver or collect from a stockist and most of all, simply a better way to order quality walling products. With these innovative packs there is no need to order single sizes; everything the housebuilder needs is one pack, giving them all the sizes of walling stone to produce random patterns. In addition, the packs are a novel way to reduce waste on site and are available in four natural colour options.
With housebuilders and clients committed to creating sustainable, thriving communities when undertaking new build projects, walling stone provides the versatility, performance and aesthetics to help them achieve just that. Clients do not want properties which look unnatural and out of place with the local area, which means building product manufacturers need to understand the needs of regional builders and their clients and help them to create building that look traditional and enhance the built environment.