Blog

 

Stone Federation are passionate about promoting the use of natural stone as the sustainable, versatile building material of choice.  This page will be regularly updated with articles from our Members on some of the key questions surrounding natural stone.


If you have any questions or would like more information on any of the issues covered in these articles, email enquiries@stonefed.org.uk or call 01303 856123.


 

Cleaning Natural Stone Buildings

 

The Stone Heritage Group is an arm of Stone Federation dedicated to resourcing the heritage sector of the natural stone industry, and promoting the use of Federation members for projects of this nature.  Almost 50% of the overall membership work within the conservation and restoration sector, and it plays a large part in the overall natural stone arena.

This month, we are taking a brief look at where to begin when considering the cleaning of natural stone buildings.

The cleaning of a building is no simple matter and there are special considerations which call for a high degree of expertise in all elements and stages of stone cleaning.  Specialised knowledge is necessary for the correct specification to be given for each building.

In the past, it was smoke emissions from the burning of coal that caused the soiling of buildings but today it is vehicle exhaust emissions and acid rain that are mainly responsible.  Many studies have shown that there are advantages for cleaning buildings on a regular basis.

The correct cleaning of natural stone is a priority for the sector as much of the architectural heritage of the country is made from this material.  Stone is one of the most durable of all building materials and compares very favourably with others from an economic as well as an aesthetic point of view, especially when maintenance and whole life costs are taken into account.

Nevertheless, proper maintenance is essential and if this is carried out periodically with suitable skill and understanding, the greater will be the environmental and practical advantages in the preservation of the structure.  What must be stressed however, is that in the wrong hands and by the use of the wrong process for the material in question, much harm can be caused with unsightly effects, some of which may not become apparent for some months after the cleaning has been completed and will be difficult, if not impossible, to remedy.  This is why it is imperative to involve a member of Stone Federation at an early stage when the cleaning is being considered.

It is essential that cleaning should be carried out by fully trained operatives in order to avoid any damage being caused by an inappropriate cleaning method or an incompetent operative. It should be remembered that decay can often take place around an open joint or cracked stone which cannot be seen if they are obscured by dirt or heavy soiling.

Reference should also be made to BS 8221 (part 1): 2000 Code of Practice for Cleaning and Surface Repairs.  Stone Federation also produces other relevant publications and these can be found on their website at www.stonefed.org.uk.

The Stone Federation Great Britain Guide to Best Practice is based on the relevant parts of a number of British Standards relating to masonry cleaning and incorporates current good practice.  It sets out the principal factors involved when deciding to clean and maintain buildings incorporating different types of masonry.

This document’s aim is to give subjective advice as a guide; however, it is by no means a definitive guide. Variables exist with every project and no two projects are the same.

To order your copy of this publication you can email matt@stonefed.org.uk.  Please note that our publications are not available to companies that could be members but are not.

 

Why Settle for 'Stone-Effect'?

The true mark of any style, design or brand that can be given the much sought after accolade of achieving longevity is to be imitated.

It’s often part of a desire in businesses to achieve quick success by emulating part of what makes the original unique, including its long-standing reputation.

The world of design and materials is no different.

Natural stone has been involved with the world of architecture and interior design for centuries, achieving a reputation as both a material of aspiration and utility, from granite paved streets taking the footfall of all walks of life, to the exquisite marbles found in the palaces of Kings and the bathrooms of the famous.

One of the trends that we are seeing in the world of design at the moment is that of ‘stone-effect’ products, particularly ceramic or porcelain tiles.

It is of course, as the cliché goes, a form of flattery to emulate, however, there is the danger of misinformation in the emulation.

Natural stone is, by definition, a natural product, formed in the earth over many thousands of years.

As the trade association for the natural stone industry, we are passionate about both the material and the correct supply of that material.  The CE Marking legislation enshrined in law the requirement for suppliers to provide their customers with the true name of the materials they are selling, not just a marketing name.

It’s this same concept of transparency, of knowing what the product is and what it isn’t, that drives our desire to ensure that customers know that ‘stone-effect’ products are just that, an imitation, but not the real thing.

Many of the leading ‘stone-effect’ products take advantage of the aesthetics of popular marbles, granites and slates, using prints and textures that give the appearance of a natural material.

We would encourage the industry to provide the correct information so that their customers to really understand the product, and know the difference between a natural and a man-made material.

What does natural stone offer the customer?

Texture – from the fossils found in Portland stone to the natural, subtle layers of slate, texture is a strong selling point for using natural in interior spaces.  The three-dimensional dynamic that a feature wall of unpolished, naturally textured stone can provide is stunning and definitely a trend that is on the increase.  Unlike many other materials, the same piece of stone can be finished in a number of ways to provide the texture best suited to the application.  Flamed, honed, blasted, sanded, polished and line textured are all finishes that can give the same piece of stone a very different visual impact.

Impact – the geological striations and natural colour streaks found in marble creates a striking aesthetic utilised across the interiors world, from hotel lobbies and internal walls through to floors and countertops.  In a market where individuality is key, the unique visuals that natural stone can create are striking, bringing a strong identity to interior spaces of all description.

Durability – as a result of the geological processes, the thousands upon thousands of years of compression, natural stone is an incredibly hard wearing material.  You need only look at the centuries old, limestone clad buildings of London, granite paved streets of Aberdeen or the Clipsham rich architecture of Oxford to see evidence of the longevity of this natural material.  This longevity is also where natural stone holds its own in terms of value.  While some ‘stone-effect’ materials may initially appear to be cheaper, that is often not the case when the costing is based on price per year and on-going maintenance where natural stone again scores highly.

So we would encourage you to reconsider natural stone, with its durability and uniqueness, wide natural palette and value for money.

The question is simple: why settle for an imitation when the real deal has so much to offer in both design potential and value for money?

To start your search for a natural stone supplier, go to our website www.stonefed.org.uk, or contact us on enquiries@stonefed.org.uk.


Natural Stone for Interior Designers

In the world of interior design, in a sector where aesthetics lead the way and individuality is a unique selling point, natural stone is the ideal material.

Quarried and mined from the earth, bearing a unique characteristic that is the result of complex geological processes, natural stone offers the interior designer more than just a material, it offers a story.

No two pieces of natural stone will be exactly the same, and when embraced, this unique material can provide a wealth of options in both texture and colour.

Let’s take a look at exactly what natural stone has to offer the world of interior design.

Texture – from the fossils found in Portland stone to the natural, subtle layers of slate, texture is a strong selling point for using natural in interior spaces.  The three-dimensional dynamic that a feature wall of unpolished, naturally textured stone can provide is stunning and definitely a trend that is on the increase.  Unlike many other materials the same piece of stone can be finished in a number to provide the texture best suited to the application.  Flamed, honed, blasted, sanded, polished and line textured are all finishes that can give the same piece of stone a very different visual impact.

Impact – the geological striations and natural colour streaks found in marble creates a striking aesthetic utilised across the interiors world, from hotel lobbies and internal walls through to floors and countertops.  In a market where individuality is key, the unique visuals that natural stone can create are striking, bringing a strong identity to interior spaces of all description.

Durability – as a result of the geological processes, the thousands of years of compression, natural stone is an incredibly hard wearing material.  You need only look at the centuries old, limestone clad streets of London, the granite paved streets of Aberdeen or the Clipsham rich buildings of Oxford to see evidence of the longevity of this natural material.

When it comes to choosing the right stone for the project in hand, it’s worth exploring the wealth of options that natural stone offers the interiors market. 

The Natural Stone Awards are run by Stone Federation and seek to celebrate the best examples of the use of natural stone across a wide range of applications including interiors.  The interiors category is a fantastic showcase for the successful use of natural stone in bathrooms, hotels, high-end apartments, churches and so much more.  The 2014 and 2016 Awards have seen a wide range of natural stones used in the successful projects stretching all the way from British limestones through to Italian marbles.  The finished projects cover everything from the dramatic to the understated, but all have one thing in common, the designer or architects’ skill in choosing the perfect stone for the desired application.

To start your search for the ideal material and company for your next natural stone project, go to http://bit.ly/FindAMember.


Natural Stone – An Ethical Choice

As the trade association for the natural stone industry, we are passionate about promoting the use of natural stone as the ideal building material, and alongside this, the use of Stone Federation members as the leading companies within the industry.

One of our key messages is how to select the correct stone for the project in hand.  Within the recommended steps there has always been a strong element of ensuring that materials are ethically and sustainably sourced.

In 2015, The Modern Slavery Act was created to tackle slavery in the UK and also ensure that businesses responsibly and ethically managed their global supply chains.

Stone Federation believed that, as the trade association for the natural stone industry, we had a responsibility to the client base, the industry and our members to make a real and long-lasting impact on this issue.

As a result, development began on a unique resource created specifically for the natural stone industry, in response to The Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the issues of sourcing materials responsibly.

In February of this year The Ethical Stone Register was launched at an event in London attended by major contractors, leading architects and designers, industry bodies and natural stone industry firms.  The response from these different sectors of the industry was overwhelmingly positive, and many of the professionals attending the event have now become ambassadors for the scheme.

This project will allow natural stone firms, whatever their size, to offer a responsible and manageable ethical sourcing solution to their clients.  There are three tiers of membership of the Register, Declaration, Verification and Accreditation, each requiring an increasing level of external auditing and certification of the natural stone company.

Declaration - At this tier, companies will have to complete a questionnaire looking at the responsible and ethical sourcing practices of their business. To achieve this level, a company will need to meet 100% of the criteria. The claims and assertions made by a firm at this level will be by means of self-declaration.

Verification - At this tier, the claims made by a company at the Declaration level will be externally verified. The initial verification will be for the company rather than each material they supply, however, they may choose to have some or all of their stones included at Verification level. This will involve an independent auditor assessing the journey of the material and ensuring that the responsible and ethical sourcing criteria are met the whole way along the supply chain. Only verified stones will appear on the Register itself.

Accreditation - At this tier, members will have met the requirements of the Declaration and Verification tiers, and will be further audited for this level. The aim is to have the scheme recognised and to gain credits within schemes such as BREEAM and LEED at this tier.

There has already been an incredibly positive response to the scheme from all areas of the industry, with a number of leading major contractors and architects working towards incorporating membership of the Register into their tender requirements.  We are aware that a scheme such as the Ethical Stone Register requires ‘buy-in’ from all sectors of the industry, which is why we are so encouraged by the support from these different professionals.

Since the launch, the Federation have interviewed the three Pilot Scheme members to find out about their journey on the scheme.  These interview provide contractors, architects, designers, clients and natural stone firms with an insight into the workings and systems of the Ethical Stone Register.  The full interviews can be read below.

One of the recurring themes in all the interviews was the increased demand that natural stone suppliers are seeing from their clients for ethically and responsibly sourced materials.

Steve Turner, Managing Director of stone supplier Amarestone commented that:

“It has become an issue that must not be ignored and will trigger an even greater demand for ethically and responsibly sourced stone.  Major players in the construction industry will want to avoid the potential embarrassment of unsavoury practices in their supply chain.  The Ethical Stone Register will be the safe source for natural stone and I can foresee that it will become a key resource for the specifier.”

Since the launch we have begun to work with another group of natural stone firms who are committed to engaging with the ethical and responsible sourcing requirements of the Ethical Stone Register.  These include a range of international and British quarries, all of whom are committed to providing their clients with robust assurances when it comes to the ethical and responsible procurement of materials.  

We are also regularly meeting with major contractors, client bodies and architects to help them engage fully with the scheme and look at ways of incorporating its requirements across the full spectrum of their business operations.

The Ethical Stone Register website is live (www.ethicalstoneregister.co.uk) and you can also follow the scheme on Twitter (@EthicalStoneReg) to stay up to date with the latest developments. 

For more information, contact us at info@ethicalstoneregister.co.uk.

 


 

Stone Federation recently launched The Ethical Stone Register, a unique resource created specifically for the natural stone industry, in response to The Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the issues of sourcing materials responsibly.

Following the launch, we have been speaking with the pilot scheme members to find out about their journey on the scheme.  These interview will provide contractors, architects, designers, clients and natural stone firms with an insight into the workings and systems of the Ethical Stone Register.

The third interview is with European natural stone supplier, Amarestone, and Stone Federation’s Chief Executive, Jane Buxey, asked Amarestone’s Managing Director, Steve Turner, about their Ethical Stone Register journey and achieving Verification Level.

Jane Buxey: Congratulations on achieving your Verification Level – what was the motivation for engaging with this scheme?

Steve Turner: Thanks.  We were keen to be involved as soon as we heard about the scheme.  My interest started many years ago after visiting several quarries and stone factories in France. It seemed normal practice that the quarry environment was carefully managed – many of the quarry sites were invisible from the road – sometimes, trees were planted to hide the site and then, after the stone had been removed, the land was earthed over, replanted and the nature returned. The quarries were legally obliged to have insurance guarantees in place to ensure this happened even if the quarry companies ceased trading.

This contrasted with some of my visits to quarries and factories in other countries and made me realise that this was not always the norm. Since then, I have been very keen that Amarestone is associated only with quarries working to these standards.

JB: Have you seen an increased demand from your clients for ethically and responsibly sourced natural stones?

ST: Yes. It is encouraging that we are receiving more and more questions about the sustainability and ethics of using natural stone.  Recent media coverage on child and slave labour will also generate more questions.  Last year’s case of child labour in the Indian granite quarry and the latest reports of slave labour gangs operating in construction sites under our noses in London have really highlighted the need for better controls.

It has become an issue that must not be ignored and will trigger an even greater demand for ethically and responsibly sourced stone.

JB: How will this achievement benefit you as a company that supplies stones from many different locations?

ST: Firstly, it backs up our sustainability and ethical sourcing policy.  It’s satisfying that it has been verified independently that we are doing the right thing.

Major players in the construction industry will want to avoid the potential embarrassment of unsavoury practices in their supply chain.  The Ethical Stone Register will be the safe source for natural stone and I can foresee that it will become a key resource for the specifier.

Our entry on the register puts Amarestone at the very top of the list of suppliers for French limestone which should help new customers to find us.

JB: What were the greatest challenges in meeting the criteria of the scheme?

ST: We always knew that as an ethically minded business, we were doing the “right thing” but having written proof was still a challenge.  It has led us to tracking and documenting our processes more carefully so that we can monitor our performance against the criteria. The natural stone that we supply to our clients was the obvious starting point but the scheme encouraged us also to think about all the other products that are consumed in the course of our business – even down to the hi-vis jackets and office stationery.

JB: How do you see ethics and responsibility in the sourcing of materials developing over the next five years?

ST: We are looking forward to a time in the near future when natural stone sourced through the Ethical Stone Register is widely recognised as one of the most sustainable and ethical building materials.  We hope that the Register will help to make it easier for specifiers and clients to source high quality, sustainable materials and give them a “go to” single point of contact for natural stone.

 

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There are three tiers of membership of the Register, Declaration, Verification and Accreditation and the requirements of each level are explained below.

Declaration - At this tier, companies will have to complete a questionnaire looking at the responsible and ethical sourcing practices of their business. To achieve this level, a company will need to meet 100% of the criteria. The claims and assertions made by a firm at this level will be by means of self-declaration.

Verification - At this tier, the claims made by a company at the Declaration level will be externally verified. The initial verification will be for the company rather than each material they supply, however, they may choose to have some or all of their stones included at Verification level. This will involve an independent auditor assessing the journey of the material and ensuring that the responsible and ethical sourcing criteria are met the whole way along the supply chain. Only verified stones will appear on the Register itself.

Accreditation - At this tier, members will have met the requirements of the Declaration and Verification tiers, and will be further audited for this level. The aim is to have the scheme recognised and to gain credits within schemes such as BREEAM and LEED at this tier.

To find out more information about the Ethical Stone Register, go to www.ethicalstoneregister.co.uk or email info@ethicalstoneregister.co.uk.


 

 

Ethical Stone Register - Pilot Scheme Member Interview, Hutton Stone

Stone Federation recently launched The Ethical Stone Register, a unique resource created specifically for the natural stone industry, in response to The Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the issues of sourcing materials responsibly.

Following the launch, we have been speaking with the pilot scheme members to find out about their journey on the scheme.  These interview will provide contractors, architects, designers, clients and natural stone firms with an insight into the workings and systems of the Ethical Stone Register.

The second interview is with British quarry operator and supplier, Burlington Stoneand Stone Federation’s Chief Executive, Jane Buxey, asked Burlington’s Technical Sales and Production Manager, John Penellum, about their Ethical Stone Register journey and achieving Verification Level.

Jane Buxey: Congratulations on achieving your Verification Level – what was the motivation for engaging with this scheme?

John Penellum: Thank you, Burlington see ethical sourcing as very important and hope that architects, clients and contractors all appreciate that project costs should not over rule the need for responsible manufactured products to be used on their projects.

JB: What are the commercial benefits that you saw in taking the time to complete the process?

JP: We believe that this is the way forward in the stone industry and like any other everyday products, you should have the choice of using a material that has been manufactured to the highest standards whilst working towards and maintaining an ethical ethos.

JB: Do you find that proof of sustainable procurement is a major influencing factor for your clients?

JP: Yes, and as the industry moves forward, we see increasingly that clients want to know more and more about where the stone has come from, and at what cost to the environment. Especially with Burlington being based in and adjoining the Lake District National Park, soon to be a “UNESCO world heritage site”. Being verified by the Ethical Stone Register helps promote the fact that we have considered every impact that our business has on humanity and the planet.

JB: How, as a British Stone quarrier do you feel that this achievement will add to your unique selling point?

JP: As one of the Stone Federation Ethical Stone Register pilot scheme companies, we already have an advantage within the industry, being able to meet the highest standard of projects.

Burlington stones major unique selling points are that we can offer one of the finest most durable natural materials in the world, with eight quarries in the heart of the Lake District, using skilled British craftsmen to deliver an amazing product all around the world.

Established in 1843 we are a British family run business with long traditions and values, we are currently assessed to ISO14001, ISO9001 and environmental profiles.

Being part of the Ethical Stone Register is essential in maintaining our reputation of being one of the best in the industry and setting a standard for others to follow.

JB: What development do you think there will be within the British quarrying sector, in relating to the issues of ethical and responsible sourcing, over the next 5 years?

JP: I believe that as more clients become aware of ethical sourcing there will be increased demand for suppliers to meet their expectations. It will become unacceptable to not question where and how stone is produced. Being able to show accreditation for this will help clients choose between similar products, some of which may not be ethically sourced. This will offer the customer a clear choice and possibly an explanation for the associated cost differences between alternative products.

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There are three tiers of membership of the Register, Declaration, Verification and Accreditation and the requirements of each level are explained below.

Declaration - At this tier, companies will have to complete a questionnaire looking at the responsible and ethical sourcing practices of their business. To achieve this level, a company will need to meet 100% of the criteria. The claims and assertions made by a firm at this level will be by means of self-declaration.

Verification - At this tier, the claims made by a company at the Declaration level will be externally verified. The initial verification will be for the company rather than each material they supply, however, they may choose to have some or all of their stones included at Verification level. This will involve an independent auditor assessing the journey of the material and ensuring that the responsible and ethical sourcing criteria are met the whole way along the supply chain. Only verified stones will appear on the Register itself.

Accreditation - At this tier, members will have met the requirements of the Declaration and Verification tiers, and will be further audited for this level. The aim is to have the scheme recognised and to gain credits within schemes such as BREEAM and LEED at this tier.

To find out more information about the Ethical Stone Register, go to www.ethicalstoneregister.co.uk or email info@ethicalstoneregister.co.uk.

 

 


Ethical Stone Register - Pilot Scheme Member Interview, Hutton Stone


In this interview, Stone Federation’s Chief Executive, Jane Buxey speaks with Marcus Paine, Managing Director of Hutton Stone, a high-quality British natural stone merchant, to understand their experience during the audit process to achieve the first Ethical Stone Register Tier 2 Verification level.


Stone Federation, creators of the Ethical Stone Register, believes it has a responsibility to the client base, the industry and its members to try to make a difference on the issue of responsible and ethical sourcing practices and aims to get all members started on the journey with room to progress and gain extra recognition for their efforts and investment.


Jane Buxey: Congratulations on achieving your Verification Level - what was the business rationale for you undertaking this process?


Marcus Paine: Thank you. At Hutton Stone we pride ourselves on supplying the finest quality natural and sustainable sandstone to our clients - so for us this was a really simple choice. We take an enormous pride in the projects we supply whatever their size or location and this project allows us to proceed with further confidence that we are doing our best.


JB: Has increasing demand from your clients to demonstrate your sustainability and sourcing credentials driven you to this accreditation?


MP: We are a family business who have a personal relationship with our staff, customers and suppliers and therefore we take our reputation with all our stakeholders very seriously. We want to be a leader in the sector and take every opportunity to lead on “doing the right thing”, for us this was the primary driver.
Beyond our business and in the wider sector, we are beginning to see a rise in demand for this level of surety in supply and origination of product. Price is still “king” but we are keen to differentiate ourselves by putting our money where our mouth is so to speak. To achieve the higher level of Ethical Stone Register, set up by the Stone Federation GB, we realised early on we would need to invest time and resources to formalise our business practices and to provide evidence of our practice.
The process challenged some of our preconceived ideas about accreditation and verification and interestingly we discovered benefits we did not expect, such as identifying inefficiencies in our quality and environmental management systems that translated into real business benefits when addressed - previously we believed this process would ‘cost’ us extra in terms of resources and time.


JB: Very interesting. We now see almost daily coverage of ‘modern slavery’ in the media, did you not consider sustainable procurement as a business opportunity previously or feel it important for you to manage risk in your supply chains?


MP: Being a UK based company and taking pride in being ‘local’, we did not really appreciate ‘modern slavery’ as being a relevant topic to us – that is until we realised that we buy PPE, stationary and other auxiliary products from all sorts of sources, and not just in the UK. Applying a formalised approach to our practices and procedures, that didn’t require major changes, has allowed us to be more strategic in regards to our environmental impacts and overall business growth. It gave us an opportunity to present some of our activities around social and community involvement, increase staff engagement and put in place common sense initiatives of ‘zero waste’.


JB: Would you say that your customers see sustainability as a green premium affair and would you feel it necessary for you to pass on a ‘green’ premium? Or do you feel the ROI has already paid for itself by identifying opportunities for saving, promoting current practice and being able to showcase local community investment/involvement for example?


MP: The bottom line for me is "doing the right thing", which can be enough of an incentive, but I would say in my experience, anything that gives you a cleaner and tidier business operation ultimately provides you with a clearer vision and more efficiency, which has been proven in this pilot study. This has several benefits and promotes positives both within the company and to our customers - all of these things add up to and create a compelling reason both morally and commercially.


JB: Would you say that sustainability/responsible sourcing will pay dividends for future business?


MP: I think there is a growing sense that responsible sourcing is really going to matter more and more to supply businesses. I think we are going to be asked to demonstrate our sustainability credentials increasingly more often, certainly on larger projects, to which our Verification level from the Ethical Stone Register helps greatly.


JB: Where do you see the Ethical Stone Register, responsible sourcing and sustainability for SMEs to be in the next 5 years?


MP: I think the area of responsible sourcing and sustainability is only going to become more and more relevant. I think the ESR should be widely discussed and promoted by the Stone Federation GB as something that the Federation continually stands for. I feel that there are Large Client Groups out there looking to back a scheme like this and I feel that the demand for being able to show your position will simply grow.
Many thanks to Marcus Paine of Hutton Stone. If you would like any more information on ethical and responsible sourcing for your business, visit either www.ethicalstoneregister.co.uk or email info@ethicalstoneregister.co.uk.

 

The Indigenous Stones of Great Britain

Limestone

Perhaps the most widely used type of natural stone, Limestone comes in a range of geological forms.  It occurs naturally in many parts of the UK but the main belt runs from Dorset and Somerset in the South West, through to the Cotswolds and Oxfordshire and then on into Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and north of the Humber.

Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed primarily of calcium carbonate.  Limestone’s durability means that it lends itself to a wide array of applications from cladding to internal flooring. 

Granite

 

 This igneous rock is quarried in a small number of locations in the UK.  Devon, Cornwall, Gwynedd, Aberdeen and Peterhead are all home to naturally occurring sources of Granite.

Granite is formed by the slow crystallisation of the minerals including quartz, feldspar and mica from molten materials, this provides a wide variety of colours and grain patterns.  The flashes of colour within Granite provides depth and this quality is further enhanced when a full polish is applied.

The interlocking crystal structure imparts both high strength, and low water absorption, necessary for a wide range of applications, which makes it ideal not only for cladding and paving, but as a plinth course. 

Sandstone

 

Sandstone often refers to stones of sedimentary origin with a granular texture and traditionally has been heavily used in the areas surrounding the quarry locations.  Many of the ‘stone cities’ of Northern England had gained their name due to the heavy use of sandstone in the local architecture.

Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock made up on various mineral particles, mainly quartz, mica and feldspar.  The individual make up of each sandstone gives a wide range of colours including whites, browns, greys and reds.  The high strength properties of sandstone makes them suitable for high use areas, especially paving.

Slate

 

Slate is a stone found mainly in Cornwall, North Wales, the Scottish Highlands and the Lake District and has, for centuries, been a major source of building stone.  True slate is defined by the presence of a ‘slaty’ cleavage; this allows the slate to split parallel to the cleavage plane.

Slate is a fine grained, foliated metamorphic rock that is created by the alteration of shale, ash or mud stone by regional metamorphism.  It is composed mainly of clay minerals or micas but can also contain quartz, small amounts of feldspar, calcite, pyrite and hematite.

Slates typically have high strength and low water absorption making them very easy to maintain, and therefore can be used in a variety of applications including flooring, cladding and roofing.

To start your search for indigenous British Stone, go to bit.ly/BritStone.

 

Stone Federation on…Conservation & Heritage

Much of the continuation of Britain’s built heritage relies upon the conservation and restoration of natural stone buildings.  Churches, monuments, town halls and residential properties across the length and breadth of the British Isles all depend upon the skills and expertise of the natural stone industry’s restoration and conservation sector.

The most common challenge faced by those looking to care for these historic structures is selecting the correct professional to undertake the work.

The question that most often arises is: “How can I be sure that the job will be done properly?

This is where Stone Federation Great Britain can help.

Stone Federation is the trade association for the natural stone industry with over a century’s experience in connecting architects, local authorities and clients with the finest stone professionals.  We have a vetted membership of over 240 firms that offer clients excellence in all areas of business, from technical support and expertise through to ethical sourcing and sustainability.

 

Within the overall membership, almost 50% work in the conservation and restoration sector, and as a result, we have established the Stone Heritage Group to reinforce the importance of natural stone in the heritage market. 

The remit of the Stone Heritage Group is to highlight and champion all matters pertaining to the use of repair, restoration, conservation, cleaning and maintenance of natural stone in the heritage/historic/ecclesiastical sector.

As a large proportion of heritage buildings are constructed using natural stone, Stone Heritage aims to make people more aware of this fact and the need to have available supplies of stone for future repairs.

The professionals; architects, surveyors and structural engineers, need to fully understand natural stone from quarrying to its incorporation in the building.  We work hard to help establish an understanding that there are large differences between today’s methods of construction and those of yesteryear, and to be aware of the circumstances leading to the decision making process of when to conserve and/or clean or to do neither.

Stone Heritage aims to ensure that the correct training is given to both professionals and stonemasons to carry out the work.  The group endorses the need for further training for stonemasons who work in the heritage field beyond the normal banker skills and general site fixing.

There are specialist apprenticeship programmes and NVQ courses as well as management and business improvement programmes, some of which are available online.

These training courses include the SAP Façade Preservation and SAP Heritage Masonry, both of which are eligible for ConstructionSkills grants.  The one year SAP Heritage Masonry programme is perhaps the most popular of the courses, providing candidates with four one-week long residential held at Fountains Abbey, courses covering conservation, repair and maintenance of stonework. 

Jane Buxey, the Federation’s Chief Executive, spelled out some of the many reasons for using a Federation member firm when undertaking any project involving natural stone.

 

“When you use a Stone Federation member you can rest assured that the firm is operating to the highest standards of workmanship, in accordance with the latest in industry standards and codes of best practice as well as having a fully trained workforce.”  

 

Stone Sample Panels – What You Should Be Looking For

Selecting the correct stone is arguably the most important part of a project and the best way to avoid issues a few years down the line.  In one of the earlier ‘Working Face’ pieces, we looked, in a general way, at some key steps to ensure correct stone selection.  This time round we will hone in on one specific aspect of this process – what to look for in a stone sample panel.  While this may seem like a very niche topic it affects so much of the selection process and deserves a more in depth discussion.

The mine or quarry you source your stone from should have range/control panels showing the geological characteristics typically found in the various beds available (shown below).  This provides the architect or specifier with the truest indication of the variation they can expect to find in stone from the bed they are using.  This is vital to effective management of client expectations as stone is a natural material and therefore every piece won’t look the same.  If this is understood then the unique aesthetic that natural stone provides can be celebrated and built into the design rather than cause tensions between the quarry and the architect.

 

 

It is ultimately the quarry or mine’s responsibility to select a suitable number of samples from various blocks from the chosen bed to show the typical range of geological variations that are present in the stone or the bed of stone, but if the production company has already been and selected the stones and the blocks are all in stock and available for a pre‐purchase, then this can be completed at their works instead. Invariably this inspection should take place at the extraction site but if in exceptional circumstances this is not possible, then confirmation that the quarry has been closely consulted in the sample selection must be sought.

The range/control panels from the different quarries and different beds should be carefully inspected and then the final selection should be made and high resolution photographs taken for future reference.  There is a fantastic range of indigenous British stone available in a wide variety of colours and textures that offers architects with a unique aesthetic.  By following these steps and understanding the expected variations on your material of choice, you will be able to make full use of these natural nuances and in so doing, encourage the client to embrace this uniqueness.  The rejection of geological characteristics naturally found in the stone will typically result in increased costs and prolonged procurement through abortive cutting and will increase the wastage thereby impacting on the carbon footprint and the overall sustainability of the supply.

Any comparison between the rang