Is there any size variation in natural stone?

The dimensions of natural stone products are nominal. Slight variations (+/- 1.5mm) can occur with most natural material.

Does natural stone vary in colour?

Natural stone can vary in colour and texture from piece to piece and within each piece itself – this is the inherent beauty of the product. Samples provided are indicative of colour and finish.

What are the finishes that can be applied to natural stone?

In addition to the standard finishes available, there are a number of custom finishes that can be applied to a piece of stone to change the aesthetic and functional appeal of the stone. Some of the more common stone finishes are listed below:

 

Exfoliated (flamed) Polished Fine Chisel
Bush Hammered Special Chisel Natural Split
Sawn Exfoliated and Brushed Water jet
Honed Bush Hammered and Brushed Sandblasted
Antique Tumbled Grooved

How are honed products created?

Honed products are created by grinding the surface of the stone to a uniform finish that is smooth but is not generally reflective i.e. the product has been honed or made “more perfect.” If you continue to grind/rub the surface of a honed product the surface will eventually become polished. Another way of expressing honed could be ‘semi-polished.’
Matt finish = honed
Gloss finish = polished

What are the differences between granite and basalt (bluestone)?

Both Granite and Basalt are igneous rocks meaning they have been formed from lava flow following a volcanic eruption. The granite is formed under pressure beneath the earth’s surface whereas basalt is formed on top of the earth’s surface. Both granite and basalt have similar properties but the higher density and hardness of granite is attributable to the longer formation process.

Is bluestone basalt?

Basalt is the geological term for the product we typically call Bluestone in Victoria. Basalt is commonly very fine grained and generally dark grey, dark green or black in colour.
Due to the dark grey/blue toning of the basalt found in the western district of Victoria, the local basalt used widely through the Melbourne CBD has been commonly referred to as “Bluestone” in Victoria. The identification of basalt as “bluestone” is unique to Victoria and in other markets – especially overseas – if bluestone is ordered a totally different product would be delivered.
Be aware of the interchangeable term in Victoria – there are some importers selling “bluestone” which is not basalt.

Do the holes on top of basalt make it an inferior/second grade product?

No.
Natural Stones, particularly igneous products (formed from volcanic eruptions – Granite & Basalt), inherently have vesiculations, veining and crazing (lines) that may appear on the surface of the stone. These characteristics are normal and are considered part of the stone. Often these characteristics are only visible during the drying process i.e. when there is moisture in the stone. Providing these natural characteristics do not affect the structural integrity of the stone, the product should be laid and the natural variations form part of the natural beauty of the stone.
The larger holes on the surface of basalt are commonly known as “cat paws” and are created when gases escape during the cooling (formation) process. If you like, these cat paws can be considered birthmarks or unique identifiers and in no way make the product inferior – it is part of the natural beauty of the stone.

Will the product change colour after installation?

Products are packed carefully in crates and are often wet at the point of production. They are unable to totally dry out until unpacked. They will often lighten in colour as they dry after installation. Dry tiles are necessary prior to installation.

Where can I purchase Phoenix Stone products?

Our products can be purchased from one of retail partners where their fully trained staff will be able to assist you to choose the product required for your upcoming project.
If there is not a Phoenix Stone retail partner within close proximity, please contact us directly and we can assist you.

Can I purchase Phoenix Stone products online?

Choosing stone is a tactile experience. It is difficult to judge the colour of a stone from a photograph on a website or from a brochure. We recommend visiting one of our retail partners who will be more than happy to assist you in making your selection.

Are images displayed in brochures and websites a true reflection of colour and texture variation of natural stone?

The product images on this website and in our brochures give a general indication of colour for your preliminary selection. We recommend you also view current product samples and look at actual finished projects before making your final selection. All Natural Stones are products of nature and no two pieces are exactly alike. Printed colour samples act as a guide and may vary in colour from the products purchased. Natural Stone must be inspected prior to installation to check the colour, veining, thickness, sizing and finish. Our fully trained retail partners will be happy to answer any questions relating to colour & texture of our stone.

Can you send me samples?

One of our fully trained retail partners will be able to assist in your selection of product and provide you with the necessary samples. Please be mindful that any samples provided are indicative of colour and texture only. Alternatively we are able to arrange samples for you.

Tip: Small stone samples are a good starting point, however you may need to purchase 2-3 larger pieces to gain an appreciation for the natural variation within your selected product

Can you arrange delivery?

Our retail partners take the hassle out of arranging delivery for you. They have dedicated delivery services operating daily. Click here to find one of our conveniently located retail partners.

Generally, 2-3 days notice is required to arrange delivery of your product. Delivery can occur to all parts of Metropolitan Melbourne, Country Victoria and the rest of Australia. The cost of this service depends upon the number of crates being shipped and the final destination. The normal delivery service generally includes a forklift.

An “Important Notice” is attached to every crate prior to every delivery / pickup – which provides useful hints & tips to consider when dealing with natural stone. Click here to view the “important notice”.

Do natural stone products break or chip in transit?

Generally the packaging of natural stone products means the product arrives on site in A1 condition. However, some rubbing and minor nicks may occur along the edge of the product during the manufacturing process or in transit. This is deemed as “normal” with natural stone.
Tip: Broken or perceived badly chipped products are generally used as cuts on site.

It is necessary to order additional product to cover cutting requirements and breakages?

The place of purchase will be able to calculate the number of pieces required to complete your project. However, as an industry ‘rule of thumb’ an additional 5% should generally be ordered to cover mismeasurements, cuts, breakages and wastage on site.

What types of stone are available?

Whatever stone you require for your upcoming project, Phoenix Stone can source. Whether it be a rare singular piece of marble or a commercial quantity of granite we are able to supply. We stock a vast range of basalt (bluestone), granite, sandstone, limestone, travertine etc. We have a 4000m2 undercover warehouse stocked with product ready for immediate delivery. Click here to view our core range of products.

What pool edges (profile) are available?

We have 3 standard profiles available in our core range of products. Click here to view edge profiles.

What sizes are available and can customised products be ordered?

We have identified a core range of products that are available for immediate delivery. Please click here to view our core range of stocked products.
Tailored products can be supplied to meet the needs of your clients. Unlike man made products that require moulds to form the products, natural stone can be cut to virtually any nominated size. There are stone by stone limitations based upon boulder/slab sizes available, but as a general rule there are really no size restrictions. There is no minimum order for a customised order i.e. we can create 1 piece if required e.g. we create a number of individually tailored fire place hearths. Click here to view custom made products.
Note:

  • A minimum of 6-8 weeks lead time will be required to process custom made orders. The actual lead time can vary based upon the volume of pieces required and the complexity of the order.
  • Customised orders require a deposit to commence production and require full payment prior to pick up/delivery.
  • This includes specialty pieces like curved radial bullnoses, rebated bullnoses and tactile products.

What considerations are there when selecting natural stone?

There are a number of natural stones available to use in contemporary and traditional designs. Natural stones can be used in all aspects of building and landscaping projects including cladding, pool copers, patio, driveways and commercial spaces. Choosing the right material is an important step in creating a successful finish which is aesthetically pleasing and functional.

There is an ever growing assortment of natural stones available including basalt, granite, sandstone, limestone, travertine and marble. When you consider there are over 10 different finishes that can be applied to a piece of stone and an infinite choice of colours it makes selecting the right stone critical for the final aesthetic appeal.

Each type of stone has unique characteristics. Understanding these unique characteristics will assist in selecting the right stone for the intended application. To ensure a safe construction and avoid costly mistakes, it’s important to make an initial assessment of a stone’s properties for the required performance. Some of the key questions to answer before selecting the stone for your upcoming project include:

• The type of traffic on the finished pavement i.e. pedestrian or vehicular

• The volume of traffic

• The substrate being adhered to

• The load being applied to substrate/wall

• The installation methodology

• The thickness of the stone – are there physical constraints limiting the thickness of the stone?

• The environment the stone will be used in – commercial, residential, clean, dirty, vegetation, exposure to weather, exposure to chemicals e.g. chlorine

• Potential sources of stain e.g. oil, red wine, BBQ grease, chewing gum

• Maintenance of stone – ongoing cleaning and sealing regime

• Slip resistance

• Colour and texture i.e. relationship to other colours and building materials

• Shape, size and texture of the stone

• Transition of stone from area to area i.e. internal to external

Budget plays an important part in any project. When considering the affordability of the natural stone thought needs to be given to installation methodology, durability, lifespan, uniqueness and timeless quality. A stone that appears cost effective at the start may end up costing additional money if it is not fit for purpose or installed incorrectly.
More than ever, new stones are been brought to the market. Some of these stones may be extremely soft and delicate and may have performance issues if used in the incorrect application. Although some stone may be aesthetically beautiful, these materials don’t comply with the minimum desired durability and functionality required from a good quality natural stone.

Do you have an installation service?

We have an in-house qualified paving engineer that has over 40 years involvement in the design and construction of pavements. We are available to visit your site to discuss specific design considerations, including drainage, base course and installation solutions. The cost of this service depends upon the scope and complexity of the work. For further information please contact us via email info@phoenixstone.com.au

Does natural stone need to be blended prior to laying?

Yes.

All natural stones are products of nature and no two pieces are exactly alike. Prior to installation the installer must ensure any blending is completed to meet owner/buyer’s approval.  This means opening multiple boxes and blending colours from all boxes throughout the project.  The material must be inspected prior to installation to check the colour, veining, thickness, sizing and finish.

Are control joints required?

Yes control joints are required when installing natural stone products.  Control joints should be installed in accordance with the relevant building codes.  The control joints created in the foundation should be reflected through the entire pavement i.e. continued through the bedding material and grout line.

How should natural stone be installed?

There are a number of site specific variables which will require specific attention and consideration.  It is the responsibility of the installer/contractor to assess the specific site conditions.  The “tips” provided should be used in conjunction with relevant Australian Standards and Building Codes.

 

The Foundation

 

This is the most critical component of the job – care and time should be taken to make sure the foundation meets the requirements of the project.  The final falls and levels should be reflected in the foundation.

 

Key Considerations

  • Soil conditions
  • Usage e.g. swimming pool, driveway or el fresco area
  • Intended load i.e. vehicle or pedestrian
  • Drainage
  • Physical Constraints e.g. steps, existing floor levels
  • Control Joints

 

When installing natural stone, the thickness of the foundation will typically be:

Pedestrian Traffic: Reinforced concrete 75mm thick 20-25 MPA

Vehicle Traffic: Reinforced (F72 mesh) concrete minimum 100mm thick 25 MPA

Note: Specific site conditions can alter the thickness of the foundation required.  Engineer’s advice should be sought in the design of the foundation. 

Drainage/Waterproofing

The drainage of external pavements is critical in the overall functionality.  Drainage should be considered when designing the foundation.  To achieve an aesthetically pleasing and practical pavement, it may be necessary to divide the paved areas into separate areas with varying gradients applied to successfully deal with surface water.

Dealing with surface water is critical for the overall structural soundness of the project but also aids in minimising any unwanted soiling of the surface due to dirt build up or stagnant water on the final surface.

As a general rule a gradient of 1-2% will be sufficient to allow the pavement to drain adequately.

In areas that may be affected by high moisture levels, it may be necessary to waterproof the foundation prior to installing the stone.

Control Joints

Control joints should be installed in accordance with the relevant building codes.  The control joints in the foundation should be reflected through the entire pavement i.e. continued through the bedding material and grout line.

Bedding Material/Laying the Stone

Bonded pavements are pavements where pavers are glued to a rigid concrete foundation using mortar or a proprietary adhesive.  Traditionally, stone has been fixed using mortar (sand & cement), however there is now a move towards using proprietary adhesives.

The laying technique adopted may be determined by a number of factors especially the thickness of the stone.  In instances where the stone is less than 20mm thick, we generally recommend using proprietary adhesives as the bedding material.  If the stone is greater than 20mm thick, either installation technique can usually be adopted.

It is recommended that the concrete slab to which the bedding material is going to be applied is swept free of all dirt, dust and debris.  To achieve a strong bond between the bedding material and foundation it is critical a clean surface is achieved.

Traditional Fixing Method – Mortar

Mortar is defined as a mixture of cement, sand and water used for bonding bricks, stones and pavers.

We recommend adopting a mortar mix of 3 (washed sand) :1 (cement): 1 clean water when installing stone using the traditional fixing method.

We also recommend using an additive in your mortar mix to increase the compressive strength and flexibility of the mortar mix.

Typically, a 20-25mm thick mortar bedding is required.  This can vary between 5 to 8 mm depending on the accuracy of the base course and the specific site conditions.

Note: It is critical that the ratio of mortar mix is accurately measured.  Do not rely on “counting shovels” ensure the ratios are measured accurately using buckets.

Hydrating the Concrete Slab & Back of Stone

It is vital that both the foundation and the stone tile are coated with a cement based slurry prior to installation.  This allows for a homogenous bond to be created between the stone and the foundation.  It is vital that a “wet on wet” approach be adopted i.e. wet foundation, wet mortar and wet tile.  This enhances the bond and allows for correct curing times for the cement.   If wet mortar is installed directly onto a dry concrete slab, the concrete will absorb the moisture which will impact on the curing times and strength of the bond.

The cement based slurry can be a mix of the following:

  • Cement and water mixed into a workable paste or;
  • Cement and additive mixed into a workable paste

 

Installing the stone

  1. Remove all dirt, dust and debris from the concrete foundation
  2. Dampen the concrete foundation with clean water
  3. Hydrate the concrete foundation with the cement based slurry. Only apply the slurry to the area where the mortar will be placed.  The slurry should be applied in an even coat approximately 2mm thick.  Do not allow the slurry to dry prior to installing.
  4. Place and evenly spread the mortar mix on top of the concrete where the stone will be laid. The mortar should be approximately 20-25mm thick with no voids or hollows.
  5. Hydrate the back of the stone with the cement based slurry. The slurry should be applied in an even coat approximately 2mm thick and should cover the entire back of the stone i.e. edge to edge and all corners.
  6. Place the stone into position gently tapping down with a rubber mallet making sure to eliminate air pockets and to achieve compaction of the mortar bedding. Ensuring there are no air pockets will allow a strong bond to occur and ensure the stone is fully supported i.e. the pavement does not become “drummy” at a later stage.
  7. When installing larger sized stone, it may be necessary to “double” lay the stone to ensure adequate adhesion.
  8. Tap the stone to the correct falls and levels.
  9. Cut away (remove) any excess mortar and fill in any voids.
  10. Sponge clean the surface of the stone to remove any excess mortar.

 

Hints & Tips:

  • If installing light coloured stones, using a white rubber mallet can help eliminate visible rubber markings being left on the surface.
  • During the laying process, care should be taken to ensure that pavers are not marked or stained and that care is taken to remove cement and mortar stains with clean water immediately.
  • Care must be taken when handling natural stone. We recommend wearing clean gloves when handling the product to minimise unnecessary marking of the paver.
  • Once an area has been installed, you may want to consider covering the product with plastic to prevent spoiling prior to grouting and sealing of the product. This should be especially considered if additional works e.g. gardening or painting is being carried out.
  • Make sure you wear all the necessary OH&S protective gear like gloves, safety glasses and masks when installing natural stone. Read all the warning labels on products such as cement, bonding agents, sealers and electrical equipment – use only as directed.
  • Do not spread too much mortar as it may begin to dry before you have laid the stone. Work in smaller controlled areas.
  • Typically each stone is laid with a joint gap of approximately 5mm.
  • It is recommended that after an area is laid it should not be in service until the bond between the stone and the foundation is strong enough. As a general rule, we recommend pedestrian traffic staying of the paved area for 2-3 days and vehicle traffic staying off the paved area for 14 days.

 

Contemporary Fixing Method – Proprietary Adhesives

This fixing method is a modern approach to bonded pavements.  There have been many advances in the technology used in tile adhesives over recent years.  Depending upon the application, type of stone, the thickness of the stone and the environment the stone is being installed there are a variety of adhesives available in the market. Make sure the adhesive selected is fit for purpose.

The thickness of the stone will help determine the type of adhesive you use.  If the stone you are using is thicker than 20mm good quality cement based adhesive will generally be required.  If the stone you are using is thinner than 20mm thick or it may be moderately unstable to moisture, we recommend the use of rapid setting tile adhesive.

Note: M5 Raven Basalt should always be installed using a rapid setting tile adhesive.

Generally the adhesive is applied using a 10-12mm notched trowel meaning there is only a limited laying tolerance that can be sustained.  This fixing method relies on the stone to be reasonably consistent in thickness and requires the surface of the foundation to be accurate i.e. contoured to the finished heights and levels for drainage.

The contemporary fixing method can be used on new screeds and foundations as well as existing floors.

Installing the Stone

  1. If necessary, apply a final screed to the foundation to prepare a foundation (base course) which is true and at the correct falls and levels. The pre-screed will be a 3:1 (washed sand : cement) mixed with an additive.
  2. Remove all dirt, dust and debris from the concrete foundation/final screed
  3. Evenly spread the chosen adhesive across the laying area (substrate) using a 10-12mm notch trowel.
  4. Back blade (“butter”) the back of the entire stone with the chosen adhesive as well to ensure full adhesion and to consistently fill all micro holes of the stone.
  5. Place the stone into position gently tapping down with a rubber mallet making sure to eliminate air pockets and to promote full coverage of the adhesive across the entire stone being laid.
  6. Tap the stone to the correct falls and levels.
  7. Sponge clean the surface of the stone to remove any excess adhesive.

 

Note: Always follow the adhesive manufactures’ guidelines when using the product.

Hints & Tips:

  • If installing light coloured stones, using a white rubber mallet can help eliminate visible rubber markings being left on the surface.
  • During the laying process, care should be taken to ensure that the stone is not marked or stained and that care is taken to remove cement and mortar stains with clean water immediately.
  • Care must be taken when handling natural stone. We recommend wearing clean gloves when handling the product to minimise unnecessary marking of the paver.
  • Once an area has been installed, you may want to consider covering the product with plastic to prevent spoiling prior to grouting and sealing of the product. This should be especially considered if additional works e.g. gardening or painting is being carried out.
  • Make sure you wear all the necessary OH&S protective gear like gloves, safety glasses and masks when installing natural stone. Read all the warning labels on products such as cement, bonding agents, sealers and electrical equipment – use only as directed.
  • Refer to adhesive manufacturers data sheets to determine pot life and correct mix ratios.
  • Do not spread too much glue at a time as it may begin to dry before you have laid the stone. Work in small controlled areas.
  • Typically each stone is laid with a joint gap.
  • It is recommended that after an area is laid it should not be in service until the bond between the stone and the foundation is strong enough. As a general rule, we recommend pedestrian traffic staying of the paved area for 2-3 days and vehicle traffic staying off the paved area for 14 days.  Refer to manufacturer’s guidelines for specific information.

 

Cutting Stone

We recommended that cutting be done using a bench saw with a wet diamond blade. The stone should be washed immediately after it is cut to avoid any cutting residue drying on the surface of the stone.  When operating any cutting equipment ensure all OH&S protective gear is used.

Grouting

Grouting is an important stage of the pavement.  It is both aesthetically and functionally important.  Choosing the right coloured grout is important in creating the desired overall look.  Structurally it is important the joint gaps are totally full without voids.

There are 2 types of grouts which are now commonly used:

  • Traditional grout – washed sand and cement 3:1 ratio.
  • Contemporary high grade proprietary grout

 

Traditional grouts are a cost effective way to fill the gaps in the pavement.  Traditional grouts can promote efflorescence and it is more difficult to consistently reproduce the same colour if oxides are added to the mix.

We recommend using a pre-bagged proprietary grout which is suitable for the application.  The grout should cater for gaps greater than 4mm in width.  Some contemporary grouts also guarantee not to promote efflorescence, have non-shrink additives and also anti-fungal to minimise moss and mould attaching to the grout lines.

The Finished Surface –The Product

All natural stones are products of nature and no two pieces are exactly the alike.  It is the responsibility of the user to inspect the material prior to installation to check the colour, veining, thickness, sizing and finish.  Prior to installation ensure any blending is completed to meet owner/buyer’s approval.

General Hints & Tips:

  • It is recommended to keep the product under cover prior to installation so the product is kept dry.
  • Prior to installation, always ensure batches of stone are shuffled to achieve evenness in distribution of any colour variation. This will mean opening all crates or pallets supplied prior to installation.
  • Consideration can be given to “pre sealing” products prior to installation to help with the cleaning and sealing of the product upon completion of the project.
  • It is normal for natural stone to have some minor nicks along the edge of the product created during the manufacturing process.Minor marks and small chipping are not structural and therefore not considered defects.
  • Uncalibratedtiles need to be graded prior to installation; the thicker tiles will dictate the finished surface level.
  • We recommend using white cement and white washed sand in your mortar mix for all products, particularly lighter coloured stones which may be translucent.
  • Ensure good commercial quality laying practices are adopted including cleaning off any residue or mortar stains as you go.
  • Natural Stones, particularly igneous products (formed from volcanic eruptions – Granite & Basalt), inherently have vesiculations, veining and crazing (lines) that may appear on the surface of the stone.  These characteristics are normal and are considered part of the stone.  Often these characteristics are only visible during the drying process i.e. when there is moisture in the stone.  Providing these natural characteristics do not affect the structural integrity of the stone, the product should be laid and the natural variations form part of the natural beauty of the stone.

 

Cleaning

Adopting good commercial quality laying practices including cleaning off any grout, glue or mortar residue as you go should reduce the need to have a “total” clean of the paved area after the project is grouted.  Use a proprietary cleaning agent suitable for the natural stone purchased.  DO NOT use acid (e.g. hydrochloric) as your cleaning agent.

It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using chemicals on any natural stone.  Always test product on a small area first to determine the ease of application, amount of dilution needed and desired results.  Never apply a cleaning agent directly to dry stone.  Always pre-wet the area prior to cleaning.

Each type of stain you are cleaning will have a different cleaning agent which will be best suited to clean the surface of your natural stone.  The cleaning agent best suited for one particular stone, may not be suitable for another type of stone.  Seek advice prior o cleaning your stone with any chemicals or cleaning agents.  The use of the wrong cleaning agent can permanently damage and mark your stone.

Note: Natural stone should not be in close proximity to any acid.  When cleaning down bricks or exposed aggregate concrete be mindful to protect the stone from any run off or overspray.

Sealing

It is recommended you seal your natural stone products to obtain full performance.  Products laid adjacent to a pool may require special attention.

What steps should be taken prior to installing natural stone?

Prior to installing natural stone, the following precautions should be undertaken:

  1. It is recommended to keep the product out of the weather prior to installation so the product is kept dry.  This may require you to cover the product with a tarpaulin e.g. builders black plastic when the product arrives on site. Dry tiles are necessary prior to installation.
  2. Prior to installation, always ensure batches of stone are shuffled to achieve evenness in distribution of the colour within the stone.  This will mean opening all crates or pallets supplied prior to installation.
  3. Uncalibrated (natural split) tiles need to be graded prior to installation; the thicker tiles will dictate the finished surface level.

 

Note:  attached to every crate is an “Important Notice” which will provide further information for you.

Should natural stone be sealed?

It is recommended you seal your natural stone products to obtain full performance. Products laid adjacent to a pool may require special attention.

Sealing stone with a good quality sealer can assist in the maintenance and upkeep of the stone. We recommend in high trafficked areas or in areas where there is likely to be food served and around pools that sealing stone is mandatory.

Note: Similar to ‘Scotch Guarding’ your carpet, sealing your stone will not prevent staining but will minimize the effect and give you the best possible chance of restoring your stone area to the original condition after normal wear and tear or after a spillage.

Technical Information: Sealing Guide

Please find below a link below to the Australian Stone Advisory Association (ASAA) guide to sealing and maintaining natural stone.  It is important to remember that any guide, no matter how comprehensive, is used to assist and provide current information but cannot be relied upon to cover every situation.  There is always job specific circumstances which may change or influence the interpretation of the guide.  The sealing guide covers information relating to bench tops and internal applications as well as addressing external applications.  As this is a generic guide, it is important you still speak to your sealer supplier to discuss specific information.

Sealing & Maintaining Natural Stone guide >>> PDF

How do I maintain my natural stone after it has been installed?

Very little maintenance is required after laying natural stone. It is advised that you regularly sweep/mop the area to minimize the amount of dirt and debris which settles on the product. This will allow your stone to continue to look its best. Any marks or stains which spoil the surface should be removed immediately.

Note: 

  1. The use of acids as cleaning agents can be harmful to natural stone. For general cleaning the use of a very mild detergent and a broom/mop will be adequate.  The use of a high pressure water cleaner on an annual basis will assist in maintaining the stone – be mindful the wand is not used too close to the surface to etch the surface or dislodge the grout.

If there are specific stains that need to be removed, depending upon the stain and the stone type there are generally proprietary cleaners designed to remove the stain without harming the stone.