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Stone Failures-Why? Article #3
Article #1, Article #2, Article #3, Article #4, Article #5, Article #6, Article #7, Article #8, Article #9, Article #10, Article #11, Article #12

Application in Wrong Location

The wrong application is using a stone in a location not recommended or appropriate for the stone.

All slates and sandstones are not equal.

We caution against installing slate and sandstone where there is constant wetting and drying occurring. We are involved with a slate failure in Fresno where the landscape water hits the slate and sandstone. In these areas, you can literally peal the stone tile off in layers from building. A swimming pool in Rancho Santa Fe has slate literally shaling, spalling apart in pieces and falling into the swimming pool.

Polished surfaces do not belong installed on floors in wet areas due to slip, trip and fall liability and reduced coefficient of friction. A honed finish typically has better coefficient of friction than a polished surface.

Mixing of stones that cannot be polished in between polished stone creates a long-term maintenance problem. Avoid the mixing of different stones with different finishes together. Avoid using polished stone at building entry pivot points where the stone could get wet. Prevent the slip trip and fall liability by requesting the design be changed.

Type C and Type D Marbles do not belong in areas subjected to moisture.

An area subject to moisture includes showers, steam rooms, wet areas, saunas, entries adjacent to exteriors of buildings, exterior of buildings, swimming pools and spas, and direct bond to concrete slab on grade construction. I will further explain moisture/vapor emission in concrete later.

Volcanic tuft also called canterra and Adoquin stone have been oversold and these stones do not perform well in swimming pool surrounds and in vehicular traffic areas.

Flagstone does not belong in vehicular traffic areas especially without adequate expansion joints.

Builders in California created a standard of care with the floor covering design centers to use anti-fracture membranes to prevent minor shrinkage cracks in concrete slabs from transferring through the finish floor assembly.

Natural stones should not be installed over moisture sensitive slip-sheet assemblies used strictly for anti-fracture capabilities on concrete slabs subject to moisture/vapor emission, migration, wicking, percolating and transmitting through concrete slabs.

A proper application would be to install an anti-fracture waterproof membrane to prevent the moisture/vapor emission migration through the substrate from affecting the natural stone floor or wall assembly. We recommend using products like Composeal Gold, Noble-Seal TS, and Dal-Seal TS, directly bonded to the concrete slab with a rapid setting mortar.

The rapid setting mortar will heat hydrate and cure quickly.

When a membrane is placed on concrete, the membrane will draw moisture to the underside of the membrane.

Normal latex will not cure when subjected to moisture for a long period of time.

The rapid setting mortar has alumite, which is high pH friendly. A 9.3 pH alkalinity can cause loss of bond to Portland cement setting materials but not to rapid setting mortars in the high alkalinity condition.

This article is part of a series of articles on Stone Failures (Dec. 2000) by Greg Mowat

Forensic Tile Consultants
9541 Vervain Street
San Diego, CA 92129-3523
(858) 484-8118, Fax 484-8302

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