045 BP 1016

BP 10 October 2016

BRICKS, BLOCKS & PAVERS OCTOBER 2016 | BUILDING PRODUCTS 45 Something else architects and specifiers should consider is the sustainability and ethics of the products used. Using a trusted natural stone supplier is the only way to ensure that materials are responsibly sourced. Much of the natural stone used in the UK is imported from overseas and in particular India, which is one of the main exporters of sandstone and limestone. While Indian stone can offer attractive products at cost effective price points, regulation of its stone industry is erratic, with corruption, child labour and illegal quarries presenting major problems. One safe way of specifying with integrity is to use a stone importer that has complete end-to-end control of the supply chain, from quarry to doorstep, and can provide documentation for each step and component. Also, architects and specifiers can check whether the supplier is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) – an alliance of companies, trade unions and voluntary organisations that work in partnership to improve the lives of poor and vulnerable workers across the globe. Adding to responsible specification, architects and specifiers should always look for products that are fully CE marked as inaccurate or even fake product labelling can mislead customers about the long-term performance of products. However, the significant cost of becoming fully CE Marked has led some of the smaller players in the Indian stone market to apply incorrect labels to their products and pallets. Specifiers should therefore carefully examine the quality marks provided by manufacturers and take appropriate steps to ensure any documentation is genuine. Natural stone installations are a significant investment, so it makes sense to consider using specialist protection products, which can further improve its durability and resistance to staining. Sealants are best, as opposed to coatings (which sit on top of the surface), as they are designed to penetrate deep into the substrate to offer longer lasting protection. Equally, it is worth using a breathable sealant as this means it can be applied straight after installation, providing protection straight away. Manufacturers of some un-breathable sealants recommend that they must only be applied three months after installation, allowing for any efflorescence to appear, but this leaves the stone vulnerable to the elements. It is also worth looking for a sealant that will provide protection against both water and oil based contaminants. Landscaped areas treated with high quality sealants like this actually become self-cleaning to an extent, as rainwater can wash away most materials that cannot penetrate into the stone and are left on the surface. Natural stone is an ideal material in an increasingly urbanised environment and by taking all of these considerations into account, architects and specifiers can make the best decisions about their choice of material for their project. Malcolm Gough is Group Sales and Marketing Director at Natural Paving Products (UK)


BP 10 October 2016
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