Sculpting stone was thought to be the only way to shape the natural material used in buildings through the centuries. However, scientists and archaeologists have determined that the Great Pyramids of Giza are comprised of natural carved stone and a limestone-based concrete, becoming one of the first recorded uses of faux stone. Stone was also decorative and used as statuary, balustrades, finials and obelisks in European gardens. By the mid-1600s, artificial stone, or moulded stone became popular as the demand outweighed the supply. Artificial stone has evolved into a highly sophisticated building material used in all facets of construction.
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Artificial Stone Siding
The use of artificial stone as a facade has superseded that of natural stone. A formula consisting of polyurethane, fire retardants and ultraviolet inhibitors is fabricated and put into moulds. Patterns, colours and textures of real stone are simulated. Rock facades, flagstone, ledge stone, brick and slate are a few of the siding materials available in simulated stone. Real stone facades require a reinforced framework to hold the weight of the stone. Artificial stone siding is lighter, installation is easier and the material should price out at about one-half that of natural stone.
The impressive statuary, balustrades and garden ornamentation seen in ornate historic gardens are probably cast stone originating from a mould. As the original cast concrete statuary suffered weathering, new formulas for artificial stone were devised. Faux stone moved into a highly technical era beginning in the late 1800s. Resins, cement, glass fibres, adhesives and polyurethane are some of the components of fake stone, and all are made by pouring the liquid mixture into a mould. Mass-production of decorative architectural building materials using coated styrofoam was popularised in the late 1900s as exterior decoration became more elaborate.
Real marble is an expensive building material that requires a strong substructure to hold its weight. A fake marble is known as cultured marble, and it is lightweight, much less expensive and can be moulded into any shape necessary for the building project. Cultured marble is a mixture of fibreglass resin and crushed limestone. Some cultured marble may contain marble powder. Colour is added to the liquid mixture and it is poured into a mould to harden. The result is a nonporous, stain resistant, strong building material that does not need to be sealed and is easy to maintain.
Engineered Stone Flooring
Artificial stone floor tiles replicate porcelain, ceramic, marble, granite, quartz and even glass. The tiles are made of a mixture using sand and an alkaline solution that includes powdered flint. Mixed together and moulded under extreme heat, the flooring tiles are then put into a solution of silicate of soda and left to harden for 2 weeks. The result is a floor tile that is durable, will not crack or chip and is nonporous.
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- National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior; The Maintenance, Repair and Replacement of Historic Cast Stone; Richard Pieper
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- Tile Stores.net: 3 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Artificial Stone in Your Home
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