Reinforcing Limestone Countertops
Limestone countertops are one of the features that distinguish a good home from a great one. Natural limestone adds character and individuality to a home that may otherwise be nice and takes it to another level. In fact, home buyers often times list "limestone countertops" as a requirement for the home they are buying. Installing limestone countertops involves some techniques that may not be that well known. One of these is reinforcement. In this article, we will consider how to reinforce limestone countertops. Along the way, we will look at why reinforcement is needed and some techniques that are used to reinforce limestone countertops.
Why Reinforce Limestone Countertops
Even though natural limestone countertops are sturdy and durable, they still need reinforced. Why? Because each slab of limestone is very heavy. That means after it is formed into a limestone countertop and positioned, it may be stressed. Why do we say that? For two reasons. First, part of the countertop may hang over the edge of the base on which it is sitting. Second, even if the slab does not hang over an edge very far, the base on which the slab sits is not solid. Both of these situations cause tension on one of the two surfaces of the slab; either the top or the bottom. Although the reinforcement techniques are somewhat different, how to reinforce concrete countertops explains how this tension comes to be a concern.
Limestone Countertop Reinforcement Techniques
So what techniques are used for reinforcing natural limestone? There are a number of them. Fabrication professionals use one or more of them to make limestone slabs stronger than they initially are. The types of reinforcement techniques used are as follows:
Fiberglass Mesh for Limestone
Some natural limestone slabs may have internal impurities that may result in the limestone cracking. To reduce the risk of this happening, fiber mesh is used to reinforce them.
Fiberglass mesh is used to reinforce limestone slabs by applying the mesh evenly across the back (or underside) of the limestone and affixing it with an epoxy product. The fiberglass mesh strengthens the limestone and makes it more resistant to cracking from the impurities that might be inside the limestone.
Rodding limestone Countertops
As mentioned earlier in the article, sink cutouts result in narrow strips of limestone that border the opening. These areas often times require a significant amount of reinforcing. However, these are not the only areas where reinforcing may be beneficial. Depending on the slab, there may be other areas of the limestone that could benefit from substantial reinforcement. Using rodding to reinforce limestone slabs. When it comes to rodding, there are a number of options.
The first rodding option is steel rodding. Reinforcing limestone using steel rodding is straightforward. Simply cut a slot in the underside of the limestone slab where you want to reinforce it. Then place the strip of steel rodding in the slot and completely cover rodding with epoxy. It is important to completely encase the steel rodding in epoxy to prevent oxide jacking. Oxide jacking is a chemical reaction that can result in the limestone breaking from pressure build up due to the reaction occurring in a very tight space. One way to protect your slabs from oxide jacking is to use a material that is rust proof. Another option is to use a steel rodding that protects from oxide jacking that is already encased in a rust free material.
Fiber rodding is used in the same way as steel rodding. However, it will not rust. Since oxide jacking is the result of a chemical reaction that occurs when rusting takes place, using fiber rodding made from rust-free material serves as a protection against breakage from oxide jacking. There is more than one kind of fiber rodding including:
So, there are a number of choices when it comes to rodding. If you use steel rodding, be sure to use rodding that has no rust, it is free of moisture, and it is completely encsed in epoxy when it is used. Or, use a rodding made of rust-proof material such as the ones mentioned above.
Seams are unavoidable in some projects. Additionally, there are occasions where strengthening them is important and recommended by some fabricators. Using splines is another way of reinforcing limestone. Using a "spline key" that is installed according to the rust protection methods described above strengthens the seam by reinforcing the limestone.
Spline keys are commonly in the form of a large washer. The washer is inserted into a slot that is cut in the ends of the two limestone pieces that join to make the seam. The slots are cut at the midway point measuring from the top of the slab. The spline key is encased in epoxy and reinforces the seam. If the washer used as the key is made from steel, it is important that the techniques mentioned above for the steel rodding are used for steel spline keys as well.
The last reinforcement technique that we will briefly mention is the use of linear blocks to reinforce limestone. This technique for limestone reinforcement is not used often but it is one that is used.
Bonding a linear block of limestone (matching or non-matching) to the underneath part of the limestone to support the seam is how this technique is used. This is done when no sub-top is used.
Using the aforementioned reinforcement techniques either alone or in combination with others is practiced by limestone professionals. These techniques are used because as a natural material, limestone varies in consistency, porosity, and even hardness to a degree. As a result, each individual slab will vary in strength. Additionally, when fabricators remove portions of the slab, it leaves areas that are weaker than they were prior to the cutout. The areas of the grantie around the cutout, then, need to be reinforced. Knowing about these techniques for strengthening limestone by reinforcing it is essential.
You will find that there are several ways to make use of these techniques. Furthermore, professionals will use more than one of them at a time in some cases. Depending on the slab, the project, and even the design of the project, various techniques may or may not be selected. If you are new to the field, gian experience and knowledge. If you are a veteran of the limestone fabrication trade, pass your experience along to others that are less experienced. By doing this, limestone's outstanding reputation will remain by means of high quality work!