Stone Products – Interview with the Founder

In this interview, we talk about Stone Products

Let’s talk a little bit about stone products. I guess there’s two categories here; one is the full stone product that is used in place of bricks for building and then also the cladding products.

We have the natural limestone now, which comes from South Australia.

So that’s a limestone product that is out of the ground, it’s cut into pieces, large format, much larger blocks. They’re really economically priced, they’re not as expensive as you would think comparable with face brick.

You do have to seal them because they come out of the ground, they’re sort of healing because they’re out of the ground they darken so they actually get a bit blacker and darker but if you seal them, it protects them so they’ll retain their natural colour.

You can get them smooth faced and rock faced. You can really see the fossils and the shells and the 1000’s of years of making in each piece. As they are not overly hard being limestone you can shape them as well, so you can have quoined corners, you can do some really different dressing of the blocks for the bottoms, tops and really get some shape and some architecture into it, so very popular.

We’ve also got the rock face look in a manmade block as well, which is a rock face block which you have the traditional 190 wide block that’s cut in half and this produces two rock faced blocks; one that’s convex and one concave so when they’re laid you will have what we call sort of an innie and an outies.

Various colours and looks very much like a piece of rock or stone and then you’ve got the rock faced blocks that are all outies, so they’re actually still some of them are hand chiselled away to rock face a block out and make it so they’re all rock faced out, so you’ve got no convex, concave, it’s all out on that side of the block which is like the natural limestone so they’re still very popular with your homestead type houses and some modern architecture with your smooth face corners with the rock faced stone body.

Then you’ve got your cladding, so your natural stone cladding and your manmade stone cladding, so there’s a lot of variations of those. Anything from a crazy look stone to a ledge stone, to a limestone look, travertine look.

I mean there’s literally a hundred different profiles of colours and textures you can choose from in cladding. Both manmade and natural and you can stick them to any surfaces on the outside or inside of an existing building or a new building.

Using the right adhesives again is very, very important with the claddings. You can’t just use a sand and cement, you’ve got to use a proprietary adhesive like our preferred brand Mapei adhesive. The reason for that is they’re tested at that load and weight and it’s also very important that the structure behind is also the right surface, because you don’t want the weight of the stone falling off the wall or pealing that backing surface off. It’s got to be onto a solid strong surface, either a stone board or a brick or a masonry block so it will stick and hold, and there are still plenty of installers to do that sort of work.

It’s again something you can do yourself for a smaller area but for a large area, inside or outside we’d recommend one of our preferred installers for that and that’s what they do, they’re very good at that and they’ll get the job looking awesome for you.

Feature walls of stone and things used to be quite popular in the ‘60’s. A lot of the houses had that as the front entrance as you walked onto the veranda and it’s coming back again as an internal. Are you seeing a lot of people using that as a feature wall in their loungeroom or something like that?

Yes, fire places, mantels, feature walls, definitely. I mean, it’s become widely used again because of its flexibility to be used anywhere. Facades are still a major area they get installed to create a point of difference and a feature.

The point of difference is what a lot of people want and they find that with the cladding you can do that and/or if you’ve been in the same house for some time and you want to renovate you can change the look so that’s where they become very popular.

Just want to cycle back to the limestone for a moment. I actually drove through Mount Gambier the other day and I saw one of the sink holes where the limestone has sort of fallen in. It’s quite a porous rock and there was actually a face of it and you could see all of those fossils. What are some of the features of a limestone? It’s obviously a porous rock. Is that another reason why you need to seal it when you’re building a house?

Yes definitely. So, I mean it’s literally cut out of the ground, if you could imagine a shelf of stone, they actually cut it out with diamond saws and then they process it by cutting it into smaller pieces in a shed’s. It is soft so you can actually literally cut it with a hand saw to shape it up but it’s strong enough still to be a veneer of a house, so both inside and outside but once it is out of the ground it’s tendency, it’s porous so the sealing of it stops the porosity, so it stops it going that darker, not a mould, but a darker black colour and stops that.

Funny enough though there are some people that want that black old look straight away, so there is still some old techniques used where they actually use a combination of milk and yoghurt, believe it or not, spray it on and it makes it go black really quickly because that’s the look they want, they want that old look.

That’s an interesting technique. What are some of the trends that are happening in that stone? You’ve seen cladding for a while and it started out as being your standard little small pieces of rock but now we’re seeing a whole lot of other textures, but what else is happening in that area?

There’s a lot of our manufacturers have developed corner pieces that we didn’t have before, so you wouldn’t get a nice corner piece so one of our manufacturers cut their stone so you can’t see where the join is but that also doubles as a corner so where it fingers in together you can actually make it into a left or right hand corner and it’s also the face so you’ve only got to buy one product to do the whole job.

Makes it a lot easier, far more economical as well because the individual corner pieces were always quite expensive because they’re harder to make, where this is one to do all so that’s allowed the product to become far more affordable and easier to use and install as well.

So, if you’re looking for something a little bit different to your average brick then you can look to limestone for building your house and if you want to create a feature wall inside or outside then there’s enormous variety of stack stone and cladding to look at, at any one of the Melbourne Brick stores. Or go online to