While natural stone cladding is lighter than its solid stone counterpart, it’s still a heavy material and the feature wall substrate needs to accommodate that weight.

A suitable feature wall substrate

When planning for a feature wall, you’ll need to ensure the substrate you’re adhering the cladding onto is structurally sound and suitable for your chosen material. This may require an engineer’s structural certificate before you being the installation.

Concrete, blockwork and brickwork are all suitable substrates for a natural stone feature wall if it is installed to support the weight of the cladding product. For existing concrete walls, taking the time to prepare the surface is integral. Care must also be taken with new concrete by allowing it to cure for a minimum of six weeks and completed with a slightly textured wood float finish.

Old or new substrates

Whether it’s a newly built or old wall, the surface must be even and true, with no loose contaminating materials and a variance of no more than 2mm every 4mm. In the event the wall isn’t true, a render should be applied to the substrate’s surface as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

To ensure optimal safety, strength and permeance, a qualified and licensed contractor should perform the work building a suitable feature wall substrate. The contractor and specifier together can assess the conditions of your individual site and application. Depending on the individual circumstances, mechanical fixings may be necessary.

Painted Substrates

If your feature wall substrate is pre-existing and finished with paint, you’ll need to spend the time to prepare the surface. It is often recommended the painted surface be stripped or sandblasted before the cladding is installed.

Key considerations for correct cladding installation

Beyond a suitable feature wall substrate, there are some key considerations to ensure the appropriate cladding of your material. These include:

External factors

Installation in an exterior environment should accommodate thermal movement, shock and vibration and freezing temperatures.

Product suitability

It’s vital the chosen product is suitable for the intended application for longevity and performance.

Appropriate Adhesive

Adhesives and the methods of application are continually improving. Ensuring you are using an appropriate adhesive for the product and the environment is essential.

High-quality sealing

Sealing is an essential step in protecting the stone cladding’s natural beauty and longevity. High quality penetrating sealers are advised after the cladding has been installed. However, in certain environments, pre-sealing prior should be considered.

Feature image: Up In Stone installing Alpine Dry Stone cladding at a Corella Construction project.