The Advantages of Manufactured Calcium Silicate Building Stone

Words: Dan Kamys

Manufactured Stone

By Cindy Loosemore

[caption id="attachment_13052" align="alignnone" width="605"]Manufactured-Stone-Arris-Shadow-Stone-home A home built with Arriscraft’s Shadow Stone.[/caption] While calcium silicate masonry units (CSMU) are not new,  their unique qualities and benefits are perhaps more relevant today than ever. Understanding how CSMU differs from other manufactured stone reveals the important advantages of this masonry product. CSMUs are a manufactured stone product with exceptional strength and durability, as well as remarkable authenticity in terms of texture and appearance. Arriscraft in Ontario, Canada, has manufactured calcium silicate building stone for over 60 years. This type of manufactured stone is distinct from both clay bricks and concrete masonry products.

How It’s Made Makes the Difference

Naturally occurring materials are mixed and then pressed into modular-sized units under high pressure. The units are then subjected to a highly monitored steam system to produce a masonry unit with uniformly fine-grained texture. This Natural Process® technology (patented by Arriscraft) replicates how stone is formed in the earth, except more rapidly. During the manufacturing process, the raw materials chemically react to form a calcium silicate hydrate binder, resulting in durable, strong and integrally bonded units. Although this manufacturing process has changed very little over the decades, the demand for this naturally based, calcium silicate stone continues to grow. These “green” units are entirely natural except for the pigments that are added as the raw materials combine. This mixing creates masonry units with through-body color, so stones can be cut, shaped, hand-chiseled or dressed on-site while maintaining the fine-grained texture and color.

Performs Like Quarried Stone

Because CSMUs are created to be like natural, quarried stone, they offer the same strength and durability benefits. Arriscraft Building Stone products are offered with a lifetime warranty and will not fade, shrink, crack or age in the way that concrete-based manufactured stone products may — particularly under severe weather conditions. These calcium silicate products meet ASTM C73-99a, which specifies the requirements for compressive strength and absorption in order for the material to be classified as either moderate or severe weathering. Cement-based product standards do not apply to CSMUs; within the calcium silicate standards, there are no performance requirements with respect to freeze/thaw durability. It is generally accepted that the durability of calcium silicate masonry is closely related to its strength properties. Arriscraft stone products have been independently tested to ensure that they meet and exceed the severe weathering requirements for ASTM C73.

Broad Style Selection

While quarried stone obviously cannot be altered in terms of color, shape and profile, CSMUs are manufactured in a vast array of designs, offering builders the dual advantage of performance and style. According to Arriscraft’s marketing manager, Marta Zonneveld, “Even customers who have known us for decades are sometimes surprised to learn about our complete line. They often fall in love with one style of stone, I suppose because of their recurring types of projects. Some know us for our traditional stone, perhaps as home builders, while others specify a more architectural design for commercial or institutional projects.” The product offering runs the gamut from historical to modern, satisfying an equally broad range of building designs — from old-world university buildings to ultra-contemporary homes. Currently, Arriscraft offers 10 Building Stone styles, in addition to Renaissance® Masonry Units and a series of Thin-Clad products.

Color and Blend Customization

While most manufactured stone products offer a broad choice of style and color, Arriscraft’s unique production process opens up opportunity for customization. Because CSMU pigments are added during the process, each product run can be different without any setup changes. This flexibility, plus a dedicated technical lab, has made custom orders very common with Arriscraft.

Case Study: University of Wyoming

[caption id="attachment_13053" align="alignright" width="300"]University of Wyoming University of Wyoming[/caption] The University of Wyoming wanted to incorporate its historical, locally sourced sandstone into the design of the new, state-of-the-art Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center. However, with the regional quarry closed, the university struggled to find a suitable “natural” stone option in their signature colors. Arriscraft worked with the university and designers to create a custom bond pattern using standard Renaissance masonry unit colors. According to Chet Lockard, project leader at Project Guide Services, “Arriscraft was able to dial in the color we needed. We wanted to create more excitement for the Gateway Center, and they have a great range of standard colors, which also saved money on the project. The best thing about Arriscraft is that it’s no different than quarried stone, but it’s more color consistent.”

Case Study: Virginia Tech

[caption id="attachment_13054" align="alignright" width="300"]Virginia Tech Virginia Tech[/caption] Established in 1896, Virginia Tech has a rich and unique history. In order to preserve their source of “Hokie” stone, the institution went so far as to purchase the quarry in the 1970s. But with the supply depleting (the quarry run was actually changing), administrators were faced with a finite supply. Working closely with the school, Arriscraft masonry experts recreated the Hokie stone pattern using Cumberland Building Stone and creating the custom “Rockport Grey” color blend. A second blend includes 4–5 percent of Virginia Tech’s iconic, quarried black stone, for the most distinguished projects. The main Rockport Grey blend is used on university buildings, commercial buildings associated with the school, and even by some alumni for their residences, since they so closely identify with their alma mater.

Historical Matching

Because calcium silicate masonry units have an authentic, natural grain appearance, they are also a top candidate for use on historical projects, either for repairs and renovations or for new structures being integrated with old buildings. With the added advantage of color matching, Arriscraft Building Stone can come incredibly close to a perfect match.

Case Study: Miami University

[caption id="attachment_13051" align="alignright" width="200"]Miami University Miami University[/caption] Founded in 1809, Miami University in Ohio is one of the country’s oldest universities. With new buildings needed, the school required a more efficient and cost-effective alternative to quarried stone. Arriscraft developed a custom color of its Fresco Building Stone to create a near-perfect match to the original, early 19th-century stone used on campus. Although the Arriscraft stone was actually more expensive than the quarried stone, the project timing and installation costs were greatly reduced, enough to save hundreds of thousands of dollars on the project.

Standard and Streamlined Installation

As a manufactured product, Arriscraft Building Stone is designed for installation using standard masonry techniques, regardless of the stone style. However, while some Building Stone styles require that a bond pattern be followed, Arriscraft has introduced new options designed for more rapid installation.
Manufactured Calcium Silicate Building Stone Manufactured Calcium Silicate Building Stone
Strikingly simple, Urban Ledgestone is Arriscraft’s first product designed to be laid in a coursed pattern. To achieve this coursed pattern, one size of stone is laid in one or more rows, followed by one or more rows of a second size. Introduced in 2015, Matterhorn Building Stone features a simple-to-install, two-unit bond pattern. Matterhorn is made with 99 percent reclaimed material from existing manufacturing processes. New for 2016, the 32-inch Evolution Masonry Unit is Arriscraft’s longest stone product. According to the company, building designers have expressed a strong interest in a longer stone, and they were able to upgrade existing manufacturing technology to accommodate production of this large masonry unit.
For more information, visit Cindy Loosemore is a freelance writer and can be reached at
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