Hand-crafted cast stone

How hand-crafted cast stone can add character to your property

  • 1 Aug 2016

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Whether recreating the regency splendour of high-end luxury residential properties or turning multi-million pound commercial projects into architectural landmarks, architects and specifiers want the highest quality materials that reflect their expressive potential.

But this can come at a price.

John Lambert, general manager at Forticrete, looks at how beautifully hand-crafted cast stone can deliver a unique character and quality finish, seamlessly replicating natural stone in a cost-effective and timely way…

To create distinctive design touches when undertaking new build projects, restoration work and building extensions, more and more architects and specifiers are turning to detailing building components to enhance the kerb appeal of their homes, particularly at the front of their properties.

Examples include creating feature windows with a mix of heads, cills, mullions and jambs creating attractive window surrounds or welcoming entrance ways incorporating specially crafted porticos, porch and door surrounds.

Traditionally supplied in natural stone or brick, architects and specifiers are increasingly opting for beautifully crafted cast stone components, a perfect example of time honoured craftsmanship and technology working together in perfect harmony.

Cast stone: an ideal solution

Manufactured from high grade limestone and sandstone aggregates, cements, pigments and waterproofing agents, in accordance with the current British, European and the UKCSA standards, cast stone is a good choice of material to add these finishing and traditional touches.

Cast stone has long been perceived to be prone to damage, causing many to opt against specifying the material. This is because in many instances it is poorly manufactured resulting in damage which becomes visible in the first couple of days from manufacture. It is during this time that it is often packed and sealed for distribution and, as a result, it is only upon delivery that any potential damage is revealed.

However, cast stone can be produced to a high quality. With that in mind, it is vital that architects and specifiers ensure they’re sourcing cast stone from suppliers that are prematurely aging the product to improve early handling thanks to innovative curing methods.

For the architect looking to reflect their individual tastes in their material choices, they should also look to specify quality cast stone that is manufactured by hand, using highly skilled craftsmen, who carefully produce each piece in-house using a semi-dry or wet cast format. As the cast stone is manufactured by hand, craftsmen are able to produce a range of bespoke cast stone products with ease, providing architects and specifiers with the individual style they require.

Regional variances

Suitable for timber frame or conventional brick and block construction, cast stone detailing components are available in a range of colours each created to match regional differences in natural stone colour. From the white limestone of York to the honey coloured walls of Bath and the reddish hues of sandstone that make Chester so distinctive, each region has its own distinct stone, synonymous with the area.

However, bespoke cast stone components can also be created to meet design requirements. Unusual sizes, intricate or irregular shapes and precise matches for special colours and textures – this flexibility gives maximum design freedom to create stand-out detailing for architects and specifiers.

Hand-crafted cast stone

Put to the test

Showing just how high performance cast stone detailing can make a dramatic difference to the overall appearance of a building, the external façade of Kennedy Court at Audley St. Elphin’s Park in Derbyshire, has been completed using Forticrete high performance cast stone blocks in three bespoke colours.

Consisting of 15 two-bedroom apartments, Kennedy Court is the third phase of development at St. Elphin’s Park, which is set within14-acres of landscaped grounds on a 44 acre site in Darley Dale.

Forticrete’s purpose-made cast stone Regency Ashlar blocks were previously specified by M2H Architects after working closely with Audley Retirement and the local planning authority for the main body of the external skin of Robinson Court, an earlier development phase.

The cast stone blocks were used as they seamlessly replicated the existing natural stone finish of St Elphin’s House, the centrepiece of the luxury retirement village in Derbyshire, a strict requirement of the local planning authority. Varying size blocks up to 600mm in length built in three different height courses combined with narrow 5mm mortar joints were used to closely imitate the construction of St. Elphin’s House.

A simple solution

To provide high quality, distinctive touches to a self-build project or an extension, architects and specifiers needn’t look further than beautifully crafted cast stone components.  However, it is essential that, to add the desired individual character to their properties, they turn to cast stone, manufactured by hand, with time honoured craftsmanship and manufacturing quality.

Find out more in the July issue of ABC+D Magazine

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