Banding, Columns, Door & Window Surrounds Columns & Arches Medallions, Coping, Arches, Columns, & Banding Balustrades, Newel Piers, Sphere Finials, & Planters Pool & Wall Coping Garden Elements Pier Caps Commercial Signage
jQuery Horizontal Image Slider by WOWSlider.com v1.7m

CUSTOMER RESOURCES—FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

We have compiled several answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Cast Stone. The following provides general information about Cast Stone products and Espinoza Cast Stone, Inc. Please review our bulletins for further information and always consult an engineer when designing your residential, commercial, or landscaping project.

 

Who is Espinoza Cast Stone, Inc.?


Espinoza Stone Founder, President, and CEO, Jesse Espinoza, began his career in 1989 studying the art and precision of fine stone. By 1996, his hard work and dedication paid off when he formed Espinoza Stone. As he expanded his expertise, so did the sophistication of his technology and machinery. In 2001, with his brother, Margarito Espinoza, they merged their extensive knowledge, companies and quarries forming Espinoza Stone, Inc. They are now equipped with eight quarries throughout the Lone Star State and Oklahoma, over one hundred employees, and an extensive line of both custom designs and stone veneer products. Espinoza Stone, Inc. has grown to be the eminent purveyor of quality stone products at affordable prices. In 2010, the Espinoza Quality line of products was enhanced by the addition of their 35,000 square foot state-of-the-art Cast Stone Facility in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We welcome you to Espinoza Cast Stone, Inc., Where Quality Comes First.

 

What is Espinoza Cast Stone, Inc.’s Mission?


Our mission and vision are to provide you with the highest quality of refined architectural Cast Stone material. We desire that our customer’s needs are exceeded and their residential, commercial, and landscaping projects beautifully enhanced by our decorative, custom-made line of the highest quality products. Our design and sales teams have over 65 years experience and are available to assist you in creating a custom design to fit your individual needs.

 

What is Cast Stone?


Cast Stone is a highly refined masonry product designed for ornamental and architectural trim as well as functional features on buildings and in the interior. It is a highly refined architectural concrete, vibrant dry tamped stone, manufactured to look like cut stone at a more reasonable and affordable price.

 

Cast Stone is one of the oldest known types of concrete, dating back to the early 1100s. Since its acceptance in the early 1900s, cast stone has become known as a highly desired process that consistently provides you with consistent color throughout the material as well as the void of air holes and unwanted color variations that you may encounter in cut stone.

 

How is Cast Stone made?


Once a project has been designed, our experienced sales team and draftsmen works hand-in-hand with the contractors, masons, home builders, and engineers to design the individual pieces that comprise the entire cast stone portion of your project. Like a puzzle, each piece must be designed separately. An individual mold is then crafted in our mold shop per the specs on each mold ticket so each piece fits perfectly together with the other cast stone pieces to create your desired effect.

 

Our facility is equipped with the state-of-the-art batch plant to produce the highest quality cast stone products. Our production team is highly specialized in the cast stone vibrant dry tamp manufacturing method that includes an air hammer ramming of sand and cement mixture, with zero slump mixture, into the forms. Once the cast stone has been properly tamped, it is released from the mold and carefully placed on our large, long curing racks. Thereafter, a specialized finisher ensures all detail is properly inspected before curing. This ensures that there are no air holes or voids present, giving it a professionally finished look like cut stone.

 

Our cast stone products are cured in an enclosed climate controlled heated steam room, of approximately 150°F, providing you with a more durable product in a shorter amount of time.  Each piece is again carefully examined, allowed to cure an additional couple days to ensure the proper hardness and consistency, palletized or packaged, and shipped to your residential, commercial, or landscaping project.

 

How versatile is Cast Stone? What applications can I use it for?


Cast Stone is a highly versatile trim, décor, facing, and ornamental product. It is used for decorative architectural use that looks stronger, weathers better, and has a wonderful consistent color compared to cut stone.  It is not designed to be load bearing and structural in nature.

 

Cast stone may be used for residential, commercial, and landscaping projects. It is used quite often as a decorative veneer product usually designed to replicate limestone. Common products are banding, coping, sills, columns, balusters, surrounds, quoins, water tables, pier caps, and fireplaces. It is specified under section 04720.

 

Sandblast and chemical retardation are rarely used as finishing methods with architectural cast stone material. Cast stone is usually left in its original condition when installed. As an option, highly experienced artisans can paint, stain and faux the cast stone material after installation, if desired. After final inspection, an application of sealant/water repellent is highly recommended.

 

What are the advantages of Cast Stone? How to I fix a chip in the Cast Stone?


In most situations, any chip of one quarter inch or less, the cast stone piece should be left alone. Should the chip need replacing, there is a remedy. Ideally, when you order the Cast Stone material, a patch kit with the sand and cement ratio of three to one, plus the color pigment, if necessary, is provided. This Patch kit should be kept in a clean, dry area so no moisture can penetrate it or it will harden to a solid mass.


When needed, one can mix enough water to make the patch kit moldable, yet not too wet. Moisten the area of the cast stone piece that has the chip in it. Apply a small amount of an acrylic bonding agent to the chipped area, making sure you do not get too close to the edges of the chip. Apply the patch kit material and form it to the design of the original piece. (Use wooden or plastic utensils and not metal tools.) Leave a little bit extra material on the piece than necessary until it dries a short while. Take a piece of rough clean rag, carpet, burlap, or like material and lightly brush the patch kit so it looks like and blends with the cast stone and joint material.


If you do not have any patch kit material and you have extra pieces or discarded pieces from the job, you can grind up the material to a powder like substance and then follow the same procedures.


We can always provide you with a Patch Kit for the color of your material as we will have that color mix recipe to fit your project. One must always keep in mind that cast stone is made of aggregate that is mined from the earth. Sand varies consistently in aggregate size and color. We have no control over the mining process and the mines. Therefore, your color patch of today, may vary with the color patch of tomorrow should the sand change between time. It will be close but may not be an exact match. (Refer to our bulletin on Patching)


Can I repair or replace a piece of Cast Stone that is on an older building?


Yes. There are many things to keep in mind. The stone has aged through time and has been affected by the ultraviolet rays, the lack of water repellent application when installed, the diminished effect of the water repellent, if applied, the discoloration and/or staining of the material from trees, sap, roofing materials, etc.


Start by washing the cast stone material with soap and water to see whether the dirt and stain will come off. If this mixture does not take out stains, wash the cast stone material with a mild acidic solution (usually five to ten percent muriatic acid type solution that is designed for cast stone) and a soft brush to see whether the discoloration can be minimized. (Keep in mind that any acidic type solutions may roughen the texture of the cast stone face.) We can try to match the stone the best we can, but you must keep in mind that it will probably take months and up to a year for the old and new cast stone colors to blend, stain and discolor with age. Also keep in mind that wet cast stone is darker in color than dry stone and will take time to dry out and blend with the older stone.


What type of mortar mix should I use?


You can use the regular grey mortar mix for the installation of the cast stone material. Always keep clean water nearby to sponge off the face of the cast stone material as staining can take place. Additionally, you do not want the mortar to harden on the face of the cast stone material. If it does, do not use metal tools to clean it off. They will scrap and can discolor the face of the cast stone material.


Rake the joints back about one inch from the surface and put in the matching color grout with a concave surface. Please note that mortar is not used for pointing.


Always check the joints after final cleaning to ensure that there has not been any shrinkage or cracking. Repair the joint so no moisture can seep into the joints. (Refer to our bulletins on Mortars and Sealants.)


How can I clean the Cast Stone?


Cast stone material should be cleaned with clean water as it is being installed. Once the entire job has been completed, most installers clean the cast stone material with soap and water or a mild acidic (five to ten percent) solution designed to clean cast stone. Make sure that you have proper drainage so no solution accumulates at the base of the building/structure.


Do not use high pressure sprayers or sand blasting equipment to clean the cast stone as it will damage the stone and the joints. Pressure should be no stronger than that from a hose. After cleaning, inspect the joints to make sure that there is no shrinkage or cracking that will allow moisture to penetrate the joint. (Refer to our bulletins on Cleaning and Water Repellents.)


How do I protect the Cast Stone material?


Cast Stone material can be protected in a couple of ways. If you wish to protect the cast stone material during installation, there are silicones that provide a surface film, are inexpensive, last a short time and are mainly used to keep the cast stone clean during construction. They make it easy to clean the cast stone at the end of the project.

 

Siloxanes, silanes, or a blend of both are the most recommended forms of water repellents when weatherproofing is desired. Make sure that the cast stone material is not too wet when you apply or you will not get the desired protection. Remember to test any product on a piece that is inconspicuous before full application. Only use Water Repellents that are designed for Cast Stone material. (Refer to our bulletin on Water Repellents.)

 

What TO DO when there is a white, crystalline, shiny appearance to the stone?


This effect is called efflorescence. Depending on where you are standing and the lighting, the appearance can be more obvious. Although it is a controversy, there does not appear to be proof that the efflorescence is a reason for rejection of the cast stone material according to the ASTM C 1364, Standard Specifications for Architectural Cast Stone. Additionally, builders and architects differ in opinion on why it occurs. There is no structural or durability significance that would deem the cast stone piece unusable. Usually this situation is temporary and is left alone.

 

One may see the efflorescence more often in buildings that have been recently washed, in the colder temperatures and in fall and winter months. It appears that there are chemical reactions of moisture that combines with the calcium hydroxide in the cement that brings the hydroxide to the surface. This combination of elements combines with carbon monoxide to produce this crystalline effect.

Washing the stone can remove the efflorescence. It can also continue to bring out the salts and chemicals. Additional washings of soap and water may be necessary until they are all removed from the cast stone piece. (Please refer to our bulletin on Efflorescence.)

 

What are the “spider–web” or “hair–like” cracking effects on the cast stone?


Fine lines that randomly roam throughout the face of the cast stone, horizontally, vertically, and diagonally in any shape and form is what is referred to as crazing. Although one would initially question the integrity of the cast stone piece, there is no structural or durability compromise to the piece.

 

Although there are differing opinions on how and why this effect occurs, it appears that differential contraction of the surface and innermost sections of the cast stone may play a role. Moisture, temperature, installation, inadequate curing and/or improper manufacturing are all suspect in creating this effect. Our bulletin on crazing goes into more detail about crazing and should be review.

 

Cast stone should always be stored in an area that protects it from high traffic and chipping from flying debris. It should be stored on non-staining materials, in a covered or shaded area, away from moisture. There should be enough air flow for the material to continue to cure and dry.

 

There is little one can do to change the effect of crazing other than to wash the stone with soap and water. If that does not rid the stone of the embedded dirt and dust, one may have to use a mild acidic (5 percent) solution. One does not want to change the texture of the cast stone piece with too strong an acid solution. Once the stone is clean and left to dry, it is prudent to apply a water repellent to the cast stone to fill the minute hairline cracking so no further dust and dirt can enter. (Refer to our bulletins on Crazing, Cleaning, and Water Repellents.)

 

Can cast stone be used outdoors?


Cast Stone has been used for outdoor elements since the Roman times. Cast Stone can be used to cover an entire wall in a veneer, with medallions, window and door surrounds and sills, banding, coping, and water tables. Stone, brick, or stucco walls can be topped with coping and pier caps. Columns and balustrade systems can add that special elegance and touch to any outdoor entrance, gazebo, patio, and more.

 

Hotels, libraries, schools, hospitals, churches, strip malls, large corporate buildings, and homes are all excellent locations for cast stone materials.

 

Cast Stone is used on the interior as well. Balustrades, columns, pilasters, vent hoods, decorative molding, corbels and more can all be used inside a residential or commercial project. Regardless of the placement, cast stone should always be treated with a water repellent.

 

Cast stone can be used for garden décor. Benches with decorative edges and legs are available. Urns and planters can be made from cast stone material. It is important to apply water repellent to the pieces to try to preserve them. Additionally, it should be constructed with proper drainage. Cast stone pieces have been used for planters and fountains but not always recommended for every application.

 

It is important to keep in mind that planter boxes and low lying areas are subject to the collection of water. The use of coping on the top of the walls of the planter should be used to shed the water away from the side of the walls. Again, we cannot stress the importance of the use of water repellents to preserve the cast stone material and prevent staining. (Please refer to our bulletin on Water Repellents.)

 

If we have not answered your particular question or concern within this list of frequently asked questions, please feel free to call our sales and design team so they can assist you with your next project. We are more than happy to take your calls and look forward to working with you.

 

CUSTOMER RESOURCES — FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (PDF)

 

The information within this and all our bulletins has been provided as a guideline and based upon statistical data and prior uses. We always suggest that you consult with your engineer, architect, or contractor for the best design and use of cast stone for your project. Our design team is always available to answer any of your questions. We do not accept any liability from damages resulting from your interpretation of the data contained within.