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recycling scrap countertop granite/stone for flooring  RSS feed

 
Pat Browne
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I am looking for suggestions on materials.
We had collected approx 40,000 lbs of kitchen countertop granite over a 3 month period in 2005. Using conventional thin-sets and grouts, we re-floored the entire house, 3 patios, retaining walls and bathroom walls...as an artist, Mosaic work is addictive. But I have and still am searching for alternative grouting media for the ¼ to ¾ cracks between the one inch depth spaces.

I am looking for a material for the grout function...a terrazzo effect would be very nice. I make do with bits of odd glass, tiles and stones...where would I get that kind of grout? I live in earthquake land..is there something better?
I figure any carbon footprint savings in re-purposing the scrap stone (instead of more energy having it re-ground as degredated granite) was used up by using the conventional stuff to stick it to the concrete slab, but at least it is very permanent. I know that I won't be the one to change it. And it is very low energy to maintain.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Pat,

Inside or outside, unless it is inside with water-like a shower-why use modern grouts at all. Asia has very active seismic frequencies and events both. Chines Mosaic work there is more often than not all dry lay work, and some are thousands of years old. In that since, what I mean, is the way my mother did it. In the late 50's and 60's she did some beautiful work, and it was all traditional dry lay. She would template her work, similar to stained glass, dry lay it, then "rub in," just plain sand or stone dust (patios), clay and sand/stone dust (walk ways,) mud/lime/casein/blood, (rare and I didn't learn it all-still rediscovering stuff she tried to teach me,) traditional lime mixes (wet area.) That is just the beginning of the stuff I've seen her do. All traditional motifs and methodologies, mainly (90%), dry work. If your work is well framed and your mosaic pattern is packed tight, I don't think you need any grout. Mom use to say, when I helped, if the little pebble is placed well it will stay there forever...if it moves-it's not happy. Son, make all the pieces happy and your work will last.

Regards, jay
 
Pat Browne
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Hi Jay,
Hmmm, I like your response and interesting that you would mention Asia. A new acquaintance from So Korea is very interested in doing the same in his home after seeing my home. The floors will be wet sometimes and the space will not be completely framed in (bath with entrance to the hallway). Do you have recipes?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Pat,

I'm not sure if you looked at my profile, but it is odd, (or serendipitous,) how events and meetings take place. I specialize in indigenous folk architecture of the Americas, Middle East and Asia, with that focus being in traditional timber framing modalities and related traditional life skills. You can see my private email in my profile and contact me there. The amount of detail you will need to know and I'll need to have to assist you is probably beyond this thread. If I (or you,) feel later on that we have coalesced a plan for your project, we cant come back here to share it with photos. Look forward to assisting you.

Regards,

jay
 
Ken Peavey
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Instead of thinset, the old fashioned method would be thickset, aka mudset:
3 parts sand
1 part Portland cement
water
Pigments can be added at your pleasure.
The same material is used for grout with a ratio of 1:1. For wider gaps, increase the sand.

There are resins out there that may serve your needs in every color of the rainbow, even clear. Resin + a hardener is epoxy, the material will be as strong as the stone you are laying down. I've worked with material that takes several hours to cure, allowing plenty of time to work your project. I've also worked with material that kicked off while being mixed.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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This is so wonderful. I have just begun collecting stone waste from my neighbors' stone yard. I've been getting various beautiful stone, and planning to use it on top of the heated bench on the rocket stove mass heater I'm building. I plan to put the germinating seedlings right on top of the bench... it'll be wet. And on the floor of the greenhouse.... also wet and dry depending.... and would love to have some advice on non portland cement materials to use in between.

Jay, if you could provide any specific information for me, I'd sure appreciate it. I tried to send you a private message as you suggested above, but could not get that to work.

Thanks all for any suggestinos

Thekla
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello All,

Sorry I didn't get back to this before now, I hadn't gotten an update, which is suppose to be automatic.

Hi Ken,

As far as "old fashioned," I suppose portland cement could be called that, (created in 1824, by Joseph Aspdin,) but it is not traditional for cobble or mosaic work. I'm certain that it may work in certain applications, but in general, it is too hard and inflexible. One of the characteristics you get with traditional mortars as I describe earlier, is the flexibility, among other characteristic. So, in general, and for most applications, I wouldn't' recommend portland in any ratio, and would instead, if I had to use a modern grout, use an epoxy.

Pat,

I hope your project is going well and that you are having success. Please post picture of you project, if you get a chance

Hello Thekla,

You may email me at tosatomo@gmail.com or if you look at the bottom of my posts, I have an online business card that has direct email and other contact information. You can also post specific information here at Permies. I will pull out of my memory banks what ever I can, and if I can't remember something, I sure I can find the information in my notes or personal library.

Best Wishes to all,

jay
 
Vern Faulkner
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Couple of things. I'm planning on doing EXACTLY this in our new, green house, and am gathering bits of countertop now for that express purpose.

As an old tile installer, I'd strongly suggest staying with a thinset, for several reasons - not the least of which is a much better bond with much less material. As for grout, what's wrong with a standard large-particle portland cement grout?

I'd be VERY interested in seeing pictures ...

I should note, I am an old tile installer with 12 years of experience, so this is right in my wheelhouse.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Vern,

As an old tile installer, I'd strongly suggest staying with a thinset, for several reasons - not the least of which is a much better bond with much less material. As for grout, what's wrong with a standard large-particle portland cement grout?
I wasn't sure if you were asking me, or just in general. I guess there is several facets to answer you from.

One is a "green" or "environmental" component. Portland cement has a huge carbon foot print, it is not environmentally sustainable, it is a big industry product, and the list kind of goes on from there. I have to use it way more often than I would like, even as a professional timber wright working on vintage architecture, but I cringe each time it is specified on a blue print/design. There are some new developments, but nothing of consequence as yet. So when ever I can avoid using it, or suggesting it's use, I do.

History of use in mosaic work would be the next reason. 12 years is a lot of experience; I would not devalue it or your knowledge. I would ask you to consider another perspective. Unless your 12 years of tile installation work included historical tile/mosaic antiquities, the study of traditional modalities and/or the restoration of traditional mosaics (some are thousands of years old.) Than I would reevaluate your approach, especially for a green house.

Modern thinset methods may in some applications be of value, don't get me wrong, but they do not have the proven time lines of traditional methods. Lets be generous and go back as far as when Joseph Aspdin, in 1824 invented our modern Portland, which is the base product. That history is infantile compared to the techniques from the Middle East and Asian which are thousands of years old. I must also share, that as a historical restoration specialist with 38 years of experience, I can not tell you how many times I have found tile, (large and small,) and mosaic work set in portland base bedding and grouting that begins to delaminate and crack. At it's very best, it seems to have a 40, maybe 50 year life span, before it has to be completely redone and/or replaced. Portland just does not work as well as some of the more traditional methods. There are some expensive modern methods that are promising that involve epoxies, but again this expensive is outside the realm of most domestic applications.

I wish I had pictures of my mothers work, but this digital age is just beginning to catch up to "this old goat."

Regards, jay
 
Alder Burns
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When I built my first cabin, I had scrounged a bunch of ceramic tile. Working with a tight budget and concerned with pollution issues around portland cement, I simply leveled the earth floor, put down a layer of plastic as an insect barrier, added and leveled some damp sand, and laid the tiles right on that. For five years this floor performed admirably. I swept it once a week and rarely came up with much sand after the first few times.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi Vern,

Your plans look great, and following the links others suggested gave me lots of ideas for masonry and cob ovens. As for my greenhouse mass heater:

I've got the rocket burning, but it would never have been named a "rocket" stove after the action I get. I first fired it up Friday, and had to beg it to burn, lost of steam! it went out frequently. Saturday was better, and I went back to read the directions in
Evans' & Jackson's book, and it burned a whole lot better today. Possibly I will need to rebuild the stove part this summer, with a larger barrel, and put the smoke stack through the roof instead of the wall ("stack effect" ? I dunno, I'm learning a lot as I go). I have designed it so I can rebuild the stove without taking up the flue through the mass. Whew!

Having made it this far, I am ready to put in the mass over the 6 inch stove pipe. That's the part I think you are most interested in. If you want to see the build so far it's posted at canyonwrenfarm.org.

Something that may be worth mentioning is the floor in the greenhouse. What I put in when I built was: first a lumber wrapper / tarp layer, then a lot of rock and gravel. Then another layer of tarp/lumber wrapper, then my native clay/sand soil, beautiful red stuff with no organics at all. Then, I used the pavers I had intended for my walkway, decided walk on mud for another year or until I could get another pallet of pavers....
When I took it up to put in the stove, I did not want the plastic layer in there, so I went all the way down to undisturbed soil. What I found was dry soil underneath, dry rock in between the two layers of lumber wrapper/ tarp, wet native soil below the concrete pavers, and moist concrete pavers.

I was very happy to see how well the water was contained in the top layer, and that the subsoil was also dry.

When I water I am kind of sloppy. Sometimes I'm in a hurry, sometimes some plants are out of reach. The bucket is heavy, all that.

I want to keep in mind what my habits are as I build the mass and lay the stone. I need it to be water tight, and a portland cement product might be good for that. I would not want an epoxy type of thing, (sorry Jay). Just my personal bias against resins and solvents and fumes and plastic.

But as is apparent, I often disassemble and rebuild, it takes a few tries to understand what I needed to know at the beginning. Portland is not at all kind in that process, definitely a single use material (except urbanite). And it burns my skin. If I am going to work with a lightly caustic material, a lime plaster might be just as good maybe better, but I have no experience with it.

I am currently assembling materials for the next stage of the project. The flue through the mass is buried up to near the top. The wall behind is cob, and rounded. I will be using water on top of the bench. So, I am thinking I need to put tarp in to keep the water out of the cob of the wall, and insulation (perlite/clay) between the mass and the wall, because no use heating the wall directly. I'm thinking a row of what I call cinder block 16x8x8 with the two holes a couple of inches out from the wall. I can use this row to achieve level as well. Then I think I will make the slightest slope toward the center (away from the wall) so that anything that does get away from me will drain away from the cob. Once I get the cinder blocks in back, and cob built up to level in the front, and cob around all the rest of the pipe, then I am planning to fill the void created with native rock and the native sand/clay. The stone goes over the top of that, and so, I could not use thin set to put it on top of the sand. I have enough stone that I could put a layer down and then thinset a top layer onto it, but what a mess to take out if I need to.

Having seen how well the lumber wrappers kept the moisture contained, I am considering using it directly under the stone. Because for now it is pretty clear I'll not be overheating it . I guess I could put the tarp down then an inch of sand/clay and set the stone in that, and pack sand/clay into the spaces.... and make sure that the front edge, the lower edge ends with stone over hanging the top of the cob/stone Ianto says you need toe space anyway.

So, anyway, those are my thoughts for now. As is evidenced by how many times I redo things, it may not be what I end up doing, and it may not work either.

And Jay, if you have any ideas of something better than the sand clay mix, at about 4 to one I'd love to hear them. As I write this I remember I had good luck adding wood glue to portland cement when I had to patch a 75 year old concrete cistern that was spalling badly. The places I patched 10 years ago are in place, without spalling or any other kind of frost damage.

Does it seem likely wood glue would be a good additive to the sand clay mortar? In on my heated green house bench? Casein glue, same as milk protein?

I don't know much about lime. I can get lime putty at a green build supply place 100 miles away, and I can get bags of lime at 7 miles away at home depot. All I know is that it is either type N or S, and it matters a lot which one you get.

One of the issues I try to balance when choosing "green" materials is how far do I have to go to get it. If I can get it through conventional supply lines it appears to have lower embedded energy than if I have to have it shipped from far away. I don't really know, that's just one of the things I think about

Thanks

Thekla
 
Vern Faulkner
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:History of use in mosaic work would be the next reason. 12 years is a lot of experience; I would not devalue it or your knowledge. I would ask you to consider another perspective. Unless your 12 years of tile installation work included historical tile/mosaic antiquities, the study of traditional modalities and/or the restoration of traditional mosaics (some are thousands of years old.) Than I would reevaluate your approach, especially for a green house.


I have struggled with that very thought - the embodied energy aspect of concrete. However, the counter, for me, is lifespan - if done right, concrete will last for generations. Which leads, nicely, into your next statement ... I can't find my copy of Snell and Callhan, but they did a good job of "defending" concrete, basically on the thought that it doesn't require upkeep, replacement, or suffer degradation as does straw, wood, etc. I don't know if a straw house would last 30 years in our climate, but I can be reasonably sure a rock-face slipform masonry walled house (a la Nearing) is going to make it a half-century, if not a whole lot longer.

I must also share, that as a historical restoration specialist with 38 years of experience, I can not tell you how many times I have found tile, (large and small,) and mosaic work set in portland base bedding and grouting that begins to delaminate and crack. At it's very best, it seems to have a 40, maybe 50 year life span, before it has to be completely redone and/or replaced. Portland just does not work as well as some of the more traditional methods.


I'd agree - but with a caveat. Do not judge all thinsets on the first versions thereof: many are now much more robust than many would expect, with shear strengths of significant numbers. Now, yes, that does come at the expense of using some modifiers (polymers and other chemical goo), but I suspect that some of the issues lie not with the material, but with the technology. Prior to thinset technology, the installation technique was to use a "bed" of mortar, a dry-pack style, and then take soaked tiles and embed them by beating them into the bed with a mallet. It was time-consuming, but lasted a helluvalong time. OK, but the bond strength, measured by shear forces, of such a technology (an unmodified mortar, really) is half that, sometimes one quarter that, of modern thinsets ... Why did the old stuff last?

Not because of the mortars, or lack thereof, but because of craftsmanship. Or, to put it in another context, the advent of modern techniques has led to more people believing they can do stuff that really, they can't - not if "quality control" is a parameter. The latest thing is peel-and-stick ceramic tile (!) - it's consumer friendly, but another symptom of the "it wasn't gonna last" mentality of our age.

Interestingly, again, modern technology has come to the rescue on such things, by introducing shear-force deflection membranes.... that's the big thing now, is to smear thinset on the floor, then lay down a membrane, then install on the membrane. But why are such things becoming popular? Because floors are moving/settling more often, due to piss-poor workmanship. Houses just ain't built the way they used to be.

Now, you hearken back to Portland cement, which really was a revolution, but mortars and concretes have been around for a helluva lot longer - as in Roman times. Again, old masons and tile installers didn't have modern newfangled technology to work with, but the buildings they made have lasted a long, long time.... I honestly do not believe one can compensate for piss-poor workmanship by using technology. I guess that's the sentiment in a nutshell.

However, in the same vein, modern technology in the hands of someone who has a touch of that old-world skill .... I think that can do wonders. I cannot call myself an old-world craftsman, nor could I reasonably call myself a master in the trade.... but care and attention, that I can bring to the table.... and it's a hell of a lot easier using thinset than a thick-bed wet-set approach. (And yes, I've done the old-style, non-modified install technology. It's a pain in the buttocks.)


There are some expensive modern methods that are promising that involve epoxies, but again this expensive is outside the realm of most domestic applications.

I wish I had pictures of my mothers work, but this digital age is just beginning to catch up to "this old goat."


I've worked with epoxies. Evil things.
 
Vern Faulkner
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:

But as is apparent, I often disassemble and rebuild, it takes a few tries to understand what I needed to know at the beginning. Portland is not at all kind in that process, definitely a single use material (except urbanite). And it burns my skin.


It's an alkaline substance. I'd advise wearing rubber gloves if possible, during its use, and would also advise using a dustmask when mixing it.

The stone goes over the top of that, and so, I could not use thin set to put it on top of the sand. I have enough stone that I could put a layer down and then thinset a top layer onto it, but what a mess to take out if I need to.


Trying to visualize what you're doing here, but this seems to me like an inappropriate use for thinset... if I have envisioned what you're doing correctly, you'd be putting down the stone on a non-solid surface. I'd better suggest setting the material into a standard concrete pour (as in, setting it directly into four inches (min) of poured cement... there's a video of someone doing exactly that out there somewhere ... but it's not an approach that I'd say is viable for one who isn't familiar with both concrete and stonemasonry/tiling.


And Jay, if you have any ideas of something better than the sand clay mix, at about 4 to one I'd love to hear them. As I write this I remember I had good luck adding wood glue to portland cement when I had to patch a 75 year old concrete cistern that was spalling badly. The places I patched 10 years ago are in place, without spalling or any other kind of frost damage.

Does it seem likely wood glue would be a good additive to the sand clay mortar? In on my heated green house bench? Casein glue, same as milk protein?


Way outside my knowledge base... but I'm thinking there's a bit of a rammed-earth philosophy to that?
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Vern I couldn't agree more with the idea that "technology" cannot make up for poor craftsmanship.

Sorry I did not explain well enough what I am planning, but finished stone on top of sand/clay with rock is the general idea. And I might need to take it up at some time in the future, so I don't think concrete is a good idea, but I do use it for permanent things. I used thin set to put the stone and ceramic tiles in my both my bathrooms. It definitely looks like an amateur did it, but only to a professional. I struggled with level as an absolute.

I'll put photos up on my website when I get to the stone part. I don't know how to put them here, or if we can put them on here.

Thanks for your help
Thekla
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Wow, I just don't know if I can respond to everything? I'll try, if I miss something or I'm not clear, let me know.

Several folks have talked about leveling a simple earth floor and putting "something down," tile, stone, etc., well that is the tried and tested way, and you can use cement if you would like but portland hasn't been around that terribly long and the simplest solutions have, thousands of years, to be more accurate.

Thekla, when I do, on that rare occasion, use epoxies for something, I tend to go with the best. I was a zoo keeper way back in the day, and still dabble in enclosure/vivarium design. Poly gem manufactures an entire line of epoxies called "zoopoxies" that are food, aquarium and animal safe. You can make artificial rock, wood, vines, coral, you name it, and it has been made out of the stuff and stuck into an animal enclosure or aquarium. Not my ideal, since I'm into building human enclosures now, I like traditional, but if I have to, this is the modern product to use. Even chemically sensitive folk, with a little care, seem to be able to work with the stuff. So no, not all epoxies are "evil things," not by a long shoot. I don't prefer the stuff, but the correct type are just fine.

if done right, concrete will last for generations... can't find my copy of Snell and Callhan, but they did a good job of "defending" concrete, basically on the thought that it doesn't require upkeep, replacement, or suffer degradation as does straw, wood, etc.
I would agree that some of the rammed earth with lime, and rammed earth with natural cements, have lasted. I would also agree that most of the ancient formulas that came from nature that the Romans and Mesopotamians used have proven durable and are still studied for their secrets. But every modern concrete since 1824 and Joseph Aspdin's Portland has by now means proven durable. (http://www.auburn.edu/academic/architecture/bsc/classes/bsc314/timeline/timeline.htm) These modern formula, based on Aspdin's work, routinely break down and falter do to many incorporated, as well as, environmental factors. Every study that I have read, that calms other wise, has it's funding and or connection to the concrete industry in some manner. Ask any Bridge Engineer what the condition of modern Portland based concretes are in the infrastructure of this country. Read some of Frank Loyd Wright's own reservation about the poor quality of modern concrete. I could keep going, but my point has been made. Nothing is going to surpass the traditional methods of building with masonry, not at this time anyway. By the way, some of the oldest building in the world are wood, 2000 year old, and as far as ancient stone architecture it is either dry laid, or jointed with lime mortars, not portland.

Now, you hearken back to Portland cement, which really was a revolution, but mortars and concretes have been around for a helluva lot longer - as in Roman times.
You can not compare the two in any way. They are not apples and oranges. I do agree with your statement about workmanship and craft.

Regards, jay
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi Jay,

With regards to putting lime in rammed earth, which lime would be the one?

Thanks Thekla
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hey Thekla,

Different for different regions, and different mix ratios as well. There still studying the Great Wall in China, (it's mainly rammed earth.) I think I have referenced these folks before, but I will again, they are the best of the best, and who I turn to for advice.

http://virginialimeworks.com/

Regards, jay
 
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