Upscale Residential Stone Floor Depends on Upscale Installation System

Laticrete Company Newsletter - May, 2006

by Ron Treister

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This project came to be when the home’s interior designer, Dawn Bryant decided to include waterjet-cut stone designs on the foyer, living room and dining room floors. Her client, the homeowner,discovered Creative Edge via the internet, and asked that the company be contacted. Bryant dutifully contacted Aalto, who after some deliberation presented a recommended floor concept which was ultimately agreed upon.

“The interior designer did a nice job overall with the home’s interior design,” stated Aalto. “In particular, her designs were very elegant. When we started conceiving the stone flooring project, Ms. Bryant assisted Annie Aalto of our company, in selecting the perfect colors for the floors. It was a good team effort.”

“After the floor designs were approved, it was time for the stone to be cut. But before it was assembled together into the finished panels, we took each piece and then “dry-fit” the overall design on our plant’s floor. We wanted to make sure that the designs were flowing, that the waterjet-cutting was absolutely perfect,” added Aalto. “After we were convinced that they were, all stone tiles were assembled using LATRICRETE materials and then shipped posthaste to the jobsite, where our installation people did an outstanding job in tiling the floor. To say the client was pleased would have been a gross understatement.”

Bill Maynard, project supervisor for Creative Edge’s installation team, stated, “We’ve worked with various stones from all over the world. Crema Marfil can be a bit tricky, as it is not the hardest marble and can “move” a bit if it is not adhered to the substrate with a very strong installation system. Using the LATICRETE thin-set in conjunction with LATICRETE SpectraLock PRO Grout, we felt very sure there would be very few, if any, problems with these floors for as long as the house would be standing. With materials and designs as high-end as those were for this project, it would have been criminal to use anything but the best possible installation products.”■

Project Spotlight: May 2006


Private Residence, South Carolina


Neoclassic Design, Columbia, South Carolina


Dixon Construction, Hartsville, South Carolina


Aalto Design, Fairfield, IA


Creative Edge Master Shop, Fairfield, IA


LATICRETE International, Inc., Bethany, CT


Sunderland Brothers, Des Moines, IA

Today’s most knowledgeable designers as well as “with-it” contractors and savvy homeowners know something about waterjet technology. The process is a computerized, cold cutting procedure that can cut most materials into any two dimensional shape. Anything that can be drawn on a computer can be cut by an abrasive waterjet system. Marble, granite, porcelain and even terrazzo are excellent materials for the waterjet process and frankly, cannot economically be cut into complex shapes, over and over again, in any other way.

Harri Aalto of Creative Edge, a waterjet design and fabrication firm headquartered in Fairfield, Iowa, is unquestionably the world’s most accomplished waterjet artist. His work has appeared in statehouses, palaces, public spaces, casinos and hospitality installations throughout the world. His most well-known commercial waterjet design is probably that located at the Mount Rushmore Radisson Hotel in Rapid City, South Dakota, which has been cited as being the “most advanced stone floor design created since The Renaissance.”

In the last few years, Aalto has moved into the residential arena, and his firm has produced strikingly awesome stone floor designs for a number of custom homes. One installation in particular consisted of a 1600 square foot stone floor design which covered three rooms, the foyer, dining room and living room of a newly constructed private residence in South Carolina.

“This project included a very intricate and unusual stone design,” stated Aalto. “The borders did not join, but rather, they would break off at the entryway. If at installation, just one of the pre-assembled stone panels were off as little as 1/16th of an inch, we would lose the design. We needed to use a thin-set material that was guaranteed not to move or shrink, meaning that the stone components on the floor would never shift and therefore destroy the integrity of the design.”

Aalto was insistent on using LATICRETE® 255 MultiMax Multipurpose Thin-Set Mortar to ensure a rigid bond between the beautiful stone material and the flooring substrate.

LATICRETE 255 MultiMax Thin-Set Mortar is a lightweight, 3-in-1 mortar that replaces mastic, multipurpose and medium bed mortar with superior non-sag performance on large format tile and stone. Reinforced with Kevlar® for added strength, LATICRETE 255 MultiMax Thin-Set Mortar contains Microban®, which inhibits the growth of stain causing mold and mildew with antimicrobial protection, and is GREENGUARD certified. Designed for both light commercial and residential applications, MultiMax is a favorite of contractors and installers, who only have to carry one product onto the jobsite for virtually all installations.

“And even though the grout joints throughout the entire installation were just 1/32 of an inch wide, we wanted to make sure that a grout was used that was incredibly hard, easy to clean, did not lose its color over time and most importantly, would not shrink or flake. This was not an inexpensive floor; we did not want to jeopardize the design by using anything but the best possible grouting material. That’s why I demanded that our installation people only use LATICRETE SpectraLOCK™ PRO Grout, which in my estimation is the finest grout in the world today.”

LATICRETE SpectraLOCK PRO Grout is a new and improved formula of the revolutionary LATICRETE SpectraLOCK Grout, and offers increased performance, color uniformity, durability and stain resistance of an epoxy grout with extraordinary ease of use. This new, breakthrough product is one of the most versatile ever produced, and can be used on floors and walls of both commercial and residential applications, inside or outside. LATICRETE SpectraLOCK PRO is ideal for swimming pools, fountains and other wet areas, and meets performance requirements of ANSI A118.3. The uniform color, ease of maintenance and stain resistant qualities make SpectraLOCK PRO the professional’s choice, and made life a lot easier for Aalto when he was installing this incredibly high-end masterpiece. Tough, durable and crack resistant, SpectraLOCK PRO can even be used as a design element. When used in conjunction with the Dazzle component, 220 different color options can be created, all with the same high performance and extraordinary ease of use.

Aalto went on to state that the design included a number of “floating stone medallions” which were designed primarily with Crema Marfil marble and a black, honed granite. The surrounding field tile consisted of 18" x 18" modules of Crema Marfil, as well. “The next stage of this installation will be the pool, which will have an aquatic scene designed utilizing premium glass tile on the bottom,” Aalto declared. “Walls and surrounding pool areas will consist of porcelain tiles with glass tile accent pieces. The pool will be a continuation of a very upscale installation. We cannot afford to use any other stone or porcelain installation materials other than those offered by LATICRETE.”