For Decorex 2016, we put together a fun short film showing the different steps that our stonemasons work through when creating a beautiful solid stone staircase. From the delivery of raw stone slabs, through design and engineering, to the careful cutting, shaping and final installation, watch our master masons and designers in action!
The following is an overview of our process, from quarry to stone staircase.
The stone itself can be sourced in different ways: for example it could be mined below ground or “open cast” (i.e. surface quarrying).
Depending on the stone used, the raw material can be ordered in various ways: as a raw block of stone in slab form (or scants); as “sawn six sides” (or S6S) where we request specific block sizes from the quarry; or “free issue” where the client has already selected the stone and it is delivered to us.
For quoting we will often use an architect’s plans. If our design differs to what is drawn, Ian will sketch over the top of the plans with a red pen, adding annotations and details as he goes. For example, we quite often get clients whose plans show a straight stair but they would actually rather have something more dramatic like a helical stair. Ian can also produce a 3D model to show how the stair will work in the intended space.
Once the initial design and plans are signed off, we brief our draughtsman who produces the working drawing. From those drawings he then produces large plastic templates. We also brief our engineers who produce project specific calculations to show the impact the staircase will have on the building.
1. We cut the blocks down to tread sizes, often using the saw to do some precision profile cutting.
2. The block is taken into the workshop and placed on a banker.
3. Masons lay templates on the blocks and mark out the measurements.
4. A mixture of traditional hand tools and grinders are used to shape the treads.
5. The treads are hand-honed using various grades of sanding blocks to get a smooth finish with sharp, crisp edges.
6. We dry the treads in the workshop to reduce the amount of time between install and snagging and sealing.
7. Individual treads are checked by a senior mason for quality control before being shrink wrapped onto pallets.
8. Pallets of finished treads are delivered to site and manually moved individually through the building to the working area.
To achieve the gravity-defying effects that our stone staircases are known for, we often need to insert the treads into supporting walls. We cut pockets into the wall, two or three at a time, approx 100mm deep then slide the tread in with some fast setting resin.
Once all of the treads are installed, we trim the underside to ensure that all joints are as smooth as possible, pointed and sanded flush. By the time we are finished we often hear comments that the joints are all but invisible! This ensures that the soffits ‘flow’.
The stairs are then grouted with a colour-matched grout, fully cleaned and sealed with a stain-resistant impregnator once dry. We also clean and seal the stairs again when we do an official handover.
For more information on what to expect during a stone staircase project with us, talk to Ian today!