Understanding Anchorage Systems for Natural Stone Cladding

Knowing how anchorage systems work, their main components, and the difference in system types is critical for designing and engineering a natural stone cladding system
Sponsored by Natural Stone Institute
By Andrew A. Hunt

Learning Objectives:

  1. Discuss the main external forces that affect natural stone cladding, and explain why anchorage systems are needed to create a durable installation.
  2. Describe the three elements of a natural stone anchorage system that ensure a safe and long-lasting exterior cladding installation and that can support sustainable building practices.
  3. List the various types of natural stone anchorage systems available.
  4. Explain the importance of proper fill used around the anchorage embedments to ensure a durable and sustainable exterior cladding system.

This course is part of the Natural Stone Academy

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In conclusion, one of the most important takeaway messages for architects considering using natural stone exterior cladding is that they must work closely with the structural engineer for material and anchorage decisions, and they must include accredited specialists in the process from the very start of the project. There are many methods used for anchoring dimension stone, and the components for each vary. Moreover, the installation of the cladding is only one of the many elements of a complete wall system. Every component of the wall must be considered when deciding which anchorage system will be best for the project. For example, building professionals must first select a structurally viable building stone for their respective project before they even think about choosing an anchorage system. If for some reason test data for the stone isn’t current or reliable, they must plan to test the stone before selecting it. Once this is done, they can determine the panel size and thickness that best complements the physical characteristics of the stone.

Only after these tasks are complete should they choose an anchoring system that is prescriptively designed by the architect or contractor, or the architect can specify a proprietary panelized system. If the architect specifies a system, they must shoulder the risk and responsibility of the choice. A good team that includes a structural engineer and a stone installer is critical for the success of the project.

Andrew A. Hunt, vice president of Confluence Communications, has 16 years of experience in green building and has produced more than 100 educational and technical publications. confluencec.com

“MIA MIA+BSI: The Natural Stone Institute offers a wide array of technical and training resources, professional development, regulatory advocacy, and networking events for the natural stone industry. www.naturalstoneinstitute.org
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Originally published in Architectural Record