Less Is More with Lightweight Honeycomb Reinforced Stone and Porcelain Panels

Engineered panel systems use real stone or porcelain and produce less weight, less labor, less environmental impact, and less cost creating more attractive design solutions.
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Sponsored by TerraCORE Panels, LLC
Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify and recognize the characteristics of lightweight honeycomb reinforced stone wall panels and systems.
  2. Define and describe the environmentally conscious, sustainable components of lightweight natural stone and porcelain veneer panel systems.
  3. Assess the functional contributions of reinforced stone walls as they contribute to green and sustainable design as measured by national rating systems.
  4. Specify reinforced stone walls in a variety of green and conventional buildings and formulate appropriate selections related to specific applications.


1 GBCI CE Hour
This test is no longer available for credit

Stone has been used on buildings for centuries. It is a natural material that is long lasting and fairly well understood by people who work with it. There are varieties of colors, types, textures, and patterns that exude a variety of design results. In modern buildings though, its primary drawback for use has been its weight. However, architects looking for ways to incorporate stone into current projects can no longer dismiss stone as “too heavy” or too costly. There is now a lighter, much more affordable, sustainable, and proven option—lightweight honeycomb reinforced stone panels.

Stone and Buildings

Stone offers a good deal of versatility and durability in both interior and exterior wall applications. Sometimes it is used as a structural material and other times as infill between other structural components. When considering its use on buildings, architects can compare at least three primary options discussed as follows:

Dimension Stone

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) dimension stone is defined as natural rock material that is quarried for the purpose of obtaining blocks or slabs for use in buildings or elsewhere. Although a variety of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks can be classified as dimension stone, the principal rock types that are quarried for building use include granite, limestone, and travertine which are most common for exterior uses. Additionally, marble, onyx, sandstone, and slate, which are softer stones by nature, are commonly quarried and used for interior applications.

The selection of specific dimension stone is often based on visual requirements of color, grain texture, pattern, and the ability of a stone to be polished to the desired surface finish. From a performance standpoint, selection is also based on the durability of a particular stone which can be assessed based on the mineral composition and hardness of the stone. There is plenty of history on past performance of most quarried stone so it is relatively easy to determine strength and suitability for a particular project. In order to blend into the design of a building project, the quarried blocks or slabs are fabricated by being cut into standard or custom shapes in specific sizes including width, length, and thickness.

Lightweight honeycomb reinforced stone panels make it possible to achieve the appeal of stone wall panels without the drawbacks of heavier solid dimension stone.

Photo courtesy of TerraCORE Panels, LLC

Lightweight honeycomb reinforced stone panels make it possible to achieve the appeal of stone wall panels without the drawbacks of heavier solid dimension stone.


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Originally published in June 2014