StoneMaster and USP
The news item from a couple of weeks back regarding the 'stay-clean' paving from R2 Paving prompted memories of a series of products from Charcon that were said to have similar abilities. I did mention them briefly following their launch at CityScape back in February, but no real news since then. The last firm news I heard was that they were looking at a reasonably large trial scheme to prove the value and suitability of the products.
Up pops Fraser Higgins, Charcon's Marketing Controller for commercial building products, with the latest news. Despite my reservations, the name "StoneMaster" has stuck and the first large-scale trial is well underway down in Ipswich, where, Fraser states,
"They love it - they even had the Mayor down the other day!"
StoneMaster (I still think it's a crap name) is a face-mix paving range that uses yorkstone-derived fine aggregate in the top layer which is then washed to varying degrees to create a very, very convincing yorkstone finish in a range of textures. It is, to be brutally frank, simply stunning. It's uncannily similar to genuine yorkstone and would fool most people, hence the ad....
It has two enormous advantages over yorkstone. Firstly, it's laid in the same way as standard block paving or sand-jointed flag paving, and so is much cheaper to install; and secondly, it has been pre-coated with the magic dirt-repellent USP jollop that keeps the surface clean and in almost pristine condition.
Fraser reckons the Charcon product is more eco-friendly than its rivals.
"Instead of trucking the stuff all the way from Germany, it's manufactured here in Britain. The special USP coating (Urban Surface Protection - a fluoropolymer similar to Teflon) will be available as of August on all our specification orientated product - and what's more, it's included in the price.
The product is coated on line, so no need to have people looking like they have landed from Mars coating the pavements.
It's on our EcoPave and StoneMaster, making them even more Eco due to the resources that now won't be used cleaning them, and it will also be available on all our premium ranges of flag paving, including Ultrapave, Appalachian, and Malvern, as well as our premium blocks, Andover Washed, Andover Textured, and Parliament.
These already aesthetically-pleasing products will only benefit from having this stay-clean coating."
Over the years I've been running this website, I've heard all sorts of claims for various sealants and surface coatings, and it's probably fair to say that most of them are exaggerated to some extent. I've had the opportunity to play about with fluoropolymers in the past (Nufin's Covergard sealant is a member of the family) and they are generally very, very good, with no discernible affect on the natural look of the paving, whether it be stone, concrete or anything else. So, reassured by Fraser's confidence, I took samples of the treated paving down to the high-tech research facility at the bottom of the garden, and tried it out for meself.
They say the camera doesn't lie....
I make no apology for banging on about these products. Since I was first sworn to secrecy and shown the prototypes back in the summer of 2007, I've thought they are the best new paving product to appear in the last 5 years, and the technology they represent, namely increased use of recycled/secondary aggregates for a backing concrete with a high-quality stone-like top layer, will be the new direction for block paving. This opinion is backed-up, I like to think, by the appearance of Brett's granite-alike blocks at the Tatton Show a couple of weeks back.
The use of USP and similar coatings on high-quality pavings is a significant advance and will help maintain our newly re-vamped town and city centres from the indignities of being splattered with gum, fast food, alcohol and the inevitable saturday night pavement pizza. That can only be a massive plus both for local authorities, and also for us paving nuts who feel genuinely distressed when we see beautiful new paving defiled by the lower life forms with whom we are compelled to share our urban environment.
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