Have you noticed that many buildings in town are being stone-faced? This is departure from the past where paint was used to give buildings colourful look. Many buildings that were formerly painted have been renovated and stone-faced. This is not applicable to only government as many private firms and individuals have also joined in the rush for stone-surfacing of their buildings.
The stones come in different forms and names such as granite, marble, facing bricks, quarry stones and crack tiles.
Not all this is got from stone. There are those that are cut from aluminum and glass called aluminum or glass claddings. But they all serve the same purposes of giving buildings a good texture and aesthetics.
How stone-coating became popular
The turn of Nigerians to stone is not far-fetched as a building expert, Mr Musa Yakubu, Chairman of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) succinctly put it, “is to save cost of repainting buildings every now and then”.
According to him, stone coating is a new way of adding aesthetics to buildings that is becoming popular in Nigeria. He said the use of stone in building has been long but the technological advancement has given rise to surface-finishings that are irresistible to many.
“Actually the use of stone in wall surfacing has been there but what they used previously was natural stones cut from rocks. People cut rocks into various shapes and then paste them on the walls of buildings. That is how it was before, but today most of these companies that produce tiles produce those tiles in different features. They are for stone facing of buildings. People stone-face buildings basically for aesthetics.
“Also, it reduces cost of maintenance compared to painting. Most paint companies nowadays don’t produce quality paint because of sharp practices. So if you paint a building, you’ll find out that in few years you’ll have to repaint it. So what most people now do is to put these stones on the building to serve as decorations.”
Also, Mr Ogbagha James of the Nigerian Institute of Builders FCT chapter said the use of stone facing in building construction helps reduces cost. He said with the stones in place, there might be no need to repaint the building for a long time.
He however said not all the stones are cheap. “In terms of cost, some of them are expensive compared to the usual paints. But if you look at it in the long run, it becomes cheaper in the sense that you don’t have to repaint and repaint again.”
A landlord who used crack tiles on his two-storey building in Zone 3, Abuja, Mr Abdul Kareem Suleiman said he opted for the stone-facing because it gives his house a natural look. “If you like nature, I think stones entrenched on walls will give you that satisfaction. I particularly chose the stones because of the natural look them give to my house,” he said.
On the cost implication of stone-facing, Mr Musa Yakubu said, “When it first started, the cost was high and so few people could afford to buy it. At that time, if a square metre cost of paint was N600 in the bill, a square metre of this in stone-facing was around N4,500 to N5,500. But gradually the cost has come down. People have started seeing the value of it.”
He said crack tiles are imported but the normal stone pitching are found in some quarries across Nigeria.
“Because it was meant for aesthetics, the stones do not carry any load. In the area of extreme cold, it helps to regulate temperature because if hit by direct sunlight, it repels the heat so heat absorption is reduced. In the long run it has more advantages than any other form of finishing.”
He therefore called for continuous government’s encouragement in local production of building materials as it will help reduce cost in building and by extension reduce heavy reliance on imported building materials.
Good business for tiles sellers
A tiles seller in Lugbe building materials market, Francis Nwosu yesterday told Daily Trust that he had been experiencing good patronage from house builders due to the high demand for the commodity.
He said the demands are so high that at a time he ran out of stock. “You know that there are mass housing projects in Abuja, hence there are a lot of demands for building materials most especially tiles.’’
A paint seller in the same market, Friday Olaniyi acknowledged that there is appreciable demand for stone finishing materials but added that some developers still prefer the normal paint. “Yes customers here do buy stone finishing materials from those selling them but I must tell you that we still sell our paints. Some people are still attached to the usual paint because they can be changed from time to time as one’s taste dictates,” he said.
The Stone Age
The stone has been so important to man that it has been part of man’s evolution. In fact, the prehistoric period during which stone was widely used has become known as the Stone Age. Until the advent of the metalworking, the stone occupied a unique place in man’s relationship with nature. The man made wonders are no doubt helped by the stone.
Therefore, the re-emergence of the stone albeit with technological finishing, is a reminder that the stone will always be with mankind. Does this remind us of the biblical parable of the rejected stone coming to be at the edge?