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by David West

for design of thin
granite cladding
This article is the first part of an occasional series on the engineering
design of stone cladding. It is a review of published safety factors
for the design of thin stone cladding panels, particularly with regard
to the effect of wind, or lateral, loads.

Engineering design typically allows for variation in the design
assumptions through the use of safety factors. These are typically
intended to accommodate a combination of excess capacity in case
of unforeseen loads or changes in conditions, allowances for
unknown variation in the properties of materials, and accommodation
of workmanship during construction.
Traditionally, safety factors have been applied by comparing the ratio
of the design strength to the design stress (load) with standard or
accepted values for the material and/or situation which is being
designed (equations 1 and 2). This is often referred to as allowable
or permissible stress design.
Safety factor <
Design stress <

Design strength / Design stress (1)

Design strength / Safety factor (2)

The design of thin stone cladding is no exception. However,

agreement on the appropriate selection of safety factors has been
difficult to achieve. There have been many different proposals put
forward over the past fifteen years, but consensus does not exist.
This article summarises various proposals for safety factors for the
design of thin stone cladding. Most of these published
recommendations are based on traditional safety factors for use in
allowable stress design, but there are several authors who have
attempted to move towards the use of limit state design principles.
Unfortunately, there is as yet no published guidance on the type and
magnitude of load and resistance factors to use.
The most widely accessible reference publication on safety factors for
the design of thin stone cladding is the current version of ASTM
C1242 Guide for Design, Selection, and Installation of Exterior
Dimension Stone Anchors and Anchoring[Q]. The section of text
relating to safety factors is currently under revision, and is likely to
result in the recommendation of straight safety factors based on
material type, which do not take into account any variability in
strength data. These safety factors are likely to be highly


There are a range of approaches to the application of safety factors
in the design of stone cladding. These approaches can be grouped
as follows:
a) straight safety factors, often based on material type
b) safety factor based on variability of strength data
c) probability-based material factor in quasi limit state approach
A review of the literature and project specifications has identified at
least eight different approaches. These are outlined below, and
compared in Figure 1.

Over the past three decades, there has been a gradual move towards
limit state or load/resistance factor design. This approach applies
factors to each component of the design assumptions to
Those safety factors intended to be applied irrespective of any
accommodate unknowns. These factors can be applied to portions
variability in strength data are summarised in Table 1.
of the design assumptions. For example, each type of loading
situation may have a different load
factor, and the design case might be
Table 1 Straight safety factors
Safety Factor
Safety Factor
(connections or
to allow for a combination of certain
concentrated loads)
(but not all) loads to act
simultaneously. Alternatively, there
National Building Granite
may be a material factor to allow for
variability in strength of the
Quarriers Association [A]
material, and another factor to allow
Marble Institute of America [B]
granite (<50mm thick)
for loss of strength over time. Limit
state design does not seek to
identify the overall safety factor
acting on each design case, but it is
often calculated by engineers for
ease of comparison to traditional
allowable stress design, particularly
in areas where limit state design is
relatively new or not widely


Indiana Limestone Institute [C]

G.H.Smith [P]

granite (>50mm thick)







na issue #5

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A more popular contemporary approach to the application of safety
factors in the design of stone cladding involves the selection of a
safety factor based on the variability of strength data. There are a
range of such approaches which are outlined below, and compared
in Figure 1.

Coefficient of Variation The majority of such approaches

(Table 2) utilise the coefficient of variation (equation 3).
CV = 100( n-1/X)
(3) where
= coefficient of variation
= mean of strength data
= sample standard deviation


Table 2 Safety factors based on coefficient of variation of

strength data

Gere [I] - granite

Gere [I] - marble

Gere [I]
- sedimentary stones

McCabe [L]

Heintges [M]

Wonneberger &
Bortz [G]

Safety Factor Safety Factor


































Range Variation

This approach is less statistically valid than those approaches which

use the coefficient of variation, as a single high or low value can
have a significant effect on the range variation in percentage terms,
whilst not necessarily being significant with regard to the properties
of the particular type of stone.
Table 3 Safety factors based on range variation of strength data

The approach proposed by Wonneberger and Bortz [G] includes a

factor of 2 to allow for loss in strength over time due to weathering
of the stone.

Coefficient of Variation
of Strength Data

RV = 100(max - X)/X
RV = 100(X - min)/X
(4) where
RV = range variation
X = mean of strength data
max = maximum value in strength data set
min = minimum value in strength data set

An alternative approach (Table 3) assesses

the variability of the test results using the range between the
minimum and maximum test results, with the variation of the
minimum and maximum values from the mean expressed as a
percentage (equation 4).

Heitman [N]

Range Variation of
Strength Data

Safety Factor




Characteristic Strength Another approach proposed by

Bonaldi [O] applies a straight safety factor of 3 to the 95%
characteristic strength. The latter value is calculated by subtracting
1.645 times the standard deviation from the mean (equation 5).
CS = X - (1.645 n-1)
(5) where
CS = 95% characteristic strength
X = mean of strength data
n-1 = sample standard deviation


McCabe [D] suggested that the conservative load covers
everything approach to design of stone cladding was inappropriate.
He gave a long list of criteria that affect the strength of stone
panels, and their behaviour under load. He then concluded that
rather than use a single design safety factor, a combination of
loading and non-loading factors should be considered. He
discussed approaches to testing but did not proceed to postulate the
nature of such factors.
As discussed earlier, Wonneberger & Bortz [F] proposed that a
factor of 2 should be incorporated into the safety factors in order to
allow for the loss of strength in the stone panel with exposure on
the building. They presented data showing the reduction in
dynamic elastic modulus for stone subjected to accelerated
weathering in the laboratory. In the decade since that paper was
published, substantial further testing has been carried out. These
authors have updated and validated their data on loss of strength in
a range of dimension stones due to exposure, both in laboratory
accelerated weathering tests and using material naturally exposed
on buildings in the Chicago area (Bortz [K]).
Clift & Bayer [E,F] outlined an approach to establishment of
allowable bending stress in granite panels based on the probability
of failure. This proposed that a probability of failure of one in
10,000 panels of granite would be acceptable. Clift & Bayers
approach used a formula to calculate the lowest strength likely to

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occur in a population of ten thousand test specimens based on a

small sample of test specimens (equation 6).
F = X - (k. n-1)
(6) where
F=bending strength at a probability of failure of 1 in 10,000
X =mean of strength data
k =statistical coefficient based on number of samples in test data
(from Odeh, R.E. and Owsen, D.B.)
n-1=sample standard deviation
Bortz & Wonneberger [H] reviewed this and other approaches to the
use of safety factors for stone. They concluded that further work on
the probability of failure approach was required for the following
1) a sample of five test specimens from one area of stone was
insufficient to obtain a true representative population of the stone
because the variability of stone strength test data is so great;
2) the use of a 50% confidence factor in calculating a design load
was inadequate for this purpose;
3) the risk of failure of 1 in 10,000 panels was too high.
In the same paper, Bortz & Wonneberger gave two examples of
calculating safety factors using load and resistance factors
(equation 7).
SF = VF x EF xWF (7) where
SF=safety factor for stone panel in bending
VF=variability of stone strength factor calculated by (X/X - 3. n-1)
EF=weathering factor calculated by {(X - 3. n-1).(1.0 - loss in
strength due to weathering)}
WF=wind load factor, taken from code recommendations (1.17
in Bortz & Wonneberger)
X =mean of strength data
n-1=sample standard deviation
Bortz & Wonneberger assumed a loss in strength due to weathering
of 30%, and for two different sample sets, obtained safety factors of
1.79 and 2.81.
Despite the presentation of this approach, Bortz & Wonneberger
recommended that designers should stay with the industry standard
safety factors at the present time and that probabilistic design
approaches should only be used if there is a clear understanding of
the variability of the stone that is being worked with.
Lewis [J] stated that present practice for design of stone cladding
systems utilised the allowable stress approach based on standard
safety factors. He suggested however that instead of assuming that
these safety factors covered all conditions, adoption of rational safety
factors based on consideration of the actual variability of the stone,
conditions of use and exposure of the stone would be more
appropriate. He stated that whilst designers assumed that the
current safety factors covered all uncertainties, it was not possible
to identify the contribution of specific uncertainties to these safety
factors. Consequently, that despite the fact that designers were
increasingly aware of the variable nature of these uncertainties in
differing situations, it was not possible to modify the safety factors
to accommodate such variability.
Lewis discussed the philosophy of load-resistance factor design
(LRFD) which allows for each influencing factor contributing either to


overload or underdesign to be considered independently before final

compilation of the overall load or resistance factors. He stated that
this approach directly addressed the concern with the somewhat
arbitrary safety factors used in the allowable stress approach. Lewis
identified the following load and resistance factors which needed to
be considered in order to provide for system reliability specific to the
conditions and exposures considered during design of a particular
load factors
a) dead loads (self-weight of stone and support system)
b) wind loads (lateral)
resistance factors
c) material strength (inherent variability of stone, but not loss in
strength due to exposure)
d) panel configuration (types and conditions of anchorages, aspect
ratio of panel, 2-way vs 4-way support)
e) climate (effects of freeze-thaw, acidic precipitation, temperature,
over the expected service life)
f) finish (effect of finish treatments on initial and long-term strength
of stone)
g) originality of cladding system (importance of exemplars in
demonstrating performance)
However, Lewis was unable to propose values for these factors,
stating that further research was required in order to be able
recommend specific values.

It is clear that there is significant recognition of the potential benefits
of adopting a limit state design approach for stone cladding, but the
lack of good data, along with the wide range of stone material which
is used in cladding, presents substantial barriers to pursuing this.
It should also be noted that the majority of the literature about safety
factors for the design of thin stone cladding deals with the design of
the stone panels themselves. Very little guidance on appropriate
safety factors has been published for the design of the anchor
connection points in stone panels.

The research for this paper was presented in a seminar format at the
ASTM C18 Symposium on the Design, Construction, Evaluation and
Repair of Stone Cladding held in St Louis in October 1999. Input at
that symposium, particularly from Sy Bortz, led to further refinement
of the content.

Future parts of this paper may explore comparisons between the
various safety factors outlined above, or provide some guidance on
appropriate safety factors for the design of anchorages in the stone
In the next edition we hope to look closely at the amazing structure
specified by architect Peter Davidson, at Federation Square
Melbourne, which supports tons of Dimension Stone. issue #5

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22/3/04, 10:38:25 AM

[A] National Building Granite Quarries Association, Inc.,
Specifications for Architectural Granite, 1985.
[B] Marble Institute of America, Marble Design Manual, 1987.

AustralAsian Granites are exporting world class
granite to Italy, the United States, Taiwan, Thailand,
Indonesia & other international markets.

The companys products clad major

buildings in Melbourne, Bangkok, Hong
Kong, Tapei and Guanezhou.
AustralAsian black granite was used
for paving in Sydney for the Olympic
Homes in North America and Germany
feature multi-coloured granites like the
acclaimed Harlequin and Koongawa
AustralAsian granite quarries around
6,000 cubic metres of superior class
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Select a superb granite from the diverse
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AustralAsian granite is available in
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proper accent for Australian design
and style.

[C] Indiana Limestone Institute of America, Inc., Indiana Limestone

Handbook, 18th edition.
[D] McCabe, J.T., Jr. Understanding stone strength testing,
Dimensional Stone Magazine, Sept. 1992, pp. 42-46,96.
[E] Clift, C.D. and Bayer, J.A. Stone safety factors: much ado about
nothing?, Dimensional Stone, Jan/Feb. 1989, pp. 39-40.
[F] Bayer, J.A. and Clift, C.D. Design of granite cladding,
Dimensional Stone, June 1989, pp.24-26.
[G] Wonneberger, B. and Bortz, S.A. Factors of safety in stone,
Through the Ages, Marble Institute of America, Summer 1988,
[H Bortz, S.A. and Wonneberger, B. Probabilistic safety factors,
Stone through the Ages, pp.8-19.
[I] Gere, A. Recognizing and avoiding stone construction pitfalls,
Stone World, August 1987. & Gere, A.S. Design considerations for
using stone veneer on high-rise buildings, New Stone Technology,
Design, and Construction for Exterior Wall Systems, ASTM STP 996,
B.Donaldson, Ed., American Society for Testing and Materials,
Philadelphia, 1988, pp.32-46.
[J] Lewis, M. Modern Stone Cladding: Design and Installation of
Exterior Dimension Stone Systems, ASTM Manual 21, American
Society for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, PA, 1995.
[K] Bortz, S.A. Review of durability testing in the United States and
Europe, Dimension Stone Cladding: Design, Construction,
Evaluation, and Repair, ASTM STP 1394, K.R.Hoigard, Ed.,
American Society for Testing and Materials, West Conshohocken, PA,
[L] McCabe, J.T., Jr., Facade safety factors, Stone World, December
1987, pp.38-42.
[M] Heintges, R.A., Unidentified project specification.
[N] Heitman, J., Unidentified project specification.
[O] Bonaldi, R., Unidentified project specification.
[P] Smith, G.H., Unidentified project specification.
[Q] ASTM C1242 Guide for Design, Selection, and Installation of
Exterior Dimension Stone Anchors and Anchoring

Please visit our website at:

or contact us at: AustralAsian Granite Pty Ltd
20 Kenworth Road, Gepps Cross South Australia 5094
Tel 61 (8) 8260 7300 Fax 61 (8) 8260 7311

44,45,46,48 Safety factors 4

David West is the Executive Director of the Architectural

Conservation division of International Conservation Services in
Sydney, Australia. He was previously Associate Director of the
Facade Engineering group at Hyder Consulting, where amongst
other things, he was responsible for the design of stone cladding

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