Stone veneer is a great way to give your home the classic good looks of traditional stone masonry without the hefty price tag. It saves money because it does not require additional structural support, and is an option for exterior stone siding, interior stone and landscape stone.
Veneer is a term for sheets of stone cut to one inch thick, as opposed to stone masonry which lays large stones on top of one another. It is a great alternative to brick or vinyl siding. There are different types of veneer available, which differ considerably in both quality and price.
Natural vs. Manufactured Stone Veneer
There are two basic types of veneer: natural stone and manufactured stone. Natural stone veneer is made from real stones which are cut to the appropriate size and fit together. This option is more attractive and durable, but also significantly more expensive. Manufactured veneer is made by pouring cement into a mold to mimic the appearance of natural stone.
Advantages of Natural Stone
Veneer crafted from natural stones is the most high-end choice. While it costs more than manufactured stone, its lighter weight produces some savings when it comes to installation. This type of veneer is often indistinguishable from masonry stone because it has all of the same properties, including great variations of stone shapes and colors and the ability to grow moss and lichen. Natural stones are much tougher than stones manufactured from cement, so natural stone will last many years longer than manufactured stone.
If you are installing stone siding on your home, natural stone is the best choice if you live in a rainy or windy climate. Natural stone is also the only practical choice for landscape stone applications such as sidewalks, driveways and patios that will receive a lot of stress. Manufactured stone crumbles when walked or driven on frequently and lasts only a year or two under such conditions.
Advantages of Manufactured Stone
The main advantage manufactured stone has over natural stone is its relatively low cost. However, the cost over the long run may be significantly less for natural stone due to its longevity and lower cost of installation. One application where manufactured stone works well is interior stone, such as a fireplace mantle or kitchen back-splash. Manufactured stone holds up better indoors away from eroding elements like wind and rain. It may also be a viable option for stone siding in very moderate climates with mild weather.
When choosing manufactured stone, avoid the lowest cost options. High-end manufactured stone veneers from Shouldice features a lot of variation in the size and shape of stones, very few defects like bubbles or creases, and is protected from fading by a topcoat or other treatment.