When looking to update a patio, fireplace or outdoor living area, one popular option is stone veneer. Stone products add a look of natural sophistication to any project while maintaining a tough, rugged exterior year round. Although stone veneer was developed in the 18th century, adding stone accents to structures has been around as long as the Roman Empire.
Fabricated vs Natural Stone
Natural stone is just that: Stone that has been mined, quarried and collected, shaped and cut into various thickness and made available to contractors and home owners. Fabricated stone is created by adding a thin layer of stone to a backing material. Manufactured stone is much cheaper than naturally occurring stone but natural stone has many benefits as well. Natural stone can be chipped, cut or reused whereas fabricated stone cannot due to the backing material being exposed. Manufactured stone also tends to contain lime, which can leech and stain surfaces over time. Natural stone is also much more durable, lasting centuries if cared for. Manufactured stone, however, can be more lightweight, cheaper and more ecologically friendly than natural stone. Generally, stone veneer can be installed or used in places that natural stone could not, such as on walls or other elevated places.
Installation of Stone
Most stone veneer is added to original concrete or steel buildings via a process known as stone cladding. Stone cladding involves taking the original structure of the building, adding a substrate of waterproofing and mortar and then adding the veneer. This is a fairly common practice and has drastically reduced the price of stone buildings and edifices.
Repairs of both natural and manufactured stone can be costly and difficult to manage. Natural stone must be cut or chipped away and new pieces added whereas manufactured stone must generally be replaced entirely. It is important to not get the substrate of the veneer wet as water can infiltrate the stone’s porous nature and, if turned to ice, cause structural damage over time. Pieces of the face will fall off and create a ragged edge and leaving the entire edifice open to further damage.
Whether choosing natural or manufactured stone, stone products have been a symbol of quality and durability for as long as humans have been building. From the Coliseum to modern buildings humans have been fascinated with stone architecture. With caution and care, your stone projects can last a lifetime and beyond.