For eons, stone was the material of choice when it came to building durable homes. Today, it’s impractical to build entire structures out of stone, but people still like the look. Luckily, there are several types of real stone or stone veneer siding products available that can add a luxurious look to your home’s exterior, including:
- Natural stone full veneer: Full veneer is a natural stone cut to a thickness of 3”- 5”. It looks great, but is heavy, expensive, and requires a skilled stonemason to install.
- Natural stone thin veneer: Thin veneer is cut from the same stone and typically ¾” – 1 ¼”, making it lighter and easier to install. It’s adhered to an existing structure and costs less than full stone.
- Faux stone or manufactured stone veneer: Manufactured stone veneer products are made from a mixture of Portland cement and lightweight aggregate. These products look exactly like stone while costing much less.
Like with all specialty siding, you need to hire a reliable, licensed contractor to install and repair stone façades properly. Great Guys Home Improvement offers free quotes from licensed, insured contractors who can provide top-quality installation. Click now to get estimates on your stone veneer siding needs.
Stone Restoration & Repairs
Stone siding comes with a variety of common repair and restoration issues, most related to how the veneer is originally installed. The most common include:
If stone veneer siding is installed improperly, i.e. not sealed correctly or proper gaps aren’t left to safely direct away moisture, rot can form and ruin the wood house framing. Not only should the siding be installed a few inches from the ground, but it should also not infringe upon roof shingles. Moisture needs room to escape or it can get under your roof and leak into the attic, causing more repair issues.
Mortar creates the bond between the stone veneer and the wall. Using the wrong type of mortar can result in the stones coming off the wall. Many mortars are designed specifically for stone veneer and will enhance that bond. Also, enough mortar must be used on the backs of the pieces to ensure they adhere properly.
As with any masonry, the joints are susceptible to weathering and will require maintenance. While you should annually wash the stone veneer with a low-pressure power washer and mild detergent, you may find that “repointing” will be necessary, cutting out deteriorated masonry and replacing with new.
Natural Stone Siding Pros and Cons
Natural stone veneer is comprised of quarry stone such as granite, basalt, limestone, or slate available in full veneer or thin veneer. A full veneer is a natural stone of 3” to 5” in depth, but can be as much as 8” deep. Thin veneer is a natural stone that is much lighter, cut to ¾” deep to 1 ¼” deep. A light veneer is required to weigh less than 15 lbs per sq. ft.
While both are natural stone, they have two very different installation processes. Full veneer is much heavier, so it requires a stone ledge as part of the foundation wall to support the weight. The stone is anchored to the wall with a series of wall ties. Thin veneer is flat in the back and is installed more like brick siding. It’s adhered to an existing structure using a mortar that also fills in the gaps around the stone itself.
The most obvious advantage associated with real stone siding is that it is authentic. Stone has been used as a building material for eons because it’s resistant to moisture and humidity and will protect a building’s interior from external elements.
When properly installed and cared for, natural stone siding can last for a century or more. It’s impervious to harsh sunlight and ultraviolet rays. It won’t peel, crack, or fade. Very few materials can compare to stone when it comes to long-term beauty.
Stone is considered a natural and sustainable building material. Since it’s one of the most abundant materials on earth, stone considered a sustainable building material source. Additionally, real stone siding can be reused if a home is razed, making it truly recyclable. That said, the mining process to extract stone for natural siding alternatives can cause environmental damage – a fact that’s important to consider when evaluating your carbon footprint.
Natural stone comes in an almost endless array of types, colors, and patterns. It can be used to side an entire home or just accent portions. Because full stone veneer has more stone to work with, it can easily be cut and shaped any way you’d like, giving you the ability to customize your home’s façade.
Real stone siding is super expensive. Something like vinyl siding costs $3-$8 per sq. ft. while stone veneer can reach upwards of $42 per sq. ft. You’ll also need to hire a specialty mason to install the siding.
If your stone siding isn’t installed correctly, you can also have issues with moisture damage. If cracks develop and aren’t fixed, or proper gaps aren’t installed, moisture can seep in and cause mold issues that can ruin the structure of your home. Stone is also very absorbent. If you live in an area that has high humidity, or lots of rain and snow, mold growth may begin underneath your veneer, often going undetected for long periods of time.
Many things vent to the outside of your home such as stoves and heaters, breaking up your wall space. Normally these vents are set up against sealant. With stone veneer, they’re often pressed right into the mortar. This is a major problem as mortar doesn’t flex like sealant does and can easily cause breakage of the vent cover. Once broken, it’s hard to fix, leaving access open to unwanted moisture and pests.
Limitations to Full Stone
Due to the size and weight of full stone veneer, it needs a shelf or proper footing for support. There are also weight limits and restrictions on how much stone can be installed per workday so that it doesn’t collapse. And because full stone is trimmed to fit, it takes longer to cut and place by a skilled craftsperson. If you have your heart set on full stone, it’s vital that you have a professional evaluate your property beforehand to make sure all requirements are met. Otherwise, thin stone with a moisture barrier might be a better choice.
Natural Stone Veneer Siding Options
Natural stones for stone cladding are quarried or extracted from the ground. The type of stone you choose for your home makes a big difference in the overall look you achieve. There are three classifications of natural stone; sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic. All of these can be used for veneers, resulting in very different effects.
Sedimentary rocks are formed when sediment is deposited from air, ice, wind, or water flows. Over time, the layers pile up and compact, forcing water out while salt crystals glue the layers together. The most popular kinds of sedimentary rock used for exterior cladding are typically limestone, travertine, and sandstone.
Each has different properties that make it ideal for a variety of jobs.
- Limestone: Limestone usually comes in yellow, white, or gray and many different grains. It can be clastic (composed of fragments of minerals or other rock) or not. Limestone is durable and incredibly versatile. It’s a strong, resilient, low-maintenance natural stone, perfect for a range of exterior building applications.
- Travertine: Travertine is a dense, banded rock that’s formed in hot springs and/or limestone caves by the condensation of calcium carbonate. It’s typically light in color and characterized by small holes in the stone, caused by the CO2 bubbles in the mixture as it settles. It has been used for centuries as a building material (think the Colosseum in Rome). More recently, it was utilized to construct the Getty Museum in LA.
- Sandstone: Sandstone is one of the most common types of sedimentary rock, composed of sand-size grains of mineral, rock, or organic material. The color of sandstone varies, depending on its composition. Because it’s made up of mostly light-colored minerals, sandstone is typically light tan in color. Other elements, like iron oxide, can create colors like shades of red.
Metamorphic rocks are formed when extreme heat, pressure, and gravity exert force on igneous and sedimentary rock layers, gradually transforming them into completely different types of rock. People love metamorphic rock like slate and marble for counters and flooring, but it’s great for home exteriors too, and here’s why:
- Slate: Slate is a fine-grained rock that’s popular because of its durability and attractiveness. When used on a home’s exterior, it acts as a water-resistant and fireproof barrier, ensuring protection against the elements. When compared to other cladding solutions, it’s a popular choice because of its resistant, long-lasting, and good-looking qualities.
- Marble: A blend of limestone and dolomite, marble is one of the most classic forms of building materials. With cladding, thin layers of marble are applied to the existing structure, creating an elegant look with a strong resistance to weathering.
Igneous rocks are formed when molten lava cools quickly. They are extremely nonporous, which means that they resist water intrusion well. Prized for their strength and beauty, igneous rocks like granite and basalt are often used for kitchen counters and ornamental uses but make great home cladding materials as well.
- Granite: Granite is one of the most widely occurring stones in the world and an extremely popular building material for exterior cladding. It’s hard and dense, notoriously strong, and stain-resistant. The coarse-grained stone is known for its durability and the stability of its color and texture.
- Basalt: Basalt is a fine-grained volcanic rock that’s usually gray to black. It’s one of the most common types of volcanic rock used throughout architecture and is great for exterior cladding due to its extremely high insulating capabilities.
Faux Stone Veneer Siding Pros and Cons
Man-made or cultured stone veneer siding comes in two main forms: Manufactured Stone Siding and Faux Polyurethane Veneers.
Manufactured/Cultured Stone Siding Pros and Cons
If you love the look of stone but want to avoid the expense or weight of natural stone on your home, a great solution is manufactured stone cladding. This siding is made from a lightweight concrete that’s poured into stone-shaped molds. Manufactured or cultured stone can be customized to match the color pallet of any home. Using this material, you get the texture and design of natural stone in a material that requires less maintenance, weighs less, and is more affordable.
Manufactured stone siding is very affordable in comparison to real stone siding. It’s lightweight and easy to install, cutting down on labor costs.
Concrete is more susceptible to damage from harsh cleaning materials than real stone, so maintain it by scrubbing with warm water and vinegar or dish detergent, followed by a rinse from a low-pressure garden hose. You can use a soft bristle brush, but definitely don’t use wire brushes, high-pressure washers, or acidic cleaning materials.
Manufactured stone products usually come with manufacturer warranties that guarantee the quality of the materials under normal conditions for 20 to 75 years, depending on the product.
Manufactured or cultured stone veneer is recyclable, making it highly sustainable. Since it’s man-made, it can be ordered from plants located near job sites and with its lighter weight, takes less fuel to transport than heavier materials.
Cultured and manufactured stone veneers come in an unlimited number of materials, finishes, and colors, making them an extremely versatile way to get the look of stone without the cost.
While a typical siding replacement recoups around 75% ROI, manufactured/cultured stone veneer siding can recoup as much as 97%. That’s nearly a 20% difference, making it a great siding option.
Needs a Pro
Installing this type of veneer improperly can result in severe water damage, often immediately after installation. It’s very important that you hire a professional to do the work.
Exposure to harsh chemicals and cleaning solvents can reduce the aesthetic appearance of stone veneer, scarring, staining, or discoloring the surface. In general, it’s a hardy material, but it must be maintained properly.
Faux Polyurethane Veneers Pros and Cons
Polyurethane siding is a lightweight, foam-like material that’s shaped to look like real stone. It’s made from a mixture of polyurethane, UV inhibitors, and fire retardants. Faux stone veneer can be designed in a variety of styles and colors to help match the existing look of your exterior. Polyurethane veneers are created in panels, making them easy and affordable to transport and simple to install.
Polyurethane siding gives you the classic stone look you desire for a fraction of the cost. And because there’s no need for a mason to assemble the siding, the installation cost is more affordable.
If installed correctly, faux veneers can be completely weather resistant. With a quality scratch coat installed underneath, your home should be able to withstand even the most inclement weather.
Cultured stone veneers are covered by warranties for as long as 50 years when installed according to manufacturers’ specifications.
This form of siding provides better insulation than standard stone, brick, and even manufactured stone. It helps increase the R-value of your home as much as 4.5 and improves overall energy-efficiency, saving you money.
Faux veneers are mass-produced meaning the patterns often look the same. Since one of the appeals of stone siding is its unique natural appearance, the repetitiveness of mass-produced veneer siding means it doesn’t always look quite as authentic, close-up.
Because faux stone veneer isn’t stone, it won’t stand up to heavy abuse. It will easily bend on impact so a basketball thrown the wrong way can cause damage.
If installed improperly, some stone veneer siding can allow moisture to get in between the pieces or panels, leading to potential mold issues.
Plastic veneers aren’t sourced from sustainable materials, so they’re not as sustainable as manufactured stone, but, in some cases, they may be recyclable post-use.
Stone Masonry Cost – Material, Repairs & Labor Installation Costs
Natural stone siding typically costs around $42 per square foot. Supplied in sheets, stone veneer costs about $11 per square foot and faux cladding is about $6 – $10 per square foot. You’ll also be paying for masonry mortar at $10 – $15 per 70 – 80 lb bag, water-resistant paper for drywall at $30 per square foot, and plywood wall sheathing at $2 – $4 per square foot. An experienced stonemason charges up to $31 an hour, with a median cost of $19 an hour. Altogether, the average price to add stone veneer will cost about $22,000 for a 1,000-square foot home.
Find Stone Masonry Contractors Near Me
Stonemasonry is a specific skill set that requires training, expertise, attention to detail, and even a level of artistry. When looking to hire a contractor for your stone siding installation, the first thing to remember is that cheap isn’t always good. The job you may pay less for today might cost you way more down the road, so make sure you’ve hired the best company for the project.
Following are some tips for finding the right stone masonry contractor near you:
Know Your Project
Before you begin, be sure you’ve done your research and know what you want. Look into the various natural and stone veneer options and their costs. Have an idea of the final effect you’re looking to achieve. Understand the demands of each type of material and determine which is most appropriate for your home. A qualified stonemason or contractor will be able to help, but you’ll do much better starting out from a place of knowledge.
Get Referrals & Read Reviews
Talk to people you know who have recently completed stone cladding installations you like and find out who did the work. What was the experience like? Did the project stay within budget and on time? Then, once you have some contractors’ names, read their reviews and ratings, and check out their websites. See how people described the quality of work, ease of communication, or any problems that occurred.
Request a Contract
When you’ve received and reviewed at least three competitive bids and have chosen an installer, request a contract that contains:
- Scope of Work: Full project timeline complete with materials information.
- Proof of license and insurance: Make sure the company has an up-to-date license and full insurance, complying with the rules and regulations in your state.
- Warranty: Make sure the full warranty period on workmanship is included, along with a guarantee of coverage should post-installation problems pop up.
- Payment Schedule: A schedule should be included, outlining at which stage payments are due, how much, and the delivery method. Be sure to let the contractor know that final payment will only be made upon the job’s completion to your satisfaction.
- Project Change Procedure: What happens if something happens along the way (like bad weather or unavailable materials) and a change in the scope of work occurs? The contract should also outline how the contractor handles any changes to the timeline.
Get free quotes and prices from licensed and insured stonemasons who are experts in natural full stone, thin stone, faux, cultured, and manufactured veneers.