Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Adding Character with Stone Veneer

By Chase Fecko, Sales & Hardscape Specialist, The Stone Store

More user-friendly, versatile and flexible… it’s no surprise to see stone veneer at the top of the list when discussing outdoor and indoor home remodeling projects. From do-it-yourself (DIY) customers to professionals, stone veneer continues to increase in popularity.

Stone is commonly used to veneer the outside of homes, commercial buildings, retaining walls, seating walls, columns, pillars, mailboxes, interior walls, bars, house foundations, fireplaces and the list goes on. One thing to remember, while there are some applications that are DIY friendly, many veneer projects are best left to an experienced professional contractor.

Photo Credit: Phil Besche

Veneer stone can be either manufactured stone or natural stone. Much progress has been made in natural stone veneer manufacturing to create thinner pieces, known as thin veneer, which can be appealing but for the purposes of this article we will focus on the more homeowner friendly manufactured stone veneer.

Manufactured veneer stone is concrete cast in molds made to look like real stones found in nature. It is a lightweight, cost effective alternative to natural stone. This lightweight quality allows the veneer to be applied to walls without additional support, such as footers. Typically packaged in boxes, many allotments are all individual pieces but in some instances the veneer comes in small panels for easier installation. Veneer has a flat back, with corners packaged as 90° wrap around pieces – all of these are ready for installation right out of the box. Manufacturers of this stone also have stone accessories like hearth stones, mantles, and sills available. Quality brands of manufactured stone veneer can be found at hardscape and stone suppliers where catalogues and display board examples will help in selecting a color and style.

Have you decided you have the skills and talent to try this yourself? Maybe you want to add character to that old, brick, indoor fireplace? Of course, always refer to the manufacturers’ installation guidelines before starting, but here is a general overview of the process.

1. Purchase Materials. Start by measuring the area to be covered; calculate the square footage of the flat surface and measure the linear feet of any outside corners. These numbers will assist in purchasing the correct amount of materials like the stone, mortar and wire lath.

2. Apply the Wire Lath. Wire lath is adhered to the wall or brick using a layer of mortar called a scratch coat. The scratch coat needs to dry before moving forward which usually takes at least 24 hours.

3. Time for the Stone. When putting up the stone work out of multiple boxes to get the best variation. It is not a bad idea to lay the stones on the ground, creating a plan as to the best way to arrange each piece. Stone is adhered by applying mortar to the back of the veneer stone piece and putting it onto the scratch coat. Some pieces will have to be cut, chipped, and shaped to fit in a space.

4. What about the Joints. Some styles of stone will require putting mortar in the joints between the stones while other styles are fit in tight and do not require that extra step.

 While this is a very basic generalization of the steps in the process, research is the key to deciding if you feel comfortable taking on a stone veneer project.

The Stone Store is a stocking dealer of several complete lines of both natural and manufactured stone veneer. Products and materials featured in this article can be seen on display at The Stone Store located at 7535 Railroad Avenue in Hanover, Maryland. In addition, The Stone Store will host DIY Day on June 15 with homeowner friendly demonstrations on patios, walls and additional popular hardscape projects for your backyard. For additional information please visit thestonestore.com or call 1-888-766-4242.