Solid Looks With Faux Stone
Natural stone is always best but when it’s too expensive for your budget, or if there are structural and architectural constraints, manufactured stone may be the answer.
Besides their handsome look, these stone finishes are most desirable simply because they require no maintenance.
The cost to install natural stone is at least $20 per square foot, and it’s amazing how quickly the feet add up on a home. The stone itself is also expensive due to quarry costs, shipping (rock is heavy) and trimming costs. Due to the weight, the builder or stone mason will need to support that weight with steel lintels, which also adds to the installation costs.
Almost all cultured stone is cement-based, a sophisticated poured concrete product that looks like real stone and has high-quality long lasting permanent pigment. It’s usually a mix of concrete with aggregate and color pigments that’s shaped in highly detailed rubber moulds, producing the next best thing to real stone visually and texturally.
Manufactured or cultured stone, at about 75 per cent of the weight of the real thing, is a wallet-friendly, good looking alternative for exterior and interior finishing applications.
It’s come a long way since it was introduced about 30 years ago. Today, faux stone can fool even the most discerning eye. Experiments with colourization processes and molds have led to a lightweight, durable and realistic looking product.
Top vs low
Top-grade cultured stone products are created by applying additional pigments directly to the rubber molds in order to add more dimension and colour variances to the surface of the finished product. These add-on colour features soak into the surface of the concrete during the drying process. Lower quality manufactured stones still contain a mixture of sand, small pebbles, cement and pigments.
The new cultured products are manufactured in solid colours, the key to long-lasting cultured stone materials. As long as the manufacturer uses high-quality, non-water-soluble pigments, fading and discolouration should never be a problem.
The installation process is simple. The stone is quickly glued onto the desired vertical surface using a cement stucco mixture. The stone is usually applied to the walls of the house that have had a pre-coat or rough coat of cement stucco.
Beneath the rough coat is a wire lath covering the asphalt paper or waterproof air infiltration barrier. The installer will then apply a thin mixture of cement paint to the wall and to the back of the stone, place the stone on the wall, hold it for 10 seconds and, voilà – gorgeous stone accents are permanently set into place.
Your supplier will caution you against using salt de-icing products around your stone to avoid potential surface disintegration, as well as other harsh chemicals such as paint thinners or cleaning solvents.
To clean the stone, use the same methods as you would to clean vinyl siding or stucco: a mild detergent and a stiff bristle brush.
Manufactured stone is not restricted to the exterior of your home. Consider bringing the stone inside for a fireplace surround, interior column, kitchen hood fan, back splash or the walls of a wine cellar.