Houses or landscape walls made of natural stone have a timeless elegance. Increasingly, those gorgeous stone walls may not be natural stone but a manufactured veneer made to look natural. Veneer stone is lighter, easier to install and cheaper. You may not be able to tell the difference. What are the pros and cons of natural versus engineered veneer stone?
Natural stone has been used in construction for most of human history. Stone is quarried straight from the earth. The greatest marvels in history, such as the Pyramids of Egypt, the Parthenon in Greece, and ancient temples worldwide, are made of chiseled stone.
Stone is durable and can be carved into any shape and size needed. Stone types offer their own individual colors, textures and patterns. Its beauty will not fade.
Stone can be installed with or without mortar. When used as outer cladding on a home, a metal mesh grid called a lath is installed first, on which mortar is spread. Then the stone is installed against the mortar to hold it in place.
Stone is not without its drawbacks. It is heavy, difficult to cut, and shipping is costly, especially if you desire a type that is not native to where you live and must be shipped long distance. Installing stone is labor-intensive and expensive.
What is veneer stone?
Veneer stone is architectural or manufactured stone. It is made of a mixed slurry of cement, aggregates and iron oxides for coloring, then baked in molds of different sizes and shapes. It is almost indistinguishable in appearance from natural stone but is less than half the weight. It is easier to work with and, therefore, less labor-intensive to install. It is often put together in panels, and when used on the side of a home, a lath is installed beneath it, just like natural stone.
Veneer stone is not to be confused with faux stone, which is a lightweight product similar to Styrofoam.
Choosing between natural and manufactured stone
Veneer stone comes in a wide variety of shapes and colors and is less expensive than regular stone. Installed as siding on a home, as a fireplace surround, or as a landscape wall, it is gorgeous, and it’s unlikely anyone will know it is not real stone. It is easier to cut shapes and install than regular stone.
Because it is lightweight and not as strong as real stone, a veneer cannot be used as structural support. It is also not durable enough to use as paving. It can become brittle, and the color can fade over time.
Regular stone is extremely durable. It can be used as a covering but also as a structural support. Stone flooring and patios are tough and timelessly gorgeous.
Related – Home Exteriors: Consider Beauty and Durability