When installing a stone surface in their home, many homeowners must choose between using natural stone and cultured stone. Cultured stone, also known as stone veneer or manufactured stone, is made from concrete aggregate and placed in casts that give it the appearance of real stone. However, if you are considering the use of cultured stone in your home, you should consider the cons associated with the product as compared to natural stone. While cultured stone can pass for natural stone in many circumstances, its drawbacks may make natural stone a better option.
While many homeowners assume that cultured stone is a more cost-effective option than real stone, it can actually be more expensive in areas of the country where natural stone is readily available. In addition, depending on where the cultured stone you purchase for your project is manufactured, shipping costs can quickly add up because cultured stone is a heavy product to ship.
Not As Durable
One of the most noticeable drawbacks to cultured stone is that it is not as durable as natural stone. Because cultured stone is made from a lightweight concrete mixture, it can sometimes break or chip. If a piece is removed from a cultured stone surface, it is highly noticeable because the concrete interior becomes exposed. In fact, some manufacturers of cultured stone do not color the stone all the way through, so when the stone is cut or broken, it looks like pure concrete inside. As a result, when cultured stone is chipped or broken, the section must usually be replaced to preserve the look of the surface. Natural stone may also chip, but its signs of wear and tear are less obvious.
Can Look Unnatural
The installation process for cultured stone is highly important because if installed improperly, a cultured stone surface can look highly unnatural. In most cases, cultured stone may look fake if too much space is left between the individual stones because cultured stones are not as thick as natural stones. Gaps accentuate the cultured stone's thinness, giving it an unnatural appearance. In addition, if you use cultured stones that are not colored all the way through, the surface and interior of the stones will not be the same color, so an unattractive concrete edge will be exposed along the ends of the cultured stone surface. It will be obvious that the stones are fake and take away from the natural look that you are trying to achieve.
One of the benefits of natural stone is that it is reusable, so if you decide to dismantle a stone fireplace, the pieces can be used in another application in your home. Cultured stone, however, may not be re-purposed because the stones are not durable enough. When they are removed, the cultured stones tend to break or chip, rendering them unusable.
- Photo Credit structure, stone, wild stone image by Oleg Guryanov from Fotolia.com
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