Stone veneer is a popular way to add the look of full-sized natural stone to a home's décor. While stone veneer may cost less and be quicker to install, natural stone works better for some decorating projects. Personal taste can be the final element in choosing between stone veneer and natural stone.
The installation of a stone veneer project typically goes faster than that of a natural stone one because the thinner stones are easier to work with. If the stones chosen for the project take too long to cut properly, or if they're too hard to cut, natural stone may be a more cost effective installation process. In some cases, the natural stone needs to be cut first to a 4-inch thickness, then reduced even further to make the proper thickness veneer. In cases like that, the natural stone is the cheaper option. Shipping must also factor in the costs. It's possible to ship more pieces of stone veneer at the same weight than natural stone, which means the same weight load can cover more square feet on the project. Another cost factor is labor. Because stone veneer is lighter and easier to handle, stonemasons can do more work in a day's time with veneer than if they're handling full-size natural stone.
The size and type of project can indicate whether or not to use stone veneer. Some walls can't take the weight of natural stone, while other walls need the support natural stone can deliver. The house and its footings must have the structural capacity to support the weight of natural stone, especially if it's covering the exterior. Because stone veneer weighs less, it's less of a problem in a situation like this. The same is true for installing it on non-load bearing walls inside the home. Its lighter weight makes it a more practical application than natural stone.
Because stone veneer is only ¾ to 2 inches thick, it's a good choice for tight areas that don't have a lot of room for easy access during installation. Even with a natural stone installation, small areas in corners, under eaves and in other odd nooks may have a few stone veneer pieces to complete the installation. A disadvantage of the stone veneer is that it's hard to find accent pieces such as corners, keystones and lintels to use with it. Because of weight restrictions of no more than 15 lbs. per square foot on the thinset used to install stone veneer, it's not possible to add thicker pieces. Stone veneer doesn't work as well in a dry stacking project where there's no mortar between the joints to hold the stones together. Nor does veneer adapt as well to the freezing and thawing conditions of some parts of the country.
- Photo Credit structure, stone, wild stone image by Oleg Guryanov from Fotolia.com
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